Saturday, May 30, 2009

Deb Abrahamson

Deb Abrahamson, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Deb Abrahamson represented the SHAWL Society at the recent press conference in City Hall protesting the new police ombudsman.

The SHAWL Society is a grassroots organization based on the Spokane Indian Reservation dedicated to protecting the environment. They initially mobilized in response to the massive uranium mining wastes on the reservation, but have grown to encompass many other issues. SHAWL provides education on a wide range of topics, including uranium radiation, indigenous plants, health, and Native traditions, among others.

SHAWL stands for Sovereignty, Health, Air, Water, and Land.

The SHAWL Society website.

Shonto Pete

Shonto Pete, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Shonto Speaks, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Shonto Pete spoke to the media on Friday to address the issue of police misconduct in Spokane. Because of personal experience, Shonto knows this issue better than most anyone.

To summarize briefly, Shonto Pete was shot in the head by Jay Olsen, an off-duty police officer, after Olsen accused him of trying to steal his vehicle. The officer was intoxicated and chased Shonto into Peaceful Valley, near downtown Spokane. He shot Shonto in the back of the head as he fled. Miraculously, Shonto survived. In court proceedings that followed, Shonto was found not guilty of attempted theft, but then the officer was also found not guilty of first-degree assault and reckless endangerment. The officer resigned the police force, but his not guilty verdict provoked a wave of outrage and protest from the Native American community.

For a list of Spokesman-Review articles on this subject click HERE.

After this and related incidents, Shonto Pete is demanding greater accountability from the local police department.

On a personal note, I've known Shonto for the last several years after he attended Moses Family gatherings on the Spokane Reservation.

Agnes Broncheau

Agnes Broncheau, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Agnes in the Spotlight, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Agnes Broncheau also attended the ombudsman press conference at city hall, representing Spokane VOICES.

Since the early 90s, I've known Agnes as a passionate advocate for addiction recovery and positive Native identity. Now she lends her support to VOICES, a local organization working to provide education, community access, and support to low-income people in the Spokane area.

In her statement to the press, she highlighted the special challenges faced by people with limited resources in the face of police misconduct. An ombudsman with true authortative oversight would help alleviate the burden of the poor.

The VOICES website.


Demonstration, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Last Friday, a group of concerned citizened convened in Spokane City Hall to protest the creation of a new police ombudsman office. In a statement to the press, they said, "Our community deserves real and lasting change in the Spokane Police Department. The Police Ombudsman cannot conduct independent investigations and cannot discipline officers who use excessive force or otherwise abuse the public. This is not reform; it is just spending taxpayer money on window dressing.

"Let the city know that we will not be fooled again. Let Shonto Pete, the family of Otto Zehm, and all of the others know they are not alone. End police abuse and hold the city of Spokane accountable!"

Those who addressed the media on Friday: Liz Moore, director of Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane, Shonto Pete, Tom keefe, attorney who worked with the Seattle Police Department on issues of misconduct and accountability, Agnes Broncheau, board member of VOICES, Ron Anderson, chair of the board of National Alliance on Mental Illness, Spokane Affiliate, Bart Haggin of the Progressive Democrats of America, Spokane Chapter, Dave Browneagle of Medicine Wheel Academy, and Deb Abrahamson, director of SHAWL Society.

Many of these same individuals are planning a "Rally For Real Police Reform," to convene Thursday, June 25, at 5:00 pm, in front of Spokane City Hall.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Grave

Grave, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Last week, my uncle Pat mentioned the declining respect for Memorial Day. He said that many years ago, whole families gathered in the cemeteries to clean graves and to show respect for their deceased elders. Nowadays, hardly anyone remembers.

His words pricked my heart and made me realize that in the fifteen years since my father passed away, I have never taken my children to his grave on Memorial Day. In fact, I'm not even sure all my kids have even seen the grave. In years past, I tended to avoid my father's grave, like the way I avoided the feelings of anger, abandonment, and bereavement. But my uncle made me see beyond my personal feelings. My children deserve to know their forebears, if even through the stories I tell.

