Maurice Wilson and Stacia Morfin

Recorded July 9, 2020 Archived July 9, 2020 40:39 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: mby019886


Stacia Morfin (34) and her uncle, Maurice Wilson (65), share their knowledge, wisdom, and medicine, as well as the five pillars of cultural preservation for indigenous traditions.

Subject Log / Time Code

S.M. begins by detailing their morning rituals.
M.W. speaks on the medicine he's going to burn in order to bless the recording and those listening.
S.M. talks about her relationship to the sweathouse and how it began in her mother's womb.
M.W. shares what he remembers about being raised in his elders' ways.
S.M. lists the five pillars of cultural preservation: land, language, people, policies, and protection.
S.M. states that as of February 2020, there are 574 federally recognized tribes, with many more uncounted for. S.M. emphasizes that "wherever you are in this country, honor that you are on indigenous land."
M.W. sings a verse from one of his favorite songs.
S.M. talks about her business, Nez Perce Tourism.


  • Maurice Wilson
  • Stacia Morfin

Recording Location

Virtual Recording

Partnership Type




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00:00 Top spine in a money class Custom Custom station. Morphine. What I said is welcome. My name is one who takes care of water also known as station. Morphine. I am a citizen of Nee me poo Nez Perce Nation. We are located in Lewiston, Idaho. And today is Thursday, July 9th 2020 the today I would like to introduce you to my conversation partner and Uncle he pistol at his name is Maurice D Wilson and I grew up with Maurice. He is a Nez Perce healer teacher and Veteran Maurice, please introduce yourself.

00:47 Text Mary when they hit just go out where East Wilson St. Opportune Pistol Pete. What I said is good morning. My friends my Nest Chris name is it just go at translates into one who caused the water and my name given to me at Birth is Maurice.

01:09 And then a lot of people know me throughout the country while worldwide really has Pistol Pete and thank you.

01:17 Okay, thank you for that. So prior to us starting the conversation today that set a daily lifestyle that we continue to do that. Our ancestors have done is we clear the air by burning medicines and I'm going to go ahead and ask Pistol Pete to bring some more medicine and explain the significance of doing so while he does that we would also like to invite you to be a part of this this blessing this the ceremony that we're doing. We it's our hope that we can continue to unite All Nations through ceilings and ecological knowledge that we share as indigenous people with the rest of the world.

02:03 So Maurice has a shell with the medicines inside the show the medicines include.

02:12 We have actually sweet grass, which is not indigenous to the Idaho territory, but it's part of our territorial home. And we also have some flat Cedar Summit Porto's way.

02:28 This this is Doug stuff that actually we use as our healing and our cleansing and are actually our daily lives cuz we use it and we actually use it when we have different people that are

02:49 Losing people here. And so we just asked you take care of one another and I've been raised as a small child to take care of my people.

03:02 Another word for for what we're doing could potentially be called smudging if you've heard of it and anybody is invited to smudge. It's something that takes care of your spirit and your soul throughout each day. So first thing in the morning, what I do is I I think the Creator I thank God for allowing me to wake up for another day. And then I also take a drink of Coos water and water as we all know is a huge resource and element that we absolutely need to survive. And so I take a drink of water first thing in the morning to greet the day and you've noticed that in both of our Indian names water is is a big part of that. So mine is one who takes care of water Uncle peteza's one who poured the water. So as our Sage is burning and the medicine is is Flowing throughout our house. I'm inviting it to come into

04:02 My my mind into my spirit so we have just the best things to share with you the most significant things to share with you while we're inviting you into this space that we're offering today. The one of the points that we would like to talk about today is Twisted Tempo. And that is the Nez Perce word for the sweat house and I was invited to go into the sweat house and extremely important age and that was prior to my birth. So my mother she's non-friable she grew up near the reservation and met my father solo green, but my mother was invited to also participate and and be a part of the sweat lodge The Sweat House

04:46 And so she went sweat with the ladies and I went through it with her when she when I was in her stomach and that importance of our connection to whisk to Tomo for the spiritual cleansing connection is something that I still live by today. I just went and visited the sweat house with all of my sisters there's seven of us. And like I said, we do sweat gender-based of the women sweat with the women the men sweat with the men we do go into it to Temple completely nude. But those are the first time that I was invited and experience that was what house was in my mother's womb and it's very significant because the sweat-house does represent literally the woman's womb. So I'm going to go ahead and ask Pete to explain the significance of the house and how what he remembers growing up in the Indies ways.

05:42 What were you saying? That's playing with you say walkie, / which is long time ago. We actually our houses were actually built with.

