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Nez Perce kids can raft down Snake River


Last updated 4/14/2021 at 7:35am

Nez Perce descendents who are currently in fourth through eighth grades have until April 27 to apply for a free rafting trip down the Snake River in their ancestral Nez Perce homelands. 

The rafting trip program seeks to have 15 youth from three different areas with Nez Perce residents to go on a 32-river-mile trip along the Snake River July 25-29, which includes two nights camping along the river.

The program, paid for with grant money from the Gray Family Foundation, is being conducted in a partnership between the Nez Perce Wallowa Homeland Project and the Winding Waters Rafting Company.

Five to six river guides will join three Nez Perce adult educators on the expedition.

The three adult educators include Tiyana Casey, tribal stewardship coordinator for Northwest Youth Corps; Andrew Wildbill, fisheries biologist for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation; and Douglas R. Marconi Jr. of Grand Coulee, watershed program manager for the Colville Confederated Tribes, as well as a forester and gatherer of traditional foods. 

Marconi told The Star over the phone on Monday that the trip’s curriculum is still in development but will focus on “place-based teaching” that is “stepping away from the Western value system of ‘here’s the text book, read chapters 1-5 and here’s the exam.”

A “seasonal round” calendar will be included in the teachings.

“You learn what is in season, and learn to adapt to that time, place and season. And you follow that calendar so you can keep yourself healthy,” Marconi said. “That’s one of the goals.”

“It helps to educate our kids about place and the relationship they have with place,” Marconi continued, “so that’s something I want to focus on — the relationship to place with foods and with water. When you have that relationship, you have responsibility to that place. Now that you’ve learned it, you have the responsibility to carry that forward. … And then when we’re in our ancestral homelands, from Oregon up to Canada, you’re standing where your ancestors have stood thousands of years before you. And I hope for some of them that it ignites a fire of where you come from and who you come from, and that builds another relationship with place.”

Marconi said a person’s relationship to a place is in their DNA and that “when you go to a place and it seems familiar, even though you haven’t been there, it’s because it’s in your DNA.”

Those interested in applying for the program will need to fill out a one-page application and can contact Marconi at or at 509-230-9386 for more information.

Colville Confederated Tribes Youth Development Program Services Manager Laura Morago is assisting in recruitment of youth for the rafting program, although the CCT is not sponsoring the trip.

Morago can also be contacted for more information at, which is also where the one-page application should be submitted by the April 27 deadline. 


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