"And with a good heart you will grow up well."
To know where you are going, you must know where you are from. Our People have lived upon this land since time immemorial. Our Creator made us from the flora and fauna. Our origin story tells us that our skin comes from the hide of elk, our vision from eagle, our hearing from the owl, our veins from the roots of the plants, and our voice from the salmon. This is how we were stood up as a human.
I tell you this, so you can carry forward your responsibilities as a steward of the lands you are so fortunate to inherit. You are made strong by the resources on the land because they are what created you.
The land, air and waters of the Columbia River Basin have sustained our lives and those of our relatives; the animals and plants. Our interdependency is not happenstance. It is how we maintain life and our existence. Ecological diversity is critical to the sustainability of our homelands. It is critical to humans, the animals, and plants.
Our resources have endured significant impacts over the past 200 years. With the influx of new peoples came radical changes to the landscape. Lands were cleared of their trees. Rivers were dammed and diverted. New industries brought pollution to the land, air and water. Many of the new comers did not know of the covenant we possess to be responsible stewards of the resources.
An imbalance is upon the land in the form of climate change and loss of ecological functions. Now the new comers recognize the potential detrimental effects past generations have caused by not being good stewards. Your journey on the land and along the waters should lead you to better understand how to restore, preserve and protect the resources we love and need.
Much work has been done by the Columbia Land Trust to improve stewardship over the years. Much work has been accomplished by likeminded stewards who recognize the importance of a well-balanced world. Hopefully by now you will have seen a great turn around and have helped lessen the negative effects of climate change and ecological function.
You must be the example, set the direction, and lead the way to help restore the land and ourselves as humans.
You will be carried forward on your journey based upon the understanding of your past and the work of your ancestors. Be a good steward. The rewards you will receive from doing so will benefit not just you, but your children and grandchildren to come. Niixwi – do well, do good, make friends, be at peace.
Pu’sa – Grandfather