Klamath Tribal member Ashia Wilson paddles her kayak through the pristine headwaters of the wood river. Traditionally, dugout canoes were a main staple of transportation throughout the Upper Klamath Basin. Feeling long removed from this practice, Ashia uses kayaking as a getaway from the everyday burdens of life as a teenager today.
Through decades of land dispossession, boarding schools, and federal termination, the efforts to remove Klamaths from the landscape have taken their toll on traditions. Efforts by tribal youth to recreate on their ancestral territories defy these colonial legacies and reconnect them with wellness practices that reinforce their land- and water-based identities. Getting out onto the water, on the surface level, may be just a break from family or school (especially during the global pandemic). But the implications of returning a relationship of recreation for tribal youth on their waterways means a strengthening of their cultural identities going forward. —Paul Robert Wolf Wilson
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