Oregon Leaders You Should Know: Alyshia Alohalani Macaysa-Feracota

As the executive director of the Oregon Pacific Islander Coalition (OPIC), Alyshia Alohalani Macaysa-Feracota approaches movement building through a healing lens, drawing upon Indigenous wisdom and practices. Through her leadership and strong relationships with Pacific Islanders across the state, several community-driven initiatives continue to gain momentum for large-scale systems change. We sat down with Macaysa-Feracota to learn more about her journey and vision.

What inspires you?

I think back to my experience growing up a lot. I grew up in southeast San Diego, about 15 minutes above the Mexican-American border. And I grew up with a ton of other kids of color. Even as young kids, we were having these conversations about how we felt left behind in a lot of ways. I noticed that contrast a lot for myself as a high academic performer.

When George W. Bush launched ‘No Child Left Behind,’ administrators wanted to relocate me to another school 45 minutes away where the students were all white. In conversations with other kids I grew up with, we’d ask, ‘Why is it that we have to leave our own neighborhoods to go off and do something else?’

Even efforts like this that were meant to bring positive change, those types of things didn't really touch us, even though they're meant to serve us. So I’ve always carried those experiences in a lot of the work that I do.

How have those early experiences influenced your perspective on systems change?

As I got older, I had the chance to work on several community initiatives, and one of my first jobs out of college was working with a national public health policy organization. I learned a lot of brilliant things there, but again I thought about my younger self and the kids in my neighborhood and asked, ‘Will this touch the lives of the folks we’re actually talking about?’

So a big part of my work has always been bringing the folks that we intend to serve directly into the process – training our community members up so they can be part of policy conversations meant to serve them and reframing things for government or agencies of Western power to understand the wisdom that already exists in the community.

What has been your greatest accomplishment so far?

I would say building the Oregon Pacific Islander Coalition. It's very significant for me as a Native Hawaiian and a Pacific Islander more broadly, particularly one who grew up in diaspora.

I left Hawaii when I was about five years old. Not having the grounding of growing up in my own land or community and then not being surrounded by my own language and practice, I felt the hole that left in who I was as an Indigenous kid. Being invited into the coalition has been a huge healing experience for me.

When elders and other community leaders approached me and said, ‘Can you steward the building of this coalition for Pacific Islander unity and self-determination?’ It was a really humbling experience. I could go off and list the different policies and initiatives that we've launched, but I think the biggest accomplishment is being able to build this trusting network amongst Pacific Islanders.

Which victories has OPIC won through community-led movements?

As Indigenous people, we approach our work from a healing lens, rethinking how data and research can be tools for healing through telling more authentic stories. We’ve produced tremendous things – like the Pacific Islander Data Modernization Report and the House Bill for Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Students Success Act – in such a short amount of time because we took the time to build relationships with each other.

The outcomes came from the collective vision of the coalition. When we center relationships and healing, the outcomes and deliverables are far more rich and meaningful.

What is your ultimate vision for Pacific Islander communities in Oregon and what needs to be done to get there?

I would love to move us towards this vision of having Pacific Islanders know that we can center self-determination and Indigenous self-actualization without compromising our cultural values. There's a ton of Pacific Islander work happening in the state. Being able to share OPIC's experiences with other Pacific Islanders and show them that there is a way to step into 501c3 status in a way that makes sense to us.

We need to amplify conversations about the deeper history around API as a system and how it's erased a lot of us and how that doesn't necessarily make sense at times for the things we want to do as Indigenous people. On the same line, how do we bring greater consciousness to funders, to government agencies, to the racial equity community to make sure we’re included in spaces to inform these decisions?

We lead with Indigenous wisdom. We lead with Indigenous practice.

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Alyshia Alohalani Macaysa-Feracota at an OPIC event

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In East Multnomah County, a Focus on Healing

Four groups are organizing a multifaceted approach to healing in East Multnomah County. Unite Oregon, Keep Growing Seeds, Black Economic Collective and The BIPOC Rise Moor Healing Center are bringing together nearly 1,000 community members to assess the viability of a Black wellness center.

These organizations comprise one of 14 collectives funded in the latest round of grants by Justice Oregon for Black Lives, Meyer Memorial Trust’s $25 million initiative co-created in 2020 with Black communities working to advance racial justice and equity.

