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PAGE 40 ASSERTING NATIVE RESILIENCE: PACIFIC RIM INDIGENOUS NATIONS FACE THE CLIMATE CRISIS ture. I truly believe the work we do is very important to the survival of our community. Recently we were given the great opportunity to work with the Where Words Touch the Earth project, coordinated by Dr. David Adamec of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In spring 2009, NASA approached six tribal colleges (including NWIC) about the project, whose goal was to create twelve- to fifteen-minute documentaries that would shed light on the Native American view of the causes and impacts of climate change. Director Sharon Kinley of the Coast Salish Institute agreed to the project and asked us to be a part of creating the video. At first it felt as if this project would be similar to our previous cultural videos, which were based on our tribes’ traditional stories and knowledge. Dr. Adamec helped us realize the global reach of this project when he came to meet with us at NWIC. After an incredible amount of work and dedication, our video segments were posted on the Teacher’s Domain digital media website in May 2010: http://www.teachersdomain .org/special/nasawords In the Beginning We made a decision to focus the video on the moons (Coast Salish months), with a major emphasis on the salmon. Traditionally, salmon was our staple food, and we as Indigenous people knew that for us to survive we must respect and appreciate the life of the salmon, for it is the salmon who feeds us. We took a historical approach to the project by researching what it was our ancestors saw and did during each moon. We contrasted the seasonal cycles of the moons to the natural resource cycles we see in our region today, under conditions of climate change. We decided to start our video production in the Deep Snow Moon, because it was the time when the world was coming out of hibernation (see facing page). We began the project by training students how to use the equipment. We took random shots of the environment to allow them to practice, after which we would play the video on the television to show the students the aspects that went well and the aspects that they needed to improve on. We would then return to the place where we took the original shots and take a new set. Those shots would also be compared to previous shots so students could learn the difference. As a group we created a list of elders who held a wealth of traditional knowledge whom we could interview. We developed the interview questions and and I touch them with my spirit. I feel it every day, as my grandmother and my father did. I am pessimistic about changes happening, but I have learned that crisis can help build community so that it can face the crisis itself. I do know that people must come to community on the land. The transiency of people crisscrossing the land must halt, and people must commune together on the land to protect it and all our future generations. Self-sustaining indigenous peoples still on the land are already doing this. They present an opportunity to relearn and reinstitute the rights we all have as humans. Indigenous rights must be protected, for we are the protectors of Earth. I know that being Okanagan helps me have the capacity to bond with everything and every person I encounter. I try always to personalize everything. I try not to be “objective” about anything. I fear those who are unemotional, and I solicit emotional response whenever I can. I do not stand silently by. I stand with you against the disorder. WHERE WORDS TOUCH THE EARTH Tribal Students Produce a Climate Change Video on the Coast Salish Moons Greg Mahle and Lexie Tom My name is Greg Mahle. I am an enrolled member of the Upper Skagit Indian Community located in Sedro-Woolley, Washington. I a m a g raduate of Northwest Indian College at the Coast Salish Institute as a culture curriculum developer. The mission of the Coast Salish Institute is to revitalize the Coast Salish language and cultures. We do this by teaming up our young staff with elders from the Coast Salish territory so the young staff members learn the stories of our ancestors and their ways of life. Our goals are to bring those ways of life into modern times and attempt to bridge the gap...


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