Tony Johnson: The Ability to Fish, the Rights to Tell Stories is Our Wealth

Tony Johnson (Chinook) talks about inheritance not being in monetary wealth but in resources and access. 2:09.

Bio: Tony Johnson is the tribal chairman of the Chinook Indian Nation, as well as the chair of the tribal cultural committee. He is also the Cultural Education Director for the Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe.

Transcription:

“I mean in my world I was raised with this stuff being my inheritance and that’s the way it was talked about. The ability to fish a certain spot. We’ll say your drift, your inherited place to fish, whatever it is. Access points, the rights to tell stories, the rights to sing songs, to do dances. I mean these are inheritances. We weren’t raised with a lot of real wealth. But that was considered our wealth, these things. You know, that’s the very most important stuff in my world. I mean these…there are very few things of ours that have not been taken away from us or corrupted or abused or just extinguished, whatever it is. There are certain things though that really do still feel like they’re just ours. And there’s a great value in that. And I think the communities feels really strongly about that. And I want my kids to have every last bit of that inheritance. That’s their wealth. I’m not going to ever make them rich but they’ll be rich in that. And it is real wealth, I mean it actually has real value. And you know ten thousand years ago or a thousand years ago we spent a lot of time worrying about our connections to our neighbors and kind of expanding this wealth or connection to resources. Or to songs, to spiritual knowledge, or whatever it was. And that’s still something that we’re still talking about every day”

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