eNewsletter from Wisdom of the Elders
September 2018



Wisdom Workforce Development Internships for Native Adults and Youth Starting Soon

Our Wisdom Workforce Development internship starts again soon. We are recruiting Native American/Alaskan Native/Hawaiian/Pacific Islander adults for paid internships in environmental assessment and habitat restoration. This is a paid internship opportunity. For 13 weeks, the team will complete one day of classroom education a week plus two days a week of service learning activities.


This is our sixth training for Native adults and it has been supported by an amazing group of collaborative partners who have provided our workforce team with diverse service learning experiences in local natural areas. The work is rigorous and conducted in sometimes inclement cold and rainy and windy weather. In the summer, it can be very hot and humid. However, it can also create a career pathway to a conservation field as part of Wisdom Workforce Development LLC, Wisdom’s social venture or as an employee or intern with one of Wisdom’s environmental partners.


cropped_Alvey-Karrie-Doug-Carlos-willow-staking-compressed 2Whether you are enrolled with a federally recognized tribe or self-identified as Native American, we will welcome your application. The application form is at our website at www.wisdomoftheelders.org or feel free to call Wisdom’s office at 503-775-4014 for an interview.

We are also encouraging Native American/Alaskan Native/Hawaiian/Pacific Islander youth (ages 18-25) to apply for a paid internship in workforce readiness for green jobs this fall. They have an opportunity during October to be part of a team of youth of color completing classroom education and service learning in the Portland area. Topics will include: environmental education, park and open space maintenance, green building and deconstruction, horticulture and urban forestry, waste management and trucking. More information and a link to the online application is available shortly, So watch our website at  www.wisdomoftheelders.org.


Wisdom Workforce Development LLC partnering with Portland Bureau of Environmental Services:

Wisdom’s social venture, Wisdom Workforce Development LLC reached agreement and developed a new contract with Portland Bureau of Environmental Services this summer. We finalized the new contract in June and have been working in local park and natural areas with BES staff. Work has included manual invasive species removal, seed collection and cleaning of Native species, and planting. Special kudos to our team which is led by Alvey Seeyouma (Hopi) and includes Autumn (Blackfoot), David Eys (Blackfoot) and Bruce Amick (Blackfoot).


We have been conducting habitat restoration work on public lands for the past several years, first working with Metro collecting seeds at Quamash Prairie and other sites and then cleaning and processing the seeds at Metro’s Native Plant Center. Wisdom’s LLC has fulfilled contracts this year with Metro, Friends of Trees, Friends of Trees, West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District and other partners in Lents Urban Renewal Area and other parts of the Portland metropolitan area. Special thanks to our partners!


Wisdom is Funded by National Endowment for the Arts:

Wisdom was honored to receive two grants from National Endowment for the Arts this spring. Both grants feature recording and sharing the cultural arts of Oregon tribes and responses to the changing environment. We have relied upon funding from NEA since 2002 when we received our first grant for production of Wisdom of the Elders Radio Program.


We have already filmed tribal elders, indigenous scientists and cultural leaders from five tribes and this new funding will help us complete filming of up to four remaining tribes. These two grants fund work from June 2018 through May 2019. Wisdom’s media  team includes Co-Director Tim Burgess (Paiute, Shoshone), Co-Producer Kunu Bearchum (Northern Cheyenne, Hochunk), Co-Producer/Co-Director Larry Johnson (with Lawrence Johnson Productions) and Rose High Bear (Deg Hit’an Dine, Inupiat) who continues to serve as Executive Producer. We also received valuable assistance from two Media Interns from Reed College this summer, Karina Ceron and Andrea Deniz.


One grant from NEA-Media provides funding for our media team to complete two full-length documentaries of Oregon tribes for the Native Wisdom Documentary Film Series. We have already completed short docs and this funding allows us to produce 54:30-minute productions. We are planning a series of Film Screenings and Community Consultations in Oregon plus the films will be entered into native, environmental and educational film festivals around the country. We are grateful for matching funds from National Endowment for the Humanities, James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Running Strong for American Indian Youth, and Oregon Arts Commission.


The second grant from NEA-Folk and Traditional Arts will fund Wisdom to video gifted cultural leaders of Oregon tribes regarding their cultural arts and how they are dependent upon Native plant species in the natural world. When recordings are completed, some will be selected for inclusion in the Native Wisdom Documentary Film series. We will also hold a second First Foods Symposium and Storytelling Gathering where film clips will be shown and First Foods specialists will present. This public event is currently being planned for April 2019. We will update you on the plans for these projects in the upcoming newsletters and at our website

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Opening of Dairy Creek Channel on Sauvie Island Begins:

Wisdom’s Simone Florendo (Wasco/Eastern Cherokee) sang the River Song (Wasco) and an honor song (Cathedral Lakes) at the West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District groundbreaking ceremony at Sauvie Island this summer when the Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce celebrated the opening of the Dairy Creek channel connecting the Columbia River to upper Sturgeon Lake. Wisdom’s Interim Executive Director Teresa Montana, Multimedia Coordinator Tim Burgess and Kunu Bearchum also attended to support and document the event.