Seeking to counteract Oregon’s traumatic legacy of erasure, displacement and exploitation, this collective brings a diverse set of perspectives and missions to healing Black communities. With experience ranging from movement building to food sovereignty, members envision a Black wellness center focused on self-sufficiency, skill building, therapies and more.

If their plan comes to fruition, the center could become a beacon for residents in East County where the Black population is increasing, largely due to displacement from rising housing costs in Portland’s urban core. East County comparatively lacks basic infrastructure like sidewalks, parks and natural areas. The collective intends to invest in this neighborhood with much-needed resources.

“An abundance of meticulous and thoughtful consideration has been implemented to provide this Black wellness center to East County,” Durrell Javon Kinsey Bey, co-founder of The BIPOC Rise Moor Healing Center, says. “Not as a fad but as a mechanism of hope and prosperity toward sustainability and self-sufficiency for Black people.”

Healing as a Catalyst for Flourishing Black Communities

When Justice Oregon was established, a steering committee of Black community members identified addressing trauma and healing as a core goal of the initiative. Plans for the wellness center fall firmly within this priority area.

“We heard that we can't have things like economic justice or investments in education without a strong foundation for healing in the Black community,” says Allister Byrd, Justice Oregon for Black Lives program officer.

For Je Amaechi, Unite Oregon’s reimagining community safety manager, the center could be the next Greenwood District or even New Nanny Town (now Moore Town).

“Healing is not an endpoint,” says Amaechi, whose Jamaican heritage and abolitionist principles shape their values. “To really get at the root level, we have to work on healing ourselves and healing each other. Then we’re able to work toward advocacy and collective action.”

Cultivating Black Joy into the Planning Process

To determine if a wellness center of this kind would be impactful, the collective is asking communities directly for their input. But, true to their values, they are prioritizing Black joy and healing throughout the planning process. By offering participants support for immediate needs as well as access to Black therapists, educational opportunities and more, the collective hopes to create a space of safety and comfort.

“These gatherings won’t be traditional meetings,” Kristin Teigen, Unite Oregon’s grants associate, says. “Simply by participating in the needs assessment process, community members will be able to access multiple modes of healing.”

To further their reach, the collective is partnering with two additional organizations with deep ties to immigrant and refugee communities from across the Black and African diaspora, Emanuel Displaced Persons Association 2 (EDPA2) and African Holistic Health Family Organization.

“Not only is [this project] long overdue for East County but for people of African descent,” Kinsey Bey says. “This is well deserving to make strides in the path of karmic reconciliation, moral rejuvenation and above all social equity.”

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Grantmaking Staff Share Noteworthy Grants of 2023

A portrait of Nancy Haque 

Nancy Haque
Director of Policy and Programs

“I think some of the most meaningful grants Meyer made in 2023 weren’t the biggest; they were the ones where we were responding to a crisis in the community. Being able to reach out to an organization and say, 'Hey, I see this is happening. I see how your organization is trying to help. How about we get you some support?' was incredibly moving to me as a grantmaker. We were able to do that for PCUN after a tragic car accident took the lives of 11 farm workers. And then, again, during the Portland teacher's strike, we were able to support IRCO, SEI, Latino Network and Boys and Girls Club which were providing meals to students. Having spent the majority of my career in nonprofits, it would have made me feel so seen for a funder to understand our work at a level where they would reach out to us like that. It feels like a dream come true to make it happen for our grantees.”


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Helen Wong
Director of Learning and Grant Operations

“In 2023, I’m particularly proud that Meyer invested in first-time grantees building Pacific Island and Southeast Asian communities. (Great examples include the Oregon Pacific Islander Coalition, Hmong American Community of Oregon and Filipino Bayanihan Center.) This investment is a direct result of hearing from community leaders about the invisibilization of the “AAPI” label and a request to be more nuanced in how we approach funding. We recognize that Southeast Asian and Pacific Island communities have faced historic underinvestment across all philanthropy, including Meyer. At the same time, we acknowledge these vibrant communities are integral to Oregon. I was particularly touched by the care and thought the partners gave to connecting elder and youth generations and wish I had access to these types of programs as a child growing up in the Pacific Northwest.”


