The Creator's Art

Updated: Mar 26, 2019


In the hustle and bustle of today's world do you ever stop to smell the roses?

Ever since I was a small child have been obsessed with the grander and beauty of the mountains. I was also taught by my father Tom Swan at this young age that I was an Indian. We live to protect our Mother Earth. We are the original environmentalist. The wildflowers, the berries, the roots, the animals and the water is what we protect. I could see the difference at a young age how different we as Indian people treated our forests then the State did on the Forest Service side of the forest. Our forest natural and untouched like it has been since the Time immemorial. All magnificent! My father and his family practically grew up in the hills of the Yakama Reservation. So, before he even started his career with Forestry my Dad not only knew those hills like the back of his hand he could survive in those hills. Plus, he is a self taught botanist, not only can he tell you how to decipher between the pines and furs. He can educate you all about all the wild flowers all on the top of his head...amazing!

My earliest memories are being in the hills. Berry picking, camping (never in summer it was always when the Elk was bulgling), my first bee sting, and just cruising in his 1970-something Toyota Land Cruiser listening to his stories of my grandpa Swan (that I never met), my grandma, my great grandma, all my uncles and cousins. Nothing beats the cool crisp fresh mountain air. The wild flowers...all the raw wild natural beauty.

I was about 10 years old when I got my first 35mm point and shoot camera. I'm pretty sure it was a hand-me-down from grandma but I loved that camera. Whenever we was in the hills my dad was always taking pictures of the wild flowers with his SLR camera and I would trail behind him with my point and shoot. McCormick Meadows, Castile Falls, Klickitat, Fish Lake Stream, Frog Meadow, Mosquito Lake, Mt Adams Lake, Old Maids Canyon, Starvation Flats, etc, etc, etc. Even today that's my favorite thing to do with my dad, besides sing some good tunes, is take beautiful pictures. I have moved up to a DSLR. However, I honestly take my best pictures with my phone because I always have it on hand. I know tragic, I'm all about convenience.

So, on this early dreary fall day I'm wishing and yearning for the vivid colors of the spring and summer wild flowers. I was searching through my pictures of the hills and I found this Power Point my Dad made about 7 or 8 years ago about the wild flowers on our reservation. The photos were a compilation from my dad, my step-mom and I shot on different occasions on our cruises and camping trips in the hills. Well, he worked so hard on it I felt it deserved to be put in a slide show. So, after some hours and figuring out Window's Movie Maker and adding some tunes we now have a beautiful slide show that is not only enjoyable, beautiful, but also informative.

Sometimes, I take for granted that I was raised by a self taught Botanist. Before I was even in kindergarten I could point out the thimbleberry (because I was Princess Thimbleberry), lupines, fireweed, yarrow, bear grass. Now, it is my turn to teach my children so they can carry this tradition because I fear before long these beauties will only exist on the Reservation.

This slide show is quite long, 11 minutes to be exact. But, take some time for yourself, make some tea, kick back and enjoy the beauty that the Yakama Reservation has to offer while listening to the words of John Trudell and Joanne Shenandoah. Remember "We are all Flower from One Garden" and we all have the power to protect our Mother Earth. We only get one.



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