Tribes base land-management strategy on protecting ‘first foods’

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PENDLETON — Traditional foods are so important to the Umatilla, Walla Walla and Cayuse tribes that they’ve centered their entire land-management strategy on protecting them.

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation have adopted what they say is a one-of-a-kind plan for their rugged 178,000 acres that aims to save the “first foods” — salmon, wild game, roots, berries and clear, pure water.

First foods

• What: Salmon; wild game such as elk; berries such as huckleberries and chokecherries; roots such as cous, camus and bitterroot; and clean water.

• Cultural significance: They’re the subject of ritual feasts, songs and gender roles. Elk, deer and salmon are nutritional mainstays known as “brothers” and traditionally harvested by men. Berries and roots are known as “sisters” and are gathered by women. Some are “bad sisters” because they can be poisonous or have medicinal properties that cause illness when misused.

The ritual, with links to tribal creation beliefs and culture, embodies “incredible elegance,” he said.

http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2009/02/confederated_tribes_of_the_uma.html


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