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The site is located off Reeder Road (at mile post 7) on Sauvie Island. Their project completes restoration design to restore the hydrologic connection of the Columbia River to upper Sturgeon Lake so as to prevent further loss of wetland habitats in Sturgeon Lake important to both migratory juvenile Chinook Salmon and the plethora of waterfowl and other wildlife that use the lake. A combination of river flow regulation and human manipulation of natural levee formations had resulted in disconnection of the Sturgeon Lake floodplain from the Columbia River. It was suggested at the event that the bridge onto Sauvie Island receive an Indian name, possibly Wapato Bridge. Wapato is a traditional First Food root species consumed by tribes along the Columbia River.




Honoring Peta Mni

Wisdom was shocked to hear the recent news of the passing of Peta Mni, Wisdom’s past Multimedia and Communications Coordinator. Rose posted a message on his FB page over the holiday weekend and is sharing excerpts here for those of you who remember him and loved him. Thank you for remembering him in your prayers.


“It has been a month since his passing, but it was just confirmed last night at this FB site. I had heard mention after getting back home, but I was in disbelief. I had been away at Hanbleceya vision quest camp and then headed off to another Sun Dance within a few days. After resting up this past week, I started to search for an announcement hoping not to find it. I’m so sorry to have just found it. I’d like to remember my friend and relative, Peta.


I remember the first time we met outside of a deli on SE Division Street in Portland. I had met with him to interview him for our Multimedia and Communications Coordinator position at our Native American nonprofit, Wisdom of the Elders, Inc.  I don’t believe we ever started the interview. We spoke of things we shared in common, of Sun Dance and Hanbleceya and about Wisdom’s Founder, the late Martin High Bear, Peta’s work in Hawaii and my past two decades recording and preserving the voices of Native elders. I still remember the moment his eyes teared up revealing a tender heart filled with empathy and compassion. It confirmed to me that he would be perfect on our team.


Peta and I grew close working together at Wisdom. I believe it was in 2009. We continued to work together until he moved to NYC. He helped us video record Native elders and storytellers for our Discovering Our Story series and he trained Native youth in film production. It was not easy because community turmoil would sometimes interrupt our work. But we kept our focus on our work and felt blessed for the opportunity to meet and preserve the messages of the Native elders we recorded. They all suffered from historical trauma and as they shared their stories in front of the camera that Peta ran, they would tell how they had risen above their suffering to become a community leader. This made it possible for us to share their beauty in our health and wellness curriculum and at our website.


I think it was 2012 when he moved to NYC. We were completing our Discovering Our Story series with its focus on the Hero’s Journey of Transformation. Peta was finalizing post production of 36 video recordings and we were adding lesson plans to share with Native elders and others from the Portland area and beyond. He had to go back to NYC he said he had to clear up some old trauma in order to fulfill his twelfth step from orphan to the hero within. He had been completing his own hero’s journey steps and said this was why he had to go back. For most of us, this is a 5-step journey, but for Peta, there were seventeen steps.

Peta had a Lakota spirit name which means Fire and Water. He felt comfortable and a sense of belonging in our Native American community. The true meaning of his name which was gifted to him by the Spirit World is meaningful and deep. He walked a spiritual path and we felt good relating with him as friend and relative. Like all of you who have said these kind and loving words this past month to honor and acknowledge him, I’m also sad and grieving his loss.


Many of us believe that when we cross over, the Spirit World gives us a year to look back at all the events and people in our lives.  And then when our spirit is released, we travel home to the Spirit World where we find happiness and fulfillment and healing among our ancestors and family in the Spirit World. I’m sure he is already busy during his year, looking back at all the events and loves of his life, finding the meaning and the richness in his relationships and experiences. With the support of our prayers and love for him, I’m sure he will find what he was always searching for.


I love you, Peta, and will always remember you. And someday, when I journey home, I will see you again and we can continue our hero’s journey of transformation together.”


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2024 Spring ITEK Internship Graduation Celebration

Date: Friday, June 14, 2024
Time: 1 PM – 4 PM (PDT)
Location: Great Spirit United Methodist Church, 3917-3927 NE Shaver St, Portland, OR 97212, USA

We celebrate the remarkable achievements of our Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (ITEK) internship graduates. These dedicated individuals have contributed significantly to our mission and have taken diverse paths toward success. Many have joined our Wisdom Workforce Development, LLC Crew, while others have secured positions with our esteemed partners or are furthering their education to expand their opportunities in this vital field.