We drove to Wellpinit on Memorial Day, and visited my father's final resting place. My children saw the stone and heard the stories. They also saw my tears, and hopefully felt some small portion of my love.

We visited many other graves, like a walking lesson in family history: my auntie Marlene, my yaya Bessie, my yaya Minnie, and my great grandfather, Wilson Moses. Each grave holds a different story.

The cemetery visit wasn't all death and gloom. Actually, it was a celebration of life and deep family bonds. As my children learned their genealogy, many of their living relatives also arrived to pay respect. We saw some family members who have been away for many years. It was like a family reunion for both the living and the dead. This thing I dreaded became a beautiful experience.

Turtle Lake

Turtle Lake, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Turtle Lake 2, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

After visiting my father's grave, we had lunch near Turtle Lake.

The sights and sounds of that place brought back faint memories from my childhood. Families fishing from the docks reminded me of similar days spent with my father many years ago. I learned to cast a line at Turtle Lake, as well as I could at age four. Most often, the line tangled on itself and my father would have to rescue me.

On warm summer days, we rowed across the lake in a boat, and in the winter, we picked a hole in the ice. Those were happy, simple days. What ever happened to make me forget those times?


d0001m, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Every once in a while I get a really good picture of my children, like this photograph of Dakota taken near Turtle Lake on the Spokane Reservation. Of course, we fancied it up, just a little. He must have liked this picture also, because he added it right away to his Facebook.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Butler

j002, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Dakota plays the butler in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. According to the Bible, pharoah's butler was in prison along with Joseph. He dreamed of crushing grapes for pharoah's cup, and in this scene, Joseph interprets the dream to mean that pharoah will restore the butler to his place of honor. Dakota deliver's his solo with beautiful skill.

I wanted to blog more photographs from the play, but Rhonda says it will ruin the surprise for those who haven't seen it yet. I'm dying to say more, but I will just have to end by saying the show was FANTASTIC. The singing, dancing, and costumes were all amazing.


j006, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

j004, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

The girls sing in the balcony chorus, dressed like angels in white. They also wear tie-dye shirts for other parts of the play.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


fieldtrip011, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Grant Cummings is a member of the Washington Native Plant Society and lives near our traditional root fields. We met several years ago when he found me digging bitterroots nearby. Since then he has graciously shared his knowledge of plants every time he sees me. I'm extremely thankful for his strewardship and love of the land.

In this photograph, Grant is posing with me, Dakota, and our little school group.

Death Camas

fieldtrip005, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Any time I take people to dig camas, especially children, I have to explain the dangers of death camas (zygadenus elegans and zygadenus venenosas). Oddly enough, death camas almost always seems to grow in the same locations as regular camas, but they are distinguished by their beautiful white flowers; regular camas are blue. Because of this one factor, I instructed the children to reject any camas bulbs without flowers. "If you can't see the flower," I told them, "You might get lucky, or not."

Death holds such a fascination for people.

No sooner had I spoken of death camas, when local plant expert Grant Cummings, arrived to show us a few living specimens. We found one death camas grown less than an inch from a brown camas and a nodding onion. All three plants have onion-like bulbs, so without the flower, it would be easy to confuse them. This would be a potentially deadly mistake.

Nodding Onion

fieldtrip006, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

The nodding onion is another plant we got to see during our field trip. We dug a few samples and ate the onions straight from the ground.

School Children

fieldtrip008, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

After our brief encounter with the children from Finch Elementary, we separated. They continued to some other location in the park, while our group continued with the plants.

Some time later, we saw the children again as they passed through our area.

This photograph just makes me happy. The young children are walking through the beautiful root fields, surrounded by bright yellow flowers and sunshine. As I watch them, I pray in my heart that they learn to love the land, the plants, and the animals of this place the way I do. Hopefully my small efforts today will help.

