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Hundreds attend seventh annual Earth Day Celebration in Nespelem


The Bureau of Reclamation's Kathryn Fry attends a renewable-energy display at the Colville Tribe's Earth Day event last Friday, where even small children could learn about human impacts on the planet. - Jacob Wagner photo

A festive Earth Day celebration, the seventh organized by a local Earth Day Committee, took place at the Nespelem powwow grounds Friday as an estimated 800-1,200 children and adults enjoyed the sunshine, free hot dogs, raffle prizes, drums, and educational and interactive booths run by volunteers.

Tribal member Joe Pakootas, who is running for Congress in Washington's fifth district, was the guest speaker at the event and performed the opening prayer.

Kris Ray of the Colville Tribes' Environmental Trust program had a tall, fascinating device setup which measures the smoke content of the air we breathe, as well as temperature, wind, and humidity. There is one of the devices set up in each of the towns of Omak, Nespelem, and Inchelium.

One booth had a model town and dam with a hand crank, which, as you turn it, emulates the generation of electricity. The crank is easy to turn at first, but as you flip the switches that represent the homes and businesses that draw more electricity throughout the day, the crank becomes harder to turn, representing the greater energy needed to generate more and more electricity.

Another booth with a model town showed that, as it rains, water flows according to the slopes and becomes contaminated along the way.

Pinecone-peanut-butter-bird feeders, wildflower seeds, spin the wheel to answer questions and win candy, nutrition, recycling, wildlife, and fire safety were the themes of various other booths.

The Earth Day Committee consists of Joaquin Bustamante, Kathy Moses, Shelly Clark, Shelly Jackson, Crystal Marchand, and Justus Caudell.

Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 in the United States and is now celebrated globally. The holiday is meant to encourage people to be conscientious about the quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink, our effect on the environment, and how we can help the health of our Earth.

Donations came from many many businesses, including the Trading Post, 12 Tribes Casino, Jacksons' Chevron, Birds, West Rock, Coulee Hardware, Loepps, Sunflower Graphics and more.

[This story has been edited to include the fact that Joe Pakootas spoke.]

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