Tanna Engdahl: “Amazing System” of Clouds, Rain and Sky

Tanna Engdahl (Cowlitz) talks about traditional ecological knowledge. 2:38.

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.


“We didn’t just study the earth or the ground we walked on. We had an amazing system of clouds and rain. And I think we understood every kind of water there was in our universe, whether it flowed on the ground or from the sky. We understood the whole horizon of water, if it was sleet we knew what that was going to do to the land. If it was snow we knew what that was going to do and we always had a way to deal with that, as a life process. We understood if it was mist and we understood the echo of mist. So we could still hunt because we could understand the vibrational bouncing that mist produces. So understood every molecule as it came from the sky and knew how to live in it. We also knew that cloud cover was part of our schematic but we also had many months where we didn’t have cloud cover and we were students of the sky. We studied stars, we studied the sun and its movement. We studied the moon, we understood tides and its relationship to the moon. We also knew there were a people further south that were probably more expert than us. We knew about them. They were like I said, this continent was not static.”

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