Hackberry Van

I want to thank all the people who were always there for me on the trip. I want to give a special thank you to the Hackberry Van.

IMG_0163  Monet Becenti, who is loving, caring, helpful, and most of all a friendly person. She always recognized when I was feeling sad, always by my side, giving me pep talks to make me feel better. Thank you Monet I appreciate what you have done for me.

IMG_0167  Cheri Root, is very funny, ornery, loving, and outgoing. Always making everybody laugh specially when it got quite. She was like a big sister.

IMG_0164Cia keys, was one of the two persons on this trip who I was able to talk to in Spanish fluently. Although she got sick various times on the trip she never got crabby. She always had a smile on her face. She is an extrovert, caring and wise person who I enjoyed spending time with.

IMG_0165 Jessica Brar, just moved to Washington State. She lived all her life in California but decide it was time to make a move. She also has a very friendly, helpful, funny personality. It was always fun to be around her.

IMG_0168  Eva  Carl, She is a senior at Heritage University. She taught me a lot about environmental science on this trip. Mainly about geology in both Oregon and Washington. Always sing on the back of the bus because she loves her old country music and old rock songs. She says she “don’t care much for the new country songs.” She is loving, caring, friendly, and optimistic.

Day thirteen

IMG_0508 (Two rivers on the Spoake Reservation) IMG_0506 (Lunch time eating salmon) IMG_0504 (Jacob and Vince singing a song at the salmon lunch.)

Today is the day. We are going HOME! We woke up at six thirty and started packing all of our equipment. Then we did an inventory of all the things we had on the trip. Then we cleaned out our vans and packed all of our gear and hit the road. We met with Twa-le at noon for a salmon lunch. At the dinner there was multiple guest speakers spoke who talked about the lost of the salmon. We also were singing and praying that one day “the creator” will bring the salmon back to the Spokane Tribe.

I want to say thank you to all the people that put together this trip and made it possible. Thank you Jessica Black for giving me the courage to go on this filled trip for two long weeks because I know I would have never done it without.

The hardest thing I had to do was to leave my little girl at home. This was the first time I have ever been away from home without my mother and now my child I am happy to say I managed to get through it. I cannot express how much I learned about the environment and the problems different Native American tribes in Washington and Oregon are struggling with. The trip was also hard for me because I have only been camping once in my life and that was about a year ago. As a result, I was not family with what one does and does not do when they go camping. Overall, I have learned so much not only about the different areas we visited but also about the Native Americans. My heart goes out to all the Native American people, specially for everything they have lost. Not only for the lost of their people but also for their land, cultural beliefs and language.

I hope one day the Spokane tribe will be able to bring back the salmon to their region. Salmon is an important part of their life and culture. I also want to thank Warren Seyler for welcoming us to the reservation and also for shearing openly their culture and problems the Spokane Native American people are facing.

P.S I have also confirmed that the creator is God.

IMG_0516(Dry Falls) IMG_0522(Dry Falls)IMG_0517(Dry Falls) IMG_0524(Me at Dry Falls)IMG_0520(Dry Falls)IMG_0539(Eva Carl unloading the van at Heritage University.)

Day twelve

All pictures are taken from Twa-le’s presentation. IMG_0427 (Spokane Reservation)IMG_0428 (The effect of the Midnite Uranium Mine.)IMG_0429 (Diagram if the “Exposure Pathways.”)IMG_0434 (Twa-le presenting to our class.) IMG_0436 ( Conversion of Uranium, to Radium, transforming in to Radon.)

Today Twa-le Swan spoke of the Calville Reservation fires that are happening close to the Spokane tribe. She also explained how all the wildfires can have an effect on the air quality. All the forest fires will contaminate the air for all the living things that breath oxygen. She also shared with us that the wild fires that are going on right now on the Calville Reservation started with lighting.

