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Honoring Our Resources Camp

Camp participant Steve White gets a ride on the buffalo robe during an initiative game

The “Honoring our Resources” summer camp, held from the 14th to the 18th of June, was a huge success. Twenty five high school-aged students spent the week camped out on the South Fork of the Little Wind River above Washakie Reservoir. Over the course of the week, participants learned about local natural resource issues, culture, and tradition, with an emphasis on the role of water. In addition, campers fished, hiked, swam, told stories, and played traditional games (as well as inventing new games of their own), and gained a greater understanding of and appreciation for the amazing landscape in their backyard. Sonny Shoyo and his drum group also came up and played for two evenings during the camp.

The camp was organized by Native Waters, Young Warrior’s Society, and Wind River Alliance with funding from the National Science Foundation. Camp director Jason Baldes explained the organization of the camp like this, “It was a great opportunity for two local grassroots groups (YWS and WRA) to collaborate with Native Waters, which is involved in water resources education on Reservations throughout the Missouri River Basin, and make this camp happen.”

On Monday, campers met the staff and other campers, helped set up four tipis and a cook tent, played traditional games, and did some fishing. In the evening, WIES culture teachers Gladys Moss and Marian Scott came up and told stories. Tuesday dawned clear and hot, and campers took advantage of the fine weather by playing teambuilding initiative games and learning about map reading and compass use. State-Tribal Liaison Ivan Posey and members of the Shoshone Business Council were lunch guests. In his remarks, Mr. Posey urged camp participants to pursue careers in the natural resources, reflecting on his days with the Forest Service when he was the only Tribal member out of several thousand Forest Service employees in the region. After lunch, Gloria Goggles gave an excellent presentation about the traditional uses of native plants.

WREQC staff demonstrate tipi raising techniques

Wednesday was much cooler and cloudy. In the morning, Wind River Environmental Quality Council (WREQC) staff gave a presentation about water quality monitoring. Students had the chance to learn about techniques for measuring water quality and to see first hand the amazing diversity of aquatic creatures found in the Little Wind River. Nolan Friday of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) presented information about stream gauging and water measurement. On Wednesday afternoon, everyone braved wet, cold weather on a challenging six mile hike to a waterfall on the South Fork.

Thursday’s main activity was a field trip to the Big Wind River and Bull Lake Creek. Dave Skates of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service gave campers a tour of the Winchester Canal diversion, which was recently renovated to allow fish passage in Bull Lake Creek. Diversion Dam was the next stop, and students learned about the legal and political history of water rights on the Wind River, and threats to the health of the watershed. The last stop on the field trip was Bull Lake, where students got to see an ancient fish trap and spend some time swimming and fishing in the lake.

Friday was reserved for taking down and cleaning up the camp, as well as team-building games. The camp ended with a feast at WIHS for all camp participants and their families. Campers described their experiences as, “Fun and exciting”, and said they gained “…relationships, new friends, and knowledge.” Another commented “I’ll remember the hike to the falls, and how important water is to every aspect of our lives.” Along with memories that will last a lifetime, all participants took home a compass, fishing pole, and T-shirt.