“Nimiipuu’NEewit: Lifeways of Our Homelands” SHIFTx Fellowship Fund Grant Report

In July 2019, Ciarra Greene (ELP 2016) received the $10,000 SHIFTx Fellowship Fund grant for her proposal to promote the restoration and conservation of her Nez Perce environment.

“Nimiipuu’neewit: Lifeways of Our Homelands” is a collaboration between the Nez Perce Tribe and local academic institutions and agencies that will create a camp for Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) adults in order to strengthen participants’ cultural identity, connection to place, and stewardship of the land.

The SHIFTx Fellowship Fund represents The Center for Jackson Hole’s desire to share its collective-impact model nationally while simultaneously contributing to the professional development of ELP alumni.

Made possible by a $10,000 grant from Patagonia, The Fund supports projects by Emerging Leaders Program alumni that address issues of importance to their communities.

Ciarra’s first report is as follows:


Our Mission is to strengthen participants cultural identity, connection to place, and stewardship of the land; recognize the similarities and differences in our traditions and outdoor recreation, understanding our “leisure experience” carries a deeper meaning to include cultural and spiritual contexts for ceremony, subsistence, and survival; improve community health by promoting subsistence consumption, outdoor activity; and introduce education and career pathways in environmental fields.

Our Vision is to make our community stronger and healthier, create strong and positive intergenerational and/or cross-community (nonnative and/or intertribal) networks that intentionally focus on building relationships and connecting resources to bring about positive change, strengthen community members and/or community organizations to address root causes of social, economic, racial, and/or environmental injustice, and honor the Native tradition of giving, sharing, and reciprocity by giving back to the community.


Nimiipuu’neewit: Lifeways of Our Homelands provides Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) adults an engaging opportunity to learn about our relatives (plants and animals) and homelands, with a foundation in healing (restoration) and protection (conservation) of our sacred environment and ourselves. The program takes place on our homelands, and consists of a week-long summer program and continued learning events for six months in collaboration with our partners. The program will strengthen participants cultural identity, connection to place, stewardship of the land, improve community health by promoting subsistence consumption, outdoor activities, and introduce education and career pathways in environmental fields.

This project helps build relationships between Nimiipuu community members, Northwest Indian College faculty, the Nez Perce Tribe, and surrounding agencies in the environmental fields, enhancing collaborations throughout the seasonal round and academic year.  Further, these partnerships will improve government to government relations, demonstrate collective impact for the tribal and non-tribal community, and benefit the future generations whose parents, guardians, and community role models are taking action toward race reconciliation.


Northwest Indian College

The Nez Perce Tribe Department of Natural Resources: Air Quality Program, Forestry Division, Wildlife Division, Water Resources Division, Fisheries Division

Nez Perce National Historical Park

Nez Perce Tourism


Lewis Clark State College Chemistry Department

US Forest Service: Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest and Rocky Mountain Research Station

Idaho Fish and Game

Idaho Parks and Recreation – Winchester Lake State Park



Funding for Nimiipuu’neewit was received from SHIFT (https://shiftjh.org/) and the Potlatch Fund (http://potlatchfund.org/).

SHIFT – The Center for Jackson Hole is a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to strengthen the coalition of interests dedicated to the protection of the natural world by investing in the future of their constituencies.We achieve this mission via two main programs: SHIFT (Shaping How we Invest For Tomorrow), an annual festival, held each autumn in Jackson Hole, that explores issues at the intersection of outdoor recreation, conservation and public health; and The Emerging Leaders Program, which trains early career leaders to help develop our work at SHIFT and in America.The SHIFTx Fellowship Fund is only available to Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) alumni. The 2019 grant was awarded to 2016 ELP alumni, Ciarra Greene, for $10,000 for the Nimiipuu’neewit program and is dispersed on a quarterly basis (August 2019 – $5,000, November 2019 – $2500, February 2020 – $2500). The SHIFTx Fellowship Fund (formerly The Emerging Leaders Program Fellowship Fund) represents The Center for Jackson Hole’s desire to share its collective-impact model nationally while simultaneously contributing to the professional development of ELP alumni. Made possible by a $10,000 grant from Patagonia, The Fund supports projects by Emerging Leaders Program alumni that address issues of importance to their communities.

