Remembering Jene McCovey


“I grew up in Hoopa. I’m a Yurok Tribal member from the Klamath River; I’m Chetco from the Chetco River, Tolowa from the Smith River, and Chilula from Redwood Creek. I’m thankful to have left Creator to come here to be who I am at this time. As human beings we choose how to walk back to Creator. In my young life, I choose to walk for five of my relatives who aren’t here. Two of them were small babies who failed to thrive due to exposure of aerial spraying of herbicides 2,4,5-T and Agent Orange, and three of my cousins spontaneously aborted their babies from exposure to the herbicides. They would have been the same age as my daughter Daisy Etta, who is 42 years old,” said Jene in a 2018 interview.

Jene was a mentor and ally to many. She traveled near and far to share her prayers and wisdom on behalf of the four legged ones, the two legged ones, the finned ones, and the one legged ones (trees). Jene has trained with the Smithsonian Institute, Traditional Circle of Native American Youth and Elders, she has presented at the United Nations’ 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing China 1995, and she has given workshops on indigenous and environmental issues ranging from pesticides, water quality, the Klamath dams and indigenous hunting and fishing rights. In 2014, Jene was honored by the Women’s Intercultural Network with the Circle of Courage Award that was presented by Representative Nancy Pelosi “for being a mover and shaker”. And in 2018, she was honored with EPIC’s Sempervirens Lifetime Achievement Award, for her life-long dedication to environmental activism.

Wherever there was a threat, Jene was right there in the forefront, supporting, speaking, and representing people, places, and wildlife to make our community, and the world a better, more conscientious place. We are grateful for the time we shared with Jene and know her legacy will live on through the inspiration that she gave to all of us who she touched with her words, compassion, and tenacity.