05:54 Either

05:56 Red Willow or chokecherry bushes, but them things there are very hard to bend and keep in place. So actually as we got a little bit later on in life that my one of my uncles actually stations Grandpa Larry Idaho green senior top me to make us sweat houses with the

06:24 Redbird limbs cuz they already have the bow in them. So ask me that way. You don't have to really fight to keep it there till two time together and a long time ago. I sweat last we were built with flat rocks and mud.

06:43 That and they were made very very small for like maybe only three or four people. Where is today my sweat house actually with the limbs with covered with blankets nowadays and

06:59 My smart ass can actually hold maybe 12 to 13 people in it. I know there's some people actually built there's a little bit larger but they just kind of depends on what time you come from that they're actually different cuz sometimes have their their holes for the hole that rocks in the middle. Some people Hut have them inside the door just to the right or to the left. It kind of depends on how you feel and how you were taught to take care of. What's the time what we called the old man and then everything around the sweat-house just as Stacy was talking about with the medicine because

07:48 The sweat-house ask you to all the medicines Around The Sweat House.

07:53 At one point in time are old nest purses called that heat MDX. That's all the medicines Around The Sweat House.

08:04 Reheat them and it's very important because we would talk as very young age to to respect them do everything around sweat dollars cuz I was as children. We were allowed to play but we was only allowed to play for so long and then when you know, it was time to sweat then you went in and sweat and everything. There was no time to play no time to yell and scream and you wouldn't even allowed to cry around the sweat-house.

08:35 So and that's just the way the elders asked you to take care of you and talk to you and just then cuz I remember at the very youngest age. I'm not sure if my mom took me in when single

08:52 Stacia was saying about ready to give birth to me. But I know I slept with my my my dad's dad who was Mitchell Wilson at age? You know when I started at 2 at night and I'm at a very young age that I was able to go sweat with them, but

09:17 I could not cry running sweat out said it was just anybody any Elder there could have you no discipline. So and it's just the way we were raised.

09:29 Okay to put into perspective a little bit about what what the sweat-house is is it could be similar to a dry sauna is what it would be. So how the structure works is we build Sweat by by covering hot rocks with with wood and during that process of heating the rocks will it will keep them until they're glowing red after the after the wood burns over the Rocks we grab pitchforks and we bring them into the the pit inside the sweat-house and with that we load the tops rocks on top of each other and then we put Flat Rocks over two guards that the red rocks and then folks get into the sweat-house like for me. I'm a woman I enter the sweat-house backwards because that's the way I came out of my mother's womb. I came out head first and then when I when I come out when I ask

10:29 That's what house I also come out head first, but I always make sure that I wear into the sweat house with with my rear first and I come in backwards. That's something that our elders taught me that the women are always supposed to go in backwards. So then we get into the sweat-house. We make sure that we cleanse are rocks with medicine whether it's flat Cedar Patos way. They always want to make sure that we cleanse those rocks with a little bit of our medicines. We sprinkle medicine over the Rocks then everybody comes into the sweat house. And then we we start pouring Coos water on the rocks and that creates the Steam and the steam helps you your your pores open up it helps to help cleanse your toxins inside of your bodies and during these times we say our prayers and and we seeing some of our nesper songs. So my sister so way and I she's 19 now her and I have a beautiful song that you sing every single time. We're in there and we think the Nez Perce Flag song

11:29 Which I'll have Maury Show with us one person a little bit and then we also seeing as a hand drum song and it's called Remember Me by Fawnwood and the song is so beautiful. I just I get so touched when when my sisters and I are are in this place and we're pouring out our hearts for prayers and just thankfulness and it is such a great remembrance of what our ancestors had done for us as far as helping us. Keep these Traditions alive. See what time. Which was only a few know hundred fifty-two hundred years ago. When when honestly that the Native American peoples were were set up for genocide. We were set up for sterilization. The the government didn't want us to be here because we were a burden to the resources. They found Upon Our Land, but you know, what's great about about the nimiipuu is is that we're still here.

12:23 We're an extremely resilient nation that we are working on our our language. We are buying back our homeland. I have I have this concept that I like to talk about and it is the five pillars of cultural preservation and we choose not to Define cultural preservation because that would mean putting up parameter around such a complex value but cultural preservation has five pillars to me. It is lamb or traditional Homeland and which will talk about here in a moment our relationship with to our land and our place names and our place names is something that's it's extremely important to us as need me who has Nez Perce people because those places hold the value of the resources or the the items that were in that specific area. For example nowadays call our streets After People Say

13:23 Say Washington Street or Jordan Street, whatever it might be.