She also talked about the contamination effect of the mill and the mines. She said that not only were the people affected but also the fish and habitat living in the water. She stated that 51% of the mines were own by Dawn Mining Company and the other 51% was owned by Midnite Mine. She then told us a situation that happen on the reservation. Shared a story about a lady who lived in a home on the reservation that had high levels of uranium. That lady over the years became pregnant and had a baby. But the thing is that the baby was born with birth problems. It was all because of the mines and mill companies that contaminated massive amounts of areas on the reservation. In my opinion nobody should have gone through situations like that if it were not for the mines and mills. The companies should have taken responsibility of their action years ago. They should have taken care of the toxins before they even decided to leave the Spokane reservation. Shame on them for putting people through situations they should have never been put through.

The tribal members and the mine companies are now working on cleaning the toxic mess they have left behind. They were forced to started a legal action in 2005-2008 because the companies never went back to clean up their disaster. Swan also stated that Rando is still a major problem on the reservation because it can cause cancer. It starts off with Uranium then Radium then its Radon which can evaporates in to homes and cause lung cancer. Look at the picture I have attracted for more explanation.

After Twa-le Swan’s presentation George Hill a well know Native American artists spoke to us. He said he has been an artist since he was six or five. He is a veteran. He has also performed in rodeos. He went to the Institution of American Indian Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He stated that you have to be a registered Native American to be accepted in the institution. Art was what helped him “calm his spirit” because when he was young he would always get in to trouble.

Hill first started out with sculptures and know works on a lot of Native American drawings. He also stated that in 2010 he had a really bad stroke that should have killed him but survived. His doctor told him that 99% of all patients die from the type of stoke Hill had. After his stroke his paintings changed. Every time he paints now he gets emotional. Hh atients die from the type of stoke Hill had. After his stroke his paintings changed. Everyte also gave us advice. He said that one should never feel pressured to sale to sale their art. He said as long as “you love your painting then somebody else will love them to.” In other words, the paintings will sale on their own.


IMG_0440( Seyler speaks to the whole class.)

IMG_0449 (George Hill and his paintings.)

Day eleven

IMG_0349 IMG_0354 IMG_0356 IMG_0360 IMG_0364 (We found a turtles shell.) IMG_0371 (Equipment from the Anderson’s Ranch. It is a Bear trap.)

Today we met with Seyler, who introduced us to his brother Jim Seyler. Jim works for the historical preservation office. He said they have documents of 1810 were their community was people of the river and depending on Salmon. On one of the pictures I have posted there is a graph with dots and those dots signifies were all the fish weir were located. Fish weir are man maid dams that stop the rivers, lakes, ponds, creeks, and streams from over flooding. When the Grand Coulee Dam was created massive amount of fish were able to be pulled out of the river. They were able to take out not 500 nor 600 pounds of salmon but 5,000 pounds!

He also talked about Pit houses that Native American built hundreds of years ago. The pit houses were create for protection from the cold winter nights as well as bad weather climates. They were mostly built close to a source of water for example a creek, lake, river, or a stream. They also had stove ovens to cook food. For example, they cooked bread and wheat inside the pit houses.

We also met Bill Joe Kieffer who is the chairman head of the DNR taking care of the culture, forestry and fisheries departments. He stated that they have lost an enormous out of land. They had 3.4 million acres and now they only have 157,000 acres. He also said that that the biggest income for the reservation is the timber industry. He took us to Anderson’s Ranch which us to be a dairy ranch. There we met Tom Curd and Dicky Hudhes who work for the wildlife. Curd catches bears who get close to the city and community members homes. They then move the bears to a safe location. They have also worked on relocating McCoy creek in order to stop the creek water form evaporating, therefore; having a stronger flow with more water.

