Randy Lewis, a Colville tribe member, talks about how he used to play around the Stemilt Spires as a child, in a video recorded by Central Washington University geology professor Nick Zentner last August.
Randy Lewis remembers helping his grandmother sort through her collection of Swarovski crystal beads as a child. When she asked which was his favorite, Lewis held up a type of iridescent bead, called Aurora Borealis, that reflected a variety of colors.
“Do you know why?” Lewis remembers his grandmother asking. “There’s many different sides to it, but everywhere you turn it, it gives you a beautiful reflection of the world. It’s kind of like you. There’s many sides and many facets that you have.”
That early observation held true. Lewis — a respected elder of the Colville Confederated Tribes — has had a life akin to a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book where every single adventure is selected.
His many pursuits include joining the Indian Youth Council at just 16 and organizing the national “Right To Be Indian” conference for student activists; occupying Fort Lawton in Seattle, which lead to a 20-acre site that includes the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center; successfully fighting the termination of the Colville Reservation; working with Indigenous peoples on AIDs awareness in over 80 countries with the World Health Organization; becoming a foster parent; owning an art gallery and multiple framing shops; joining a theater company, serving on the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation’s board and co-teaching Indian studies at Gonzaga University.
In 2018, Lewis decided it was time to return home to Wenatchee and continue his mother's “bucket list."
“She (Mary Marchand) wanted so much to put a Wenatchi (P’squosa) face on Wenatchee, to bring our people back,” Lewis said. “She was my inspiration. She inspired a lot of us a lot.”
Lewis has since worked closely with the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center, including organizing cultural tours and events; co-authoring two books on local Native history; and participating in a film project, “Winter’s Tale,” to preserve oral traditions.
Regardless of the myriad of paths Lewis has traveled, his dedication to promoting Native rights, language and culture has been constant. His family, and the values and traditions they taught him, has been vital to that life-long devotion.
Advice from his mother years ago is something that's guided him and that he believes is still relevant today: "You're standing on the threshold of a real great society, but if you don't speak no one will listen"
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