The Potlatch Fund is a Native-led nonprofit that provides grants and leadership development in Tribal communities throughout Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Montana. The Mission is to expand philanthropy within Northwest Tribal Nations and Native Communities by inspiring and building upon the Native tradition of giving. From potlatchs to powwows, building community and sharing wealth has always been a part of Native peoples’ way of life. The Potlatch Fund supports organizations and community programs that impart values, histories, and knowledge across generations to make our communities stronger and healthier. They believe that communities inherently have a wealth of knowledge to address their own issues, given adequate resources. The well-being of individuals and community-based organizations are integral to the well-being of a community as a whole. Ideally, this program is envisioned to increase the capacity of individuals, organizations, and communities. To receive funding, Nimiipuu’neewit utilized the Nez Perce Tribe’s 501(c)3 nonprofit, Wisteqn’eemit as a fiscal sponsor. Wisteqn’eemit embodies the values and spirit of the Tribe and its people and provides a non-profit venue by which to expand opportunities for giving, sharing, and enhancing the Nez Perce way of life. The award amount was $8,250 and was dispersed in full July 2019.

  • Total funding received: $18,250.00
  • Amount allocated for indirect costs: $825.00
  • Total funding for Nimiipuu’neewit: $17,425.00
  • Total spent for summer program: $12,426.96
  • Remaining funding for continued programming: $4998.04


Secure funding is/was utilized for the following expenses:

Professional Educators: Two Native Environmental Science Faculty from NWIC will design, implement, and assess the program. Both educators are respected community members with invaluable cultural knowledge and have Masters Degrees in Science Teaching and Natural Resources and Environmental Science, respectively.

*Resident Elder: The resident elder is integral to the program. They will bring their wisdom and knowledge of culture, traditions, and Western science by providing language, traditional stories, and personal accounts from our homelands. They will be present throughout the program and will be able to provide counsel for participants as needed.

Participant Honorarium: Participants will be honored for their time and engagement, as well as sharing of their own knowledge and experience. Everyone who participates will be valuable to the program and their time will be compensated.

Transportation: Transportation from NWIC to field sites will be provided to participants. The rental of a van or field vehicles will be arranged upon confirmation of available funds.

Food and Beverage: Healthy breakfast and lunch options will be provided. Participants will prepare their own lunch from the food provided. Water and no sugar beverages (tea) will be provided.

White water rafting: The white-water rafting trip will take place in the Salmon River, which is part of many of our traditional stories and part of our history (1877 Nez Perce Flight from the US Army). White water rafting is a recreational activity that people from around the world come to our area for, yet few Nimiipuu have experienced it. For many, this will be their first opportunity to experience white water rafting and will be their introduction to recreational water sports.

Additional costs: notebooks, water bottles, additional office supplies, feast bags, and additional workshop funding

*Elders were secured for the week-long summer program, but due to health-related issues were not able to attend.


The first day of NiMiiPuu’neewit, was dedicated to air-hewleexhewlex in NiMiiPuutimpt (Nez Perce Language), we began with orientation of the adult camp with a review of agenda and expectations we had for the participants of the camp. Then discussed cultural significance of air to the land we are from and took part in a presentation on the impacts of indoor and outdoor air quality and then learned about tools used for measuring and reducing the impacts of quality of air. Then travelled to our local college, where we were presented with the history of the air quality of Lewis-Clark Valley. Then collected air samples for analysis and took a tour of the laboratory and the instrumentation that is used. Participant responses of the day: “Learned that there is always particles in the air from fragrance candles and air fresheners that which are toxic to indoor air quality. “Spending 90% of our lives indoors, indoor AQ is very important. Asthma affects tribal communities at 25-30% higher prevalence than the general population. Actions for homes to improve AQ and reduce asthma attacks: burn dry wood, control moisture/mold, prevent and remove dust mites/pests. For outdoor AQ, backyard burning is a huge issue which largely affects…”

