Our new roommates arrived last weekend, we were apprehensive at first. It had only been the three of us for most the last month. We had a good thing going, and didn’t want “those interns” messing it up. But arrive they did, and every empty room of our house filled with new interns. And it wasn’t so bad. As of last Sunday, there are eight people living in the Sutton 8 Bunkhouse (named Sutton 8 because it’s at the Sutton work station, and has eight rooms—fitting, right?) We’re slowly getting past the awkward silences, and basic get-to-know-you questions, and silent car rides.
This first week, we had our Field Ranger training with them. This training basically showed them the area, they got to know their future work sites, namely Cape Perpetua and the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (where Jhonny and I frequently work). We all were First Aid and CPR certified, and will soon be certified interpretive guides. I guess you can call us all certifiable.
But, my favorite part of the training last week was being able to visit Amanda’s trail, a sobering experience. This trail recognizes the past genocide of the tribal people who were forced to march across the coast, particularly a blind Coos, Amanda, woman whose feet were shredded so badly she left a trail of blood, so much blood that she could be tracked by it. We listened to Joanne Kittle, whose career specialized in helping victims of trauma, a land owner who was influential in sharing the brutal history of the area (as it had been dismissed and hidden for decades) and in creating and maintaining the trail.
Sitting in the little gathering area, in front of the Amanda Statue, and listening to Joanne about what occurred, was sad but, it was also good to hear people acknowledge it.
As a conservation organization, we strive to prevent the extinction of species, specifically birds. We often read of cases where settlers drove populations of birds to crisis, followed by nonexistence; Carolina parakeet, the passenger pigeon, and Labrador duck to name a few. But this day we learned about cultural extinctions— and it was a sobering experience.
Because of the abundance of food, the Oregon coast was inhabited over 8,000 years ago. There were probably people here long before then, but the evidence is under the sea. But, in less than 150 years after European colonization, many were gone and their cultures too.
Many times, we recognize the need for diversity: in the workplace, in the diet, and in plant and animal species. Yet we fail to recognize the need for diversity of culture. This story, Amanda’s story, reminds us of horrible past times, and the need to prevent repeating this history.