Cultural Guide

fieldtrip004, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

While our small student group explored the camas fields, another larger group arrived from Finch Elementary. We hadn't planned to meet any other people, but the moment was perfect. "Coincidentally," they had come to the same place to learn about Native plants and joined our group just as I was explaining the cultural significance of camas. I got to act as a cultural guide for many more people than I ever expected, and the new group was just as interested. They snapped pictures with their cameras and asked questions.

In that moment, a man arrived with a video camera to make a small documentary for Community-Minded Television and filmed most of my talk. By that point I began to wonder if some Higher Power coordinated this surprise meeting of people.


Camassia Quamash

fieldtrip002, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.
Demonstrating the identifying features of camassia quamash, known more commonly as camas.

Yesterday morning, I had the opportunity to lead a small group of students in an etra-credit field trip to learn more about native plants. Only a handful of Dakota's classmates made the trip, along with their teacher, and two parents. Despite the small group, we had a wonderful experience.

fieldtrip001, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

I lectured briefly on the cultural history of the location, and then explained the traditional uses of brown camas. Perhaps one of the more fascinating bits of information about this plant is the cooking method used by early peoples. Since ancient times, Native people in this region prepared brown camas by cooking it in pit ovens for three days. But why three days? How did they arrive at that number?

Modern science sheds new light on this ancient practice. As it turns out, camas is filled with a complex sugar known as inulin, which is completely indigestible to the human body. A person could eat buckets of raw camas with no nutritional benefit whatsoever. However, if a person bakes camas for an extended period of time, about three days actually, the inulin breaks down into a simpler form that is nutritious and life-sustaining to humans.

Of course, our ancestors may not have explained their method in this manner, but they possessed this essential wisdom anyway. Some have suggested that they arrived at this complex understanding through a process of trial and error. Perhaps. But I also think they once possessed a much closer connection to the spirit of the plant. I know through personal experience that the plants and animals are able to communicate in ways that would surprise most modern people.

As an aside, I found an interesting account of the etmyology of the word camas. By the most reliable account I could find, it was originally a Nez perce word, first encountered in English by the Lewis and Clark expedition. Click HERE to read the account.

fieldtrip003, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

After my introduction, I allowed each student to dig up a few small camas bulbs. I was very happy to see their enthusiasm for the project.

Monday, May 18, 2009


parade001, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Rhonda and the kids got this amazing photograph of a mama duck and her babies on the day of the Lilac Parade. The mother had made her nest on the roof overlooking the entrance to a downtown business. One by one, the ducks jumped to the ground and then made a heroic walk through the crowds and to the river.

The Spokesman-Review captured the same scene HERE.

Disclosure: I photoshopped the lower right hand corner of the picture to remove a camera strap that had fallen in front of the lens.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


14, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

At this time fourteen years ago (9:24 pm), Rhonda suffered through the last moments of her horrendous delivery. She had already suffered labor pains for the better part of four days and had reached the point of exhaustion and delirium.

My aunt had a dream that Rhonda gave birth at 10:04 pm, so that became our focal point. Even the doctor agreed it would be highly possible. Then as the second hand turned the clock to that exact minute, Dakota entered the world! It was a dream fulfilled on many levels.

In that time, I'm very happy to see the young man he has become.

Lilac Parade

francis002, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

francis001, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

parade002, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

A small group of Spokane Tribal members gathered at the Lincoln Center near downtown Spokane, in preparation for the annual Lilac Parade. The Wellpinit ROTC carried the flags while a small handful of us dressed in traditional regalia.

Then we waited for over two hours in the staging area, until the parade organizers finally gave us the green light. On that level, it was exhausting before it even began.