A portrait of Allister Byrd

Allister Byrd
Program Officer, Justice Oregon for Black Lives

“Last year, Justice Oregon for Black Lives leaned into funding partnerships and coalition-based work to prompt long-term change. We knew there would be some new partnerships formed because of the funding opportunity, but that there was already lots of collaboration happening within the Black community. One partnership I got to experience firsthand was the Oregon Black Pioneer’s Letitia Carson exhibit at The Center Powered By Y.O.U.TH in Gresham. The Letitia Carson Legacy Project is a partnership between Black Oregon Land Trust, Oregon Black Pioneers, the Linn Benton NAACP, Mudbone Grown, and Oregon State University. The interactive exhibit (complete with a historical reenactor acting as Leticia Carson at the opening reception!) detailed the life of one of the first Black women to settle in Oregon and helped the students at Y.O.U.T.H place themselves in the larger context of Black history in Oregon. It’s a really cool project that bridges the past and the future.”


A portrait of Mike Phillips

Mike Phillips
Program Associate, Our Resilient Places

“The grant that is top of mind for me — after the recent cold snap (the worst I’ve ever experienced in my time in Oregon) — is an operating grant we made to Community Energy Project. They provide deep home energy retrofits for low-income households in the Portland area. These retrofits can include everything from insulation and efficiency upgrades to switching homes from fossil fuel heat sources, all while saving clients money on utility bills and making homes healthier and more comfortable. Community Energy Project also does critical advocacy work in solidarity with their clients. In 2023, they served on nine committees and coalitions dedicated to climate justice and equitable energy policies while also working at the Oregon Public Utility Commission. The winter storms, summer heat waves and wildfires in recent years have made climate change hit home more viscerally for all of us. I’m happy Meyer is supporting groups like Community Energy Project that are leading the way toward a more just energy future.”


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Sally Yee
Program Officer, Together We Rise

“Ensuring safe workplaces and protecting workers’ rights may seem like straightforward work, simple even. It is anything but that. For more than 20 years, Northwest Workers’ Justice Project (NWJP) has been working mostly behind the scenes to work on behalf of Oregon's most vulnerable worker communities. They have had to earn the trust of workers who routinely experience workplace abuse, risk employer retaliation for raising these issues and have no guarantee that speaking up will make any difference. NWJP and its organizers earn the trust of workers so they can provide them with the support they need to confront workplace issues; trust that laws can be made to work in their interest and effectively use their voices to ensure their workplaces are safe, their rights are respected, and their humanity is honored. The word ‘awesome’ comes to mind when I think about all they do and I’m so glad Meyer was able to support their work in 2023.”


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Erin Dysart
Managing Director, Strategic Initiatives

"Is it cheating if I highlight one grant that will actually be a whole collection of grants? Because I'm excited about our growing collaboration with Pride Foundation, the only LGBTQ+ community foundation serving a five state region in the Northwest. In 2023, Meyer committed to partnering with Pride Foundation to co-fund the upcoming round of their community grants in Oregon. These grants provide critical support to small, grassroots, LGBTQ+ led and focused organizations, especially outside of metro areas. Pride Foundation nurtures its deep network of trusting relationships across the state (reaching many groups that Meyer does not), which allows them to get resources where they are needed -- into the hands of folks within the LGBTQ+ community who are most harmed by systemic injustices like racism, xenophobia, ableism and transphobia. I'm inspired by Pride Foundation's intersectional, community-centered, and proactive approach to grantmaking, and I'm thrilled about what this kind of partnership can make possible."


A portrait of Violeta Alverez Lucio

Violeta Alvarez Lucio
Program Associate, Our Collective Prosperity

“In 2023, Meyer partnered with Oregon Collective Summit (OCS) leaders, Bekah Sabzalian and Andre Goodlow, to co-host two summits that brought together hundreds of multigenerational educators of color. These events provided much-needed space of connection, learning and celebration. I attended OCS for the first time in the fall and felt proud of Meyer’s ongoing commitment to supporting this work. At the event, the student panel shed light on the positive impact that teacher pathway programs have for students and aspiring educators of color. One of these programs that Meyer supported separately in 2023 is the University of Oregon’s Sapsik’ʷałá Teachers Education program. It’s a tuition-free initiative that ‘collaborates with all Nine Federally Recognized Sovereign Indian Nations of Oregon and the UOTeach master’s program to deliver a pathway for Indigenous people to become teachers within their communities.’ It provides financial resources, mentorship and spaces where the cultural identity of aspiring educators is valued and celebrated.”


