Monday, January 30, 2006

Errands in Downtown Spokane

Chief Garry of the Spokanes
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses

Rhonda and I took several errands this afternoon in and around downtown Spokane. At one point, I had the opportunity to photograph the historic Spokesman Review Building, along with a new addition across the street. The newer portion features a series of busts from important personalities in the history of Spokane. I was pleased to find Chief Garry or the Spokanes among the prominent citizens of our community. In the latter part of the afternoon, we filed taxes and witnessed a spectacular sunset.

The Spokesman Review Building
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses

Sunset colors over Northwest Boulevard
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Paul's New Blog

Paul Merchant
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

My brother-in-law Paul launched his own personal blog this week, the Official Site of Paul Merchant. Paul says my blog inspired him to create a journal of his thoughts. Accordingly, it gives me great honor to include his link on my page. I'm very excited to see what he will have to say.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Pizza and a Movie

River Park Square in downtown Spokane.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

Well, nothing of interest happened today except Rhonda's dad took us to see a movie and have pizza at River Park Square in downtown Spokane. We saw the new kid's movie "Nanny McPhee," which they absolutely adored and I tolerated. I will admit; however, I did fantasaize about hiring Nanny McPhee to whip my kids into shape (just kidding).

Rhonda's grandma joined us for pizza and a movie, but was none to pleased. She's returning to Arizona but doesn't want to go. I'm feeling very sad for her as she begins to lose control of important life choices (she's 90 years old). I sit awake sometimes thinking about what to do to help her, but I can't seem to think of any happy solution.

Dakota cried all the way home convinced he was about to die of an apendicitis attack. However, he got to playing a little later and was miraculously cured.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Noteworthy Events

Every cloud has a silver lining, even a cloud as dark as Steve's passing. For obvious reasons, we gave our complete attention to the funeral and grieving, but other noteworthy events transpired over this last week.

People always say funerals bring families together like nothing else. On the one hand, it's good to see folks again; while on the other hand, we shouldn't have to wait for tragedy to strike to rekindle family bonds. Even though we generally lament the distance, I think we all agree visiting loved ones in the midst of loss is better than not seeing them at all.

Rhonda with her father and brothers.
(left to right) Ron Merchant, Rhonda Moses, Mike Merchant, and Paul Merchant.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses

I love everyone in the family, but two people in particular stand out:

Glenda's older sister LaDonna flew in from Boise to spend the week with our family. Her visit was particularly touching because everyone else came for Lanith and the kids, but LaDonna came for Glenda. Her visit made Glenda's grieving more bearable. We even laughed and shared many wonderful moments as a family. Not to mention, my kids absolutely loved LaDonna from the first moment they met her. Maybe they attached to her because of her spirited personality, or maybe because of her resemblance to Glenda. Whatever the reason, it felt so wonderful to see my children throw open their hearts to such a wonderful woman. It brought cheer to my heart, and Glenda's.

LaDonna Barrett, Rhonda Moses, and Glenda Merchant.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses

Anthony also made an important visit. We all know how much he struggles and how he tends to stay away, but when he heard about Steve, he put aside his crazy lifestyle and really stepped up for the family. So many people expressed their love and support for him, including uncle Mike and Ezekiel Sanchez from the Anasazi program. It brought tears to my eyes to see Anthony and Zeke together...I hold out so much hope for Anthony to make a better life for himself and to break free of the bonds of addiction and self-doubt.

Anthony Haines
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses

Overall, my heart expanded so much in the presence of so much love and the expression of such tender feelings. Family really is forever.

In other "news," the Community Colleges of Spokane recently hired me as an adjunct faculty member in the Adult Basic Education program in Colville, Washington. I'm so excited to be involved with such a wonderful employer. Not to mention, the Spokane Tribal TANF program just invited me to teach Salish classes at their Spokane and Wellpinit centers once a week. After so many years of struggle, things are starting to look up.

I also had a meeting at Whitworth College yesterday to discuss my final project for graduation. I will be testing a pilot program to change the way primary and secondary education graduate students obtain their degree. As it stands now, students have to complete a curriculum project and three comprehensive exams. Unfortunately, most students object to taking the exam portion because they feel it simply repeats exams they already took. Working with Sharon Mowry and Vernice Hunnicut at the college, we will pilot a new program that will replace the comprehensive exams with a Philosophy of Education paper, a poster presentation, and an oral presentation. I am so excited to participate in improving Whitworth's program. I'm also humbled to sit with such esteemed people as Sharon and Vernice and to have them listen seriously to my contributions.

