On the first day of our First Foods Science Quest we gathered at Wisdom of the Elders in the morning to go over introductions as well as outcomes and expectations. Once we all introduced ourselves we took a tour of the Wisdom house and our first foods and medicine garden. Once the Wisdom house tour was complete we gathered some healthy snacks and piled into our rented sprinter van. Our destination, the esteemed Oregon Health and Science University which sits in the beautiful southwest hills of Portland, Oregon. Our hosts were medical students from the Northwest Native American Center of Excellence.
2018 is the inaugural year for the Northwest Native American Center of Excellence, this center is the result of a collaboration between OHSU, the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board and Portland State University. The center’s goals are to recruit, train and retain American Indians and Alaska Natives into health professions. Train tomorrow's health professions workforce in American Indian and Alaska Native health issues. Enhance and expand tribal-academic partnerships in education, research, and service.
Representation is crucially important in Indian country and the purpose of our trip was to show our native youth participants that there are actually Native doctors and medical students in the world. And in fact, a few of them live and work in our city! We were given a tour of their facilities by Rosa Frutos, MSW, Program Coordinator and Warm Springs enrolled tribal member. The tour started with a tram ride from the riverside of Southwest Portland and ended high up in the Southwest hills. We zigged and zagged through different parts of the hospital and medical school which is placed in the hillside and can be compared to Hogwarts.
Several thousand steps later we arrived at our destination, a First Foods garden planted and maintained by Native medical students. At the garden we were introduced to the variety of first foods that were planted in the garden which included a variety of squash that was taken on the trail of tears and cared for through many seed keepers. There was also an ancient variety of potato that looked really cool. We were able to harvest some of the food medicine to prepare for our First Foods Feast at the end of the week.