Helen Lillian Siewert Hogan Lane

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Aunt Kathy, Grandma and Michelle.

I’d like to begin the way my colleagues of the Klamath Tribes do when they speak before a group. My name is not as important as my people, and my people are:

My parents Douglas Lane and Valeree Brown.

My grandparents Charles Lane, Edna Henderson, Helen Siewert, Lucille Griffin and Eddie Brown.

My great-grandparents Fred Sawyer Lane, Bertha McArthur, Clyde Henderson, Edith Wheeler, Gustav Siewert, Augustina Betker, William Griffin, Annie Jane Fuller, Jesse Brown and Tempie Collier.

Even if you’ve never met me before, there is someone in that list that connects us. At the very center of our connection today is my grandmother Helen Siewert Hogan Lane. I like to think that Grandma could be one of David Muir’s Made in America stories on ABC’s Nightly News.

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As with any project, I began this eulogy with a bit of research. In looking at the 1930 Census, I found the Siewerts living in Portland, where 32-year-old Gustav was a riveter. His bride, Augustina, was 29 and at home with three children under the age of nine.

Gustav arrived in the United States in 1919, and the 1920 Census found him in Portland with his parents and siblings. Augustina immigrated in 1910, and the 1930 Census listed them as both being from Russia.

By the 1940 Census, the family was living in Clark County Washington, and Gustav was now a tinsmith. His roots were still in Russia, but Augustina’s were corrected to be in Poland.

By the time Grandma married the handsome sailor Harold Hogan on February 24, 1945, both Gustav and Augustina were listed as hailing from Canada. Augustina was the couple’s witness.

In a period of 15 years we learn that Grandma was the daughter of immigrants, and by 1945 the Cold War was already influencing how personal history was told. As with all documents, there is a possibility of human error, but these pieces make me appreciate Grandma more.

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Her service to the VFW in Packwood, and in the World War II shipyards of Vancouver was not rote patriotism. She was promoting the values that so many take for granted, living the American dream.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Grandma and the news reel in my mind shows her walking into Blanton’s and being greeted as Lois Lane. She walks along the Cowlitz and has easy rapport with everyone she meets. She’s a dutiful daughter, a proud sister, aunt, mother and grandmother. People loved her and she loved people.

When she went to Florida to spend some time with Aunt Kathy and Grandpa stayed with us, I saw their love in a different light. On days that Grandma was going to call, Grandpa would get up, shower and shave. This was before Facetime, but she deserved the effort of him cleaning up and being presentable to talk to her.

In my research, I found that they married in Twin Falls, Idaho, in 1961, and again in Coeur d’Alene in 1964. I’m not sure what that was about, but I feel confident that Grandpa felt blessed to be able to take her as his wedded wife not once but twice.

They stand proudly together in our California living room in a photo from my baby book. Whenever there was a milestone, they were there. Grandma was disappointed on my behalf, when I graduated high school without a scholarship. In hindsight it was probably best, as paying for my education made me appreciate it more, and at that point in time I wanted to be a soap opera head writer. They were making $100,000 a month for what didn’t seem to be hard work.

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When Doug and Cheri got married, I called before going to work one morning. I got Grandma out of bed to let them know the particulars. It never occurred to me that retired people wouldn’t be up early in the morning. She wasn’t mad, and I’ll always remember their combined laughter when I called to wish them a Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day on its first national celebration.

Aunt Kathy shared that some of her favorite memories are of huckleberry picking at the base of Mt. Rainier, laughing and talking, keeping an eye out for bears. Grandma knew the names and songs of all the birds in the forest and could identify larger animals from their tracks and scat. She had a red squirrel named Rudy that gave her birdfeeders more than one stress test. Grandpa hated the Stellar Jays with a passion, and they came to fear his pellet gun.

I distinctly remember a time they came for a visit in Klamath. We were driving through the small town of Dairy and Grandpa saw two Chevys parked along a driveway that reminded him of a car he once owned. He asked Dad to turn around and go back, but Grandma had the final word: “Charles.”

Another memory I treasure is a visit she made after she moved to Florida. I was working for the statewide literacy program then, and she went to work with me because I had some documents to sign. One of my school coordinators had seen us in the car and she commented on the good time we were having. As I signed payroll, Grandma played a handheld game of poker.

