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Elder~Youth Conference Reflections, 2012

It is with happy appreciation that we reflect on our 7th Annual
Elder~Youth Conference, which took place June 27-30. There are times
in the ebbing and flowing through the years with Red Earth Descendants
that we are able to take pause and review our work within our
community. Our vision in R.E.D. has always been to join elders and
youth to teach and learn indigenous ways of sustainable living--to
find a way back to being human. For more of this story, scroll under photos and click "read more."

Our Elder~Youth Conference has once
again given us the chance to practice this way of being.
With the beautiful Rogue River in Gold Hill as the back-drop for our
camp, we were able to enjoy and focus on the importance of the river,
how it brings the salmon, with the culmination of the Conference being
Grandma Aggie's Salmon Gathering. The traditional fire pit for the
salmon was placed close to the river's edge this year, allowing us to
feel that ancient relationship to the water and the health it gives us
through the fish. A very fitting way to celebrate, to honor the
salmon for their return, to honor each other for keeping this way of
life alive.

The three days of Elder~Youth camp preceding the Salmon Gathering were
spent teaching youth (and adults!) indigenous skills. We provided
archery lessons and practice, teachings about traditional uses of
weapons and tools, shinny (stickball gaming), drum-making, pine needle
basket weaving, beading with Pacific Northwest traditional dentalia,
water/river ecology, river safety, kayaking lessons, medicinal
herb-gathering and salve-making, sweat lodge building, camp set-up and
take-down, giveaway traditions for the Elder Giveaway and much more. .
.about how to simply 'be' in camp, how to help, how to gather in a
circle and respect a song, how to have the patience while an elder is
speaking or praying. . .these are Native ways of being human that many
people in our society have forgotten in the rush of modern ways. Our
Elder~Youth Conference offered our community youth, elders and their
families a way to slow down, unplug and participate in these rich
lessons along the river for four wonderful days. It was a way to
remind people how they can live, if they so choose. Inevitably,
everyone present learns a different way of being on some level. For a
very young child, it might be that they are allowed to shoot a real
bow and arrow in a safe, protected environment that sparks an interest
for life. For a teenager, it might be how to simply unplug from their
phone or ipod long enough to hike along the river and open up a whole
new world for him/her. For an elder, it might be the chance to tell a
story they've never shared about their past that allows the listener
to learn a valuable lesson. All these are tangible experiences that
we witness over and over again in this camp. It's truly a beautiful
thing, and we, as R.E.D., are very grateful to be able to offer these

We'd like to thank the many places and faces that made our Elder~Youth
Conference such a success:

~McKenzie River Gathering Foundation for their generous grant.
~Food Angels of Ashland for all the food donations.
~Shop 'n Kart of Ashland for their grocery/giveaway donation.
~Jackson County Fuel Committee for the wood donation.
~Carefree Buffalo Store in Jacksonville for their donation of the Pendleton.
~Jane A. for the R.E.D. Pendleton Blanket Raffle.
~Whistling Elk Singers for their songs and blessings.
~Tom Smith for teaching weaponry/tools.
~Nick Hall for teaching archery.
~Terry Hill for teaching archery and being the archery equipment guardian.
~Mary Ann Tinoko for running the camp kitchen.
~Terese Hall for being Mary Ann's assistant and overall kitchen helper.
~Buddy Fallsrock for providing the drum-making supplies.
~Andrew and Victoria Markham for providing the hide for the drum-making.
~Janet Lambert for teaching beadwork.
~Atara Melo for teaching basket-weaving.
~Karen Averill and Women of Waters for doing the water/river teaching.
~Ray and Linda Stevens for the herb/salve-making teaching.
~Ed Little Crow for prayers and lodge support.
~Gary for lodge-building.
~Jefferson for his songs.
~Bear Dancers for their Ceremony and their support.
~Antoinette Claypoole for book donations for Elder Giveaway.
~Steve Kiesling for the land sharing and his trust in us.
~Oliver Fix for the kayaking lessons.
~The young men who were the ceremonial divers for Grandma Aggie.
~Grandma Aggie and her amazing vision, courage and tenacity!
~Grants Pass Powwow Committee for all their hard work.
~Chris and Jay Bird for their gracious lending of the camp kitchen on wheels.
~Jay Bird for providing Grandma's tipi.
~Youth Empowerment Services/Support for providing the Sky Lodge.
~Jessie Poydack for transporting and organizing putting up Sky Lodge.
~Our community for showing up, working, participating and gathering together.

We will be hosting a wrap-up meeting to talk about Elder~Youth--just
to celebrate together the successes, talk about what we might want to
remember for next year, de-brief a bit and catch up on what is next on
the R.E.D. horizon--this coming week:

R.E.D. Meeting, Thursday, July 12
6:30 p.m.
SOU Student Family Housing Building (Jaimie's classroom)
1361 Quincy Street, Ashland
Park in the big clock tower parking lot, go through main doors under
the clock tower, go down hall, turn left through door with the glass,
then another left--that's the classroom where the meeting will be.
Feel free to bring something easy to munch on (we won't have kitchen
access, so bring it self-contained!).

As always, thank you for being our community and for your support. We
do this for each other and we appreciate your part in these events.
We look forward to seeing you soon~!

Red Earth Descendants