Mike Iyall talks about what being Cowlitz means to him. 1:02.
Bio: Mike Iyall is a Council member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribal and was Vice Chairman until 2016. He is the director of the Cowlitz Tribe scholarship program and serves as tribal historian.
“It’s been a hundred and fifty plus years. You know, it was Uncle Antoine, my grandfather, my aunts and uncles. My brothers and sisters and I. We’ve got 4 generations in my family in that struggle. I mean there’s names and faces there, it was never just an abstract. Earlier you mentioned what’s it’s like to be Cowlitz…well I got asked to take nomination for tribal council by my aunt. I never thought for a moment about saying now. It just was a, some people would call it a calling. It’s what my family has done. It’s what we do. I believe it was always the hope for not just federal recognition but the acceptance that we were here, that we were once here, that we are still here. The opportunity that being accepted as a tribe would bring benefits for our people, the opportunity to protect our homelands. You know protecting the environment, it’s difficult to describe…it’s something you’re almost born to. You’re born with a obligation to protect your environment but you’re also born with a beautiful appreciation of your environment. I love to go out in the forest and walk around and it’s like a welcome home. I was a GI and I’d come and it’d feel that good and well I feel that good sometimes when I just for a walk in the forest.”