A portrait of Molly Gray

Molly Gray
Program Associate, Strategic Initiatives

“I would love to highlight a grant Meyer made this year to support the Oregon Futures Lab Education Fund. OFL focuses on seeking, supporting and sustaining BIPOC community leaders and elected officials. I am particularly excited about one of their signature programs: Care for Disruptive Leaders. This program recognizes the unique challenges faced by BIPOC leaders in public political spaces — such as harassment, doxxing, and threats — along with all the systemic barriers in place to exclude them from running for office. Care for Disruptive Leaders provides time, space and resources to help tackle these issues, reducing burnout and lengthening the tenure of BIPOC folx leadership positions. We need a diverse, leaderful movement to face the multifaceted challenges of our time, build solidarity and power across communities and manifest OFL’s vision of a racially just Oregon. These leaders deserve safety and rest in addition to the logistical support, training and mentorship that OFL provides.”

A stylized composite image made up of colorful portraits of Meyer's grantmaking staff

Members of Meyer's program team reflect on our 2023 grantmaking.

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Movement Communications Academy Builds Narrative Power

As anti-immigrant rhetoric and anti-LGBTQ2SIA+ legislation continue to escalate, building community-led movements requires implementing effective communications strategies to inspire supporters and advance racial, gender and economic justice. Movement Communications Academy is on a mission to prepare today’s communicators to do just that by equipping them with essential skills to inform, empower and transform systems at large.

Over eight months, the Oregon Academy, a pilot program comprised of 19 communications professionals from 15 nonprofits, meets weekly to gain hands-on learning from co-founders Diane Goodwin and Megen Ickler. Seasoned professionals provide subject-specific expertise. Past sessions included guidance on how to develop compelling messages with Strategist Cody Romero to digital advocacy and fundraising campaigns with Iván Hernández, the digital communications and engagement manager at Oregon Food Bank.

“It's important for communications professionals to see a pathway to stay in this field,” Ickler said. “We prioritize trainers who reflect the identities of students in our cohort, especially those who are Black, Indigenous, people of color and queer.”

Inspiring Confidence in Brilliant Communicators

Before founding the Academy, Goodwin and Ickler were colleagues at Brink Communications, a creative agency that worked with scores of regional and national nonprofits. Goodwin has over three decades of experience, including a leadership role on President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Ickler’s political organizing career led her to serve as the communications director for then House Speaker Tina Kotek.

“By centering peer learning, we interrupt imposter syndrome and build confidence to take necessary risks,” Goodwin said. “Communications folks are often expected to learn on the job. Movement Communications Academy sets this generation of brilliant professionals up for success.”

From strategy to implementation, the Academy students dive into real life case studies that cover successful messaging, digital communications, media advocacy and policy communications.

In her session on media advocacy, Kim Melton, vice president of impact at Meyer Memorial Trust, highlighted the difference between reactive and proactive approaches to media advocacy. As a former journalist and communications director, she said responding to stories embedded in misinformation and addressing false equivalencies are just as essential as planting seeds, leveraging events and educating reporters.

Learning Together

“The Academy has given us concrete skills to mobilize our communities on issues that are really important to our cause,” Ernesto Oliva, digital communications and campaign manager at Unite Oregon said. “It’s my job to find innovative ways to ensure that our communities reach the action alerts and opportunities to hopefully, in time, build a cross-cultural movement in Oregon.”

Oliva first joined Unite Oregon as a field organizer with a desire to support more advocacy and ground organizing after beginning his career in education. To support housing justice efforts — one of the six core pillars of the organization’s mission — he trained 150 immigrants and refugees in Washington County to craft their own solutions around tenants rights.

As a first generation, bilingual Latino, he saw how accurately translating messaging into accessible languages for many communities brought more people to the decision-making table.

“I got into communications because I saw that there was power in building bridges with different communities, with immigrants and refugees,” he said. “Being effective with our organizing and advocacy to shift policy at the local and state level involves language accessibility and messaging.”

He knows he can’t do it alone. Only halfway through the course, they’ve built a sense of camaraderie, understanding how intersectional each other’s missions are in the pursuit of justice. This inclusive style of learning resonates with Oliva and his team at Unite Oregon who incorporate this belief into their operations: there are no experts in the room, everyone co-learns together. The same goes for Blair Stenvick, the communications manager at Basic Rights Oregon (BRO).

“Realizing that you’re not alone, that a lot of the challenges I face are faced by others and finding ways to work around it together means a lot,” Stenvick said. “Connecting with each other on that human level and sharing each other’s work on social media, we’re supporting each other in measurable ways.”

