I was born in Lewiston, Idaho and raised in Lapwai, on the Nez Perce Reservation. My family lifestyle is one of tradition. I was taught to hunt and fish early on, to be a provider. I also helped pick berries, dig roots, and harvest the leaves of various shrubs for spiritual and subsistence purposes. I was given the belief that my relationship with the natural world is sacred, and I treat it as such.
My paternal grandpa and my dad sparked the love of the outdoors in me. My grandpa was a renowned fisherman, while my dad is a great hunter. Together they taught me what I know about the ways of the rivers and mountains. I was given the responsibility of being a warrior for Mother Earth, to speak for her and her children.
Now I live in Lenore, Idaho, (on the Clearwater River), and have a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Idaho. Further, I have a Certificate in Diversity and Stratification, also from the University of Idaho. This educational background has complimented my childhood teaching, by formalizing the science behind the spiritual and cultural knowledge of my people and our homelands.
My significant other, Feather, and I share a blended family with a combined 8 children. We recently gave birth to a son, River Lightning Dow Holt, our first child together. Our other children are Isaac, Sistina, Joseph, Quintana, James Jr., Alina, and Shanda.
I have served two terms on the Nez Perce Tribe’s Fish & Wildlife Commission, and one term on the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee (NPTEC), the tribe’s governing body. This policy background has allowed me to understand the inter-governmental relationships that drive natural resources management. Further, while serving in these capacities I had the opportunity to research the history and context of the Nez Perce and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. I was the primary force in reuniting the Nez Perce Tribe and the Buffalo, retying a sacred relationship back to our Circle.
Currently, I am the Director of the Water Resources Division for the Nez Perce Tribe. I manage many programs, including: Clean Water Act 106 and 319 administration, Wetlands management, Underground Storage Tank (UST) administration, Water and Wastewater systems, Sustainable Energy development, Climate Change planning, and Solid Waste management.
In addition to my work with Buffalo Field Campaign, I have served on numerous nonprofit organizations that compliment my professional experience.
- Friends of the Clearwater, Board Member
- Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, Chairman
- Inter-Tribal Bison Cooperative, Treasurer
- Spirit of the Salmon Foundation, President
- Wolf Education and Research Center, Board Member
- EPA Region 10, Tribal Operations Committee, Idaho Alternate Member
A motto that resonates with me, and that I want to share with the BFC community, is a quote from the great Nez Perce chief of the Wallowa Band, Chief Joseph, “The Earth and I are of one mind.” This is how I see my brief existence: I am child of the Earth, and I will respect, honor, and protect my Mother.
My involvement with BFC is rooted in my advocacy and feelings of personal responsibility to Mother Earth’s children, and to my people. As a warrior, I take my sacred relationship with all sentient beings seriously. I will speak for the buffalo, who cannot speak for themselves.
Further, my involvement with BFC is one of healing. I seek to provide healing to my people, the Nez Perce. The inter-generational trauma that is a product of the Nez Perce War of 1877, and of infringement on our homelands, has dealt a horrible wound to the spirit and heart of my people. A significant part of this healing is reuniting my people with our historic cultural life-ways. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is known to the Nez Perce as “Buffalo Country.” When the buffalo were slaughtered, they were removed from the sacred hoop of the Nez Perce.
I hope, and I work, to continue to strengthen this hoop, and to help my people heal. The mission of the BFC compliments these efforts.