IMG_0380 IMG_0382


Day ten

027 (Edward Madly and Rob Stevens) 028(Bill Matt Sr.) 032 (Twa-le Swan)034 (Tana Atchley) 036(Brian Cossley) 042(Walking to Little Tshimikain) 038 (Jessica and Brian)

Today, Jessica announced we will be going home on Saturday which is so exciting, I really miss my daughter. Afterwards, we met Warren at the middle/high school and he introduced us to many of the people we will be working with for the next two days at WellPinit. Warren talked a little bit about their wildlife growth population that has been increasing since the past fifteen years. He also explained that instead of fishing like all the other tribes their main source of food is wildlife because of various government reasons. Therefore, stating that they were a Native American tribe that was late to negotiate at Walla Walla. In fact, when all the other tribes were getting their treat in 1858 they were not able to attend the meeting and suffered so much because of that. In 188, when they negotiated with the government they ended up getting an executive order rather than a treat. Consequently, losing all their right off any area that is not on the Spokane reservation. In my opinion, that makes me really mad because Salmon is a very important to a Native American because it is one of the main food source they have. It is also part of their culture and believes.

We also meet Edward Madly a technician three who works for the wildlife department for the reservation. Next was Rob Stevens who also works with Madly. Madly explained what his job duties are and how they maintain wildlife under control. They take care of their wildlife  when the animals can not feel themselves. For instance, they will provide food for them there is an immense amount of snows in the winter. They also control the wild weeds that can over populate the forest with plant that are not always wanted in specific areas.

The third person was, Bill Matt Sr. who is an Environmental officer and works for the environmental protection program culture to fair community. He is currently working to bring back salmon in to the Spokane community. He told us of an experience which he says that “touched his heart” and made him feel good about all his hard work and struggles. He started off by telling us of the impacts of the Grand Coulee Dam located on the Columbia River. After the dam was built they lost all the salmon and the community youth was not able to grow with the ability to have salmon in their life. But, now that have and are still working on creating methods and strategies to bring back the salmon they once had. Matt explained that one day when they were having their feast a little girl got a salmon piece and like it. After she eat her first piece the little girl looked around and got another one. He felt happy and successful because he accomplished what he wanted for community members to get connected to their culture and salmon foods they once had.

Chad McCrate works for the timber forest and wildlife program for the Spokane tribe. He maintains the timber, clean water act, air, and soil. McCrate is also the chairman of the wildlife community. He controls all the wildlife within the reservation specially all the elk, moose and deer. Last year he was taking care of 300 plus registered Native Americans who hunted regulating and take care of 3.4 million acres of land.

We also met Twa-le Swan who works for the tribal as the air coordinator. She mostly does out reach for the community in order to protected the citizens so that they can have a sustainable air. She told us that Washington state was the first state to have federate air rules on reservations. She also said that there was times in the past that citizens would burn their garbage every week. She stated that her department has educated and helped community members  understand the harm burning garbage can do to an environment. For example, global warming, pollution for water and soil which is not renewable and also air.

We also met Brian Cossley who took us on a trip after everybody’s presentations. Cossley is a fisheries biologist who works for the water resource department at the Spokane tribe. He stated that he worked for the tribe for fifteen years and loves it. He also shared some information about the water in the creeks, rivers and ponds. Explaining situation from the past years when the water would catch on fire. Most if not all the community member were clueless of why the water was on fire. Once they found out that all along it was because of pollution and uranium contamination everything started to make sense. Uranium is still a problem to the tribe because of the two natural gas mines and one mill site. The mines and mill sites polluted the water and soil they were located on. Today the areas where the mines and mill are located at have a big hole on the ground. Because the tribe is not able to fish salmon as much as they did 75 years ago they do manmade transportation in order to have fish survive. So we went to little Tshimikain where we cough Redside shiners, speckled dace, and bridgelip suckers that help as food for the fish on the McCoy creek.

044(Walking on the Little Tshimikain)  049 (Me)073 (To the left is Alondra Guzman, center me, Maria Oritz)

057 (Jesus Cervantes catching the shocked fish.)

056(This is what we found on our way to Little Tshimikain. It is burnt tires.)

064(What we caught!)

066 (Jessica Black in Little Tshimikain.)

067(Brian’s hand showing me a baby mosquito.)

Day nine


(we stopped at a rest stop and Cheri Root bought the huckleberry popcorn and they were delicious.)

023 022

(This is what happen when the our rental van needs transmission  oil. Monet Becenti and Vince George on the left picture. On the right picture is Eric Washines, Monet, and Jacob Billy at the far right.)