As we marched across the Spokane River, the mood lifted, and I joked that the tribe had come to re-claim the city. A blinding light shone ahead of us and video cameras hovered overhead. A television announcer declared that the Spokane Tribe had come to welcome everyone to our ancestral homeland. True enough. Some people cheered, and others rose to their feet in respect. Rows of children called out for "High Fives" along the entire parade route.

It really was quite moving.

But the best admiration of all came from my own children. They waited in the audience until we made our turn onto their street. When they saw me, the children broke free of the crowd and ran into the street to meet me. All three of them threw their arms around me.

Yes, it was all quite beautiful.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Brown Camas

Brown Camas, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Last night I had a strange dream that led me to the camas fields.

In my dream, a woman I know visited me at my childhood home in Seattle. She said, "I understand you're planting native species in your yard. You really should plant Zigadenus Elegans." She motioned toward a box of beautiful white flowers on the ground near her feet. She then removed one of the flowers from the box and handed it to me.

As I examined the white flower, something felt terribly wrong. "I don't want these," I said to myself.

I began to sift through the white flowers in the box, looking for one that would make me happy. None of the white flowers gave me any sense of enjoyment or peace. Instead, I managed to find several blue flowers hidden in the mix. "These are the ones I'll choose for my garden," I said.

Then I woke up.

All morning the name of that plant rattled in my brain, Zigadenus Elegans. I know I saw that name someplace before, but I couldn't remember where. Finally, a quick Google search revealed the common name of the plant: Death Camas.

The words startled me. Why did that woman want me to plant death camas in my yard? What is the message I'm supposed to take away? What meaning might this plant have in my life?

Impelled by my haunting dream images, I drove to the one place I had seen death camas before. I wanted to see the plant again up close and maybe take a few pictures. Unfortunately, I found out that death camas doesn't flower just yet.

On the positive side, I did find the pleasant blue flowers from my dream: the brown camas. This plant is a traditional food of the Plateau Salish tribes. The flower is blue, but the white starchy bulbs turn dark brown when cooked, hence the name brown camas.

Lomatium Triternatum

Lomatium Triternatum, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

I went to check out the roots at one of my secret spots, and found an abundance of these bright yellow flowers. Their presence intrigued me. Are they a native species? Are they edible, poisonous, or medicinal? I didn't know really know, so when I came home, I consulted several plant books.

As best I can tell, this plant is called Lomatium Triternatum or Narrow-Leafed Desert-Parsley. It is a native species to this area, and was used for both food and medicine. The roots were ground into flour to make small cakes, and the upper flowers and leaves were sometimes used to treat sore throats and colds.

Does anyone have more information regarding this plant?


Parish, Roberta, Ray Coupe, and Dennis Lloyd, eds. Plants of Southern Interior British Columbia and the Inland Northwest. Vancouver: Lone Pine Publishing, 1996.


Pink, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Anyone care to venture a guess regarding the identity of this pink flowering tree? I personally have no idea, but it certainly deserves a place in my photographs.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


After struggling for several years, Anthony graduated yesterday afternoon with his GED certificate. Math was the biggest obstable, but he finally prevailed over any insecurities he may have felt. I had the opportunity to witness the ceremony and to stand in support during this major milestone. Congratulations Anthony!!!

Unfortunately, because of his current environment, I was unable to take pictures of the event. This is an older photograph. Now he has long hair in honor of his Native traditions.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Twin Eagles

Tim, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Within the last two years, Tim Corcoran and Jeannine Tidwell of Twin Eagles Wilderness School have impacted my life in surprising ways.

They first heard me speak at an environmental conference in Spokane Valley, but we did not meet at that time. Later, they attended my presentation at the Spokane Bioneers conference and finally introduced themselves to me. Since then, our paths have crossed many times and our connection deepened.

Through Twin Eagles, Tim and Jeannine empower young people and adults to connect with nature in meaningful and tangible ways. Not only do they provide skills that increase a sense of personal mastery, but more important, they live each day from a place of deep commitment to the earth. Our friendship has inspired me to strengthen my own passion for earth-based knowledge in ways I never expected. Since they entered my life, I find my awareness of the natural world has become more alive and vibrant.

