Of Racism, Nature and Ethnic Cleansing

Most trees in the Okanogan and the Okanagan are scrub growth that grew up after the land that was the people was ethnically cleansed to create wilderness. The pines below, victims of last year’s fire, are to be mourned, as all living things are that pass, but not in a simple way. Certainly they are a part of natural history, but they are a lot more than that.


In contrast, the ghosts of two pines turned to soil in the grass on the slope below are Sinlahekin trees. They grew and fell when the land and the Sinlahekin people were one. They do not belong to the realm of nature, except in an abstract sense, in a kind of abstraction that is effectively a dismissal of human worth.P1070028

Certainly these trees are a part of natural history, but they are a lot more than that. The Sinlahekin are no longer mentioned in their valley. It’s as is they were never there, or that in death they have gone back to nature, as spirits of earth and air. That’s simply not true.

4 replies »

  1. Sinlahekin: grob uebersetzt (translated in a rough way): Geisterbaeume? (ghost-trees?) to pay homage to any tree that has died, or just pines?


  2. Harold … you have a talent for weaving past and present into the foretelling of a possible future. Your stories are a pleasure to read.


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