By Cody Brazil
Imagine growing up surrounded by rushing waterfalls and a lush forest. Imagine running through the woods looking for arrowheads and attending potlucks with a proud native people. For Potomac State College freshman Carrissa Carter, these were everyday occurrences.
Carter grew up on the Nez perce Reservation in the state of Washington. Although she has no relation to the Nez perce people, her family was still able to buy a house on the reservation. Carter is part Cherokee, but had no ties to any tribe. Despite this, the people allowed her family to live on the reservation, and were very open to her family. Carter’s family was quickly welcomed into the community.
“We were all very close, there were only 36 people in my graduating class,” Carter said.
The reservation never had a shortage of adventures. From basketball tournaments to learning the Nez perce language, the amount of activities to participate in were endless. A common activity for the young people in the community was to go out and look for arrow heads. They would also hangout at the site of Nez perce folklore.
“There was this place called the heart of the monster, where supposedly a monster died. We’d all go and hangout there,” Carter said.
“The whole community was really into keeping nature clean; I probably lived on the cleanest river in the entire United States,” Carter joked about the community’s devotion to nature.
The Nez Perce people follow the same ideals their tribe has had for hundreds of years, including a devotion to community, family and their environment. To keep their community strong, they would get together and throw pow wows often. Families would normally stay close together on the reservation.
Everyone in the community worked together to keep their home clean and healthy. They would pick up trash and clean out the rivers. The cleanliness kept animals around all year, and the residents of the reservation were allowed to hunt year round.
Carter now attends PSC to be close to her family in West Virginia. Although she has never lived in one, Carter plans on moving to a traditional neighborhood after college.
“It’s not that I didn’t love it there, it’s just that there aren’t a lot of opportunities there,” said Carter.
Carter went on to tell that almost all of the money in the community went into education for young Native Americans. A lot of jobs are unattainable unless you were Nez perce. Although she doesn’t plan on going anytime soon, Carter told that she’d probably move back when she is a lot older.