By Joanna Bastian
On Saturday September 18, the Methow Valley Interpretive Center held a gathering at the TwispWorks Pavilion to recognize people who began reconciliation here in the Methow Valley between Methow descendants, other regional Indigenous descendants with familial ties to the Methow Valley, and current residents.
The gathering commemorated more than 20 years of people working together to heal historical wounds and create lasting friendships. Many of the original people who began the reconciliation talks were present at the gathering: Carolyn and Glenn Schmekel, Spencer Martin, the Iukes family, the Timentwa family, the Charley family and more.
The event opened with a prayer and introduction by Spencer Martin, followed by a talk by film director Rodney Mitchell about the making of “Two Rivers.” The award-winning film tells the true story of a Native American Reconciliation group began in the Twisp home of Glen and Carolyn Schmekel in 1997. In the time since, many others joined together to launch social reconciliation initiatives that continue to connect people today.
Mitchell had no funds to create “Two Rivers.” The film tells two parallel stories, outlined in three acts on the film website, tworiversfilm.com. “At its base is the historical tale of the American North West, a land once revered by its Native inhabitants, and eventually taken over by European American settlers. Layered over this history is the present-day story of a group of ordinary Native and European American individuals who come together by chance, and end up examining, grappling with, and healing centuries-old wounds, forming lifelong friendships in the process,” according to the website.
A hundred years after the Methow people were driven from the valley, people gathered together with the intention to develop meaningful, healing relationships. Those initial meetings led to the donation of land for traditional gathering purposes, community gatherings to celebrate Indigenous knowledge, powwows — formal ceremonies of reconciliation, and the formation of the Methow Valley Interpretive Center.
Since its creation in 2003, “Two Rivers” has spread worldwide, shown in organizations and governments actively working to reconcile past wrongs committed against Indigenous peoples.
Mitchell said “‘Two Rivers’ is one of the top five reconciliation tools used nationwide.” The film is included in the Washington State Library. To learn more about the film and view a trailer, visit http://www.tworiversfilm.com/.
Mitchell is currently helping MVIC to stream “Two Rivers” on their website. Funds are needed to complete the project. To donate, visit http://www.methowvalleyinterpretivecenter.com/