CSKT River Honoring teaches kids about the science, culture of the landscape

Cory Walsh

A sunlit field along the Flathead River outside of Moiese was home base for all kinds of student learning this week.

Wildlife and science lessons paired with cultural activities and traditional games like double ball, prompting some students to literally run and scream with glee.

All those play a part in the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ River Honoring, which brought around 400 children a day on Tuesday and Wednesday for its biggest turnout since 2019.

The goal is to teach the kids about the river and natural resource programs, said Stephanie Gillin, CSKT information and education specialist, and “everything we do, we try to incorporate culture.”

So the presentations run the gamut from wildlife to forestry and water quality. They hear from Séliš and Q’lispé elders and scientists and experts from Salish Kootenai College and tribal departments. The Mission Valley Backcountry Horsemen come, too.

The students learn about river species from the Tribal Fisheries Program, including an opportunity to handle and identify fish. They find out how to measure snowpack and how runoff fills the water table that the area’s farmers and ranchers depend on.

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