13:29 We never we never named our place is after people we named our place is asked for our plant relatives are Wildlife relatives are our resources are our relatives and and I say relatives because everything that has an element whether it's

13:46 Land Air Water Spirit Light everything that has one or all of those those five elements is a relative to us. So are we our four-legged relatives all of the wildlife that that is from this area who were here before us is very important to us. So we could have a place that that is called place of the eels Asotin. The place of the sea lamprey and they were a very big big part of our our diets as as many people, you know, just 200 years ago and not too long ago about 10 years ago. They were completely extinct. They were not coming up our water systems anymore. And if you're familiar with where are landscape is located at the end of the Nez Perce consisted of millions and millions of Acres of Homeland and through the negotiations and treaties with the US government that land face was reduced dramatically. So so historic

14:46 We access and lived upon inhabited, Idaho, Washington, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming California up into Canada. So basically from the set a route to the Pacific ocean was considered our homeland. So that's a vast area that we were responsible for am I responsible for? I mean that that we were to take care of the land and I and I don't say where is past tense? It's it's we are responsible to take care of Mother Earth the Homeland that's that gives us everything that we need to survive. So land and place names are extremely important as the first pillar of cultural preservation. The second pillar is language that consists of linguistics intellectual culture and identity. Our language is something that was also intended to become completely diminished, but our ancestors are old people when folks weren't around for the

15:46 Boarding school times, we would still speak our language and and they tried their hardest to make sure that that folks remembered who they were and where they came from who that language segments. So we do have a dictionary and we do offer Nez Perce language. Anemia Putin key is what it's called inside our our preschool all the way up into institutions. So the Lewis and Clark State College the University of Idaho and University of Washington as well as the Northwest Indian college, which has several campus locations one in lapwai Satellite in Cameo all the way over towards Belington Bellingham Washington offer the Nez Perce language classes. So it's very important for us to keep our language because inside of our language is a lot of of culture and identity. The third pillar is people past present and future people are very important to cultural prep.

16:46 Nation without the people that's something that it won't be able to survive. And so again, like I say, we're very resilient people and we're a very brilliant intellectual people my daughter. She's three years old and I I get so excited when she comes home and and uses her Nez Perce language and we can have these conversations with each other. They may be a few words here and there but there's so much power in our language. It feels really good to be able to speak and understand that the fourth is policies. We absolutely have to have policies in place to help us perpetuate our cultural preservation. And we also has have sovereignty because we are a Sovereign Nation and then we also have policies and need more with our local state and federal agencies. And that's where I think a lot of our allies who are helping us preserve Native American history come into place non Native American people hold positions that we we aren't in right now.

17:46 Or that we might not have access to certain circles, but those allies that were able to extend relationships with they can be our voice for us. And so we're always looking at ways to perpetuate our sovereignty and then create new policies the last and final pillar is protection cultural preservation. We need the protection of our Landscaping me the protection of our our culture and our tradition that goes for not only social spiritual but also historical and so again, I do invite you to be an ally with the Native American communities. If you live on if you work near if you're visiting from International foreign countries just understand that anywhere within the United States there was a federally recognized tribe that lived there originally. So as of February of 2020, there is 574 federally recognized

18:46 Tribes within the United States and there are more and were more by the tens of thousands and maybe even millions of of different bands within these nations. And so everybody has a very unique story to share. They have a very unique cultural rituals Norms that that they are able to to perpetuate within their own lives. And so I just want you to know and recognize that an honor that you are on homeland of indigenous people of the United States the first people the Native American people of the United States, so thank you for being able to understand that and to and if you're if you're unfamiliar with with what tribe it is start asking around, you know, start having those those folks being involved in conversations from you know, what will you been planning to two new development that will have great ideas and great perspectives and then often times there's perspectives and ideas that you've never

19:46 Before and so we do invite you and welcome you to to be a part of our conversation as we move forward and Society in a good way together an invite to sing one verse of one of his favorite songs. He's such a great teacher to me and my daughters because he invites us to sit out the drum with him and any occasion, and I'm so thankful that I grew up singing with my grandfather my father and I am familiar and do you know the song and I'm going to go ahead and have him sing one verse of one of his favorite song, please.

20:26 Who made the Axiom before I get in the sing this song I want to share because they just talked about the protection, but also talked about the songs because at one point I'm going back to the days when I was sweating and even going back to the days when I used to drink alcohol cuz I've been alcohol-free now for 31 years, but actually I was at The Sweat House late one night with my uncle's stations Grandpa Larry Green senior to call him and the other uncle was Irvin. They call him Luke lukewarm water, and actually we was at the house and it was just after day. We were driving around all day in

21:18 We reheat a Roxy sweats.

