We are honored to announce Julie as the newest member of the Nature Needs Half steering committee.
About: Julie Cajune is a citizen of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. She has been fortunate to have grown up and worked in the homeland of her Salish ancestors and relatives. This is the land that holds her affection. Julie has been able to serve her community as a teacher and school administrator. She has worked for her nation’s Education Department as a curriculum specialist and at Salish Kootenai College as adjunct faculty. Building on the activism and work of generations of American Indian people, she has produced Native history materials in film, text, multimedia, and theater. In her personal life, she is a mother and a yaya (grandmother) of three remarkable boys. She continues to live in the landscape that has cared for her all of her life.
From 2005 – 2009, I worked on a tribal history project focusing primarily on the history of the Salish and Pend d’ Oreilles Tribes of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation of the Flathead Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana. As I reflected on enormous and diverse funds of knowledge the project could address, it gave me prayerful pause for thought. I then knew that I must address our aboriginal territory. It is critical that we inform and shape a new generation of caretakers. The task they will have before them will be more urgent and complex than the generations before them.
I began this project traveling through our homelands with two elders. I visited places not well known to me and I listened to the elders speak our names for these landscapes, rivers, mountains, and passes. Each name was like a beautiful poem that spoke to our relationship with each landscape, river, mountain or pass. Our winter travels in our old territory offered the opportunity to hear Coyote stories – creation stories that connected us to that place at the beginning of human time. I established a profound connection and affection to many places I had not known. Many I now revisit and others continue bound to my heart and memory.
After these journeys I sat with a number of tribal members and interviewed them about the significance of particular places in our aboriginal territory. At the last minute I decided to include some young interviewees. I am so grateful that I did so.
I would like to conclude this short message with the words of one of the young interviewees, Mary Ann Addison:
“I think our relationship with our aboriginal territory is like a connection to the land that makes us who we are. We are reflections of the earth and everything around us. The message I would want to give the children of the future is to learn how to dream big – to learn how to really use dreaming as a powerful tool. The way we are living on this earth, the way we are living now, can’t be sustained very much longer.”
We need dreams and imagination capable of connecting us to the path to half of the world being protected. Nature Needs Half.