Julie Cajune serves as A VOICE Board Member.
I am the sum of many stories from many places. My mother was Salish, Nez Perce, Scots and Irish. My father was Chippewa and French. These different stories and places all occupy memory and space inside of me, but the largest part of my identity is Salish and it is my Salish homeland that holds my affection. It is the land that I know intimately. I am a citizen of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of
the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana.
I grew up with this large extended Salish family – aunts and uncles and hundreds
of cousins. During my childhood we had large family dinners at my aunt and
uncle’s ranch. Those times are some of my favorite memories. I grew up hearing
lively discussions about tribal affairs and many of my relatives were involved in
tribal government. There was an unspoken expectation in our family that we had
a responsibility as a tribal member – a responsibility to make something of your
life that would contribute to your community.
When I completed my teaching program I did not intend to return to the reservation
to teach, but I was there for the summer visiting family. It was at this time that my responsibility to my community found me, and I was asked to apply for a local teaching job. Saying yes to that question took me on my journey as an educator,
as a student of my own history, as a tribal member, as a human being, and a
citizen of the world. Sometimes in life we are fortunate to find our path – some
would say our destiny. I feel that blessing in my life.
I have been able to serve my community as a teacher and school administrator.
I’ve worked for my tribe as a curriculum specialist and at our tribal college as
Building on the activism and work of generations of Indian people, I have been
able to produce tribal history materials in film, text, multimedia, and theatre.
In my personal life, I am a mother and a yaya (grandmother) of three remarkable boys. I have five sisters and still live in the homeland of my Salish relatives and ancestors, in the landscape that has cared for me all my life.