Delores George & Evelyn Umtuch

Lesson 5 -The Changer: Gifting to Others


To take the lessons and insights gained from the readings and activities and sharing with others to begin a circle of change, healing, and spiritual gifting.


Read the Introduction and the following material for Lesson 4

  • Listen to the Radio Interview & read the transcripts of Ernest Wahtomy
  • Read, answer, and discuss questions
  • Do the Change Exercise
  • Use links to access the available resources with this lesson:


In the western world of today gifting is a practice of exchanging material gifts to a loved one or friend on special holidays and occasions, we also gift to co-workers, or someone for recognition or appreciation.

We have traditional ceremonies and rituals that are performed where gifting is done, but are referred to as “giveaways.”  Among the Plateau people gifts are given to family, friends and attendees in appreciation for their attendance as a “witness” to the event or because they have played a role in the life of the person being honored.  Some ceremonies with gifting are name giving, memorials, first digging, first kill on a hunt or first salmon caught or joining into dancing, and other important events.

Traditional healers are given gifts for their ability to help someone in need of spiritual healing, medicinal healing, or guidance.  Traditional healers do not claim their abilities to heal but believe they were given these gifts to help others and do not charge for their services, it is not honorable and disrespectful to the people, “Creator”, and self to think that these gifts belong to us.  We are honoring the “Creator” by offering some type of gift to the person who has the ability of healing by ensuring the healer is cared for and able to carry on their work in a respectable manner.  We as a receiver of the healing are very thankful for these gifts and in our traditional ways believe it is good to offer a gift.  In some ceremonies tobacco and other medicinal plants are used as gift offerings to the spirit world as well to someone who is a recognized as understanding how these gifts are used for prayer and healing.

Other types of gifts can be the gift of “wisdom” a person who has been given the gift of insight and foresight can provide support and guidance.  Our elders have lived and gained life experience or Indigenous knowledge that can be applied in a healing way.  They help us to figure out what other problems are causing us to be out of balance and so we can always find an elder who has a gift to share.

We all are blessed with a gift and when we are learning from others and have gained greater knowledge we can become a “Gifter,” just by sharing our stories of recovery, healing, singing, drumming, praying, and participation in other forms of healing.

Activity I:

Go to this website to learn of an event that includes several tribes, history of the flute, and deer hide tanning as an activity that can be learned and taught, these represent our cultural gifts that are shared with others.

Native canoe journey 2010:

Native American Flute:

Deer Hide Tanning:

Answer these questions by making a list of talents you have.

  • What kinds of talents do you have?
  • Can you play an instrument?
  • Can you draw, paint, carve, bead?
  • What traditional skills do you know, such as making buckskin hides, drums, regalia, hunting, fishing, cooking, sewing etc.?
  • Are you good with writing, math, or science?

Each of these talents are gifts and if you haven’t used them for a while maybe it’s time to play your instrument, cook a healthy meal with traditional foods, if possible, start beading, painting, or whatever it is you have a talent for and start a new relationship with your talent and when you feel its time, share your story with your children, grand children, nieces & nephews, or friends of how you came to enjoy your talent or hobby.

Ernest Wahtomy – Lemhi Shoshone

Camas picture:

An interview with Ernest Wahtomy demonstrates gifting; we are gifted with traditional foods from the “Creator, our Indigenous knowledge of where these foods are and when to gather them is shared, and a historical account of our ancestors fighting to protect our foods, this process is a demonstration of being “gifted.”

Q: So give me an example of that trading for something, say pine nuts or something.

A: Oh, just ah, as we come to find different peoples that you'll see along the, the powwow trail.  Or, or even if we find them on the Red Road here.  It, that, that's our life.  That's the way we live.

Q: So why don't you name some of these foods.  You've got the roots and is there any particular food or root or whatever that Lemhi are known for?

A: Oh, this Camas Valley up here.  They started a war because of it.  In 1878 ah, Chief Buffalo Horn was pretty dissatisfied.  Took, took up on us because they allowed the pigs to root themselves in the valley itself.  It's a beautiful place.  I've been up there. I've shown my family the place.  And the time to be there, to get, gather.  You know why, if you've ever been to that place, it's a, it's a valley of camas.  If you ever know camas, this is, this is the place to come.

Q: Camas is, could you describe that for the listener that would not know what that is?

A: It's ah, a purple flower.  It's the star flower, purple.  It's a long stem.  It's not a onion.  It can be in the spring with the, the, the season itself.  It's a bulb.  It's a nice big bulb because nobody, everybody's put it away, except for just a very few people that know these things.  You can dry it.  You can cook it.  It'll, it's its own natural sugar from that point.  And you store it for future.  There's a lot of stories relating to that.  That's the wonderful part about it.  It always comes back.  The stories come back.  It needs to be told again.

Activity II

Take a piece of paper and try to identify as many traditional foods gathered in your tribe or a tribe that you are familiar with.

  • Name the food
  • Where it’s found
  • Season of harvest
  • Any history about the food and tribes
  • What types of tools are needed to gather them
  • Find out if there any ceremonies for this food
  • Find out if there are other foods that are similar but are not good for you
  • Any recipes
  • Any other special uses
  • Share your research with your children

Want to learn a story?

Here is a website with a coyote story to share.   Wellpinit School District: