Tanna Engdahl: “Power of a Grandmother Who Was Totally Cowlitz.”

Bio: Tanna Engdahl is a Cowlitz Elder and spiritual leader. She is also an associate supervisor of the Clark Conservation District and a board member with the Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Her past career has included work with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, working as Public Affairs Chief for both NPS and Bureau of Land Management. She is the founder of the Cowlitz Medicine Women.


“As a child I grew up with this–the power of a grandmother who was totally Cowlitz and because of her upbringing she was also Catholic because that was the first people that came, that brought that Christian understanding into our world. And being a spiritual people it easy to envelop that. The Catholics didn’t envelope us as much as we enveloped them. And my grandmother made it all work so well that the priests came to her to visit, to talk, she would go to mass. But they would also stop by and they would hear her confession and I was allowed to sit at her feet. And she would tell stories, just amazing stories, and the priests would forgive her and bless her and go away. And I asked my grandmother– you didn’t do those things? Why did you say that? And she’d say well he came so far and you know we had to send him away with something. So she sent away feeling good that he had forgiven her for the things she never did.”

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