Rangers' work, horses featured at mission

A talk for World Ranger Day and demonstrations of riding and horse regalia highlighted the weekend.



Huckleberry steps toward visitors petting him during a sidesaddle demonstration by Linda Hermanns at the Whitman Mission National Historic Site on Saturday afternoon.


The Whitman Mission National Historic Site held sidesaddle demonstrations and horse regalia and other beadwork talks while also commemorating World Ranger Day.

An event held over the weekend in honor of World Ranger Day at the Whitman Mission National Historic Site also highlighted old styles of riding and decorating horses.

In the mission auditorium, Ranger Ryan Iehl gave a talk about two years he spent in Malawi in the Peace Corps.

Iehl taught the children in his village about the wildlife that lives in the Kasungu National Park. He said many of the villagers lived within the boundaries of the park but had never seen an elephant or even knew what one looked like.

The village children didn't have the resources to visit the park as guests so he brought many of them to the park for their first visit. After familiarizing the children with the wildlife, hoping to give the locals a reason to want to preserve it, Iehl said he wanted to provide a way for them to do that.

Most families in that part of Malawi make their money working hourly for tobacco farmers. Iehl said the wages are very low, so he taught the villagers to raise bees and sell their honey. The income from this project yields about $500 every other month, which Iehl said is a substantial raise from their tobacco income.

Iehl said in addition to these projects a children's health clinic was started, solar power was introduced to the village and family planning resources became available to women.

Outside the auditorium, Linda Hermanns gave demonstrations on how women in the late 1800s and early 1900s rode horses: side-saddle.

Hermanns, who owns Crossroads Mercantile in Waitsburg, has given side-saddling demonstrations at the Historic Site in July for seven years. She said this is the first year she has been allowed to let people get on the horses. She said in the 1880s, a new type of saddle was invented that made side-saddling much easier and safer.

"Before the two-horn saddle was used women were wrecking out. The one-horn saddle stopped being made in the 1900s because the two-horn saddle was so much safer."

Hermanns said many people don't know there are horns on the saddle at all and many people are surprised to learn side-saddling women didn't just balance on the side. Another misconception of female riders, Hermanns said, is that they only wore dresses. Hermanns showed her leather pants worn beneath her "safety apron." The skirt to her two-piece dress is more a cape that is fastened around the woman after she is sitting on the horse.

"We put many of the gentleman park rangers on the side-saddle today, the ones who would do it. And many of them rode much better than me," Hermanns said.

In addition to the riding demonstration, John Beavis and Katie Blackwolf-Beavis displayed their handmade traditional regalia for horses.

Beavis, who works at Tamstslikt Cultual Institute as an interpreter, said one of the pieces is more than 20 years old and is the first one he and his wife made.

Beavis and Blackwolf-Beavis live on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Beavis is an enrolled CTUIR tribal member and Blackwolf-Beavis said she is of the Warm Springs and Yakama tribes.

Beavis said he learned to make regalia from watching his grandmother and paying attention to the way his elders worked. The regalia is worn by the horses during parades and ceremonies.

Jill-Marie Gavin can be reached at jillmariegavin@wwub.com.


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