Second day-fire-‘aala. This day we listened to a creation story for the NiMiiPuu people of how beavers stole fire from the timber people and readily shared it with anyone in need. We discussed the cultural significance, how fire has changed overtime, we then learned about the modern use of technology in fire management. We then learned about the research being conducted with the traditional ecological knowledge as a foundation for the United States Forest Service (USFS), then we took a deeper look into understanding the NiMiiPuu Treaties, management efforts, and culturally significant species as it pertains to the USFS lands. We ended the day with outdoor recreation gathering huckleberries, mountain tea, sweet pine boughs, kinnick-kinnick (Indian tobacco), and qawsqaws digging (osha root).

Participant responses of the day: “1910 – US signed on to a suppression to all five agreement. Aldo Leopold wrote a paper in favor that supports of the agreement, comparing it to the Paiute (Native American) control burns. This change in the 1960’s with environmental ethics. Celebrated Wild River Scenic Act’s 50th year. Technology constantly changes these days, but currently have an awesome Sim-Table.” “Drone was used to manage/take pictures of land management. Fire vs fire, you light one side (fire line) hopefully fights back.”

Third day-land-weetes was filed with cultural significance of land, looking at the span of our homelands, identifying artifacts made from plant and animal relatives, discovering how multi-agencies protect, heal, monitor, and research wildlife upon the land. Travelling to significant sites in NiMiiPuu homelands, then ending the day with some swimming near an area called Pine Bar on the Salmon River. Participant responses of the day: “Out animal populations, elk, moose, bighorn sheep populations have drastically decreased over last 50-100 years. Elk have decreased mostly because of changing fire practices and changing plant life. Moose populations also down due to forage limitations and likely heat stress within changing, climate and parasites. Bighorn sheep’s big killer has been disease brought by domestic sheep.” “Protection and healing are in progress, as well as monitoring. What seems to be the major issue is funding for rangers/wildlife enforcement to keep all people accountable.”

Fourth day-water-kuus, this day we meet at a culturally significant site on the NiMiiPuu homelands where we recognized the cultural significance of water, comprehended information about the headwaters of Lapwai Creek, learn about watersheds, identify water quality impacts, listen and learn about the historic developments of altered waterways and current status of those waterways. We ended the day with a tour of the state-of-the-art fish hatchery to learn about the salmon that they rear in the spring, summer, and winter, as well as visit our relative-the lamprey. Then appreciate the history, life stages, survival efforts, and protection, healing, monitoring, and research being done for our relative-lamprey. Participation responses of the day: “Watershed is vital, wetlands are the filters of said watershed. Cattle continue to be detrimental to the Upper Lapwai Creek headwaters. Cattle can be beneficial when managed correctly, yet the cattleman in the Mud Springs area lacks the proper care and destroys and containment to headwaters each and every year.” “The number of lampreys decreases by half through each dam crossing. In 2019, only twelve lampreys made it to Lower Granite dam but then the Translocation Project began. The past 6 years an average of 93 lamprey have made it! While this is an improvement, it is nowhere near the levels it once was.”

Fifth day-rafting-wite, this day was exciting for all of the group as majority had never been rafting before. We discussed the culturally significant sites as we travelled to the area that we were going to raft including discussions about cultural significance of the Salmon River. Historically, NiMiiPuu people navigated and travelled the river, streams, and lake systems that were in our expansive homelands. Therefore, it was a true blessing to be back on the water to experience and reconnect with the element that is so giving of life! Majority of the participants said, “The rafting trip was the highlight of the camp.”

