eNewsletter from Wisdom of the Elders
November 27th 2018


Greetings From Teresa Montana

Greetings, community! I hope you all are well and happy, and enjoying the beautiful colors of fall!

Wisdom of the Elders is transitioning and looking into the future full of hope and excitement. I would like to say, I am so very honored to be considered for the Executive Director position here at Wisdom. I have much to uphold and carry forth in the vision and mission that has laid the foundation of all that Wisdom is. Wisdom’s Board of Directors is expected to make its final decision in the new year.

I, of course, must be sure to tell you all what a wonderful and amazing staff we have. Our staff has impressed and delighted me from the first day. In getting to know each of them, I can clearly see and feel the commitment, dedication and passion in the work they do.

Tim Burgess, Multimedia Coordinator

Kunu Bearchum, Multimedia Producer

Dawn Lowe, Wisdom Workforce Development Education Coordinator

Alvey Seeyouma, Wisdom Workforce Development Crew Leader

Rose High Bear, Senior Consultant and Executive Producer

We also have two new employees. Leslie Riggs (Grand Ronde) and Marissa Spang (Northern Cheyenne, Crow). Mr. Riggs is Discovering Yidong Xinag Project Coordinator, and Mrs. Spang is Wisdom Workforce Development Coordinator for our new rural initiative. We are very fortunate and excited to have them both aboard as they bring their talents and experience to enhance our programs. Welcome to you both!!!

Special thanks to our consultants:

Lora Price, Wisdom Workforce Development Project Consultant

Jocelyn Furbush, Bookkeeper and Grant Manager

Larry Johnson, Multimedia Consultant

I also want to mention our Wisdom Workforce Development interns. After weekly classroom sessions with Dawn, our team of eight all put in many hours of hard work on the ground with our partners and for our city completing environmental assessment and habitat restoration projects.

I would like to thank all of you who were able to attend our 25-year celebration and birthday celebration for Rose High Bear on November 14th! The evening was a great success and it was wonderful to see our partners and to meet new people. I also want to thank those who were with us in thought and those that sent us your warm messages of support.

As we move into the end of this year, and the fast approaching winter season, may your lives be blessed and your hearts full of joy! I give thanks to all who lift us up and support our organization as we in turn lift those who come through our doors at Wisdom of the Elders.

My best to you all,

-Teresa Montana

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Wisdom of the Elders Launches a Documentary Film Fundraiser

Wisdom of the Elders invites you to join us in completing a pair of hour-long TV programs about the effects of the warming climate on traditional Native foods and resources in Oregon. On December 12th, we will launch a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo to prepare the films for broadcast.

For thousands of years, we Native Oregonians have been deeply connected to the land, our source for food, medicine and the things we need to live. We consider these to be gifts from The Creator. But today, these traditional gifts are threatened. As the climate warms up and development encroaches on our lands, our fish are getting sick, our forests are burning and our wild game is struggling to survive.

You can help bring this important story to a national audience through two hour-length video programs:  ”Native Wisdom: The People of Oregon’s Coast” and “Native Wisdom: The People of Oregon’s Interior.” While most of the shooting is done, additional funding is needed to complete these programs and ready them for broadcast on national educational television and for distribution to schools, libraries and film festivals. Post-production editing, music, sound design and mastering take lots of time and money.  We hope to raise $10,000 to do the job right.

We’ll be sending the announcement and link along soon. So oplease consider supporting Wisdom’s film project. Contributions of any size are welcome. There will be lots of great perks for you to enjoy in appreciation of your gift: free downloads, DVDs, signed original art prints and tickets to the premiere. Even if you can’t contribute, you can join us in getting the word out.

Change is coming. Let’s make it the right kind of change. Watch for news of the campaign.


Wisdom of the Elders wins Post Production Grant

November 18, 2018, Portland, OR – Wisdom of the Elders, Inc. (Wisdom) the Native-run non-profit, has received a $5,000 award from the Portland Film Office/Oregon Made Post Production Grant Program. The purpose of the funds is for post-production editing and sound design for two films in its Native Wisdom Documentary Film Series featuring today’s changing climate and how it is affecting traditional First Foods and other resources of Oregon tribes.

The documentaries will feature gifted tribal elders and indigenous scientists and their observations of ecosystems on their reservation and ceded lands where they hunt, fish and gather traditional First Foods and medicines. The films will show how traditional ecological knowledge is now influencing decisions by natural resource managers in Oregon on wildlife and resource management.

