First Foods have sustained tribal people since time immemorial and the relationship between First Foods and the Tribes is essential to the ongoing culture of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR). The First Foods serve a fundamental role in the health, well-being and cultural identity of the Tribes. In 2007, to convey the important role of First Foods to the Tribes, the CTUIR’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) adopted a mission based on First Foods ritualistically served at tribal meals.
The CTUIR DNR considers First Foods to constitute the minimum ecological products necessary to sustain CTUIR subsistence and cultural needs. The mission was developed in response to long-standing and continuing community expressions of First Foods traditions and community member requests that all First Foods be restored for their respectful use, now and in the future.
In 2008, the CTUIR DNR published the Umatilla River Vision to assist Tribal and non-Tribal land managers in moving this mission statement from concept to application within the Umatilla River and adjacent basins (Jones et al. 2008). The overarching goal of the Umatilla River Vision is to support a healthy, dynamic river system that can sustain production of First Foods, with an emphasis on Water and Salmon. It presents the vision for desired ecological characteristics of river ecosystems and provides a framework for planning and restoration efforts with associated objectives for assessing the success of management activities.
In this document, we expand the First Foods conceptual framework to upland ecosystems that provide a wide range of First Foods, including Big Game, Roots and Berries. Our vision for upland landscapes is to:
ensure healthy, resilient and dynamic upland ecosystems capable of providing First Foods that sustain the continuity of the Tribe’s culture.
The primary goals of this document are to:
1. Articulate the CTUIR’s vision for upland resource management based on the First Foods mission.
2. Serve as the foundation for DNR staff to organize, plan, and manage land and natural resources.
3. Serve as a resource for non-Tribal land managers, policy makers and other stakeholders to enhance their understanding of the importance of First Foods to the CTUIR and to provide a framework to consider and incorporate First Foods concepts into their management activities within CTUIR’s ceded territory where the Tribes retains hunting, fishing and gathering rights (among others).
This document outlines a vision for desired characteristics of upland ecosystems that will facilitate the production of First Foods and serve as a foundation for natural resource management and restoration activities to ensure healthy, resilient and dynamic upland ecosystems. These characteristics are founded on four fundamental "touchstones." These are:
1. Soil Stability
2. Hydrologic Function
3. Landscape Pattern
4. Biotic Integrity
These touchstones and the interconnections between them, are central to the proper functioning of upland ecosystems and their ability to provide a range of ecosystem services, including First Foods. Our framework adopts a broad definition of healthy ecosystems and incorporates environmental, biological, ecological and cultural dimensions. It is based on the premise that healthy upland ecosystems are dynamic and resilient and will continue to produce the full range of First Foods into the future. The term ‘dynamic’ recognizes the spatial and temporal change inherent in ecological systems as living and non-living ecosystem components interact. ‘Resilient’ refers to the capacity of an ecosystem to recover from disturbance or withstand chronic stresses. Our framework utilizes these four touchstones to help guide the assessment, management and restoration of upland landscapes to support functional ecosystems capable of sustained natural production of First Foods.