In this month's newsletter: Tribal wildland fire management, Washington Tribes' summer reading list, Washington Indian Gaming Conference, WIGA scholarship awardees, and more.

Tribes’ Wildland Fire and Forest Management Work Protects Forest, Habitat, and Community

It’s summer, and in Washington that means fire season. Across the state and throughout the West, wildland fire season is becoming longer and more catastrophic. Fortunately, thanks to historic state and federal investments in wildland fire management, there is hope that Washington may be able to mitigate its wildfire crisis. But no amount of investment would make a difference without the robust interagency partnerships that are essential to wildfire management across the state. Tribes are vital to these partnerships, bringing  knowledge and expertise based on thousands of years of experience contributing to the health of our forests. Here are just two examples:

Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation

The Colville Tribes’ fire management program uses proactive measures to protect the forests on their 1.4 million acre reservation. These measures include mechanical treatments, forest health treatments, and targeted planting, and prescribed fires.

Prescribed fires burn the fuel in the understory of the forest, reducing hazardous fuels that would otherwise lead to more extreme, high-severity fires like we’ve seen in recent years—fires that scorch the earth and kill everything in their path, including the seeds needed to regrow a healthy forest. Also known as “good fires,” they have been used by Indigenous peoples in North America for thousands of years, but for decades the U.S. Forest Service forbid them in favor of a policy of fire suppression. Today, however, the US federal and state forest management agencies are taking a closer look at those prescribed burns and incorporating these indigenous methods in hopes of creating more resilient forests.

In addition to prescribed fires, the Colville Tribes’ management strategy includes targeted planting aimed at populating the reservation’s forests with tree species that populated the forests pre-contact—species like Ponderosa pine and Western larch adapt better to fire than the Douglas firs that are most prevalent today.

Learn more about the Colville Tribes’ fire and forest management practices in this article from Washington State University Magazine.

Kalispel Tribe of Indians

In recent years, the Kalispel Tribe has been actively reacquiring lost lands to protect the Pend Oreille River and the surrounding forests that are integral to preserving the Tribe’s culture and traditions.

In 2012, the Tribe acquired 350 acres of forested land to establish the Indian Creek Community Forest. The Community Forest features a native plant nursery, a fishing pond, an archery range, an interpretive trail, and other outdoor spaces.

Importantly, it’s also used to teach tribal and non-tribal community members about the benefits of good forest stewardship and how the Tribe has historically managed and sustained the landscape. For example, demonstration plots are used to build awareness of fuel reduction techniques, such as hand thinning, lop and scatter, masticator thinning, and prescribed fire. These plots also make the Community Forest more resilient to fire after two of the driest years on record.

Learn more about the Indian Creek Community Forest in this article from First Nations Development Institute.

Yakama Nation

Yakama Nation Fire Management includes a Fire Prevention Program that has been active for nearly thirty years. Prevention program staff conduct fire safety presentations throughout the year. In the spring, they visit the reservation’s elementary schools to talk to younger children about the importance of not playing with fire and the dangers associated with fire, and they teach older children about the many uses of fire and the difference between safe and unsafe fire use. In the summer, they launch their most prominent campaign, raising awareness of fireworks safety and fire restrictions.

Learn more about Yakama’s Fire Prevention Program on their website or watch this video.

Washington Tribes’ Summer Reading List

Here it is, the summer reading list you’ve been waiting for! We asked a few experts to share some of their favorite books by Indigenous authors, and they did not disappoint. Whether you’re in search of a page-turner for your next trip to the beach or a book to share with the kids and teens in your life, you can’t go wrong with the recommendations on this list. Here's a taste of what you'll find on the list. Click here for the full list (PDF).
Braiding Sweetgrass
by Robin Wall Kimmerer (Citizen Potawatomi Nation)

As a botanist, Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass Kimmerer brings these lenses of knowledge together to show that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world.

Firekeeper's Daughter
by Angeline Boulley (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians)

As a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal, Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in—both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. When her family is struck by tragedy, Daunis puts her dreams on hold to care for her fragile mother. The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother’s hockey team.

Healer of the Water Monster
Written by Brian Young (Diné), Cover art by Shonto Begay (Diné)

While visiting his grandma, Nali, at her mobile summer home on the Navajo reservation, Nathan finds a Holy Being from the Navajo Creation Story—a Water Monster—in need of help. Now Nathan must summon all his courage to save his new friend. With the help of other Navajo Holy Beings, Nathan is determined to save the Water Monster, and to help Uncle Jet heal from his own pain.

The Seed Keeper
by Diane Wilson (Mdewakanton, Rosebud Reservation)

A haunting novel spanning several generations, The Seed Keeper follows a Dakota family's struggle to preserve their way of life, and their sacrifices to protect what matters most.

Find the entire list on the Washington Tribes website. 

Have your own book by a Native author to recommend? Share it with us on Facebook! 

WIGA Presents Another Successful Northwest Indian Gaming Conference and Expo

The Washington Indian Gaming Association hosted another successful Northwest Indian Gaming Conference & Expo on June 20-22, 2022, at the Tulalip Resort Casino. This annual event is a unique opportunity for industry leaders to come together and learn about the current state of gaming in the Northwest and throughout Indian Country. 

This year’s conference welcomed more than 70 exhibitors and nearly 600 attendees from as far as New York state, and featured expert speaker sessions and roundtable discussions on all aspects of the today’s gaming environment, including human resources, management solutions, gaming regulation, staff leadership development, and updates from the National Indian Gaming Commission and the Indian Gaming Association.

The event also featured the roll-out of a new mobile app, which enabled attendees and vendors to easily connect with each other, access agendas and speaker information, and more. 

“The Conference is a valuable opportunity for participants to learn, share, and connect with others in the Tribal gaming community,” said Rebecca George, Executive Director of WIGA. “We were thrilled to be back hosting the event in person this year, and we’re already looking forward to next year!”

Congratulations WIGA Scholarship Program Awardees!

Since 2008, the Washington Indian Gaming Association (WIGA) Scholarship Program has awarded more than $1 million to Native American and Alaska Native students pursuing bachelor’s and graduate college or university degrees, as well as degrees from community and technical colleges. These awards promote tribal self-sufficiency by advancing student potential and broadening higher education opportunities.

The WIGA Scholarship Program awarded $70,000 to 26 students for the 2022-23 academic school year.

See a full list of recipients on the WIGA Scholarship Program webpage.

Social Media Highlight

Here’s one of our favorite and most popular recent Facebook posts (visit Washington Tribes on Facebook to read the whole post and see what else we’ve shared lately).

Recent News About Tribes in Washington

To learn more about Washington Tribes, visit Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to receive up-to-date information and content.
Forward this newsletter to a friend.
Copyright © 2022 Washington Indian Gaming Association, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.