As a side note to all these changes in my life, I have the opportunity to drive through Colville and Chewelah three times a week. I love seeing the beautiful mountains that are so deeply connected to my family and tribal history. The other day, I stopped at the Indian Cemetery in Chewelah and felt a rekindling of my interest in genealogy.

We have been blessed beyond measure. God is good.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

This is how I imagine Steve looking down on us from Heaven. I created this photograph of Steve using Photoshop Elements. The background was an original photograph from the site on Mount Spokane, near the place where Steve died.

Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses

Steve's final resting place was in "Deseret," an LDS section of Greenwood Memorial Terrace. By some mercy of God, Steve was buried next to Grandpa Great Jim Merchant, even though someone else had originally purchased that plot.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

Steve's Funeral and Burial

Today was a difficult day for the entire family; we held funeral services for Steve Merchant in Spokane Valley, Washington, and then had a graveside service at Greenwood Memorial Terrace, in Spokane.

It was a beautiful service, characterized by touching anecdotes from his life, personal testimonies, a beautiful slide show by Paul Merchant, singing of traditional hymns, reading of lyrics written by Steve, and a performance of songs he also wrote. People from all across the United States arrived, overflowing the chapel and filling the gymnasium all the way to the back.

Steve will be deeply missed by all who knew him.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Steven Charles Merchant
February 7, 1964 - January 19, 2006

Funeral Service Planned for Steve Merchant

Funeral services for Steve Merchant were announced today by the Merchant family. Services will take place at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 25th at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints located at 21022 East Wellesley.

A view from Mount Spokane...
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

The Prophesy of Circling Raven

As Mike, Ron, and I drove up to Mount Spokane (before we picked up Clayne), I recounted the story of an early Spokane prophet who saw a vision of the Creator on the mountain. I quote the story from Robert H. Ruby and John A. Brown*:

"A fresh Spokane grave in the plague year 1782 held the remains of the little son of Yureerachen ("Circling Raven"), a shaman brother of the chief of the Upper Spokanes. Yureerachen, anguished at the death, blasphemed the Creator. "Why," he sobbed to his chieftan brother, "did He take my son, who has committed no crime, and leave bad people on the earth?" One day his chieftan brother told him, "All right, we will be as animals; we will disband our laws. First, you must go to the top of the [Spokane] mountain and fast four days and nights, then come back the fourth day just before noon. If you find no proof of our Creator, we will then disband our laws and live like animals." Clad only in a breechcloth, Yureerachen went to the top of the mountain. He built a fire, prayed, beat sticks, cried, and sang. On the fourth day, before dawn, in a burst of light, he heard the voice of the Creator. "Look down the mountain into the future of your people," spoke the Creator. Overwhelmed, Yureerachen knew in an instant that he had to bring word of this vision to his people. But he also knew the time to do so was not at hand, for in mourning the recent loss of their loved ones, they would never believe him. What should he tell them?

Yureerachen raced down the hill to affirm to his chieftan brother and the other people his own faith in the Creator. The rest of his story, a prophecy, he kept to himself until the time should come to reveal it. One day, about the year 1790, there was a defeaning blast, the air clouded, and the ground became covered with a flour pumicite. The people, well versed in stories of the earlier volcanic catastrophe, were stricken with fear by the "dry snow" mantling the earth. It was as though an evil hand were completing a sinister cycle on earth, from ashes to ashes. They thought the end of the world was at hand.

Yureerachen felt it was the proper time to prophesy. First, he calmed his people with assurances that the Creator was not ending their existence on earth. "Soon," he said, "there will come from the rising sun a different kind of man from any you have yet seen, who will bring with them a book, and will teach you everything, and after that the world will fall to pieces." When the people pressed him for details, he said white men would come.

I find it intersting that grieving drove Yureerachen to pray on the slopes of Mount Spokane. Today my grieving also brought me to the mountain where once God appeared to our people.

*Ruby, Robert H. & Brown, John A., The Spokane Indians: Children of the Sun. Norman, Oklamhoma: 1970.

Steve's Last View of Earth

I sat down with my back to the tree where Steve passed away and took this amazing photograph. I say this photograph is amazing because this is the last thing Steve would have seen before passing into the Other World. Steve loved the mountains and the out of doors. As I sat there, I thought if Steve really got to choose the place to leave this world, Mount Spokane is the perfect place.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

Into the West

The sun emerged from the gloom as I sang for Steve's safe passage into the Other World.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

Prayers on the Mountain

Rhonda's oldest brother Mike Merchant called me up this morning and invited me to visit the site of Steve's passing on Mount Spokane. Of course, I eagerly accepted the invitation. More than anything, I desired to honor that place made holy by Steve's living spirit.