She hesitated when I said we should leave for lunch. She wanted to know where we were going, and I told her that I thought we’d go up to Campus Drive to Applebee’s. She was visibly relieved as she explained that Dad had taken her to his favorite taqueria the previous day. “I don’t think I could eat that food a second day.”

My favorite photo of Grandma is one of her in the swing next to toddler Zach. She loved each of us so much, and relished updates on Zach and Amanda throughout the years.
Earth has lost a beautiful person who saw the best in everyone, but I know she’s rejoicing in the presence of Jesus and the paradise of Heaven. When Barbara Bush passed this year, her granddaughters each recited a portion of Proverbs 31, and the media said we had lost our national grandmother.

Frankly, I appreciated Barbara Bush, but I have an amazing Grandmother of my own. It is written: Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

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Cancer, you evil concept, someone is going to end you

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The forever lovable Martin Forbes.

I’ve got three families on my heart right now: my own, the Forbeses, and the Richters. Cancer has touched several of my people, and I wish I were a scientist who could end this horrible scourge.

My buddy, Martin Forbes, is battling esophageal cancer, just like Ken Richter did. Every day Martin’s youngest daughter posts a family photo and an anecdote on Instagram. They bruise the muscle of my heart. Martin has the most delightful sense of humor and a laugh that warms a room. He reminds me of Ken in those ways.

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Ken Richter

Ken’s boys are four years older than when they lost their dad, but their every day pain is as real as that of the Forbes family. My own family currently has the support of hospice for my Uncle Paul.

This period of time reminds me of 2007, when my beloved president Martha Anne Dow was struggling with cancer, as was my Aunt Betty. None of us get out of this life experience without having cancer touch us somewhere in the circle of connections. Then, as with now, it was the revival of connections that help make the watching and waiting bearable.

Never too far from my mind, Ken’s boys will always have a piece of my heart. I feel blessed to have had a cousin reach out to me recently, across the distance of geography. While he’s a grown man, in some ways he is still a boy to me. A blue-eyed gift from God, whose smile could change the Earth’s orbit. He was younger than Ken’s sons when he lost his mother to cancer. Now, he’s miles away and Uncle Paul is slipping from us.

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Uncle Paul and his dog June.

The point of this post is to remind us to cherish those in our lives and to remember that most people are dealing with more on their minds than we will ever know.

Rejoice in today. We are one day closer to the end of cancer.

Bulldog & Brooklyn take DC: Day 3

bbdcNote: Jessica Dale (Bulldog) and Valeree Lane (Brooklyn) are in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn more about public health accreditation. Specifically, they are learning how to use the online system to upload Klamath County Public Health’s documentation for the Public Health Accreditation Board.

What a day we had. I learned that people here are not used to plainspoken directness. Some of our fellow trainees were getting anxious, and vocal, during today’s exercise. I, of course, jumped in to nutshell the fact that the Public Health Accreditation Board wants us to succeed, as much as we do. There will be enough stress later; training isn’t worth getting overly excited. The woman in question asked if she was that annoying. Nope. It just seemed like she was too stressed for the environs.

I also learned that the Secret Service will not pose with your toy unicorn, and the assistant director will become uncomfortable when it is obvious we crossed into a do not enter area because a length of fencing was down. What? My tax dollars pay for protection.

The National Christmas Tree is festooned in a light-covered netting, not unlike Cinderella’s Castle at Disneyland. You cannot get anywhere very close to the White House, and Ford’s Theater’s museum is probably interesting, but we missed its hours of operation.

Do not pool your ride for Uber, as the next passenger will be unprepared to get into the car the first time and leave the diaper bag behind the second time. Some people should not drink alcohol in public, especially when it brings out boisterous and rude behavior. Our hibachi chef was amazing, but the other individuals at our table were not. The chef was Vietnamese and he was obviously uncomfortable with questions being asked of him. Telling him once you want teriyaki is really enough.

The White House was tiny compared to the monuments from last night. At the end of the day, it’s just a house. I didn’t regale Jessica with Truman’s entire renovation of the interior, and his addition of the exterior balcony.

We leave the hotel, which declares it’s daily rate as $799 on a closet door placard, tomorrow at 1:45 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. I haven’t acclimated to the time zone, and we will both be exhausted by the time we get home.

