July 20, 2017 , Modoc Record – The Modoc National Forest in collaboration with Lomakatsi Restoration Project, hosted a career day for the Issi Wah Tribal Youth Ecosystem Workforce Program on July 14, 2017 at the Supervisor’s Office in Alturas.
Sean Cross, Assistant Refuge Manager from the USFW and Bryon Hadwick, District Conservationist, NRCS, joined Greg Moon, District Ranger of the Devils Garden Ranger District, Pam Bumstead, Archeologist and
Ken Sandusky, Tribal Liaison of the USFS, to offer the tribal youth a vast amount of experience and information for Natural Resource Careers. The youth were treated to a robust cadre of leadership that included a strong representation of Native American positions within the agencies.
The Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Les Anderson, of the Pit River Tribe also presented information for these youths who are all Ajumawi-Atsugewi Nation (Pit River Tribe) Members. “These youths have opportunities to become Cultural Monitors and work to protect and preserve their natural resources and sacred places,” stated Anderson. Cross emphasized a good work ethic and being open to adventures and willingness to move for increased career opportunities.
Greg Moon inspired the youth with a vision for leadership, stating that, “Someone in the community is watching you all the time. You are leading someone, whether it is a little brother, sister, family member or outside of the family.”
“Let’s do good things for our land and community,” stated Moon. “We have the opportunity to make the needed changes and work together to find solutions to seemingly impossible issues.”
Marko Bey, Executive Director of Lomakatsi for the last 22 years, ended the Natural Resources Career Day sharing with the youth the opportunities that exist to form their own contracting business, to provide services to the agencies and regional tribes.
“Building your own forestry, wildland fire or cultural monitoring business is another career option,” Bey said. “Millions of acres of forest and countless miles of streams are in critical need of ecological restoration and there is a great need for businesses to form in rural communities to contribute to this effort and you make a good living doing this type of work that can support you and your family.”
Youth from the Ajumawi/Atsugewi Nation (Pit River Tribe) are restoring vital Redband Trout habitat this summer, led by Illmawi Elders, tribal leaders and the staff of the nonprofit organization Lomakatsi Restoration Project.
The project is one of many ecological restoration projects the youth will take part in as part of the Issi Wah Tribal Youth Ecosystem Workforce Program from July 11 to August 4.
The Tribal Youth Training and Employment Program was developed by Lomakatsi and co-created with tribal traditional leaders from the Illmawi, Ajumawi and Kosealekte Bands. The four-week program gives tribal youth experiential learning opportunities as they work with natural resource, ecosystem restoration, and tribal cultural experts, learning both skills and knowledge from modern ecological science and live classrooms, as well as Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) passed down through generations.
“Programs like these, are invaluable in helping to equip, train and empower our tribal youth with the knowledge, skills and abilities shared by our traditional cultural experts and professional ecosystem restoration practitioners in a peer-to-peer learning environment,” said Lomakatsi Tribal Partnerships Manager, Belinda Brown, an enrolled member of the Pit River Tribe. “Getting our youth on the land in the ‘live, outdoor classrooms,’ is creating career opportunities in ecological restoration, so our tribal people can remain as the first, best stewards of our ancestral homelands.”
Now in its second year, the tribal youth program is part of a larger partnership between the Inter- Tribal Ecosystem Restoration Network, the local tribal community, Lomakatsi Restoration Project and California Trout to restore the Wild Trout Area of Hat Creek.
Over the last four years, Lomakatsi Restoration Project and California Trout have worked together to install a diversity of over 6,000 native plants along Hat Creek to re-establish vegetation that will help stabilize the banks of the spring-fed waters. The native plants have cultural significance and have provided the Illmawi people with medicine, food and art materials since time immemorial. Illmawi Elder Cecilia Silvas was instrumental in defining the plants that were planted for cultural use.
“We have lived on this land since time immemorial,” said Silvas. “The water quality and quantity should be protected and preserved. These are our traditions. Caring for the land, and the fish, and the creek, is caring for the people. Ensuring that the next generation is learning what it takes to preserve these resources is critical for the future.”
The Issi Wah Tribal Youth Program provides valuable hands-on training for youth ages 14-18. The 10 tribal youth will participate in the program, and be given opportunities to explore career paths in natural resources, ecocultural and ecosystem restoration, science, ecology, as well as their own Traditional Ecological Knowledge taught by Cultural Practitioners. They will earn $11 per hour for their work, in addition to receiving training.
“Lomakatsi has been restoring ecosystems and providing workforce training opportunities for rural and tribal communities throughout Oregon and Northern California for more than 22 years,” Lomakatsi Executive Director Marko Bey said.