Mike Merchant, Ron Merchant, Clayne Perrins, and I drove to Selkirk Lodge near the summit of Mount Spokane. We only had one snowmobile, so Mike and Ron rode up first while Clayne and I visited in the lodge. After 40 minutes or an hour, they returned, and then Mike and I rode the snowmobile up.

We rode several miles on a well groomed trail and then split off onto a more difficult trail. Finally, Mike stopped and we walked the rest of the way up the hill. It was very steep and covered in thick snow.

After a very difficult climb, we finally reached a small tree marked with yellow and orange ribbons. Of course, the tree isn't really that small; it's simply covered by 9 or 10 feet of snow. When the snow melts in spring, the "little" tree will be quite a bit taller than it seems now. The ribbons marked the very tree Steve leaned against during his last moments of life.

As I approached the tree, I had a distinct feeling of holiness fall over my body, followed by waves of grief. I burned juniper at the tree as a prayer for myself and then sang several prayer songs from my tribe while I wept. I also tied a beaded necklace for myself and a pendant for Glenda.

When we first arrived, the sky was foggy and overcast, but as I sang, the sun emerged with brilliant light. I sang to the sun and to the west and thanked Creator for Steve's life and all the blessings I enjoy on a daily basis. I almost felt like a director of souls, telling Steve through my songs and prayers that we will all be alright and he is free to move into the Other World.

As I ended my prayers, I simply whispered, "Go in peace, brother," then walked back down the mountain.

When we arrived at the summit of Mount Spokane this afternoon, a thick fog rolled in and covered the sky. The trees looked haunting and yet beautiful in the low clouds and fog.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

Steve's Passing

My sister wrote a brief email chiding me for writing such an uninspiring obituary for my brother-in-law Steve Merchant. It's true, I wrote something for just the barest of informational purposes and didn't give even the smallest hint of feelings or personal experience. I'd like to remedy that now.

I would like to respect the privacy of his widow and children by not giving too many details of his passing. However, I think it would be appropriate to include a basic outline of the events surrounding his death.

On Thursday afternoon, Steve went snowmobiling on Mount Spokane with two friends. He attempted a particularly difficult run through the trees and down a steep hill. His friends lost track of him and went back to look. They found him laying with his back against a tree with his snowmobile still running. He was already gone.

Rhonda, Glenda, the kids, and I first heard the news from Mike, who heard second hand reports about Steve having a heart attack. We called everyone we could think of who might give us a more authoritative account of what really happened. We spent hours calling and waiting before Rhonda was finally able to contact Lanith (Steve's wife). I really thought Rhonda was going to tell us everything was alright, but after several minutes she finally said, "He didn't make it."

It felt like a bomb hit our house. We all burst into uncontrollable sobbing, especially Glenda. I felt sad for myself, but I kept thinking no parent should ever have to bury their child. Glenda was beside herself; screaming and totally inconsolable. It was so hard to witness a mother losing her son. As long as I live, I hope I never have to see that again.

Thankfully, Val and Patsy O'Donnal, Bob Dodd, Jean Nibarger, Mike and Julie Norris came over to console us. They gave us blessings of comfort and left us with a feeling of strength.

For me, I felt absolutely dumbstruck between the similarities of Steve's passing and my father's passing 12 years ago. Both men were in their 40s. Both died suddenly and unexpectedly of heart attacks. Both died in the month of January. Steve died doing what he loved most; snowmobiling on Mount Spokane. My father died what he loved doing most; wardancing. It was just too much; I started having flashbacks of losing my dad, and then losing my aunt. Now this...

This was certainly one of the most difficult days of our lives.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Steven Charles Merchant
February 7, 1964 - January 19, 2006

Steve Merchant Passes Away

Steven Charles Merchant was born on February 7, 1964 in Boise, Idaho; the second child of Ron and Glenda Merchant. He passed away unexpectedly on the slopes of Mount Spokane during a snowmobile outing on January 19, 2006. He was only 41.

Steve is survived by his wife, Lanith Merchant; six children: Cassidi, Mandolin, Brindy, Bailey, Tucker, and Sadie; one granddaughter, Chesney; his parents, Ron and Glenda Merchant; his grandmother, Uella Merchant; three siblings, Michael Merchant, Paul Merchant, and Rhonda Moses; and numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews. He will be dearly missed by all.