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Bulldog & Brooklyn take DC: Day 2

bbdcNote: Jessica Dale (Bulldog) and Valeree Lane (Brooklyn) are in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn more about public health accreditation. Specifically, they are learning how to use the online system to upload Klamath County Public Health’s documentation for the Public Health Accreditation Board.

It was not lost on us that we are three hours ahead of our friends on the West Coast. We did tough it out and feel prepared to meet the case studies tomorrow with renewed vigor. Today’s highlight, however, was the National Mall. Anyone, who can stand at those monuments and not feel patriotism and pride in our democratic republic, should be set out in the middle of the Potomac with a dingy and an oar to reach other shores.

All I can say is God bless the United States of America. It was my first time seeing these pieces of history up close. I hope it is not my last, but I could die tonight content in having seen these inspirations of the national character.

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Bulldog & Brooklyn take DC: Day 1

bbdcNote: Jessica Dale (Bulldog) and Valeree Lane (Brooklyn) are in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn more about public health accreditation. Specifically, they are learning how to use the online system to upload Klamath County Public Health’s documentation for the Public Health Accreditation Board.

The day started early and windy, high atop Vandenberg Road. A 4 a.m. trip to Medford to catch the first leg of flight schedule was uneventful, but wet. We found that written seat assignments mean nothing to some people.

Here were the major learnings from today:

  1. Cats do not like to fly. (We think it might have been a comfort companion, but the yowls were not comforting.)
  2. A Mask-It makes a good unicorn saddle blanket. (Photo to follow later.)
  3. A complex combover can come undone, even with a smooth flight.
  4. Men should zip up before leaving the lavatory.
  5. Lint from Valeree’s red sweatshirt can appear to be a serious forearm rash.
  6. Sit by the lavatory and the whole world will pass by your seat.
  7. Having an American Express Platinum Card doesn’t guarantee easy use of technology.
  8. Washington D.C. is a long way from Klamath.
  9. Snoring is the universal language.

We arrived after dark, but got to our hotel and saw some of the city before calling it a day. The three-hour time difference will catch us tomorrow morning.

Below are some photos from this evening.

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There was a bulldog in the lobby to greet Bulldog.

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There was a model horse in the back of an antique pickup.

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Delicious meal at Gadsby’s Tavern, where George Washington would stop on his way to Mount Vernon. Jefferson’s inaugural ball was held here, too.

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Bulldog went for the pork chop. You cannot go wrong with hearty tavern food.

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The Spite House is only seven feet wide.

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Christchurch was amazing.

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Real cobblestones on Prince Street.

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It’s good I have supervision. I’ve loved Georgian brick architecture most of my life. The history nerd would be knocking on doors.

So long, Bridgette

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Justin and Bridgette Griffin Azevedo.

I’m heartsick, again. I know Bridgette Griffin Azevedo was right with God and is now in Paradise with our Lord and Savior. However, knowing the void she is leaving in so many lives, not the least of which is her youngest son who is still in his mid-teens, makes hers a very hard loss to intellectualize.

My first memories of Bridgette are from Alf Peterson’s accounting class at Oregon Institute of Technology. She and Pati Horton sat at the front of the classroom; I was at the back, near the door. Their lifelong friendship has seen many joys and discomforts, but they each knew they had each other.

Bridgette would leave OIT and graduate from University of Oregon. Ironically, she would complete her graduate work at University of Washington. The athletic rivalry between the schools had no bearing in providing her with an unrivaled education.

We would meet up again through Kiwanis. She was one of several bankers in the Klamath Falls club. When her time as president came, she was steadfast in the expectations she had for members and those with committee chairs. Her requirement for service beyond committee logistics found one member erroneously rueing the day women were allowed into the club. He made a mistake in sharing that information with me; I’ve thought less of him since.

She brought many people into the club, including her sister, Melinda, whom you could tell was Bridgette’s pet. Life was not always easy, as she lost her beloved mother and her first marriage, but she endured and tried to make a difference wherever possible. Meeting the Alaskan woman who received her mother’s donor heart was a moving milestone. I’m not sure that many people know that Bridgette offered a kidney to an ailing Kiwanian on dialysis.

I was preparing to reach out to Bridgette and ask her to speak about her new business to the Linkville Kiwanis club. Alas, I’m too late.

She walked away from Kiwanis when we no longer prayed over our meals. Her belief in honoring and thanking God weighed heavy in a time that many people have turned their backs on what is noble and true. I would have liked to have her know that Linkville still prays.