Transforming Systems Statewide

They said the cohort style builds momentum by bringing people with different lived experiences and skills together to uplift one another in this work.

“Tribe grows impact,” they said. “We want equality for every LGBTQ+ person or guardian no matter what part of the state you live in, your age, your race or your income level. Being as inclusive as possible is what drives us at BRO.”

As a communications team of one, Stenvick relies on their instincts and often moves quickly to translate messaging into effective narratives.

“The Academy has taught me how to slow down and really think through the basics: what is my audience, what is the goal of this specific action?” they said. “It has reminded me that the message needs to be inclusive so it can be understood and acted on at different levels, meeting people where they’re at.”

Before joining Basic Rights Oregon, Stenvick worked as a reporter where they met organizers on the ground who were leading campaigns throughout the state. As a queer trans person, they resonated with BRO’s mission. When a communications position became available, they knew it was the right time to move from reporting on issues to being an active agent for transforming systems.

Since joining the team, they’ve successfully campaigned for the passage of HB 2002, expanding reproductive health care and abortion protections statewide. Now, BRO is collaborating with Planned Parenthood and ACLU Oregon to enshrine abortion rights, marriage equality and gender-affirming care into the state constitution.

While Oregon has some of the most inclusive reproductive and gender affirming access in the country, passing this type of legislation will still be an uphill battle. Stenvick hopes to apply the lessons they continue to learn at the Academy as they ramp up their efforts.

As the Academy rounds the halfway point, evaluation and growth are top of mind for Goodwin and Ickler. The Oregon cohort could serve as a model for taking this training nationwide.

Oliva believes every communications professional would benefit from the program no matter where they are in their career path.

“Education is your passport through life,” he said. “This will either be a refresher for you or it will be a new program that will equip you with real life skill sets to be able to do your job. And the better we do our job as communications professionals, the more our communities will benefit.”

Photo of Ernesto Oliva and Movement Communications Academy students discussing a training subject

Oregon Academy students learning in the Center for Great Purposes at Meyer HQ

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Housing Advocates Connect for Justice

At the end of June, Meyer Memorial Trust gathered an amazing group of 30 housing advocates, organizers and community leaders in Lincoln City for the Oregon Housing Justice Forum. For most of us, it was the first time in over two years we had been in a room full of people we hadn’t met in person before — and in a way that was the whole point. When Meyer’s Housing team started thinking (back in 2020!) about a multi-day gathering of housing advocates from across the state, our central focus was on providing space and time for people to connect, share what they are working on and identify new allies.

COVID-19 has made creating and sustaining relationships much harder for all of us and we knew people were craving an opportunity to step away from Zoom calls and day-to-day challenges to share visions, plans and hopes for housing justice. The last few years have been full of urgent housing challenges, tireless and smart advocacy, dramatic victories in public policy and new resources for housing needs. The forum was designed to serve as an important occasion for advocates to gather together, take a breath, step back and think about what’s next: how do we all contribute to sustaining and growing broad and resilient movements around equitable housing outcomes? We were particularly looking to center the conversation around the needs and priorities of communities of color and to nurture and promote emerging leaders working with those communities and others that have been historically neglected, marginalized and deprived of the ability to secure suitable housing.

In planning the event, we were fortunate to have the help of three savvy and experienced community members active in the field: Julia Delgado from the Urban League of Portland, Jenny Lee from the Coalition of Communities of Color and Loren Naldoza from the Oregon Housing Alliance. Their perspectives and advice as part of the planning committee helped us shape the event, refining the goals and intent, recruiting and selecting participants and the facilitator, I and actively engaging with other participants during the forum.

With the help of our stellar facilitators from the Luna Jiménez Institute for Social Transformation, the planning committee identified five outcomes that guided our approach to the event:

By centering BIPOC leadership, authentic allyship, relationship building, belonging and racial justice, the Oregon Housing Justice Forum will have:

  • Increased our understanding of the historical and current impacts of systemic oppression on housing policies, programs, collaborations and initiatives across sectors that lays a foundation for healing from housing injustices.
  • Formed a housing justice network (composed of BIPOC leaders, people who have experienced housing insecurities and committed allies) that is relationship-based, expandable, cross-sector and has the potential to become influential and sustainable.
  • Reimagined a housing justice ecosystem that launches a bold, inspiring and just housing future in Oregon.
  • Co-created key housing justice initiatives that build on past housing justice victories and learning and are designed and shaped by the insights and experiences of BIPOC communities and/or people who have experienced housing insecurity.
  • Felt inspired and more prepared to take bold action that fosters relationships and confidence in backing and centering BIPOC leadership and communities in the housing justice space that moves Oregon closer to a vision of housing justice for all. 

