This Weekend’s Salmon Tales Gala To Raise Funds for Salish School

By Matthew Kincanon

The Salish School of Spokane will be hosting its second annual fundraising gala Salmon Tales at Gonzaga Preparatory School Student Center on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. where attendees will be served a three-course salmon dinner with chicken and vegan options available, watch student performances and hear family testimonials about the importance of the school.

The mission of the Salish School is to create a community of fluent speakers of the Interior Salish languages by teaching the language to children and working with parents to use Salish in their daily lives. Salish is used by indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast.

Chris Parkin, principal and co-founder of the school, said last year’s event was originally going to have Native American author Sherman Alexie, who had come out with his memoir “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir” at that time, to give a talk, but he canceled his appearance due to health reasons with less than 30 days notice of the event.

However, the school decided to push forward with the event and featured performances from their students and had members of their community share their stories, he said.  LaRae Wiley, co-founder and executive director of the school, also sang classic country songs in Salish with a band called LaRae Wiley and the Bunchgrass Band.

Despite the short time to put it together after Alexie’s cancellation, Parkin said that the event was successful where they raised close to $7,000. Their goal for this year is $13,000.

“So, the board and staff, we all kind of said ‘Well, I guess we can do that without a big-name person,’” Parkin said.  “We had never really used a gala fundraiser event for our fundraising strategies before, but we said, ‘Alright, we did it, let’s keep doing it.’”

Last year, the school’s goal was to sell 75 seats at $100 per seat and they ended up selling 72 of them even after Alexie’s cancellation, Parkin said. This year, their goal is to sell 150 seats.

For the event, Parkin said that they have set up 15 table captains for each table of eight guests, serving a total of 120 people, along with general admission seats.

Besides having students perform, he said that members of the community will give testimonials of why the school matters to them.

Crystal Conant, president of the school’s board of directors, said that testimonials will come from parents and those who have learned and benefited from the school.

Tickets for the event can be purchased online.

“It [the event] is an opportunity for people to join in the work of achieving our mission,” Parkin said.  “It’s an opportunity for somebody who is out there who thinks that we should honor the true full history of Spokane including the first nations of Spokane, the original inhabitants and the first language of Spokane.”

Conant also said that the event is a good opportunity to get to know about the school, see what the kids do and how the school benefits Native people in Spokane.


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