Wallowa County Landowners Invited to Learn About First Foods Gathering

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Traditional root gathering by Carla Timentwa
Traditional root gathering by Carla Timentwa

Submitted by Wallowa Land Trust

Free Information Session will be held to learn about tribal access for root gathering

ENTERPRISE, OR – Wallowa County landowners are invited to attend a free information session to learn about First Foods and Indigenous land stewardship. Attendees will have a chance to hear directly from tribal members and local landowners who are providing access to traditional root gatherings on their land.

This information session is part of the larger Wallowa Gathering Event hosted annually by Wallowa Land Trust. For the past four years, Wallowa Land Trust has worked with local partners like The Nature Conservancy and Nez Perce Wallowa Homeland to host Indigenous root gatherers here in Wallowa County. The goal of this annual event is to provide tribal members with access to lands to gather their traditional First Foods and medicines. Relationship building is another key goal of this project.

“We hope to create opportunities for landowners to meet tribal members and learn about traditional land stewardship such as root gathering.  From firsthand experience, I can attest that these relationships – with Indigenous gatherers and with the land – have been transformational.  For local landowners that want to see their land thrive for many generations, this is a workshop not to be missed,” said Wallowa Land Trust Executive Director, Kathleen Ackley.

Nez Perce people have stewarded the NE Oregon landscape since time immemorial.  For millennia, Indigenous people carefully tended to the animals, fish, and roots through hunting, fishing, and gathering.  Even after the Nez Perce’s forced removal from the Wallowa Valley in 1877, the tribe retained rights to access traditional foods and medicines.  However, many of the traditional gathering grounds are now privately owned, creating a barrier for Indigenous people to practice their heritage.

According to Nez Perce tribal member AJ Whiteplume-TwoMoons, “Gatherers bringing their children to the Wallowa homelands to develop relationships is important because this hasn’t been done at this scale since displacement.”

AJ’s ancestors would gather roots such as cous, camas, bitterroot, and wild carrot throughout what is now NE Oregon. Many of these species still grow here in Wallowa County today, but most roots found on private property have not been tended to by Indigenous gatherers for multiple generations. The Wallowa Gathering Event is hoping to change that.

The March 31st Landowner Information Session kicks off this year’s Wallowa Gathering event.

“The Landowner Information Session will be a chance for local landowners to learn firsthand about this project and gage whether they’d like to be involved,” said Ackley.

The Landowner Information Session is geared toward landowners within Wallowa County with at least five acres of land. Attending the informational session does not obligate landowners to participate in the Gathering event. 

The Landowner Information Session will be held on Friday, March 31st from 4pm – 6pm at The Place in Joseph, OR (301 S Lake St., Joseph, OR). The event is free and open to the public, with refreshments provided.

Please RSVP to sarah@wallowalandtrust.org to attend or with any questions.


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