We decided to limit the size of the event to a group where everyone could engage in the same conversation and connect meaningfully with each other. That meant that we invited only 35 out of the more than 130 people who applied to participate. That roster of 35 was one of the most diverse and dynamic groups of housing advocates the state has ever seen, with notably only about one-third of attendees coming from Portland Metro. All participants brought deep community connections and more than two-thirds identified as indigenous or people of color. Some were familiar to us and connected with current Meyer partner organizations we know well; some were people we had not known of before the event. Core issues and passions represented ranged across the spectrum of affordable housing advocacy, from determined advocates for the houseless to people focused on increasing minority homeownership; from grassroots organizers to people with strong policy expertise to coalition-builders.

Over two-and-a-half days, this extraordinary group dug into the roots of Oregon’s overlapping housing crises, shared their plans, visions and fears around the work in front of them and bonded with new allies in conversations.

Meyer has a long track record of supporting advocacy and organizing work, particularly in affordable housing, and this event was both a natural culmination of that decade-long engagement and a bridge to our new focus built on centering impacted communities, supporting positive systems change and building movements and grassroots power. And the Forum is just the latest chapter in that critical work: we will be engaging with both participants and a wider circle of voices in the next few months to inform how we can support community-driven agendas for housing justice at both the local and statewide levels.

Michael Parkhurst

Graphic promoting the Oregon Housing Justice Forum

Graphic promoting the Oregon Housing Justice Forum

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Foundations for a Better Oregon is disrupting the root causes of inequity in education

Investments in strategies that support crucial system inputs that are designed to shift culture within Oregon’s education system and build new approaches to addressing old challenges are essential to developing an ecosystem where innovative ideas, people and students thrive.

For more than a decade, Foundations for a Better Oregon — formally Chalkboard Project — has done this work, serving as a powerful catalyst in merging vision with action by shifting conversations from focusing on increasing funding for education to evidence-based discussions about educator quality, accountability, student achievement and improving student outcomes through innovative pilot projects and building greater accountability through data and research.

Today, Foundations for a Better Oregon is a highly respected organization with well-earned political capital, recognized for its independent and nonpartisan voice. This new iteration of the organization defines its strategic priorities by critical structural and cultural changes Oregon must make to disrupt the root causes of inequity and radically accelerate progress for children: In a better Oregon, research and data is community-centered; investments in education are equitable and coherent; and decision-making is inclusive and participatory.

You can learn more about Foundations for a Better Oregon here.

Foundations for a Better Oregon Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs Amanda Manjarrez facilitates a workshop with community-based organizational leaders during Meyer’s 2019 Gathering for Student Success at PCUN (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste) in Woodburn.

Foundations for a Better Oregon Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs Amanda Manjarrez facilitates a workshop with community-based organizational leaders during Meyer’s 2019 Gathering for Student Success at PCUN (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste) in Woodburn.

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ICYMI: Nez Perce Tribe invests in lodge conservation easement

Last month, the Nez Perce Tribe secured a conservation easement for 9.22 acres of land along the Wallowa River, permanently protecting an area on the Tribe's ancestral homeland that is known as Waakak’amkt or “where the braided stream disappears into the water.” This accomplishment will also preserve the Wallowa River’s eastern channel and wetland areas from future development.

The Wallowa County Chieftain documents the historic purchase, made possible by grants from organizations such as The Collins Foundation, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Meyer Memorial Trust, Oregon Community Foundation and others:

The easement is part of a growing presence of the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) people in their Wallowa County homeland. That includes the preservation of the Iwetemlaykin State Heritage site, Nez Perce participation in management of the county’s 1,800-acre East Moraine property, the work of the Joseph-based Nez Perce Fisheries in restoring coho salmon, lamprey eels and eventually sockeye to the rivers here, the Homeland Project in Wallowa and the Precious Lands preserve (Hetes’wits Wetes) in the Joseph Canyon area.