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 11:00 a.m. at his stake center, though I'm currently uncertain of the address. As soon as I learn the address, I will post it here and in other media sources. All are welcome to attend.

the sky over Steve's house, just after sunset...
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

"Temple Hill" above Steve's house was momentarily bathed on soothing, warm light.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

A Moment to Reflect

After hearing the devastating news about Steve, I took a few moments to myself and climbed the hill overlooking his house. I referred to this place as "Temple Hill" in a previous post because of the peaceful and holy feelings I get when I'm there. Plus, Steve's house is located on "Temple Road." It all fits in my mind.

The day had been overcast and gloomy since early this morning, but when I reached the summit of the hill, the sun emerged from behind a cloud and shone magnificently, casting a warm glow over the landscape below. I was blessed to get a few great photographs before the sun went back into hiding. As I walked back down to the house, I saw a red-tailed hawk and a bald eagle flying in circles around one another and whistling. It was an incredible sight! I felt so comforted and blessed to witness beauty of the sun and the animals.

In a way, Steve lives on through beauty, spirit, and nature.

The District Office of the Community Colleges of Spokane overlook the Spokane River.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

Job Interview

I haven't posted in several days, which is quite unusual for me, but our lives have had some pretty extreme ups and downs. I interviewed the other day for a position at the Community Colleges of Spokane. It looks very promising. More on that later.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Little Spokane River at Pine River Park was partially flooded and covered in fog.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

A little shelter at Pine River Park is still partially covered in water. The "no lifeguard on duty" sign is kind of funny given the circumstances.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

The Water Recedes (sort of...)

My kids and I went back to Pine River Park to see the flooding. The water receded somewhat, but still covered the park grounds in many places. Unlike the other day, we were able to walk to the bridge on relatively dry ground, but we still saw many structures partially submerged in the flood waters. Anyway, it was fun to share the sights with my kids in person.

footprints in the snow...
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

Footprints in the Snow

Down by Pineriver Park, my kids found a set of very strange footprints. They reminded me of cat prints, but they formed an equal pattern in the snow, side by side, rather than a regular, alternating walking pattern. We got a nice picture anyway.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The girls found a giant chunk of ice in the yard this morning.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

McKenna was so proud to finally know how to blow bubbles with her chewing gum.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

Today's Holiday

My kids had no school today because of the Martin Luther King holiday. My daughters played outside and found a huge, round chunk of ice inside a sled they left in the yard. Whitney is so goofy; she sat outside and chewed on the ice like a giant popscicle. The weather finally turned cold once again and brought a light blanket of snow.

Settlers of Catan.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

Settlers of Catan

Rhonda received the Settlers of Catan for Christmas. Our friends Madonna and Loren introduced us to the game a few months ago, and we've been hooked ever since. The object of the game is to build the most settlements, cities, and roads before everyone else. Players receive a variety of resources depending on where they build settlements. It reminds me a little bit of risk, excpet no one tears down what you build. Anyway, we played the game twice tonight, and I won both times. :)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

the sun emerged after weeks of hiding out behind the clouds and rain...
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

The Sun Returns

I looked out my window this morning and said, "Eee gad! What is that bright, blinding object in the sky?" Then I remembered the sun who disappeared weeks ago behind a constant covering of grey clouds and rain. I figured I had to honor the sun today, considering I whined about his absence for so long. Unfortunately, weather forecasts predict the sun will vanish once again for days or even weeks to come. We just got a very brief, but blessed reprieve from gloom.

the playground at Pine River Park is partially submerged...
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

The beach area at Pine River Park is completely submerged by the floodwaters of the Little Spokane River.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

Flooding at Pine River Park

In spite of the sun providing a brief respite from the constant rain, local rivers continue to flood. I drove down to Pine River Park this afternoon to see the rising waters firsthand and found it flooded worse than I expected. The waters of the Little Spokane River completely covered the park under at least a foot of water. I decided to brave the brown, frigid floodwaters to get the best possible pictures of the damage.

Friday, January 13, 2006

The landing at Inchelium, Washington shrinks as the boat ferries me across the Columbia River. Today's drive was little more than a scenic ride around the places from my youth, and yet it also felt like a pilgrimage of sorts through my physical and spiritual ancestry.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

Twelve Years and a Day

Twelve years and one day ago, I buried my father. These last twelve years have seen some of the hardest times I've ever had to experience, and yet somehow I feel blessed through it all. As I prayed tonight, I felt like these twelve years are the closing of an era or major chapter in my life. This first day after the conclusion of the previous chapter marks the beginning of new and better times. As I drove home from the sweat, I felt genuinely different than ever before. Somehow I felt older and wiser, as if one day can really change a person. In reality, these years changed me. As painful as it was, I'm better for everything I lived.

