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'Wolf Walkers' Trek to Idaho

PHOTO: Native American tribal members and volunteers have been walking from Portland, Ore., to Idaho to show support for wolves as part of their cultural heritage and a healthy ecosystem. Photo provided by Mato Woksape
PHOTO: Native American tribal members and volunteers have been walking from Portland, Ore., to Idaho to show support for wolves as part of their cultural heritage and a healthy ecosystem. Photo provided by Mato Woksape
September 22, 2014

BOISE, Idaho - They call themselves 'wolf walkers.' Native Americans and volunteers left Portland, Oregon, on foot earlier this month, headed for Idaho to show support for wolves. Mato Woksape, a Lakota, organized the walk. He says they are praying for wolves and restoration of healthy ecosystems along the way, while also collecting tribal-creation stories about wolves. A Paiute story Woksape recently learned describes the wolf as putting the stars in a bag, with the intention of placing them in the sky in the shape of a tepee.

"The Coyote, the Trickster, took the bag of stars from the wolf while he was sleeping and scattered the stars in the sky and they're all messed up," says Woksape. "They're not the way the wolf wanted them to be."

Woksape says they've declared this week "Respect the Sacred Week," asking everyone to consider indigenous animals and plants in wild landscapes, and how those species and ecological health have fared with the introduction of domestic animals.

Woksape has confronted wolf-management agencies in several states about killing wolves, and plans to do the same when he arrives in Idaho, possibly later this week.

"When we get to confront fish and game, we're going to remind them they can't manage the sacred," Woksape says.

Walkers can join at any time, according to Woksape, while there is urgency in protecting wolves, they are taking their time on the walk so they can stay connected with nature.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID