Native America Calling radio interviews Valerie Segrest about GM Salmon

In late 2015, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the sale of AquaBounty Technologies’ genetically modified salmon.

Valerie Segrest, who you may know is the Manager of the Muckleshoot Tribe’s Traditional Food and Medicine Program, was interviewed on Native America Calling about what GM salmon means to her.

The speakers on the program include Valerie, Jaydee Hanson, Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Food Safety in Washington D.C., and James Dunlap, Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. The Yurok Tribe, located in northern California, have banned GM organisms on their tribal land. GM salmon credit nytimes(photo credit:

December – Manoomin (Wild Rice) Recipe

Combining local traditional foods from the northwest with an Anishinaabe staple from the Great Lakes region, this recipe is a blend of places and flavors. Highly nutritious and just a little sweet, this dish is vegan, full of protein and whole foods, and contains no gluten.

Order manoomin (wild rice) from to support Honor The Earth and the White Earth Recovery Project. Manoomin: food that grows on the water, is a prophetic marker in the Anishinaabe story of creation, an aquatic grass that is harvested and prepared in a good way by the folks at Native Harvest.

Versatile as a side dish or main course, you can substitute greasy bird meats like duck or turkey in this recipe if you want to swap out the oil and nuts to make a different flavor and feel. Adjust and experiment!

Wild Rice
         Manoomin (wild rice)


3-4 tablespoons cooking oil (try Dr. Bronner’s magic all in one coconut oil)

1 cup Native Harvest manoomin

3/4 cup dried cranberries (unsweetened)

1 cup Pacific Northwest hazelnuts

¼ cup Awazibi maple syrup (give or take to taste)

2-4 cups fresh water


Soak rice overnight, making sure water covers all of it

The next day, stir rice and water and place coconut oil in frying pan over low heat (with water)

Stir-fry the rice and oil, adding water if necessary to keep the rice from drying out

Keep simmering over low heat, while that is simmering crush the hazelnuts with a rock or other kitchen tool

When the rice is puffed and has “popped” it is done-it will have the appearance of curling at the edges and the outer hull will split

Careful not to overcook—continue to add water if needed

Add cranberries and stir in just to heat

Add hazelnuts, drizzle with syrup, stir well and serve

Makes about 3 cups cooked!

December – What is Environmental Health as Indigenous People?

As for the research, I held a small gathering one afternoon where we shared a meal and talked about “environmental health as Indigenous people.” It became necessary to unpack that idea just a bit and think about what that meant for each person who was in the room. We came from all over, from different nations and bloodlines and histories, our own concepts of Indigeneity, and also our own ideas toward what it means to be healthy, in relationship with our environment, how to respect and nourish our non-human relatives who continually support our lives.

Many similarities were identified in our groups and I will name three specific things that came up as sort of themes from small group discussions. The sentences emerge as direct quotes from participants.

Baskets, art and artifact: How can we recover our property from museums, physically hold the same materials our ancestors put together? What would it be like if we took all of our baskets back from museums? What would life be like if we filled those baskets with berries again? What if baskets weren’t merely decorations? Who sets permissions for ownership and who is challenging those permissions? What do baskets say about the hands that made them? How are we using our hands and how are we continuing the work of our ancestors? Creating baskets and other tools creates responsibilities that begin in our bodies, with our hands and intentions.

woven basket

Control and access How do we act as stewards in the context of municipal, city, state, federal and other ordinances that prevent access to the land? Who in regional settler leadership is supporting Indigenous voices and concerns in the multicultural, multilayered infrastructure of city government and bureaucracy? How can we disrupt ourselves holding up those damaging ways when we participate in behaviours that also contaminate the land and water?

Sharing When we share and help one another, that is love and health. In many places we still have the berries and plants and we can use those to help ourselves and others. Development seems to be something that has “happened” to us. We can’t control what our neighbours do but we can talk with them. When we remember the trees, partially in the ground and partially above ground, we remember that we are connected to things we can’t see.

As this research occurred some time ago, some of these questions have approached the nascent beginning toward answers. We were a small and very diverse group, including small children and two elders. The voice of everyone who attended is represented above.

Our teachings and beliefs were varied, and we truly only had one afternoon together, yet this conversation has stayed with me for some time, made an impression on me, certainly because of its depth and scale. That afternoon also reminds me that even though I may have felt placeless and isolated and inappropriate among researchers who had full access to their tribal communities and lands, I was surrounded by people who were asking wonderful questions and were willing to put their hands to the work of making one another feel welcome. Despite seeming displacement, we found that the spines of our stories were in alignment.

When I think of that day, I remember that Original People continue to exist all across the land, and as long as that is true, when we gather with intention, we untie and dismantle parts of ourselves that are hooked to obsolete, destructive ways of living. As we continue to exist, everything we do is an aspect of living legacy that speaks of the way we are called to honour our ancestral and blood memories, the way we are called to visualize a path of healing for ourselves: today, along with the ones who came before and all the ones yet to be born.

December – On a Journey

For several years I have lived on the lands of Coast Salish peoples, learning to love and appreciate the sweet sweeping sound of rain descending on cedar fronds. I find hope in the tall, vibrant ferns who stand higher than many cedar treehumans, plants whose jubilance speaks of health in the land. This short time has enabled the scratching of a surface: the immense and powerful vitality in this part of the world. Each striking landscape is rich with opportunities for healing: intricate and abundant waterways who glisten and teem with life and story, deep, shadowy forests of elderly trees, protective and stately mountains, joyful, mysterious and sprawling meadows, alchemical trails where saltwater and freshwater meet, and significantly: much healing is found existing among the people.

Each place where I travel, I am welcomed and gifted, and my cup is filled in the way of meeting the most basic human needs: delicious food, clean water to drink, shelter from the elements—yet also with the spiritual wealth of those who are still standing for the responsibility of their lands, waters and way of life. I have come to love and deeply connect with aspects of my own existence that I could not find anywhere else but among these people and places, and for that my spirit glows with endless gratitude.

When I was asked to participate in the environmental health series at the UW Center for Ecogenetics, I was pleased and also surprised. I have studied environmental health in an experiential way and also as an academic researcher, looking at aspects of how we relate to our surroundings and examining conditions of our related species. No one needs a reminder that much suffering has come to pass in recent years.

I have known suffering in the land and in the waters my whole life, and have embarked on a journey to understand the roots, effects and opportunities presented by contamination of lands and waters, those I am intimately familiar with as a descendent of the Anishinaabe and Onkwehonwe who walked them before me, and also those of other tribal people who follow their Original Instructions. Note that there is not a distinction made here between tribal and non-tribal lands; such a fallacy does not compute with me. All lands connect to tribal presence, historical and enduring, regardless of perceived ownership and claim.

At the time Valerie approached me, I was living on dxʷdɐwʔabʃ lands in Seattle, and I was asked to research and comment on perspectives among urban Indigenous individuals. I come from a reservation, but know that so many Anishinaabeg are in a similar position, moving, shifting, living in cities, away from the traditions that might be more common in the regions where we come from, in my case the Great Lakes. So many of us are scattered across the land and maintain Spiritual, physical and other practices from wherever we are, even if that land is not the home soil where our families come from.

History has tugged at foundations of families and nations, and some have relocated— often by forced, complicated circumstances of pain and displacement. The beautiful vision that has emerged for me, considering the city of Seattle, is an intricate web of layered connection among people. There is a force that exists amid all the concrete, the roots crossing and intersecting and braiding themselves, binding together to hold us in a way that is, unlike the breakable structures of modern industry and architecture, nested and held to the earth by the enduring voices of the ones who came before us.

Once I began to see from an infrastructural view how the city is set up, and how thoughtless the design is, I became saddened by the limitations and inevitability of negative environmental impact. The city slices its only river through the guts, diverting and polluting the water that has nourished families who lived on those waterways for so many thousands of years. And still there exists the desire and opportunity among the people to raise awareness and engage in discourse with those intersections, demand dialogue and action about how those situations must be improved and changed at the request of the ones who are still speaking for the land and water….to be continued next week.

–Kristi Leora Gansworth


December – Passing the Artesian Well

A traffic rush has slowed and
cars glide across the pavement with ease,
moments after an ambulance and
fire truck sped off to their next stop, their
continual response: never-ending
is the call to calm suffering, life’s
emergent suffering.

Dusk sets in beyond
the magenta, peach & violet lights, ripples of sky
seem hand-streaked or breathed-upon
as they become the glow of sunset, each day
says goodbye and it can be so beautiful.urban sunset

Stars above
witness these silent activities,
they see and light
paths taken by our shadows,
while bodies hover
over a stone circle, happy hands
pull away buckets and buckets of fresh
drinkable water, a small child
sips directly from her own cup and dances
along the sidewalk, having received the gift
having savored the taste of life, sweet,
playful life, life is here
springing from the earth, open-source
as they say, free for the taking – no
corporate ordinance, no plastic bottles, no
bureaucratic disruption, no
questions of pricing, no
barrier erupts to deny anyone
the taste of life. Myself, anonymous passenger,
anonymous traveler, aware of recent
transformations on this land where
ʔaciɬtalbixʷ – the people have filled their cups
for staggering millennia, I see all
the different ones coming together
in this moment — and I remember
another time I was a passenger,
on an unlit road, no lights and no traffic,
sparse red tails gliding in still air, a late
summer morning when full green
basswoods swayed heavy with humidity.

