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Community rallies in solidarity with Salish School

Crowd gathers to hear speakers, songs, prayers for healing and hope.

About 200 people gathered to express solidarity with the Salish School of Spokane on May 6, after graffiti was scrawled on a wall inside its pre-school building.

“We stand together to say we will not tolerate hatred of races,” said LaRae Wiley, director of the school.  “We are united for justice, truth and love for our children and future generations.”

Several speakers offered reflections.

Spokane Tribe elder Pat Moses said, “When we gather, we are of one heart and mind.  It’s good medicine for us all.  When I heard, my heart was heavy for our children, because we teach them to do good.  We pray for those who have done this bad thing and for teachers to be strong.”

Twa-le Abrahamson of the Spokane Tribe said that bad things can be transformed  to good things.

“Once we were ashamed to be Indians in Spokane, but we are proud of who we are and proud of our language, knowing our culture will be passed down,” she said.

Ben Stuckart, president of the Spokane City Council, said he spoke a few months ago at the Martin Luther King Jr. Family Outreach Center and at the Community Building when they experienced hate vandalism.

He said that the community needs to act every day not only to stop racism and hate, but also to challenge inequities in the health and criminal justice systems.

Paulette Jordan, whose father is Colville and mother is Coeur d’Alene, said she celebrates that she was able to be elected to the Idaho House of Representatives in North Idaho, where she had grown up seeing swastikas.

“Challenges can make us stronger and make us want to love,” she said. “With the community’s support, the Salish School will survive and thrive. We are rooted in the land and not going anywhere.”

Albert Andrews Redstar, whose heritage is in both the Palouse and Nez Perce tribes on the Colville Confederated Reservation, uplifted the importance of songs his mother sang to him as a child.

“We need to remember the songs to connect with our people, because there will come a day we are to transmit them to our children and grandchildren,” he said of the importance of learning the Salish language.  “We are of one heart today.  When we mingle, we create a stronger feeling of community for everyone in the school.  May we who gather resolve to continue to learn what we need to do to survive as a society.”

Buzz Gutierrez, an elder with the Spokane Tribe, told of growing up in Spokane, but spending weekends on the reservation.

Born in 1947, he learned he is from a long line of people, his mother Sally Moses born in 1911, her father Ben Moses born in 1881, his father Joseph Moses born in 1858 and his father Salusto Moses born in 1825.

“The Creator put us here and we are not going anywhere,” he said.  We did not cross the land bridge, originate in Africa or come out of the water.  We came from here,” he said.  My grandfather camped at the Shadle water tower site.

“We were not born with hatred or racism, but to trust and love, and to take care of each other.  We can all heal,” he said.  “We know who we are.  The only race is the human race.”

LaRae promised that the school will continue to do what it does to create a beautiful space for the children. 

For information, call 325-2018 or email


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