Podcast! Traditional Ecological Knowledge

with Amelia Marchand of the L.I.G.H.T. Foundation

Illustration by Diana Weddle

Amelia Marchand, of the L.I.G.H.T. Foundation, joins OHA to share her experiences and perspectives on traditional knowledge, or teachings, and the role of ecological knowledge within the bigger framework of cultural understanding that has been amassed over a millenia by indigenous peoples. She shares stories of her life and the inspiration that has driven her and her husband, Joaquin, to create the L.I.G.H.T Foundation, whose mission is to cultivate, enrich and perpetuate native plants and the cultural traditions of Pacific Northwest tribes.

To learn more and donate to the L.I.G.H.T. Foundation, visit the website at: thepnwlf.org

Check out this article by Amelia Marchand, from June 22, 2022: Climate and Cultural Vulnerabilities of Indigenous Elders, published in the Generations Journal of the American Society on Aging.

Additional resources to learn more (list specially curated by Amelia Marchand):

Local Environmental Observer (LEO) Network: an opportunity to learn about (and add your local) unusual environmental, animal and weather events world-wide.

2021 Status of Tribes and Climate Change (STACC) Report produced by The Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals

Guidelines for Considering Traditional Knowledges in Climate Change Initiatives : a practical guide to developing collaborations that honor traditional knowledge and minimize risks to indigenous peoples who might be sharing traditional knowledge. Intended audience: agencies, researchers, tribes and traditional knowledge holders (and valuable information for everyone).

Citing Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers: How to cite oral traditions and ways of knowing in a way that honors and recognizes information shared by indigenous knowledge keepers on a level with written sources.

Find the full theme song, Blessed Unrest, by Tyler Graves on Spotify, Apple Music, or your favorite music platform.

For more information about Okanogan Highlands Alliance, or to become a member or volunteer, visit: okanoganhighlands.org or email us at info@okanoganhighlands.org

Podcast! Islands in the Ice: Nunataks S2:E3

Listen to Islands In the Ice

Nunatak: an Inuit word meaning a mountain peak jutting up through a glacier. A nunatak might not be a hospitable place to spend a few thousand years, but exposed rocky mountaintops are sometimes all that a few hardy species need to survive. In this episode, George Thornton, local educator, naturalist and botanist, shares his knowledge and experiences studying the unique plant communities found atop the highest peaks in the Okanogan. By connecting big ideas of climate, geology, and ecosystem dynamics, George makes sense of how some of the tiny alpine and tundra plants can be found here today, and why they might be in peril.

Alpine Meadow with rocky peaks in the background, Pasayten Wilderness

 

Anna, Nature Detective

Season 2, Episode 3: Islands in the Ice

Anna is a daring and precocious nature detective. She loves to sing, and dance, and make up songs and dances about the things that she observes. Anna LOVES animals, a

nd she is the kid who can catch the cat that no one else can. When Anna explores she likes to look at things close up, touch them, peer at them through her Nature Detective hand lens. Sometimes, things that can’t run away suit Anna’s detective style best, but fortunately Anna is also very careful not to hurt anything.

“Red, Orange and Yellow! Green, Blue and Indigo! Viiiiooooolllleeetttt” Anna makes up the tune to her Rainbow Song as she traipses along a trail through a wildflower strewn meadow. It has been a long hike to reach this field of beautiful flowers. Fortunately her mom brought along a whole pack of power pellets…jelly beans of every color, to match the rainbow of flowers stretching out in front of them.

“Hey mom, let’s try to find a flower for every color of the rainbow, and take their pictures!”

“What a great idea!” Anna’s mom says, “When you are all grown up, these pictures will remind us of this amazing day!” Anna’s mom appreciates that Anna would rather take pictures than pick flowers. They learned recently that flowers are an important part of making seeds, and seeds are how plants reproduce and survive. If everyone picked wildflowers, we might not have any left to enjoy, but pictures are good forever and don’t hurt a thing.

And so the search for a rainbow of flowers begins. 

There is the red paintbrush, “click, click” goes the camera. 

Indigo lupine and yellow arnica, “click, click” goes the camera. 

“Ok, Anna, what colors are we missing?”

Anna murmurs her rainbow song, and checks off colors on her fingers. “Orange! Green! Blue! Viiiiioooooollllleeetttt!”  Anna sings.

Anna and her mom continue down the trail, and come to a place where a creek crosses the trail. There are different flowers here, where it is wet. They find a long, stalky green flower – they’ll have to look it up later. “Click click” goes the camera. They find a big, bright orange, speckled flower – a tiger lily. And a purple flower with lots of petals. Anna’s mom suspects that the purple one might be an aster. 

“All we need now is blue!” Anna and her mom are stumped. They had already decided that the lupine is indigo, but they haven’t seen any truely blue flowers yet. 

The two make their way to a place where jumbles of rocks lead up to a ridge. Anna starts to climb – her favorite activity. She climbs the first set of rocks, and as she crests the top she spies something amazing – a blue, almost green-blue, tiny flower. She never would have seen it if she hadn’t climbed the rocks or been so close to the ground – now that she looks more carefully, there are quite a few of these tiny blue-green flowers. 