'Our efforts will continue to interact with the land,” said Shannon Wheeler, Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee chairman. “That’s where our people are from. … When the Nez Perce people were leaving (in 1877), one of the elders asked people to turn around and look at the land because it might be the last time that they would see it. … So any chance that we get to come back, I see a lot of smiling faces when our people are there, and I think the land smiles when the Nez Perce are there.'

Read the entire piece here.

The new conservation easement will preserve the Wallowa River’s eastern channel and wetland areas from future development. Photo by Ellen Morris Bishop/For the Wallowa County Chieftain.

The new conservation easement will preserve the Wallowa River’s eastern channel and wetland areas from future development. Photo by Ellen Morris Bishop/For the Wallowa County Chieftain.

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ICYMI: Columbia River tribes gain new clout with major acquisition

On June 1, the Oregon Health & Science University transferred control of the Center for Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction—an information hub that acquires data through radio telemetry and a network of observation stations and buoys for use in conducting coastal-margin science—to the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, an organization that coordinates management policy and provides fisheries technical services for the Yakama, Warm Springs, Umatilla and Nez Perce Tribes.

The Oregonian recently published an article about the historic acquisition:

For the fish commission, acquisition of the nationally renowned coastal center builds on a growing capacity for world-class research. The center collects and analyzes estuary data that informs everything from Columbia River Treaty negotiations to industrial dredging operations to salmon recovery strategies.

“This is a tremendous capacity-building advance for the Columbia River tribes,” says commission chairman Jeremy Red Star Wolf. “Our professional river and salmon management staffs have wanted more ocean and river connectivity in research, applied science and management. CMOP will help deliver that.

Meyer’s Healthy Environment portfolio awarded a $350,000 capacity-building grant to expand the commission’s ability to effectively acquire, manage and oversee the Center for Coastal Margin Observation & Prediction program. You can read the full coverage of the story here.

ICYMI: Columbia River tribes gain new clout with major acquisition
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These water stories are changing currents

Meyer is supporting the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians’ (ATNI) work with its member Tribes and Tribal communities to engage in important regional and statewide water policy discussions focused on quantity, quality, access, rights and cultural understanding. To encourage a broad conversation among the nine federally recognized Tribes of Oregon, ATNI hosted their first Water Summit in 2016. ATNI also connected with mainstream conservation organizations, such as Oregon Environmental Council (OEC), to find alignment around inter-Tribal water policy priorities.

To continue these dialogues and ensure Tribal perspectives inform mainstream initiatives, such as Gov. Kate Brown’s 100 Year Water Vision, ATNI and OEC partnered to create Changing Currents, a website that uses storytelling to explore how water relates to Tribal culture, governance, economic infrastructure and community health and wellness.

If you haven’t already started listening to the rich stories they’ve gathered, we recommend beginning with Shirod Younker’s exploration of the Coquille Indian Tribe’s canoe customs and the inter-Tribal healing that a single canoe can provide.


— Mary Rose

A mural of Chief Joseph by Toma Villa, an enrolled member of the Yakama Indian Nation, located in Arbor Lodge Park in North Portland.

A mural of Chief Joseph by Toma Villa, an enrolled member of the Yakama Indian Nation, located in Arbor Lodge Park in North Portland.

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ICYMI: Our Story on Our Territory

The Chinook Indian Nation recently bought Tansy Point, an impressive ten acres of land on the Tribes' ancestral homeland and serene enclave of forests, wetlands and habitat for elk, deer, bald eagles and other native creatures. 

Enrolled Chinook Indian Nation member Leslie Ann McMillan wrote about the Tribes work to purchase the Tansy Point treaty grounds in a new article published by Oregon Humanities:

"During the past two years, we have been stunned by the outpouring of generosity from tribal members, old friends, new friends, foundations, trusts, and others that have learned of our Tansy Point treaty grounds purchase and preservation.

We completed our reacquisition of the modest yet monumental ten acres in 2019. We look forward to stewardship; flora, fauna, and fish counts; stream and habitat revitalization; and historical, environmental, and cultural preservation in partnership with others who care. On our tidal shoreline property far downriver, anything occurring anywhere in the Columbia River estuary ecosystem concerns us."

Read the entire piece here.

View of the Astoria-Megler bridge from the Tansy Point treaty grounds. Photo credit: Oregon Humanities

View of the Astoria-Megler bridge from the Tansy Point treaty grounds. Photo credit: Oregon Humanities

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