I feel confident this connection will only grow.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Jon Young

Jon Young, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

This last weekend, I had the unique opportunity to attend a workshop sponsored by Twin Eagles Wilderness School where Jon Young gave his insight regarding the art of cultural mentoring. Jon is part of another school in California dedicated to nurturing a deep connection with nature.

I won't try to summarize his work here, except to say that Jon possesses a natural gift for supporting people in their own nature connection. And as we got to know each other better, I found that he and I also share many parallel experiences in regard to Native teachings and spirituality.

Perhaps we will connect again soon.


Mentoring, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

During the weekend with Twin Eagles, I made a confession.

You see, Tim Corcoran has tried to get me to participate in one of his workshops for the last year or more. Every time we made a plan, something got in the way. Finally, he exerted some good-natured pressure and got me to make a firm commitment. I promised to attend, even though I did not know the topic of the gathering.

Then when I arrived, I was surprised to learn the workshop theme was dedicated to cultural mentoring. This is especially significant considering my recent breakthrough regarding my own evolving role as a cultural and spiritual mentor. Once again, the coincidences of my life reveal an invisible, guiding hand toward a fuller, more meaningful life.


Contemplation, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

During the weekend workshop, Twin Eagles Wilderness School introduced a concept they call the "sit-spot," or at least it sounds like that to me. Essentially the person finds a place in nature to simply sit, observe, and connect. We did this process several times throughout the weekend, and each time I found value in my experience. It's a very meditative practice, designed to clear the mind of unwanted clutter and distraction.

Spring Beauty

Spring Beauty, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Another species was quite abundant near our camp: the Spring Beauty or Claytonia lanceolata.

This one inspired some interesting conversation. One of the workshop staff asked if this and several other flowers held any cultural significance for me. I didn't know how to respond, until we finally identified the plant. As it turns out, this particular plant is also known as the "Indian potato." My father had shown this plant to me many years ago, but I had forgotten. I had also eaten it at at least one Native feast, but did not remember seeing the plant.

Seeing this plant brought back important pieces of cultural memory. That alone would have made the workshop worth my time.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Glacier Lily

Glacier Lily, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

During my weekend, I had the opportunity to become acquainted with another plant species: the glacier lily or Erythronium grandiflorum.

The bright yellow flowers lined all the wooded trails of our campsite. They tend to droop at the top, so I had to lie on my back to get a photograph of the flower from below. This created an unintended effect. The bright light of the sun turned the petals into sunbeams in their own right.

This plant also holds some cultural significance as an indigenous food source.


Dandelion, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Over this last weekend, I participated in a cultural mentoring workshop that allowed me to deepen my connection to nature. At one point, we each spent some time alone connecting to our own place in the natural environment. At first, I found myself looking for wildflowers, but annoyed with the dandelions, perhaps as a result of my previous conditioning. I mean, aren't they just a bunch of weeds?

But later in the weekend, I stopped to lie in a patch of dandelions, and I found myself comforted by the bright yellow presence reflecting in the sun.

Los Salmones

Los Salmones, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

During the most recent Ecuador exchange, we visited the salmon hatchery near Leavenworth, Washington. The tour was interesting on many levels, but certainly not the most exciting part of the experience for me personally. Even so, our discussion at the hatchery opened a transformational moment in my life.

Perhaps some background will help make my point.

At the hatchery, we discussed the life cycle of the salmon. The eggs hatch in the gravel at the bottom of cold mountain streams and rivers. The baby salmon, called fry, make their way downstream and finally escape to the sea. They spend five or six years growing in the open ocean until instinct finally calls them back to the river of their birth, and once they start the homeward journey, they stop eating and dedicate every last ounce of physical strength to swimming against the current. They return to the exact location of their birth, where they spawn and subsequently die.