“Mom! Come up here! You have to! There are blue flowers!” Anna’s mom is skeptical, but she is also a good sport, so she carefully climbs up next to Anna, “Wow! What an amazing find! I haven’t ever seen a flower like this, Anna!”

After arriving back at home, Anna and her mom investigate. It turns out that the flower is called a glaucous gentian, a tundra plant, that is thought to be very rare in the Okanogan, and only found on the highest peaks! They are excited to learn more about how and why this pretty turquoise flower comes to be here, and wouldn’t you know,  there is a podcast episode all about it. They settle in to listen to Islands in the Ice, with George Thornton!Learn all about Islands in the Ice as well as other natural history topics on Okanogan Highlands Alliance’s Highland Wonders Podcast. You can find episodes and more nature detective stories at okanoganhighlands.org/education/highland-wonders/ or on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts.

Glaucous Gentian, rare (and turquoise!) plant found on nunataks in the Okanogan.

Okanogan Ice Islands: Nunataks

…with George Thornton

 
Click the button above to go straight to the Okanogan Ice Islands: Nunatak presentation, which initially aired on Friday, January 7, 2022.  If you have questions for George, email him at thorntong@me.com

Beyond the beauty of Chopaka, I’ve come to know the mystery behind the unusual collection of Arctic tundra remnant on the peak. I’ve wondered what it tells of our past and  whether it offers a glimpse  into  our future.” -George Thornton

Presentation Description:

High, craggy peaks rise to the West of the Okanogan. These mountains are home to unique plant communities, and our glacial history holds a clue as to why and how those plants come to live where they do. The changing climate endangers these indicators of  our glacial past. In this edition of Highland Wonders, we will discuss various theories about local natural history and ecology using Chopaka Mountain as a primary example of several nearby Eastern Cascade peaks. 

Join OHA and George Thornton, high school teacher, botanist, and lifelong nature enthusiast, on January 7, 2022.  George has lived his entire life in the Okanogan. He taught for 33 years, worked summers doing vegetation surveys for the Forest Service, and has hiked  and explored most of the north Okanogan area.

Secrets and Strengths of the Moss World

Mosses are a fascinating part of our world. They operate much like their larger relatives, like trees and shrubs, just on a much smaller scale. On Friday, January 4, 2019, Erica Heinlen shared her expertise to bring the moss world into focus for our community. In this talk, we touched on the taxonomy of mosses as well as their structure and life cycle. We discovered the importance of mosses in our ecosystems and discussed where they grow. We explored concepts of conservation and then saw some special species found here in the Okanogan. Finally, we addressed some of the “Frequently Asked Questions” the audience had about mosses. It was an interesting journey as we unlocked the secrets and strengths of the moss world.

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Those Marvelous, Myriad Lichens

with Jack Massie
An indoor/outdoor combo opportunity: April/May 2017

Lichens appear as an entire organism but are actually composed of two or more very different partners — they truly are peculiar, efficient, and wondrous. Often misunderstood, the lichen field trip will provide an up-close look at these incredible life forms and how they function.

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Evening with the Experts

Are you curious about the native plants growing around you? “What is this species, and what do I need to know about it?” On Sept. 26, 2014, OHA invited the community to bring photos and/or samples to our “Evening with the Experts,” event, along with observations about the plant. Community members were encouraged to bring digital photos on USB flash drives, SD memory cards, or email in advance to julie@okanoganhighlands.org. The event was open to everyone, whether they brought in a mystery plant or not. There were plenty of examples available for everyone to learn from.

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Viva La Naturaleza

Okanogan Highlands Alliance sponsored a new kind of educational event called, “Viva la Naturaleza,” in partnership with the Tonasket School Garden, Tonasket High School MEChA Club, Tonasket School District, Tonasket Migrant PAC, AmeriCorps/VISTA, Team Naturaleza, and the Viva la Naturaleza Student Leadership Team.

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Grassland Ecology and Grass Identification, Indoor Presentation

For those who missed the September 2013 grassland learning experience or needed an opportunity to reinforce the concepts from the event, OHA was thrilled to announce the return of one of the region’s premier grass experts, Don Gayton. Last September, Don’s Highland Wonders presentation and field trip were filled to capacity, and OHA received requests to offer an indoor presentation to a larger group. The March event was a great opportunity for those who were not able to participate in the previous grassland learning experience, as well as a chance for those who attended to reinforce the concepts that had been presented, and develop a deeper understanding.

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Grassland Ecology and Grass Identification, Field Trip

This Highland Wonders event provided an opportunity to learn from one of the region’s premier grass experts, Don Gayton, who discussed our local grassland ecology and grass plant identification. Community members did not have to be botanists to enjoy this two-part indoor/outdoor event, as everyone from the greenhorn to the conversant could get something from Don’s wealth of knowledge. Topics covered included grassland types, invasive plants, grazing and fire interactions, and simplified methods of identifying grasses.

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