The Post-Production Film Grant Program, through a partnership between the Portland Film Office and Oregon Made Creative Foundation, supports the professional development of small, local filmmakers by providing funds for activities including sound design, scoring, editing, color correction, closed captioning, VFX and music clearances using post-production houses.

Portland-based Wisdom of the Elders, founded by the late Martin High Bear (Lakota) and his wife Rose High Bear (Athabascan), has been collecting Native oral histories, stories on history, culture and music for 25 years. Known for their award-winning radio series, “Wisdom of the Elders Radio,” and The Northwest Indian Storytellers Association events, Wisdom has started to develop documentary films. The video series “Native Wisdom,” includes programs on Alaskan Athabascan and Inupiat peoples and a pair of short films about Native Oregonians. These two films, entitled “The People of Oregon’s Coast” and “The People of Oregon’s Interior,” will be expanded to one hour each for broadcast on public television.

“Native American prophesy states that the day will come,” explains Wisdom’s Executive Producer, Rose High Bear, “when the peoples of the world will turn to Native Americans and other indigenous people to learn how to care for the earth and for one another.”

The films will be completed by Wisdom staff producers, Kunu Bearchum, Tim Keenan Burgess and edited by Lawrence Johnson.

Additional funding for the project has been provided by the National Endowment of the Arts, The Coquille Tribal Community Fund, Native Arts and Culture Foundation, Oregon Cultural Trust, Oregon Community Foundation and the Spirit Mountain Community Fund.



Greetings! Leslie Riggs here, the new Discovering Yidong Xinag coordinator with a few words about my first month at Wisdom of the Elders. I must say I am honored and humbled to be asked to join such a talented and committed team. I’m still in the period of finding my feet and getting used to the way things work. My primary responsibilities, as of now, are to focus on partnerships and the expansion of the Discovering Yidong Xinag curriculum. I have, however, been assisting in other ways such as; making contact with potential cultural leaders in the 9 tribal communities to be filmed for the documentary film series. I have also been looking at grants and potential funding sources to continue the wonderful work that takes place at Wisdom of the Elders. I look forward to learning more and becoming even more immersed in the projects.

Hayu masi


Wisdom Gardens Funding Sought

Wisdom of the Elders has been creating and maintaining its Wisdom Gardens since 2012. It is located in back of its Portland’s office and includes an ethnobotanical garden, rain garden, pollinator garden, berry patches, Three Sisters Garden, and 8 raised vegetable beds.

Wisdom Workforce Education Coordinator Dawn Lowe recently submitted a request to Seed Money for funding the garden. If you would like to contribute to the garden fund, you can go to:



Discovering Our Story Television Program Airs Sunday, December 2

Our guest in December on our live TV show “Discovering our Story” will be Francene J. Blythe. This program will air at 1:00pm Sunday Dec 2ndon Comcast Channel 11.

Francene J. Blythe is Navajo, Sioux and Cherokee. She grew up in the southwest, in her mother’s culture of the Navajo, and lived her adult life in Lincoln, Nebraska, which is near her father’s Dakota band of the Sioux located in and around Sisseton, South Dakota. Her Cherokee homelands are in Cherokee, North Carolina. She is the proud mother of four grown adult children. Before going to college, her earlier work was done throughout the Midwest in theater performance, unlearning Indian stereotype workshops, and touring/producing/directing Native American plays.

Upon graduating with her Masters degree in Theater, Blythe, in 2004, began her career in Washington, D.C., where initially she helped program the First Americans Festival that celebrated the opening of the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall. At the museum, she then moved on to develop and produce cultural arts programming for the stage, working with Indigenous peoples throughout the Western Hemisphere. Shortly after the museum’s opening, she went to work at the National Geographic Society, also headquartered in Washington, D.C. where, for eight years, she strategically directed the growth and expansion of the newly formed All Roads Film Project. There she built a critically acclaimed, award-winning portfolio of film and photography grants that supported Indigenous and Native American filmmakers and photographers from around the world.