Native Americans honored Kettle Falls throughout more than 9,000 of continuous human habitation. Now the only thing remaining is a historical marker over the floodwaters of Lake Roosevelt.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

This photograph shows the interior of Saint Paul's Catholic Mission at Kettle Falls, Washington. Oral histories from Native people in this region recount how Catholic missionaries forced people to bury sacred items under the floor of this building.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

Saint Paul's Mission at Kettle Falls

Years ago, my father lived in the small town of Kettle Falls, Washington, not far from the historic falls and Saint Paul's Catholic Mission.

Kettle Falls holds at least two painful memories for Native Americans in this area. The first was connected to Saint Paul's Mission. Soon after Catholic missionaries arrived in this area, they built a mission above the falls named for Saint Paul and began converting Native people to the religion of Rome. The priests denounced the ancient spiritual ways of the Indian people and forced many of them to abandon the old ways. Oral histories passed down from tribal elders recall how the priests forced many people to bury their medicine bundles and other sacred relics under the new church. Many many of them got sick, went crazy, or even died without their connection to the spiritual medicines of the past. Still others died of the white men's diseases.

It's interesting to note that Kettle Falls was a sacred site to Native peoples for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans. The decision of Roman Catholic missionaries to build a mission or church over an indigenous sacred site echoes a pattern of cultural domination followed by the church from the earlies times. It's no different than building the Chatres Cathedral in France over ancient sites dedicated to the goddess, or building the Basilica of Guadalupe over the ancient Aztec temple dedicated to the mother goddess.

The second painful memory at Kettle Falls is directly tied to the construction of Grand Coulee Dam in the 1930s. The dam was viewed as a triumph of American engineering, and yet it completely destroyed the entire economic system of indigenous people throughout the region who depended on the falls for salmon. Furthermore, the United States displaced entire villages along the shores of the Columbia River without providing compensation of remuneration of any kind. As the floodwaters engulfed the falls, Native Americans gathered for a "Ceremony of Tears" to bid farewell to a spiritual elder who had fed the people for thousands of years. Today, the falls remain silent beneath the surface of "Lake Roosevelt." It feels like a tomb for a forgotten way of life.

The floodwaters of the Columbia River/Lake Roosevelt completely submerged Kettle Falls after the construction of Grand Coulee Dam in the 1930s. This photograph shows the area of old Fort Colville now flooded with water.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

Colville, Kettle Falls, Inchelium, and Wellpinit

I had a job interview at the Colville Center of the Community Colleges of Spokane to teach GED classes in their adult basic education program. The interview went very well...look's promising. Afterwards, I had lunch at Cafe al Mundo on Main Street in Colville, then drove up to see old friends in Kettle Falls. I also stopped and had a spiritual moment to myself at Saint Paul's Mission. From there, I took the scenic route to Wellpinit, following the Columbia River southward to Inchelium and crossing the river on the Gifford Ferry. Once I reached Wellpinit, I sweat with my uncle Pat, then visited my ya-ya Norma. It was a very full day, and very rewarding in its own right.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

the Harriet Cheney Cowles Library at Whitworth College...
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

Graduate Student Advisory Board

Several months ago I was invited to serve on the Graduate Student Advisory Board at Whitworth College. We met today for our regular, bi-monthly meeting. We talked about a variety of policy issues at the college, but of note, I agreed to write an article about Dr. Thomas Lickona for the graduate studies newsletter. Dr. Lickona is nationally known for his work with Character Education programs around the country.

We also discussed upcoming graduation ceremonies in May. I announced my intent to graduate and acknowledged I have attended some form of higher education more or less consistently for the last 12 years. In fact, I registered for classes at Spokane Falls Community College the same week I buried my father on this date in 1994. As I contemplated finishing this major step of my life, I couldn't help feel just a little emotional. What a blessing to see the end in sight; it's been a long haul.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Fig Tree published a photograph I took of Deb Abrahamson at Midnite Mine on the Spokane Indian Reservation.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

Deb Abrahamson standing inside Midnite Mine on the Spokane Indian Reservation. I originally posted this photograph several months ago.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

Fig Tree Photograph

Several months ago I wrote about visiting Midnite Uranium Mine on the Spokane Indian Reservation with Deb Abrahamson. I published a photograph of Deb standing inside the open uranium pit. Well, today I picked up the January issue of the Fig Tree and saw my photograph of Deb on the front page! They actually published my picture and gave me credit on the front page of their newspaper. I was thrilled.