To our graduates, we extend our heartfelt gratitude for walking with us in this important work. We wish you all continued success in your future endeavors!

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Press Release: Update: Kevin Coochwytewa Creates Wisdom’s New Logo

Exciting News! Wisdom of the Elders Unveils Fresh Look with New Logo and Re-brand!

We are eager to finally be able to share with you all our new logo for Wisdom of the Elders!

This new logo reflects our organization’s re-commitment to preserving and sharing the oral histories, cultural arts, language concepts, and traditional knowledge of Indigenous elders, storytellers, and scientists. Join us in celebrating this rebranding milestone as we continue our journey in collaboration with diverse institutions, agencies, and organizations.

While our appearance may evolve over the years, our dedication to Native American cultural sustainability, multimedia education, and cultural reconciliation remains unwavering.

A HUGE thank you to our logo designer, Kevin Coochwytewa (@lightning.kev) (Isleta Pueblo/Hopi), lightningkev.com a visionary artist with a deep reverence for tradition and an innovative spirit. Kevin brings a unique blend of heritage and contemporary flair to his work, and his profound respect for the wisdom passed down by our elders promises to infuse our organization’s identity with renewed vitality and resonance.

Together, we strive for a brighter, more inclusive future for all. ✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿

Celebrating the Graduates of the 2024 Spring Multimedia Paid Internship Program This June

The Wisdom of the Elders multimedia department has an increadable relaunch of its renowned internship program for 2024. In collaboration with Open Signal, a leading organization in media empowerment, this program offers aspiring Indigenous/BIPOC multimedia professionals a hands-on experience in a dynamic environment.

In late March, a fresh wave of interns lead by KJ Moore (Multimedia Producer) swept into Open Signal, eager to dive into the world of multimedia production. With classes in Studio Production, Cinematography, and hands-on camera training, they eagerly got their hands on the equipment and started to produce amazing content. This cohort, characterized by their quick learning and undeniable enthusiasm, wasted no time in putting their skills to the test.

Venturing beyond the studio walls, they took to the streets, documenting the pulse of the surrounding community and capturing events for Wisdom of the Elders. One recent highlight was the filming of Jeri Moomaw’s presentation—a poignant moment that showcased their dedication to storytelling.

Now, their sights are set on a sacred journey to Tsagalalal (She-Who-Watches), a revered petroglyph in the Columbia Gorge. This excursion promises not only breathtaking scenery but also a chance to honor the land and its history through their lenses—an opportunity embraced by both interns and the Indigenous community alike.

As they gear up for their final projects, slated for presentation in June, the interns are preparing to leave their mark on the multimedia landscape. From film festivals to documentary series, their work will not only showcase their talents but also amplify the voices of the communities they serve.

In the end, this internship is more than just a stepping stone—it’s a chance to make meaningful connections, hone their craft, and tell stories that resonate far beyond the confines of a screen.

Stay tune for more information about the 2024 Spring Internship Graduation in June

A special Thank you to KJ Moore, Tim Keenan Burgess and Open Signal

Community Spotlight: Meet Ayla Hubert: Wisdom LLC, Field Crew Tech

Hi, my name is, Ayla Hubert.

I am a Land Stewardist working with the Forest Park Conservancy (FPC). I believe FPC helps make the environment a better place for humanity. I love working at FPC because it’s outdoors and helps restore the earth to its natural beauty. I enjoy pulling ivy and grubbing blackberry roots. Doing this land work for a greater cause is bigger than me, and it’s a freeing experience for my soul, allowing me to discover who I can become while supporting the earth’s beauty alongside humanity to help the state of Oregon.

I started out with Wisdom when I first returned to Portland, coming out of some difficult times. I began with an internship at Wisdom and, after completing it, moved on to an internship at FPC. Eventually, I was able to return to Wisdom to secure a full-time job working with the LLC Crew.

I love working for Wisdom because I’ve learned a lot about invasive and non-native plants, as well as the first food plants I’ve worked around. Working with Wisdom has shown me the importance of saving and restoring the land to its natural beauty, and how other members of Wisdom have welcomed me. Working with Wisdom is truly a gift for my life experience.

No Dream Is To Small, Reach For The Stars.

New Staff:

We are thrilled to announce our organization’s growth and the expansion of opportunities we can offer to our community. As part of this exciting development, we are pleased to welcome and introduce two new staff members to our team at Wisdom of the Elders.