019 (This is our famous “LUNCH” for the past seven days.)

Today I woke up at six thirty am. We packed our tents, sleeping material, clothing, and headed to Spokane, Washington! I’m so excited to go back to Washington. I feel exhausted because we drove five and a half hours from Umatilla, Oregon to Spokane, Washington. At WellPinit we met Warren Seyler who works for the Spokane tribe in WellPinit, Washington.      introduced himself and told us our schedule for the next four days. Sounds like a lot of fun I cannot wait to see the creeks and fish he talked about. After the long drive we set up our tents and got ready to take showers. We showered at the middle/high school tribal school in WellPinit.

Day eight

003 004 006

(I was only able to take a couple pictures of the outside of the museum because once inside the exhibit we were prohibited to take pictures.)

Today we were all able to sleep in. I woke up at seven thirty. We showered at the Arrowhead truck stop and spent some time at McDonald to upload and update our blogs. Then we head to the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute to explore the museum. This museum had similar things that The Confederate tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon had. The one different think that I notice was that the Tamastslikt had a lot of the words translated to their language. For example, the word horse is “Sikem.”

Then at four pm we met with Wenix in the Nixyaawii Governance Center where she works. She talked about her job and explained the exciting things she does. Wenix is the education outreach specialist for her department teaching others how to preserve and protect their natural resources. She organize presentations to educate the town citizen of the natural resource problems in their area. She also told how she goes to events and takes pictures of the natural resource and their culture traditions.

Day seven


016 (My professor Jessica Black.)


We all woke up at 5:30 am to pack are stuff and get ready to travel to Umatilla, Oregon. We arrived at Wenix Red Elk’s home at two thirty  pm. Winix is a representative for the Public Relation for the Department of  National Resource of the Confederate Tribes of the Umatilla India Reservation.

Wenix’s mother Laveda Red Elk thought the whole class how to design a glass plate for our homes. After we finished our glass, we were able to sit around Winix’s fire pit and enjoy the night.

011 (Wenix Red Elk presenting a PowerPoint of her culture and methods.)

Day six

106                               (Lava Lake Resort)                          107


Today we woke up at 8:30 am and eat breakfast. Then we all got ready to take showers. Know let me remind my readers there is twenty-five students traveling with us. Therefore, getting everybody showered and ready to go can take hours. Laundry, also took another seven to six hours.

Although, we took so long to washing our clothes I still had fun. It gave the college students time away from the high school students. In fact, some of the college students were able to ride a boat at the Lava Lake Resort in Bend. Sadly my head started hurting so I lay down and went to bed. I guess I was so tiered that I wake up until the next day at five thirty am.

Day five

074 (Forest rangers in Oregon)

Last night I stayed awake until ten, so today I am exhausted. This morning we meet with  multiple rangers who spoke of various problems that the forest undergoes. The first ranger was Callin McGuigan. McGuigan works for the Central Oregon Fire Management Service as a fire fighter. He treats the areas in the forest that are most likely to catch on fire. That is if they are within the areas that the government protect. He also shared with us his thought of how important one should take college. Also, stating how one should always keep working to overcome all obstacles that get in your way. He was actually really nice and spoke so passionate about his work and it almost made me cry.

After McGuigan’s talk we went to Farewell Bend Park for lunch. OMG! We had a BARBEQUE it was delicious. We later meet with Scot McBride who is the monument manager Ranger. McBride is currently working on the Recreation for the National Forest System. Protecting the forest and keeping it safe for not just the visitors but also the wildlife. He explained how one should always keep the environment healthy for our children’s children and so on.

And lastly, we met Kevin S. and Steve whose last name I did not get, because I am a slow  writer. Kevin was the lead field ranger of the  RNFS. And I’m not sure what Steve’s job tile is; in fact, he did not say much. At the end of the day, Kevin took us on a hike to a beautiful water fall called Benham falls Overlook from Slough.

012 (Deshutes National Forest Camp Grounds.)