By the way, the Fig Tree article addressed the clean-up of radiactive waste on the reservation and Deb's efforts to educate the public. Deb Abrahamson leads a non-profit ogranization called the S.H.A.W.L. Society, dedicated to healing Native American Sovereignty, Health, Air, Water, and Land.

To read the full article, click below:

SHAWL Society in the Fig Tree.

The sanctuary of Saint Paul's United Methodist Church, home of the Spokane Interfaith Council.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

What is a Peacemaker?

I met with Kateri and Sara of the Spokane Interfaith Council to discuss creating a curriculum for Camp P.E.A.C.E. Hopefully, they will eventually secure funds to hire me as an educational consultant for the project. As we met, we focused on defining key educational objectives and competencies essential to peace-making.

We asked ourselves, "What is a peacemaker? What does a peacemaker DO? What skills does a peacemaker demonstrate?"

As we asked the questions, we began to brainstorm possible answers, realizing the topic is far greater than any of us can describe in less than an hour. However, certain traits began to emerge. For example, a peacemaker is someone who has the ability to validate the experience of others. A peacemaker is able to listen. A peacemaker demonstrates skill in bridging differences between people from diverse racial, cultural, religious, and political backgrounds. A peacemaker is able to articulate the foundational principles of equality in our democracy and speak up for justice.

"I give you (pause) an ear of corn." :)

An Ear of Corn

When I met with Kateri and Sara this morning, we discussed how much it would cost to hire me as an educational consultant to write a curriculum for their program. We all sat silently for a moment contemplating the question when Sara announced unexpectedly, "I give you..." she paused with mock solemnity, "An ear of corn."

Her statement seemed so bizarre and misplaced, Kateri and I exchanged glances and wondered if she was making some kind of veiled Native American joke (corn or maize originally being a Native American food). "What was that?" I finally asked.

Her expression remained serious and blank, "A bag of potatoes then?"

Potatoes were also cultivated by early Native Americans, so Kateri and I finally asked about the apparent reference to paying the Indian (me) with ancient indigenous foods. She looked bewildered and finally explained she had no idea what to pay an educational consultant, so she figured she could always offer the produce in her refrigerator. "I actually bought corn and potatoes last night. You're welcome to have some, if you want."

She never intended to make a Native reference in her joke, but it just sounded so weird in the context of building a curriculum to address issues of racism and bias. When we finally recognized the dry humor in her remark, we laughed hysterically. It became a running joke for the remainder of our meeting.

I know my readers are probably thinking, "I don't get it..." That's okay. I guess you had to be there, but I promised Sara her "ear of corn" statement earned her an entry in my daily blog just for making me laugh. :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

this house fits my mood today...grey and solitary.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

The Wisdom of Dreams

Usually I record my dreams in a separate journal or weblog, but I decided to duplicate my dream here because of its relevance to actual events in my life. My dream last night went like this:

I dreamed I visited an art studio and received an invitation from the curator to make a painting. I organized my workspace on a large table, with a variety of paints, brushes, and other supplies. When I received the canvas, however, I noticed at least half the white space was already filled with someone else's artwork. I chose another canvas and found the same situation. At length, I examined all the canvases and found they were all partially completed by someone else, or damaged beyond reasonable use. "I can't work like this," I said.

The curator looked at the original canvas on my table. He made a gentle, sweeping gesture with his hand toward the partially completed painting and said, "I want you to paint. Use the images already present as you complete your own work. These images will enhance your creativity, not take away from it."

I remembered this dream after a somewhat lengthy email correspondence with a dear friend in another state. He and I belong to an informal group of friends working together to create a retreat or conference this spring. As it turns out, each of us had extremely different views on how things should proceed. I feel somewhat unsettled by our disagreement and seriously considered dropping out of the process altogether. And yet, in the exact moment I was about to announce my withdrawal to the entire group, I remembered this dream.

So this is how see this dream: the Curator represents God or the Higher Power. The canvas represents our project and the partially completed painting represents my friend's contribution to the planning thus far. The Curator validates the work of both artists depicted in the dream and encourages me to work collaboratively with my friend to complete this project. He essentially accounts for my discouragement in advance and urges me to not abandon the process.

Monday, January 09, 2006

the gloomy skies over spokane are affecting my mood...
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

I think I have seasonal affective disorder, otherwise known as S.A.D. The weather in Spokane over the last few weeks has been absolutely oppressive. It reminds me of Seattle with its constant overcast skies and non-stop drizzle. This is Spokane. We're not supposed to be that way, but such as it is, I guess I have little choice but to accept it. Unfortunately, my mood seems to reflect the face of the gloomy sky.