Hello relatives, my name is Davineekaht White Elk. I use any/all pronouns. On my father/grandfather’s side, I’m an enrolled member of the Siksika Nation in Alberta, Canada, from the Blackfoot Confederacy. On my father/grandmother’s side, I’m Bitterroot Salish from the Flathead Nation in western Montana. On my mother/grandmother’s side, I’m Northern Ute of the Uncompahgre band from Uintah and Ouray Reservation in Utah. On my Mother’s/grandfather’s side, I’m part of the Carrizo/Comecrudo tribe along the South Texas Rio Grande River. They are not a federally recognized tribe in the United States and are fighting for recognition. 

I was born and raised in Portland and grew up in the native community. Most of my Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (ITEK) came from teachings from my ceremonial community, learning from my family, elders, and community members. I have cultural art skills, including beading jewelry, sewing/ regalia, hide scraping, leather work, medicine bundles, and tea/slave making. I like to be creative and open to learning new skills. 

I attend Portland State University (PSU), and have earned a bachelor of science degree, double majoring in Indigenous Nations Studies and Environmental Science, and a certificate in Indigenous Traditional Ecology Cultural Knowledge (ITECK). I’m a part of UISHE, the United Indigenous Students in Higher Education at PSU, as their social media manager. I serve on the Portland Urban Forest Plan Community Advisory Committee and Metro Equity Advisory Committee. I have three years of experience in the environmental education field at the Oregon Zoo in 2017, I graduated from the Center for Diversity and Environment Leadership Program. I have seven years of experience working with the Portland Native American Community at the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) in their Youth Education Services. I enjoy being outside with my partner and our little Chihuahua/Pomeranian dog, Sunny, and spending time with loved ones.            



Cheela dv-laa-ha~ Łax̣ayam shiksh!

Howdy, y’all! My name is Jae Viles-Erdelt. I use he/him pronouns. I am a descendant of the Joshua people of the Rogue River, the Sixes people of the Sixes River, and the Pillar Rock people of the Columbia River. I am an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of SIletz Indians, and the Chinook Indian Nation. 

I was born and raised in Eugene OR where I had the good fortune of being raised immersed in my Native cultures that are intrinsically tied to the wisdom that comes from the land. Gathering beargrass, spruce root, cedar bark, hazel, mussels, crab, fish, huckleberries, and camas has had a significant impact on my priorities and how I navigate the world. I have benefited immensely from these relationships and feel that it is my responsibility to enable the same relationships for other Native people. 

For the past three years, I have been lucky to find community in cultural fire. After participating in a few burns, and recognizing the importance of bringing good fire back to the landscape, I joined as a founding member of an all-Indigenous prescribed and cultural fire crew called the Wagon Burners. For the past three seasons, the Wagon Burners have burned more than two thousand acres of prairie oak savanna, and pine woodland in Oregon and Washington. We also had the honor of participating in the first re-entries of fire with the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, and the Chinook Indian Nation. 

It was one of the most powerful experiences of my life to be able to help my Chinook community bring good fire back to our homelands. Seeing the youth of our community carry the fire and knowing they will never know a time without good fire was incredibly impactful to me. For this reason I am so excited to be coming onto the Wisdom of the Elders team, and doing restoration work with the crew and eventually helping to build a fire program to help bring good fire to the Portland Metro area!

COR Tree Planting Project:

The restoration crew has been working through the downpours, and intense heat of the past month on a project they are very excited to share with you all! Between a railroad track and a waste management facility in North East Portland, the restoration crew planted over two hundred drought-resistant trees and shrubs. 

Oregon grape, madrone, ponderosa pine, cypress, and blue blossom are just a few of the species that they put in. Despite the rough conditions, the crew worked hard knowing that these plants would be vital to providing shade to this community!

Upcoming Projects, Events & Workshops:

Mark your calendars and prepare to embark on a journey of discovery with our upcoming events, projects and workshops. From thought-provoking discussions to hands-on activities, there’s something for everyone seeking to deepen their connection with wisdom and community.

Please take a moment to consider our Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (ITEK) and Multimedia paid internships that are offered in the Spring and Fall of each year. They are both listed below. If you or someone you know might be interested, give us a call or send an email and we can further discuss the details. 

We are also excited to let you know that we are in the process of digitizing all of our archived film footage. When this process is completed we will be able to deliver the material back to the families, people, and tribes from which they came. 

Fulfilling the promises made and giving these historical materials back is, and has been, my hope and personal commitment to our extended families and friends. Wisdom has ongoing partnerships with OPB and OpenSignal that will be instrumental in these projects. 

The Film festivals and screenings will be open to the public. We will keep you posted, so please keep watch for the announcements in the upcoming year.

Join Us:

We extend an open invitation to you, dear friends, to join us as we embrace the vibrant energy of spring together. Let us gather wisdom, foster connections, and kindle the flames of inspiration within our hearts.

In the renewal of spring’s vitality, let us find joy and strength, drawing upon the timeless wisdom from our community. Join Wisdom of the Elders on our journey.

All my best to our families and friends,


Exec. Dir.