The community dinner and presentations day began with a longhouse prayer service conducted by one of our community members’ emphasizing the objectives of the NiMiiPuu’neewit camp. The evening then followed with a traditional longhouse (wahlusat) meal where the table was represented with our relatives-plants and animals showcased by seasons as they continue to give of themselves for us. After dinner, participants cleaned up then prepared for the presentations done by each day/element. The presentations were prepared to educate others on what they learned and also on how each day unfolded. As coordinators, we were pleased and thankful that we incorporated cultural teachings and the longhouse-way of life to the camp and for the community once again.


In the pre-survey, we asked questions about cultural identity, connection to place, doing hands on field activities, strengthening stewardship of the land, learning about similarities of our traditions and outdoor recreation. We also asked how participation in this camp would improve community health by promoting subsistence and survival and outdoor activity, then learning more about science and learning about college and careers in science fields would help them in their future career paths.  The pre-survey questions were rated from very important, somewhat important, not a consideration, not important at all. Majority of all questions asked and all answers that were chosen were very important reasons to the participants’ rationale for wanting to attend the camp. Half of the participants are in the science fields, doing technician work with their respective Tribes or taking time off to attain their science degrees.  Then two-fifths of the participants’ currently own a small business, hope to own one soon, have a career in business and have only several more classes to attain their bachelor’s degree in business. We had one participant who is knowledgeable in the language, traditional ecological knowledge of the area that he lives and would like to pursue a degree in ethnography/anthropology.

NiMiiPuu’neewit participants hoped to learn how science and cultural teachings are similar, connect with cultural identity, creation stories, homelands, and way of life. Other hopes of learning for this camp, were to make connections to the past, community, Tribe, and future as well as networking with inter-agencies to multi-agencies and working and connecting with like-minded individuals.

Post survey summary, we asked questions like what did you learn about NiMiiPuu’neewit and natural resources that you didn’t already know-several participants’ did not know that there were interagency partnerships or multi-agency partnerships with Tribe and USFS or Tribe and State Fish and Game, several participants’ intrigued by the modern technologies that are being utilized by the different Tribal departments. We asked of all the participants’ what made NiMiiPuu’neewit camp unique and responses were: “there were no exclusions to the community,” “it’s new, ingenious, smart, and definitely needed,” “it was a diverse intimate cultural setting everywhere we were,” “it was uniquely tailored to our NiMiiPuu people and our ancestral people and our ancestral homelands, and current way of life, and connection to our lands and relatives (plants and animals). Everything I learned I can apply to my life and the lives of future generations.” Then inquired what their favorite part of the camp was? And their responses were being able to hear other teachings from the participants’ and who their teachers were, the working together and getting to know other participants’, and learning about the different departments and the work they are doing, working at and completing.  I feel like the post survey questionnaire is summed up by this response from a participant: “I loved witnessing different groups working on some of the same issues to better humanity as a whole. I learned about some of the projects our tribal departments are working on, why they were started and what’s next. I saw that there are many groups being proactive instead of reactive while exerting the responsibility of practicing individual and tribal sovereignty.”

Majority of NiMiiPuu’neewit participants’ have completed a post-secondary education. The geographic areas that participants’ live is in: Lewis-Clark Valley with half residing in Lapwai and the other half residing in Lewiston and Kamiah, Idaho. Questions that we asked in the survey were: does the program strengthen your cultural identity, connection to place, and stewardship of the land, then does the program recognize similarities and differences in our traditions and outdoor recreation, understanding “leisure experience” carries a deeper meaning to include cultural and spiritual contexts for ceremony, subsistence, and survival.  We then asked does this camp improve community health by promoting subsistence and outdoor activity, introduce education and career pathways in environmental science fields.  We learned that through the participants’ they learned new information and that they were inspired to act, and that with the presentations, activities, and the areas that we reconnected with were something new and that all participants’ were again inspired to act. To sum up the NiMiiPuu’neewit camp this participant said it best, “the entire outdoor learning experience was overall the best part of the camp. I can just imagine how alive our old teachings were during each new season. I loved the come and learn with me approach to this camp!”


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