Before exploring and recreating in the mountains, my Indigenous identity did not mean more than my tribal I.D. to me. Reclaiming spaces and places from which my people have been historically exiled and displaced has given me ownership and comfort with my identity, whether in the backcountry or a city. Through this epiphany and process of growth, I have realized I am not the only BIPOC who craves this feeling nor will benefit from it. This process of growth and decolonization drives me to spur unique cultural identities with the outdoors as the medium of growth.

 

I am a member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. My family comes from the Lower-Cowlitz & Suquamish of the Salish Sea and the Yakama of the plateaus to the East of Takoma (Mt. Rainier). Since time immemorial, my ancestors have engaged with the land around them with reciprocity, and now it is my turn to do the same by sharing with those I connect within the mountains.

 

Until I attended college, my Indigenous identity was nothing more than my tribal I.D. I grew up half with my Indigenous mother and half with my Irish father, both blue-collar workers scraping by, who did not have time to recreate in the mountains as I do now. My initial connection to the land was running cross-country and track in high school, which evolved into trail & ultra-running in recent years. Trail running and mountain sports have fostered my connection to my Indigeneity.

 

In 2019 I began working as a guide on my sacred homelands of Takoma/  Təqʷuʔməʔ, where I am decolonizing the outdoor industry by perpetuating Indigenous presence and wisdom. In addition to my career guiding, I collaborate with other BIPOC community members deconstructing colonial structures to reconstruct culturally relevant and empowering experiences and identities with the outdoors as the medium. One aspect of affinity spaces I cherish the most is being able to be 100% myself - there is next to no code-switching, nor are there discussions requiring me to ‘explain’ myself or look a different part than who I am.

 

Certifications & Credentials

● AIARE I/II/ Rescue Course

● American Avalanche Institute Pro 1

●  Wilderness First Responder

●  Leave No Trace Master Educator

www.yakamaalpinism.com

Cal Smith
(he/him/his)

Storyteller, Indigenous guide, runner, burrito-crusher and connoisseur

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