The mention of death jolted many of the youth. "What do you mean they die?" someone asked in disbelief.

"I mean they die."

"But why would do they have to die just as they lay their eggs? Why would they do that?" several of the youth asked. Their faces bore an expression of confusion, as if to suggest the salmon must be crazy to embark upon an obvious suicide mission.

Our guide explained the reason. "They die," she said, "Because they give every last bit of strength to the next generation. They give so much that the flesh literally begins to fall away from their bodies and then the decomposed matter provides nutrients to the river."

Something about this notion did not sit well with the youth, but they nodded and finally seemed to accept the eventual end of the mother and father salmon.

* * *

This simple experience opened the doorway to a major life shift for me.

Throughout the exchange, many of the youth showed signs of of their own life changes, and I found myself taking the role of mentor and elder. As we traveled deeper into spiritual awareness, the young people looked to me for encouragement, mentoring, and guidance.

I have been a teacher for many years, but this was the first time I began to experience myself as a mentor. Where teaching usually involves the transfer of information, mentoring is so much more. It involves creating a relationship where creativity and spiritual growth can occur. I didn't see myself in that role, not at first. It all happened so organically, before anyone noticed the process.

Near the end of the experience it hit me. Suddenly I saw myself at a crossroads of my life, no longer a child who received so much insight, wisdom, and love from the elders. I felt within myself the first longings of my birthstream calling me back where I will one day give all my strength to the following generation.

Then an even deeper awareness opened to my eyes. Every bit of love, courage, strength, trust, teaching, wisdom, ritual, or song that my elders ever gave me was never about ME. They didn't give me anything just because they liked me or thought I was a good person. They gave this offering to the process of life, and I simply carry their offering on my back until it's my turn to pass it on. This realization was like an ego-death, tearful and yet liberating all at once. And one day I will give everything away to my children and grandchildren, and in the end, I will give my own body to the earth.

This is the way it has always been done.

As the exchange drew to a close, I carried this new awareness mingled with sadness and joy. I knew I had to pass this teaching to the kids before they returned to Ecuador, so I gathered together as many as I could and sang a song for their journey home. I told them I would represent the mother salmon and the father salmon and give them my heart as an offering to the process of life.

We shared such powerful and tender moments, and now we are all changed.

Friday, May 08, 2009


This video represents my first experimentations with Windows MovieMaker and YouTube subtitles. It features Alexander Mosquera from Otavalo, Ecuador on the evening before their return home.

When you watch the video, English subtitles should automatically appear, but if not, make sure to click on the Closed Caption (CC) option. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

La Mujer Indigena

La Mujer Indigena, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Reflecting upon the Ecuador Youth Leadership Exchange, the youth created a dance that portrayed various aspects of indigenous history in South America. I've written somewhat about this already, but I have not yet mentioned the roles played by Margarita and Flor. They specificaly represented indigenous women in Ecuador.

When Rhonda and I traveled to Ecuador in the summer of 2008, we observed many women still use the traditional form of dress. In fact, this was more true for women than for men, though we certainly observed both.

This photograph also makes me reflect on an activity we did as a group. Inspired by the Iroquois Constitution, the Ecuador youth created an activity where the women got to vote on who would carry the flags during the powwow. They were allowed to select one woman and two men. The women judged the candidates on such characteristics as honor and trustworthiness, and then voted according to who they believed most exemplified these traits.

By separating the powers between men and women, men got to hold most positions of honor, but they did not get to vote. Women held a remarkable power of selection and veto in the affairs of the tribe. It is an interesting variation on democracy that created a separation of powers that pre-dates the three branches of US government. In fact, we studied this issue precisely because we wanted to learn more about the indigenous influence on American democracy.

