As quickly as the two weeks of training had flown by, the following week went no slower. I had to prepare for my first guided tour walk of the season! I remembered how hard it was last summer in Idaho to learn about the landscape in a week, and it was no different this time. Craters of the Moon information couldn’t help me here.I had to start from scratch in learning the history of the land prior to the expedition and about the Corps of Discovery when they stayed here. It wasn’t too bad once I got the ball rollin’! The first guided walk I was scheduled to give was the NeTul Hike that was approximately one to two miles round trip and had to last about 45 minutes to an hour. I decided that I would base my first walk on interpreting the different ways the land was utilized by Native Americans, and how they prepared the native plants for medicine, food, craftwork, and in some cases cleaning utensils. Initially, I had no idea that Native Americans  lived in the area decades before the Corps of Discovery came, so I was excited reading about the different uses these plants had for tribes like the Chinook, Lummi, Clatsop, Makah and others who lived in the area. I had other rangers assist me in my research as they have been here longer than I have, and learned more than a thing or two about these plants. I learned about the native berries, the different trees, and how the plants were utilized, all of which had to be processed into an interpretive program. I think the hardest thing about planning this program is making sure that the audience is getting a sense of why they should care about preserving these parks and how important it was for these tribes because it was their home. It’s hard to bring that perspective in when so much of the history of the place is layered with the expedition and the “discoveries” that they documented.The Lewis and Clark expedition was definitely a unique story in American history, however I don’t think that they discovered anything in the West. The tribes were here using the land, even trading overseas, and building specific canoes made for the tough Columbia River, and I think that perspective needed to be brought a little more into the park’s programs. Hopefully, with a good interpretive program I will be able to show visitors that the land goes deeper than the layer of the expedition, so they can understand the depth of how amazing this land is and about the people who called it home.

 

 

 

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Written by Edith Jimenez
A Chicanx from Los Ángeles exploring America's Best Idea through these brown eyes!