On July 8th, StoryCorps began a new year of the Mobile Tour with its Opening Day in Warm Springs, OR–its first stop on a Native American reservation. The reservation, created in an 1855 treaty, is a confederation of the Warm Springs, Wasco, and Paiute tribes (the latter joined the confederation 1879). In Warm Springs, we partnered with KWSO 91.9 FM Warm Springs Radio, the tribal radio station, with the Warm Springs Fire and Safety Department as our site host. Between fighting range and structure fires, the cadets and firemen and women would often stop by to check out the MobileBooth.
On Opening Day, Sylvester “Sal” Sahme, Director of Business and Economic Development for the tribes, spoke to his friend Adam Haas. He described having two educations: a formal, “white man’s” education, and a cultural “Indian” education.
During his interview, Sal told Adam that he didn’t learn anything at all about his own history until he went to college at the University of Minnesota–his coursework and political activism there inspired him to research the past of his people, and to ask his elders about their history and their religion, the Washat. He said of his religion, and its parameters of behavior: “A lot of that is almost intrinsic. It’s a given that you’re going to grow up with it and be surrounded by it, but there’s no formal process of educating you in it because you’re immersed in the society and the culture…But it wasn’t until Minnesota that I got to really learn about some things that distinctly affect not only me personally, but our people.”