Tour Description

Journey to the Flathead Indian Reservation and the majestic Mission Mountains to explore the intersection of traditional culture and natural resource management. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are at the forefront of asserting sovereignty rights over natural resources. Along the People's Highway (aka US 93), check out the ecologically friendly features, including a dramatic wildlife overpass and underpasses that protect extensive wildlife corridors. Stop at the National Bison Range to learn about disagreements over how much authority the tribes should have in managing bison. A swing through the Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge may yield sightings of migrating waterfowl, including reintroduced trumpeter swans. Other topics may include water rights negotiations, Flathead Lake and native fire management. Depart at 7:30 a.m., lunch included, $30 fee; Drive time — 3.5 hours. Register Now

Meet Your Tour Leaders

With our variety of experience and expertise, Joan, Chuck and I are working to provide a fantastic tour through this stunning and complex region of the West.

Joan Melcher

In a wide-ranging career that has included stints as a reporter, communications director, editor of magazines, playwright and author of two books on Montana bars, Joan Melcher came to environmental reporting the hard way — as a freelance writer. Currently she contributes to, writing stories with subject matter as diverse as pharmaceuticals in drinking water to endocrine disruptors in wildlife to China's supposed race to lead the renewable revolution. She also contributes to High Country News. Growing up in eastern Montana near the Northern Cheyenne and Crow Indian reservations, she has had a live-long interest in tribal issues and recently has written about two Indian heroines: Elouise Cobell and Julie Cajune. She is honored to play a role in the SEJ tour of Indian Country.

Chuck Quirmbach

Chuck is a Milwaukee-based environmental reporter for Wisconsin Public Radio who covers developments and issues in Wisconsin that are of statewide interest. He has numerous years of experience covering state government, elections, the environment, energy, natural resources, racial diversity issues, welfare-to-work laws and now and then, baseball. He enjoys covering all topics. Chuck is a frequent contributor to National Public RadioNational Native News, and several other regional or national radio outlets. He has won several individual awards, and several as part of collaborations with other reporters. Chuck has been a member of SEJ since 1991.

Lisa "Kersch" Kerscher

Having fallen in love with the West as a teenager, I moved to Montana from Ohio in 1989, drawn by the Wildlife Biology program at the University of Montana. Later, I turned to UM's School of Journalism, which gave me broader opportunities for researching science and natural resource issues and also led me into Indian Country. My rookie assignment was reporting on land trust issues, taking a field trip to the Crow Indian Reservation near Billings and resulting in the story, Owning Indian Country. Specializing in online media, my professional life has mostly blended online media production with education, such as writing for Newspaper in Education programs. For example, I've had the pleasure of leading middle school and high school kids on a variety of explorations through topics such as Living with WildfireEngineering Inspired by Nature, and Native American Life.