21:21 I went down in between rounds to swim at the creek and

21:27 Active felt like something was holding me underneath the water. And so I took a big gulp of the unclear Creek Water that we were swimming in and I got back up was able to get back up. I went up and I told my uncle's you know what that happened and you know, I was still kind of feeling good too. But I actually I was crying and they asked me what happened. I told him so my Uncle Larry he actually grabbed a red-hot rock out of the Rocks. We just cooked up and it put it at least I'm moving back and forth between his hands need to start singing one of our old old songs and then after he got to sing and he turned around he handed it back to Uncle Lou and he sang the same song but the rock that was in his hand and he was moving it back and forth in his hand at the medicine that them gentleman had.

22:27 That red hot rock did not burn their hands, but they sing that song look in the given that Rob back to article and then you turn around and after one more Versi actually to that red hot rock into the creek and he told me that bad Spirit was not going to bother me no more. So I just really think the Creator that day that my uncle's had the medicine had the knowledge to take care of me to protect me because the old songs the medicine that they were able to use their pick up that red hot rod is just so amazing that a lot of our elders had

23:09 Different types of things cuz this is part of the

23:13 The knowledge and experience that they passed on to me to take care of the people today.

23:20 So with that I'm going to go ahead and sing.

23:24 The one verse of our flag song and what our flag song is is

25:25 Yes, we're back on somebody called. That's why oh, no at all. Well, the recording will keep going if you want we can the recording is still going now so we could jump in right where we where is broadcasted for sure. It'll be edited.

25:53 Let's see. Just finished talking about the old songs and their medicine on the way that he was able to experience some growing up and then I think you were talking about

26:06 It's equivalent to the United States.

26:11 Yeah, then the song I was talking about with the nest which type of plates on its a song and it became famous 1855 when she's looking glass came back from Butler pantry and you search simple that city council three times singing this song. So ask you this is one verse that song.

26:39 Ariana

27:07 All right. All right.

27:20 All right.

27:24 All right. All right. All right.

27:43 All right.

27:47 All right.

27:52 All right. All right. All right.

28:16 Ocotillo Yaoi Manga cook y'all y'all. Thank you very much for sharing that song with us. I want to talk a little bit about the new people. So my business Nez Perce tourism LLC provides a warm, welcome to me me to country where guests can experience a true sense of place with the name me poo radiating in Nez Perce wear them is the only place in the world where you will hear our songs from an hour history from our side witness the stories of our ancestors and receive legendary Hospitality found it in our cultural understanding of honor and respect. I see my business Nez Perce tourism as an economic driver and you need to country but more importantly as an as a cultural and educational connection to ensure a bright future for our future generation.

29:09 It is so important that our children are included in all aspects of Nez Perce tourism from planning and implementation to experience a deeper connection to our culture land and water Nespresso stores and provides a one-on-one elder-to-youth mentorship would provide opportunities to a series of interactive workshops. So one of our cultural values is that we invite our kids to be a part of almost everything that's appropriate. We we invite them to join us alongside. We we don't sit in the classroom and and share knowledge. We invite them to come to these places these these sacred places besides these waterways Hunting Fishing Gathering storytelling. We do it in a way that's inviting and that's respectful both to them. And we expect respect from them. For example, my daughter her name is Camas Camas Lily and it's couesnon kestner. Camas Lily. She was born in April where the food

30:09 1st Foods start popping up through the soils. And so she grew up eating cake eat in Camas at Andy's things and she prefers them over popsicles in cake because that's what her palette is used to sew canvas the way she's walking up on me right now showing me a picture of Frozen and unfrozen is actually really need a Disney movie and the second edition. It includes indigenous knowledge and peoples inside that that Disney films and I know that she feels very connected to Elsa's her name. She's the main character and she has a special gift that she has throughout her life and she doesn't realize it until the second movie but that's a gift in the connection that she has with her mother her mother is an indigenous woman. So if you haven't seen that movie Frozen Frozen to that we make sure that we include our children into all aspects of our tradition our culture and our daily lives and and that's something that he talked about earlier.

31:09 Where is discipline and that's something that that the community is involved to be a part of because it takes a whole Community to raise a child and so disciplined isn't a sense that that we're doing something wrong out of out of spite or out of in a bad way, but we invite or Elder that's an elder. Is anybody that's older than to help raise our children in a way that that helps mold them into the values that we hold as many poop people.

31:43 You have anything you want to share on that?