Neah Bay

My father and I traveled together, pulling water
from a spring who ran clear and bright
at that time, that morning, wordlessly
we filled our containers
— in his generation
they pumped water from the earth
by hand
and before that, Onkwehonwe filled
cups and vessels from those springs
and nearby streams
and before that, at some time –
all life emerged from water, water was respected
as the one who connected all living things,
the force we built our lives around
was the water, our very first home,Bushes and Waves

and I think
to remark upon the connection,
to tell my driver
where it is that I’ve come from,
the millions
of steps I’ve taken to get here and how
like that water, I witness and rejoice
in these cycles that continue and bind us
to our places, the journey of water begins
at distances I cannot comprehend, traveling
from the stars through the mesosphere
to mountaintops that freeze and thaw
and bleed an elegant path
into our cups, our bodies, and our
lives, but the words and the language
fail me, always fail me, and so I breathe heavy,
breathe a full sigh; I shift and inhale,
closing my eyes to wonder: what can be said
what words exist to accurately describe
this miracle, this phenomenal gift
who touches all life, who gives and endures
in wordless and constant
and ever-reaching grace?

 © kristi leora gansworth 2015

Elwha River Restoration Update

The Lower Elwha S’Klallam Tribe, along with Western Washington University, is studying wildlife recolonization after dam removal on the sites of Lake Mills and Lake Aldwell. Lake Mills is the now-drained reservoir behind the former Glines Canyon Dam. Lake Aldwell is the now-drained reservoir behind the former Elwha Dam.


The researchers are looking at small mammals including the deer mouse, Keen’s Mouse, shrew and vole, as well as deer and elk. By studying scat, they can see what animals are returning and also what seeds they are dispersing into the lake beds. The seeds they find may predict what plants will become established in the newly-opened habitat.

Here’s a short video about the research project: Wildlife and the Elwha River Restoration.

Also, the second Elwha River Science Symposium took place November 18-20, 2015 at Lake Crescent. Here’s the program and abstracts.

–Marilyn Hair

August – Freeing the River

Salmon Nation by Roger Fernandes
“Salmon Nation” by Roger Fernandes

The Elwha Dam Removal:

For the Lower Elwha S’Klallam people the Elwha River represents the true source of life. When it flowed freely from the mountains to the salt water, it gave the People sustenance and meaning. The S’Klallam people say that they were born from the rocks of the river.

Following the smell of their home beds, the fall Chinook and Steelhead returned from the North Pacific by the millions and – weighing in at a hundred pounds – their mineral rich bodies provided nutrition for the land, the plants and trees, the bears and eagles, river otters and raccoons. To the Native people this is the salmon’s world. Nation upon Nation of life relied on the return of the precious salmon. Their return is a reminder of wholeness, and informs us without a spoken word, of how to live a life as the Salmon people do, with generosity and loving abundance.

One could only imagine the devastation these nations faced with the construction of two dams along the river in the early 20th century.

“When the dams were built, there was no fish ladder. The builders of the dam said no ladder was needed as it could be replaced by a fish hatchery. The S’Klallam people say they watched the returning wild salmon smashing their heads against the wall of the dam; trying to find a way home. They say the river was red with their blood. The salmon were keeping their promise to always return.”

A starved land, an incomplete people, and a broken food web missing its cornerstone species were all hungry for the gift of life. For nearly 100 years the Lower Elwha Tribe fought for the removal of this dam. In September 2011, their long wait came to an end.

Lady of the Mountain Breaks the Dam by Roger Fernandes, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe
“Lady of the Mountain Breaks the Dam” by Roger Fernandes

With 20 years of planning that involved several professions, organizations, and different governmental entities, the dam was demolished. Subsequently, a series of actions to restore the health of the river arose. Scientists predicted the return of the salmon to be somewhere between five and ten years. In the fall of 2013 after the removal of the first dam, a record return of Chinook was recorded – 4,700 – the most since 1992, doubling what had been recorded in the recent two decades. No one had predicted such a rapid return of the native salmon.

The Elwha S’Klallam people say that when the river  is free again, their lives can return to living along the river in the manner of their ancestors. The salmon can return and play its role as the source of life, giving food and life to all things on the land and in the river. When the river is whole the salmon will be whole. When the salmon are whole, the people can be whole. The cycles of the river and seasons and life can once again guide the lives of the people.