Since 2015, she has been working as the Director of Programs at the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation located in Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon. She currently serves on: the Washington State Arts Commission Board, the Native American Council at the Portland Art Museum. She also volunteers with Portland’s nonprofit AGE (Advance Gender Equity) in the Arts and Portland theaters; and most recently co-programmed Portland’s first PDX (Pretty Damn Extraordinary) Native Film Night at the Hollywood Theater that celebrated Native American History month. As Director of Programs at the foundation, she implements and oversees a mentor artist program and supports several Native Nations’ community inspiration projects in Warm Springs, Burns Paiute, Narragansett, Rhode Island and a social art project at the Institute of American Indian Arts’ Museum of Contemporary Native Art. She is also part of a PBS documentary that talks about Native art and artists called, “Native Art Now!” that is currently available on the PBS website.

As a national nonprofit organization and her employer, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation is dedicated exclusively to the revitalization, appreciation and perpetuation of American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian arts and cultures nationwide.

Wisdom Film Productions Airing Soon

A selection of Wisdom of the Elders short films and segments from longer works will be airing on local cable access channels with assistance from our partner Open Signal.

Native Wisdom- People of Oregon’s Interior- Sacred Landscape

Channel 22: Saturday, 11-24-2018 01:30 pm

Channel 23: Wednesday, 11-28-2018 06:30 pm

Channel 11: Thursday, 11-29-2018 07:30 pm

Channel 22: Friday, 11-30-2018 12:30 pm

Channel 23: Monday, 12-03-2018 06:30 pm

Native Wisdom- People of Oregon’s Interior- Elder Wisdom

Channel 23: Friday, 11-23-2018 04:00 pm

Channel 22: Sunday, 11-25-2018 07:30 pm

Channel 23: Tuesday, 11-27-2018 06:30 pm

Channel 22: Friday, 11-30-2018 07:30 pm

Native Wisdom- People of the Oregon Coast- Turtle Island Storytellers

Channel 23: Sunday, 11-18-2018 05:30 pm

Channel 22: Friday, 11-23-2018 09:30 pm

Channel 23: Monday, 11-26-2018 08:00 pm

Channel 22: Thursday, 11-29-2018 06:30 pm

Native Wisdom- People of the Oregon Coast- STEAM

Channel 22: Sunday, 11-18-2018 04:00 pm

Channel 23: Wednesday, 11-21-2018 09:30 pm

Channel 22: Saturday, 11-24-2018 07:30 pm

Channel 23: Monday, 11-26-2018 07:30 pm

Native Wisdom- People of the Caribou Storytelling

Channel 23: Monday, 11-19-2018 07:30 pm

Channel 11: Thursday, 11-22-2018 07:30 pm

Channel 22: Sunday, 11-25-2018 05:00 pm

Channel 23: Tuesday, 11-27-2018 07:30 pm

TEK101-Wisdom from the South Wind

Channel 22: Sunday, 11-18-2018 12:00 pm

Channel 23: Thursday, 11-22-2018 08:00 pm

Channel 22: Monday, 11-26-2018 06:30 pm

Channel 23: Friday, 11-30-2018 07:30 pm



Wisdom of the Elders, Inc. is pleased to announce the recruitment of 8 Native American Adultsto participate in the Wisdom Agricultural Business Incubator!!

The Wisdom Agricultural Business Incubator (WABI) will support the startup and development of 6-8 businesses by Native American (American Indian, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander) adult interns to plan and create an agricultural/horticultural microenterprise business in rural Marion County, Oregon. WABI will provide support services, including entrepreneur business development training, strategic planning, business plan development and financial planning.

Interns will achieve training and create a business plan over the course of a 3-month PAID internship from March to May 2019. Training will be provided through weekly seminars in our Portland classroom, a plant nursery south of Portland and other field visits in Marion County. Even more, interns will be provided 1:1 matching funds from a local CDFI for business start up costs! Though the internship is only 3 months, interns will receive ongoing support for at least three years from the Wisdom Agricultural Coop as they continue growing their business!

This is a unique opportunity to not only grow Native owned businesses and jobs, but to also intentionally cultivate First Food/Native species in nursery/horticultural setting! By focusing on first foods, WABI will provide participants with opportunities to become skilled leaders in native plant production for multiple applications, with the unique capacity to additionally share the cultural relevance of the plants they propagate.

