My name is Calvin Smith, but you may call me Cal’. I am a citizen of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. My Indigenous heritage comes from both of my mother’s parents. My grandmother the late, Yvonne Vivette, of the Yakama and Lower-Cowlitz & my grandfather, Robert ‘Red’ Smith, of the Suquamish and Sioux.
I grew up in the Yakima Valley of Washington where my introduction to the outdoors was pouring blood, sweat and tears into running track and cross country in high school. Endurance running continues to be a primary focus and love of mine, though I find love and joy in ski-mountaineering and more recently, alpine and sport climbing. The places these sports have brought me are not coincidentally sacred to Indigenous communities. Once I tuned into the connections all around me, I began interpreting my Indigenous identity through new perspectives. Growing up, I never danced in powwows though most members in my family did. My two sisters, my mother and my three uncles. But never me. This tradition was something I would have to seek out for my own and adapt my own energy toward. A natural evolution of running in the streets and on the track has been to trails and now, mountain or ‘sky’ running. The feeling I get while running at the feet of Takhoma, I imagine is similar to the feeling of dancing in a circle of drums – a sense of belonging. In the past years of making new relations, I understand I am not the only Urban Indian craving this feeling. As my elders have taught me to share wisdom that has been gifted to me, I aspire to share these connections to land and place with other Urban Indians. Altogether, these intersections of outdoor education, decolonization and cultural identity are parts of my summer-time job as a mountain guide on Takhoma with Rainier Mountaineering Inc.; where, I seek to revitalize the Indigenous narrative and presence.
Masi (Thank you)