Tribes welcome center
Wiwnu Wash at Mt. Hood Skibowl
By Duran Bobb
After several years of talks between tribal leaders and Kirk Hanna, owner of Mt. Hood Skibowl, horseback riders ended a four-day journey representing the tribes' return to the mountain as part of the grand opening of Mt. Hood Skibowl's Wiwnu Wash Heritage Center.
Kirk Hanna recognized the need for the heritage center, which represents the Warm Springs, Wasco and Paiute tribes of the reservation.
"If you think about it, these were the first people in the area," Hanna said. "I knew that I had to get in contact with tribal leaders or representatives and get this project moving."
Hanna began asking questions and was eventually put in contact with the Warm Springs Culture and Heritage Department, which hosted the traditional powwow at the grand opening of the heritage center.
"He's been working with us closely for a while now," language instructor Suzie Slockish said. "They've asked about displays and information on all of the trees and plants that were once used. Valerie Switzler, Arlitta Rhoan and some of the other staff have worked on the display, naming the plants in Indian."
"Our people traveled this area," Warm Springs Chief Delvis Heath Sr. said. "We learned from the animals to keep moving. There were different spots for different foods -- the berries, eels, whatever our people needed. We always knew we would come back."
Chief Heath mentioned in his statement that eventually the tribes would like to establish a resort on Mount Jefferson, so the new opportunities and partnership with Mt. Hood Skibowl would be beneficial in many respects.
"This entire area was a culturally significant area," BIA Regional Director Stanley Speaks said. "This is history in the making. This will be a traditional day; it will happen again -- next year, and the years to come."
Speaks also hopes that the new partnership between the tribes and Mt. Hood Skibowl will enourage other tribes to follow, helping them to return to their own traditional lands.
"If you walk through the Heritage Center you'll see pictures of the old days," emcee Carlos Calica said. "During the winter, we come back to the area to hunt. We're thankful for what we take."
The law followed by tribal members is to care for the land, tribal Secretary-Treasurer Jody Calica said. "The Creator placed us on this land to care for it. We must preserve our traditional and cultural ways. We must never use more than our people should need. We need to accept full personal responsibility for all of our actions."
The new understanding of cooperation also represents the opportunity to develop a business relationship between Mt. Hood and the tribes on the north end of the reservation, Calica said.
"Assimilation gave my people the challenge of the mainstream," Calica added. "But behold, tribal members are here!"
Hanna and his staff were presented with gifts from tribal leaders. Hanna said the peak near Mt. Hood Skibowl would be renamed to Wiwnu Wash Peak.
The grand opening also included passes for the slide, a traditional salmon bake, social dancing, and vendor booths.