Honoring the Elders

“We have enough water for the elders, but we might not have enough water for the rest of the audience. We always have enough for our elders. At here, we want to make sure that our elders are always at the first place.”

I heard this during the veteran’s pow-wow, an event that honors all veterans–tribal and non tribal–that fought for the United States of America in the past. Veterans entered in the front of the front of the dancers, as they fought in the front lane of the battlefield, and they will be giving a small introduction about themselves: who are they, where and when they fought for the country. Some took this chance to honor their parents or even grandparents who were also veterans. The Veterans pow wow also provided great opportunities to help veterans and their family members, such as offering  health care or helping reconnect them to civilian life (Dean Rhodes, veterans’ weekend arrives with summit pow wow), which may not be mentioned during the main activities though.

We respect the elders and we help and care about them, put them at the first place, not simply because they are old or we think they need us to help them, but for what they have done and suffered to make their lives, their society (which becomes our society), and their offsprings’ lives (which could be ours) better. This kind of respect is not unique to Grand Ronde; we can see it in every corner of our world! Think about the constructors who made us the foundations and houses for us to stay safe; think about the hunters and the food gatherers who bring us food when we were waiting for them; think about the warriors, the veterans (like what we did at pow wow!) think about all of them and what they have done to contribute the world the society we live in now. They did what they could when they were young and strong(some of them still stood in their place even when they were not young anymore), and when their age added up, when they were not able to wave the tool, shouldn’t we be grateful for what they have done and make sure they had what they deserve?

This kind of respect and consideration for veterans and the elders is not only to make sure that they can enjoy what they deserve after what they have done for our generation, it is also for our generation to remember and to honor their actions. Through the actions of the elder, our generation has the responsibility to see what our ancestors and elders have done for us, learn their wisdom by listening to their words, and most importantly feel them with our heart. The elders, are just like a beautiful song, like the song for the ancestors that was sung in the plank house.

“Think about our ancestor, who had suffered so much during the time that they were forced to travel to this place, think about their sacrifices, their contribution, now we are sitting in the plank house, let us remember our ancestors, as we should remember our tradition” Bobby Mercier spoke these words.

May the elders (and ancestors!) guide us with their wisdom, and long live the elders!

sources:

Rhodes, Dean, veterans’ weekend arrives with summit pow wow, the confederated tribes of grand ronde, 6/29/2017, http://www.grandronde.org/news/smoke-signals/2017/06/29/veterans-weekend-arrives-with-summit-powwow/#sthash.YEx0sj7a.dpbs

 

Engaging Nature Through Photography

While most of my experience with photography has been spent around busy people and bustling places, getting out into a more natural setting requires a fresh review of the skills I thought I had as a photographer. It also allows a chance to weather down the distinctly different sense of busyness that comes when engrossed in an full, flourishing, and unfamiliar environment.

After finding some free time one afternoon, I decided to wander down some trails that I had previously visited briefly in the weeks before. Coming from an urban environment, it really is a shock to the system to be somewhere with so little noise.

This is a close-up of the Douglas fir that is seen to the left of the previous photo. Partially because there was nobody else around, and because the sun began to set in a fantastic way that shone through the flora, I spent around twenty minutes in a stretch of the trail not more than five meters long.

During a trip to Fort Yamhill State Heritage Area, the small group I was with repeatedly heard a bird call that we could not place. Instead of putting on my city lens and walking away without paying the event any mind, I decided to stop and look for the culprit. The wait between each call was a struggle with impatience, but after a couple of long minutes, we spotted this (most likely) osprey hanging out and yelling at us from about 50 meters away.

One of the first things that was pointed out to our group on a trip to Mt. Hebo was the existence of wild strawberries that grew practically everywhere around the visiting areas. The size of the berries surprised me at first, while I was not expecting full grocery store sized strawberries, the wild ones were no larger than a dime. Getting a decent photo of them took becoming uncomfortably familiar with the low lying plants in the area as I had to nearly lie down on top of them.

Wild berries have since lent themselves a much more central role in the free time we find ourselves, resulting in our crew planning our weekends around the optimal times to go collect more.

Queen Anne’s lace or poison hemlock? A question that was asked far too many times for anyone’s comfort on our trip to Cape Meares. I found myself noting the more subtle differences between the similar looking plants as we wandered. In an effort to take pictures of the flower with the prettier name that is markedly less poisonous, I ended up with over a dozen pictures of very similar looking flowers. In the end, this one was my favorite… and it is definitely poison hemlock.

At the end of the fourth week of the program, it still feels like there is so much to learn and do out here in the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. We are kept busy every day with new projects and fresh dirt, all of which offer new photographic opportunities on site. Photography offers a window to focus on a subject that can be as broad or specific as one’s own technology allows. In my case, preferring a longer lens forces me to consider more definite and distinct focal points, helping me slow down and take in the environment piece by piece. Each of those pieces has a story to tell, and I’m hoping to capture a single perspective of the massive narrative around me.

All photos are my own, taken with a Nikon D7100, and are unedited.

-Luke