I grieve for her family and close friends, but also for the entire community. She was president of the chamber of commerce and chair of the United Way’s annual campaign. These posts were assumed with the vivacious spirit for which she was known.

I hope she left few tasks undone. Her son, Wyatt, is a grown man, but Austin still has to complete high school. Bridgette’s husband Justin will help her boys find their way in this world. She will be waiting for them in the next.

Hers was a glad reunion with family and friends in Paradise. I hope she knows how revered she is to those of us who missed the chance to tell her in this life.

Historic youth summit finds Klamath Tribal Youth Council established

IMG_7115 (2)River Rondeau, 6, center, was one of the youngest participants in the social pow wow that kicked off the first Klamath Tribal Youth Summit the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 21.

While the rest of the world was debriefing about the eclipse, history was made quietly this week on the Oregon Tech campus.

The Klamath Tribes has pursued a youth initiative since early this year, and the first Youth Leadership Summit was held from Monday afternoon through Thursday noon. Ranging in age from 12 to 20, a total of 42 youth participated in workshops and activities meant to encourage leadership and educational opportunities.

Klamath Tribal Youth Council members

A highlight was the election of 15-year-old Ashia Wilson as the first Klamath Tribes Youth Council chairwoman. The Chiloquin High School sophomore was particularly inspired by Tyler Barlowe’s presentation on the evolution of Klamath and Modoc and songs.

“He spoke truth to us and was real. He influenced me in my candidate’s speech. I couldn’t read my notes, and I knew that speaking from my heart was the way to be authentic,” Wilson said.

Barlowe used his session to remind those in attendance that the songs and dance experienced at the previous day’s social pow wow were merely mimicry. The displays were taken from Plains Indians, who use these artistic expressions as entertainment for others. Modoc songs are shorter and simpler, and sung for a purpose.

The elder was raised by his grandparents, who were the children of Modoc War survivors. He told a standing room only group that the laws of nature do not allow for forgiveness, self-pity or shame. The young women were encouraged to pursue their education and career goals before having babies and committing to a man. “A man will want to be cared for, too, like a baby,” Barlowe said to hearty laughter.

Will Hess, one of the summit organizers, said Barlowe was a definite favorite of the youth. “Sometimes it is good to be shaken. We need elders to make us think, and younger people to bring things out in a new way,” he said.

“Young people are the threads holding us together,” he said. Hess said that one thing he noted in his youth was a lack of follow through by older Tribal members. Knowing that the future is uncertain, he was committed to seeing the youth summit through to completion. “I didn’t want to see it pushed off.”

Hess is among a group of 20-something young professionals who are strong examples for the youth, and members of the Klamath Tribes. Cholena Wright presented a session entitled Navigating Indigenous Identity: Building an Intrapersonal Relationship to Nation. Her declaration that each individual has a unique experience in their identity, and there is no competition in who can be more Native than someone else, resonated with Klamath Tribal Chairmain Don Gentry.

“My experience might have different, when I was younger, if I had known that,” Gentry said.

Doctoral student Joseph Dupris shared Strong Leaders and Strong Languages: Borrowing and Expressing New Ideas. He has read the Klamath language dictionary and is captivated by how words are added to a language, including creating new compound words. Dupris inspired Henry Rondeau in writing an original Klamath-language honor song for Thursday’s retiring of the colors.

Meanwhile Ada Ball provided insight into Contemporary Native Issues and Resistance. In today’s society, where people of color, including Tribal people, are marginalized, the simple act of taking a selfie can become an act of resistance.

The young adults were not the only presenters, however. Kathleen Hill provided three examples of documented leadership within the Klamath Tribes: Seldon E. Kirk, Marie Norris and Charles E. Kimbol, Sr. She noted that Klamath leadership is usually defined through Captain Jack and Chief Chiloquin. “There are many ways to be warriors,” she said. “Sometimes you have to take actions which are uncomfortable because it is what your people said.”

She noted that Native heroes rely on others and serve their people.

Bringing relevancy to the youth summit, Wright stated that 32 percent of Natives are under the age of 18, compared to only 24 percent of the total United States population being under the age of 18.

The summit was sponsored by The Klamath Tribes, Klamath Tribal Health and Family Services, and the Oregon Tech Native American Student Union.