News from the Pacific Northwest: Nations Give $25,000 for Law Scholarships

SEATTLE – The Northwest Indian Bar Association was recently given a gift of nearly $25,000 from Lummi, Port Gamble, Puyallup and Tulalip donors for scholarships for law students.

That brings to $100,000 the amount raised in four years by the association and its sister group, the Washington State Bar Association Indian Law Section, to help American Indian law students from the Pacific Northwest.

Other past donors include the Jamestown S’Klallam, Muckleshoot, Squaxin Island, Suquamish and Swinomish.

“As Indian people we give, and we give back,” said NIBA President Lael Echo-Hawk, Pawnee, in a news release. She is counsel for the Tulalip Tribes and a former scholarship recipient.

“The program embodies the tribal spirit of giving and helping those aspiring Indian lawyers who follow in our footsteps to reach their professional goals.”

These four scholarship recipients will soon receive law degrees: Michael Douglas, Haida, University of Washington School of Law; Ralph Jefferson, Lummi, UW School of Law; Malena Pinkham, Grand Ronde, UW School of Law; and Victor Torres, Aleut, Seattle University.

Five schools receive funds for repairs

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Five school districts in American Indian communities will make vital repairs, thanks to grants from the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

A total of $2.2 million is making its way to school districts for capital construction work through the small repair grant program approved by the state Legislature.

The grants provide immediate assistance for unforeseen health and safety risks, fire and building code deficiencies, insufficient access for disabled students and asbestos abatement and removal.

A reported 133 school districts applied for funding and 26 were funded.

Onalaska School District, in traditional Chehalis territory, has about 7 percent American Indian enrollment. It received $99,400 to renovate roofs.

Omak School District, which lies partly within the Colville Indian Reservation, received $98,000 to renovate roofs.

Palouse School District, located in traditional Palouse territory near the Washington/Idaho border, has 3 percent American Indian enrollment. It received $90,000 to renovate or repair sidewalks, bleachers and its phone system.

Wishram School District, south of the Yakama Indian Reservation, received $100,000 to repair roofs and a fire alarm system.

Zillah School District, which lies partly in the Yakama Indian Reservation, received $75,000 to renovate roofs.

Yakama build longhouse for commemoration

GOLDENDALE, Wash. – Members of the Mid-Columbia Bands of the Yakama Nation have constructed a traditional longhouse of poles and hand-woven tule reed mats at Maryhill Museum of Art in Goldendale on the Columbia River.

The longhouse was completed in time for a commemoration of Lewis and Clark’s visit 200 years ago. On April 22, 1806, Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery walked across the bluff where the museum now sits.

The longhouse “is very much like those Lewis and Clark saw along the river during their journey through the Columbia River Gorge,” said Colleen Schafroth, museum executive director.

Of the visit, William Clark wrote in his journal, “Those people received us with great kindness … we got … a few pounded roots, fish and Acorns.”

At the April 22 – 23 commemoration, Yakama members shared their rich culture with traditional drumming and dancing, demonstration of traditional arts and talks about native plants.

Actor Swil Kanim leads health conference

BOW, Wash. – Swil Kanim, Lummi, known for his role as Mouse in Sherman Alexie’s “The Business of Fancydancing,” was a keynote speaker at the annual Tribal Mental Health Conference May 3 – 4 at The Skagit Resort.

The conference was presented by the North Sound Mental Health Administration and was titled, “Transformation: Trauma to Triumph.” The Skagit Resort is owned by the Upper Skagit Tribe.

Kanim, a world-class violinist, also appeared in the movie “The Flats” and co-hosts the TV series “The New Canoe” on Bravo! The series features contemporary and traditional Native artists, authors, dancers, language specialists, musicians and others involved in their culture.

Joining Kanim as a keynote speaker was Al Siebert, known worldwide for his research into the inner nature of highly resilient survivors. He is the author of “The Resiliency Advantage” and “The Survivor Personality.” He is a consultant to several tribes.

The conference included workshops on burnout resolution, life-skills training for Native adolescents, the residential school experience and transforming mental health.

In attendance were educators and health workers from Lummi, Nooksack, Samish, Sauk-Suiattle, Stillaguamish, Swinomish, the Tulalip Tribes and Upper Skagit.

Richard Walker is a correspondent reporting from San Juan Island, Wash. Contact him at rmwalker@rockisland.com.