Applicants must be 18 years or older, be willing to start a native plant micro-business, and have:

  • High school diploma, GED, or higher education
  • Interest in Indigenous knowledge & land stewardship
  • Enthusiasm for engaging in the community and outdoors (in all weather conditions)
  • Ability to work with a professional demeanor and complete the entire internship
  • Ability to work independently & as part of a team

This opportunity is available until all positions are filled. For info or to apply, please visit our website at www.wisdomoftheelders.orgor email Marissa at marissa@wisdomoftheelders.org

On The Occasion of the 25thAnniversary of Wisdom of the Elders

On the Red Road, we who walk it are cautious to preserve our histories and experiences in words on pages, in photographs, using audio recordings, and through video. The justifications for our 526-year oppression were and are being disseminated in these modes. In the infancy of our experiences with media, we thought “look at the harm this Bible, this social work manual, this BIA news reel, this ethnography, and this Western has done to us and our children”.

And now, as our understanding matures, as with any social influence, we come to know that it is how the influence is used that matters. In my prison day room, the encyclopedia explains wiwang wacipi (sundance) flesh offerings as “self-torture” and “self-mutilation”. My personal singular experience of perfect beauty and balance is now associated with barbarism, brutality and cruelty to any inexperienced reader.

In my lifetime I’ve never seen Indian people in mainstream media represented in the future of this country or of humanity. Power brokers of culture and cultural reference points who largely consider themselves to be Progressive Liberals are not planning for a future that has Indian people in it. They ask us to indulge in trickle-down social justice while our history is told through white eyes and white measures. In county jail I read “The Navajo: an ethnography” and reeled from the overt racism of a work my former white colleagues at the Department of Public Health and Forensic Medicine characterized as “pretty good research” to our next generation of gatekeepers of society’s opportunities and resources.

Indigenous are changing our measures of success to ingratiate ourselves to our oppressors as if home ownership, Western education, economic advancements and membership in professional classes will make us whole. The more we contribute and succeed in these areas, the more we take from the Earth and do not give back. I see study after study on indigenous communities illustrating the effects of genocide and adding a paragraph at the end about the “admirability of native resilience”. Resilience is defined as being capable of returning to an original shape or form as after having been compressed, or the ability to recover readily as from misfortune. Show me a Principle Investigator who says he has seen this and I will show you someone excusing themselves from the weight of history.

How do we then make ourselves whole? We decolonize modes of dissemination and indigenize social spaces. We offer counter-narratives in these modes and spaces. We accept work that is capacity-building and reject work that serves only to advance ourselves. We take the best parts of the examples leaders like Rose High Bear have set for us and join them to our own. Then, together, we pray through our actions.

I have been honored to serve Rose’s vision of indigenous cultural sustainability, multi-modal education, and race reconciliation because it is my vision too. To contribute to a body of work already in process without compromising your own moral compass is rare. I believe you are gathered here because you, too share this experience. I cannot see you or touch you now, but I know this indigenous space is filled with individuals I have loved and cared about in my personal and professional lives.

That is because Rose’s leadership has made Wisdom of the Elders a mission-driven organization uniquely capable of impactful and highly-responsive work guided by spirit and need, not beholden to the policies and attitudes that make large institutions harmful to the marginalized. Her work has used modern modes to celebrate and demonstrate the value of the traditional. She has created indigenous spaces and helped them by filling them with the living experiences and voices of Indian survivors. Having recorded over 400 indigenous perspectives, she has given us the ability to explore intersectionalities of privilege and disadvantage, testaments to extant genocidal policies, and diverse reports of the disparities individuals in our communities face. We are also brought to reckon with the beauties of Indian lives that have endured over five centuries of open hostility. The future path to achieving native resilience will be found in the voices Rose has preserved.

On a personal level, Rose has been a mentor to me. She taught me that it is ok to be a working professional who carries my spirituality in all settings. She believes our community members have the ability and the right to lay hands to the work of the community-based organization. She has demonstrated one example of how to live a life of service to the people. She has reclaimed a piece of the empowerment women in our traditional communities once held.

Her example has led to a strong female representation in Portland’s Native American organizations and is part of a broader awakening in native communities found in Movements like Idle No More, Standing Rock, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Girls and Women, and the recent election placing indigenous women in seats of national service. Our path of survival toward a future in which our children thrive is taken upon footholds secured by work like that of Rose High Bear.

On behalf of the Indian men of Snake River Correctional Institution, thank you, Rose.

Ga lo James Vann (Ga-lo Nu-tley Skildigado)

Cherokee Nation of Eastern Oklahoma

Past President, WISDOM Board of Directors

transcribed by Rebecca Whetstine, nothing added, nothing taken away.

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