I'm glad to say this group handled the exercise with much dignity and respect for everyone involved.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


Seedling, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Some time last summer I made my big plan to plant native species in my yard, but I wasn't sure if I would have enough money to buy the plants, or enough know-how to successfully germinate the seeds.

So I asked myself, "What would nature do in this situation?"

By observing the plants and animals, I noticed the birds would perch in the branches of the serviceberry tree and eat the berries. So one day I literally grabbed a handful of berries, chewed them up, and spit them onto the appropriate place in my garden.

Rhonda and I laughed at my spit-method gardening, but lo and behold, after the snow melted, a tiny seedling appeared with a single leaf that displayed the characteristic pattern of a true serviceberry. After we saw the seedling apear, we laughed again and Rhonda named the plant my spit-baby.


I sure hope it really grows up into a serviceberry tree. It would be embarrassing if it turns out to be something else after I blogged and told the whole world about my unconventional gardening methods.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Angel 010, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

This afternoon I attended an Angel training to learn how to be a better angel than I already am.

Actually, all joking aside, Angel is a system for delivering online instruction. My employer, the Institute for Extended Learning, is switching all online content from BlackBoard to Angel, which means I had to take a class in the new system. The class convened on the campus of Spokane Falls Community College, and so far I can honestly say Angel will make my life a lot easier as an intructor. The new system is very intuitive and user friendly.

As an aside, I got a great photograph of this flowering tree on the college campus. It sort of reminds me of an angelic presence on a beautiful spring day.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


Daughters, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

My daughters had the chance to dig white camas along with Rhonda and me. Whitney got discouraged, but oddly enough she dug more camas than I ever did at that age. They're not always easy to extract from the ground, but she managed to do quite well. McKenna didn't get her hands dirty, but she provided a wonderful cheering section for her sister. She also acted as the official photographer for this event.

White Camas

White Camas, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

The work was so much easier this year. It seems we hardly spent an hour in the field and we already collected as much camas as previous years, but in so much less the time. When we got home, the work went so much faster too. Many helping hands make light work.

This is the first food of the new year, and I feel light as a feather having fulfilled this one obligation.


Rhonda, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Rhonda helped me dig camas this year. Despite what she might think, I was honored to share this experience with her. It's been a long time, but today we created a wonderful memory.

Digging Camas

Digging Camas, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Went digging this afternoon in one of our traditional digging spots. Almost exclusively we found white camas; not much bitterroot. Sad to say, I didn't make much of a fashion statement this year, but we were focused on digging and staying warm. A nasty wind blew in, followed by a chilling rain.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

La Virgen del Quinche

La Virgen del Quinche, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Going backward just a little, my fiend Paola played the part of La Virgen del Quinche during the Ecuadorian cultural presentation. This particular photograph was taken during their exhibition dance at the Pullman Powwow.

An interesting thing happened, in fact, something changed for me when I saw them playing their various parts. Whoever they might have been normally gave way to the people they became on the stage. In my mind I knew Paola was playing a part, but when I saw her dressed in her robes, something genuine and real channeled through her.

I am not sure how to explain it, except to say that these young people were simply messengers.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Inti Tayta

Inti Tayta, originally uploaded by sulustumoses.

Reflecting on the Ecuador exchange, I'm impressed by the reverence the Kichwa people express toward the sun and all of creation. During one of the dances, Rodrigo lifted his hands toward the sky and cried out, "Yupaichani Inti Tayta..." (Thank You Sun Father...) As he spoke these words, I felt my heart beat stronger.

The connection is especially interesting because the Spokane Tribe is also named for the Sun. In fact, the word Spokane literally means the "Sun." It makes me wonder what ancient, forgotten relationship exists between the Sun and my ancestors.

The Sun plays a major part of their ritual life, and perhaps this was also true for us at one time.

As another interesting connection, Janet told me that the image of the Sun appeared on the ground after the Ecuador youth danced on the Nez Perce Reservation. Their footsteps left a pattern like rays of light shining from a circle on the earth.


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