One bright spot; I received a letter today from Elder Adam Wiltse, who is serving his mission Guatemala. Thanks Adam!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Red Lake, also known as Turtle Lake...
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

My Father's Passing

My father passed away 12 years ago today. I honor his memory with this simple journal and with the remembrance of everything he taught me.

"Stonehenge" melts into the lake...
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

Nation Building...

Let me just say briefly, I paid a visit to some friends today and participated in a meeting to discuss the possible formation of an organization dedicated to bringing together people of various Native and non-Native nations. The intention statement referred to our goal as "Nation Building," though I'm not exactly sure what that means. More details to come...

Saturday, January 07, 2006

interstate 90 at night; looking east...
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

my sister and I got pictures of these ruins at night...I'd still like to know what these structures mean, or what they once belonged to...
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

Casual Day

Today was fairly casual; I stayed in my pajamas most of the day and worked on constructing an outline for several workshops we're planning for later this spring. We got a surprise visit from Edward and Lanetta. Then I went out and took pictures with my sister Michelle.

Friday, January 06, 2006

I stopped to get this picture of Nine Mile Falls Dam as I drove home from Wellpinit tonight. The spillway shows just how much rain has fallen in the last week or so.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

The Protector Song

When I was a small boy, I used to spend the summer with my father on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Sometimes when he drank, he complained that I was too much of a "chicken" and scared of my own shadow. He decided to "toughen me up" and so he would send me on little errands after the sun went down. "Hey Barry," he would say as he pretended some casual need had just come up, "Why don't you walk down to your ya-ya's house and borrow a cube of butter."

"Right now?" I would say, as I looked out the window with dread and saw only blackness. My parents spent the better part of my childhood teaching me to stick close because the tu-tu would get me, and now he wanted me to walk a mile through the woods by myself in the dark. I thought he was crazy and just a little bit cruel.

Of course, I tried to argue and find some way out of having to go, but he wouldn't hear it. He had powers of pursuasion far more advanced than my little brain (and my little back side) could handle; not to say he ever spanked me for not going, but he had a way of making me believe I would incur certain death if I did not comply with his most reasonable request (at least that's how he described it).

As much as I tried to resist, I had to finally accept my fate and set out to walk the the DARK. Who knows what kind of wild beasts, spirits, bigfoot, or other manner of Indian juju would find me out there by myself where no one would hear me scream? I hate to admit this now, but my reputation as a chicken was somewhat deserved. If there was any kind of ghastly doomsday scenario conceivable, I was sure to think of it.

So there I was walking in the woods at night, absolutely terrified out of my mind. If I heard a twig snap, I was sure it was bigfoot, or a pack of wolves, or a bear just ready to carry me away and tear my legs off. Finally, I did the only thing I could think to calm my fear: I prayed.

As I prayed, I heard an old Indian song; maybe coming from the wind, or maybe it was just in my head, but I heard a song and I sang along with it. That song comforted me until I got to my destination and back.

The reason I thought of this story is because I heard that song again tonight. This was the first Indian song I ever learned, and now it returns to remind me of the healing and protective power of the spirits.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

My father Ed Moses in 1968...
Copyright © 1968 Terry Nichols.

My Father and Indigenous Spirituality

My father had a complicated relationship with the spirits and his children; it was often disjointed, sometimes tangled and strained, and on a few fortunate occasions, the relationship between my father, the spirits, and his children was blessedly harmonious. In some inexplicable way, it all unfolded joyfully as much as it did painfully, and yet always according to some higher design.

He didn't always embrace the spiritual traditions of his ancestors. When I was a young boy, he often took me to powwows, but always to observe and never to participate as a full-fledged member of the Native community. I think he unintentionally raised me to feel somewhat like an outsider, with one foot in the doorway of tradition, but never fully immersed in my cultural self. Sadly, he indluged many of the Indian stereotypes of the early 1970s; he drank to a fault and tended to avoid overt identification with the old ways.

And yet, I always sensed an undercurrent of respect for the ancient wisdom. The first real "teaching" I ever remember receiving from him had to do with a basic human respect for elders. He said, "I don't care who it is, whether they're Indian or white, if an elder comes to the door, you will stand and open it for them."

