Sarah Nelson-Ross is a traditional tribal ethnobotanist, weaver, and enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde (Atfalati, Chepinafu, and Tecopa Band of Kalapuya; Clatsop, Wasco Chinook; and, Cow Creek Umpqua, Rogue River, Cree, and Cherokee)
Born in the California Bay Area and having grown up on the Susanville Rancheria and Sacramento in California, and the Colville Reservation in Washington, Sarah spent summers traveling to Grand Ronde with her grandparents and cousins. As an adult Sarah returned to her Tribe to raise her children and she actively serves as a member of the Grand Ronde Culture Committee where she shares her teachings on ethnobotany, traditional foods and teas, as well as stories…these cultural traditions are a special passion of Sarah’s.
While Sarah is a well known artist in her community she still very much considers herself a student of traditional ways and works diligently to perfect her knowledge and talent.
“Usually I still feel like a young student because there is always something new to learn – lessons in patience or skill for a specific weaving or beading method, ways of being in the world that impact how a creation comes into existence, stories from Elders that impact how I see life, or the discovery of a new plant medicine or food that I earn the right to use. But sometimes, when a child or Elder comes to me and asks me to teach them how to make a specific medicine or how to weave, the magnitude of the knowledge that I carry hits me. I feel pride that the Ancestors and my Elders have trusted me to carry certain teachings, and that I have the ability to share those things with those around me. It is a sacred thing to walk in this way, to carry Medicine and use these old ways in our modern world, keeping tradition alive. I am proud to be a Native woman, social justice warrior, artisan, medicine carrier, teacher. I feel a deep responsibility to not only preserve those things, but also use them in daily life and pass on those teachings to my children, which will then pass on to my grandchildren unto the 7th Generation. That is the way it is supposed to be, and I feel extremely grateful to be a student in this inter-generational process.”-Sarah Nelson-Ross
Sarah is available for small speaking engagements by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
You can follow Sarah on Instagram @chinukchic for more background, cultural insight, and Indigenous Artwork