31:46 Not just you know, what the disciplinary Parton everything. We actually still today using whipped man with woman, but actually back in the day it with men and women like you took care of your village and that doesn't say that they they whip you every time they see me, but they actually had that chance to discipline if they needed a lot of times you talk to people and everything and it's it was actually the talking was good enough and once he knew and understood the right from wrong, then the whip man with minor had done their job properly didn't always go to see, you know, your parents you didn't go to see your grandparents didn't even go to see the mule that we can call which is the Chiefs because you would men and women take care of that and everything all back in the day. So it's up to you.

32:46 Business knowledge but so is science astrology medicine. A lot of these things that are in Western Society are starting to go back to looking at indigenous knowledge as information for the way that our planet and our bodies operate just to give you an idea of the origin of Idaho. We do have five federally recognized tribes within the state of Idaho. And remember the states are new the new territories of the United States. But again to us, this is been Homeland since time immemorial just recently the University of Idaho was doing a study on the Salmon River and they found archaeological facts that date the Nez Perce people being here in this region for over sixty thousand years before that. There was artifacts which one

33:46 Progressive Buffalo Rd. Davis back to this landscape for eight thousand years. So I Science and Technology continues to grow it showcases the longer and longer and longer of how long we've actually been here. But why we decide to use the terms, we've been here since time immemorial because it dates back to before when man can remember but we do have five bucks federally recognized tribes of Idaho. Of course, you have the Nez Perce the Coeur d'Alene the Shoshone Bannock Shoshone Paiute and the Kootenay So within each of these federally recognized tribes at any given time historically we would have anywhere from the next person but they anywhere from 9 to 15 different bands So within those particular bands, I know that I come from my grandmother side Chief pilot clouds. So if he had his his band of people he came from and my grandfather came from the the red bird,

34:46 And those two different bands were responsible for large areas within our traditional Homeland, but there was again, like I said from 9 to 15 different bands within our nation at any given time. It was said at one point on the Clearwater River we had over a hundred and ninety-one different village sites on the Clearwater River. So if you go camping the places you live near all of those places that have homes on arm or have cabins on them. Those are probably really good places where our people and inhabited because of the water systems and the resources that were were there during that time. So I want you to become familiar with the places that you're visiting in the papers that you're living on homeland.

35:36 We are right now the Nez Perce we have 3418 Tribal member and then the majority of them live in lapwai. Now me I and Lewiston and then after those three areas, we have folks just all over the place whether it's you know, Portland New York. We try to preserve some of the knowledge and information that we have because even some of our Nest first don't have access to this information. So it's important that we document this and we're very thankful that story Corps has this available so we can preserve these teachings in this information forever that were able to share with our non-tribal folks as well.

36:26 On parts of our territorial Homeland actually

36:33 When I got discharged from the Navy 1987 and became my time of to we educate myself on. Of our traditions and cultures and I got the ax and cruise and then see a lot of different areas. And actually I've probably seen about 90% of it is because of that time that I got to spend the way.

36:59 With my uncles and Grandpa's and

37:05 Will be different places at night. She would go and

37:11 One place that is very dear to me is up for the gospel hump Wilderness Area where we actually used to share all kinds of stories.

37:23 In fact, there's different places act this a very big rock face up there. That's actually I called my rock face because that's where my uncle used to walk up with me up to the very top would be up for one of their the clouds. Sometimes would be up so high cuz it's about I think 77075 hundred feet in the air. So and would be out to the above.

37:52 Would be up above the clouds and everything and be able to see a lot of different things in all different directions so place it's very special to me. And I also like What station was talking about with the Buffalo Eddy? And also with what we a place we call Tim Napa, which is harder the monster because that's the creation of the people and then place the we have a lot of different places around our church showing Homeland that are significant to

38:30 Significant to our room

38:33 People but them are actually really important to me because that's actually telling us that

38:40 You know, we were here at one point in time.

38:45 You know in this is actually before you know.

38:51 Leon

38:54 Trappers Traders and missionaries actually ever brought us the Bible. So as What station was talking about earlier about the

39:04 Spirituality of our people. We actually have many different beliefs that we will follow

39:13 And I just kind of depends on what and how you were raised by your family on the spirituality that you're actually going to be believing and teaching to your children and your children's children.

39:29 Okay. Again, thank you for providing this opportunity for us to share just a little bit of information about the Nez Perce about our own family kind of history and knowledge that. We we like to share again. If you're looking for further resources. Please contact us first tourism LLC. We can connect you to some of our Landscapes if you would like a cultural experience in or near on espers homeland, and then we can connect you with some more information as well if you're doing any research or need some additional references, but again pets Yaya Pistol, Pete Maurice for joining us and thank you storycorps for having us today. We wish you all well share the word that it means not goodbye, but we'll see you again.

40:19 In this place language, we have no word for goodbye it we always say quotes from our which means we will see you again or will see you later our friends.