About the time I turned 12, his drinking worsened and we separated for a while. I didn't see him for three years, but when he returned, he was stronger than ever. He had stopped drinking, and rediscovered indigenous spirituality. He was mentored by the old medicine people and tribal elders, like Martin Louie of the Colville Indian Reservation, Hank Wynne of the Spokane Reservation, and Louise Billy of the Yakama Nation. He embraced the old ways with conviction and zealously imparted his new conviction to me.

Initially, I struggled with his "new" religion. By that time, I had already spent a good number of years as an Evangelical Christian, and then a Mormon. His teaching seemed foreign to me.

With time, I saw the value of his teachings and opened myself to learn. So what did he teach me about the ancient traditions? Well, I guess you'll just have to get to know me before I talk about's not something I can really put in words and then publish online for just anyone to see. The important thing for me is to publicly ackowledge that the teaching did indeed happen. Eventually I learned to not fear what he told me. I embraced it instead. The power is real, that's all.

Today on the day of his birth, I stand at the center of the universe and give thanks for the man who gave me life and who taught me religion. He was my father, mentor, spiritual guide, and friend.

Louise Billy was a Yakama Tribal elder who befriended my father and acted as his spiritual mentor. This picture shows him sitting with Louise on the mountain some time in the late 1980s or early 1990s.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

My Father's Birthday

My father Edward Lee Moses was born on January 5, 1948 and would have been 58 years old today, had he lived. Unfortunately, he died suddenly 12 years ago at the tender age of 46. It was a shock to all of us. I dedicate the next couple of entries on my blog to his memory.

Fun With Dick & Jane...

Fun With Dick and Jane

OK...I was going to hold off on reviewing this movie out of respect for my father's birthday, but then I got to thinking, "Why should I treat this day with so much forebearance, as though it were a funeral? Yes, my father died 12 years ago, and I reverence his memory, but today was his birthday. I should celebrate life and take pleasure in everything I normally enjoy." So, having said that, I continue with my review:

By the way, this review is dedicated to my good friend Brenae. Rhonda and I inadvertantly arrived at the movie theatre 45 minutes early, and we were sooooo bored that we pulled out Rhonda's cell phone and started looking through her list of telephone numbers. We said, "Hmmmm....who wouldn't mind us bothering them while we wait?" And then we saw Brenae's number, so we called her, even though she lives in Missouri, two time zones ahead of us (there was always the chance her children were sleeping, and it would be horribly inconvenient to take our call).

When we told her what we were doing, she was very gracious and asked me to give her a full report of the film. So Brenae, this is for you:)

"Fun With Dick and Jane" is kind of an Enron spoof where Jim Carrey plays the part of "Dick" who is promoted to vice president of some department in a major corporation just before the company goes bankrupt. He tells his wife to quit her job, only to find out the company's assets have been secretly pilfered by the former CEO who has now bailed on the company and abandoned the shareholders. Dick and his wife Jane are left with vitually nothing and eventually resort to desperate measures to keep their house.

Rhonda and I didn't know what the movie was about before we saw it, but as we watched Dick and Jane reduced to financial shambles before our eyes as a result of corporate scandal, we could hardly keep from relating on a personal level. We laughed so hard, probably more out of deep personal experience with this kind of loss than because of the humor on its own merit. Dick witnessed a scandal and had his belongings repossessed. I also had my belongings repossessed. He was even reduced to driving a Ford Festiva instead of his BMW. I had my Festiva repossessed. We laughed and laughed all the way home, and secretly suspected someone watched our lives and then portrayed them on screen.

Unfortunately, I sincerely wonder if anyone would find this film nearly so funny if they had not lived through our experiences. Who knows?

Well, in the end, Dick and Jane redeem themselves in an interesting way, but I won't spoil the plot for those of you who still choose to see it. I've already said too much. Happy viewing!

this is one of two dragon statues standing guard outside the entrance to the China Dragon Restaurant. I wouldn't normally leave a picture this askew, but somehow I liked the effect...
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

Date Night Out

On Christmas Eve, my mom gave me a beautiful hand-made, water-colored card with words written inside: "Blessful Christmas. IOU a dinner, movie, & babysitting. Love, Mom." For a married man with kids, that was a blessful gift indeed!

Rhonda and I collected our gift tonight. We had dinner at the China Dragon, and then watched "Fun With Dick and Jane," a Jim Carrey comedy. We had a very enjoyable evening. I was going to write a review of the movie, but out of respect for the day, I will forego at the moment (see above), and review the movie a little later.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

My wife and I took our son out to eat tonight. As we waited for our table, I sneaked out to the Davenport Hotel about a block away to get a few pictures...
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

davenport hotel, spokane...
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.