Leah Conner: Moccasins for the Dogs and Cats on the Saddles

Leah Conner (Umatilla) talks about her family’s seasonal work travels. 2:43.

Bio: Leah Conner was an elder of Umatilla, Cayuse and Nez Perce ancestry, who holds three degrees in education and fine arts. She passed away in November 2018.


“And all summer long they would take off with their uncle and father and his sister and Elsie and Vera and a couple of dogs and a cat. The cats rode on my mother’s saddle. And the dogs they made moccasins for the dogs, so they could travel and not get sore feet. And then we’d go to Heppner and start digging roots and the cows over there, and then go on to the mountains.They’d stop at Sumpter and trade for coffee and sugar. And they would trade what they had made on the way. They dried deer tan hide and made moccasins and gloves and things they could sell or trade for. This was their life on the seasonal rounds. They collected all their food in the summertime and by the time they got to Vale in the Snake River they’d dry all the fish and they would come home with dried fish, dried deer meat, and all kinds of roots and berries. And they would have all this food and even though they had all this food, small portions, packs of all this food, they would still take in people, relatives, who didn’t have a home. And they lived this way all their lives. And it was beautiful how they took care of each other. The dogs survived and the cat survived, all the way from Heppner to Vale and back.”