Denied a place on their ancestral lands, the original Snake River-Palouse people were forced to scatter. Maintaining their cultural identity became increasingly difficult. Still, elders passed down oral histories to their descendants, insisting youngsters listen with rapt attention. Beginning in the 1970s and continuing over three decades, Naxiyamt'ama elders--in particular Mary Jim, Andrew George, Gordon Fisher, and Emily Peone--shared their stories with a research team. The four had ties to the Plateau people's leadership families and had lived in the traditional way--gathering, hunting, and fishing. They hoped to teach American Indian history in a traditional manner and refute inaccuracies. Multiple themes emerged--a pervasive spirituality tied to the Creator and environment; a covenant relationship and sacred trust to protect and preserve their traditional lands; storytelling as a revered art form that reveals life lessons, and finally, belief in cyclical time and blood memory.
Washington State University Press