Welcome to the Jungle…

By Linda Costa, Assurance Intern, Bellingham

From the moment the Makah Tribe audit engagement showed up on my schedule, my imagination had been littered with images of me running on the beach after work, venturing into tide pools, and embracing what I believe to be the most beautiful part of Washington State. This week those dreams became a reality.

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Between the most northwestern point in the contiguous United States and the most beautiful beach in the country is where I find myself working this week. My first tribal engagement brings me back to the first Native American Reservation I have ever stepped foot on: the Makah (Pronounced: Ma-Caw) Reservation.

How lucky can a person be to be able to spend time in such a coveted place, and be productive while being there? I keep talking about luck and gratefulness, although I know I came, just like all the other interns, from a life of grit, studying, and working hard.

And then you arrive…

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When you arrive on your first engagement there will always be surprises. I was not surprised, however, by how welcoming and willing to help the Makah people would be. I was surprised, however, by the bonding experience you share with your fellow Moss employees. How many jobs out there do you have the experience of spending day to night getting to know those you work with? Being in a remote area, introductions happen quick, and memories last forever. This is the impression I got from the audit team’s jaunt on Shi Shi beach.

If you haven’t heard of Shi Shi… you should listen. The beach is not one for swimming, but more of like…a Discovery Channel show on steroids. The tide pools lurk like mini aquariums on top of mussel-covered boulders. If you venture out 15 feet away from the shore, you might see upwards to 15 starfish in any direction you look. The purples and blue-greens of sea-urchins blossom vibrantly under the crystal clear salt water pools, but they also contract when exposed to the salty-sea air. The rock formations tower like mini-mountains of Northwestern Cedars, with the ocean crashing on all sides. All of this majestic nature can be found at a trailhead only 3 miles away from where we sleep!

The Makah Tribe should be commended for the work they do to preserve the Shi Shi trail. The wooden panels, which line the otherwise muddy trail, open up this beauty to people of all ages and hiking ability. This type of attention is the positive influence which gets more people caring about trails and invested in the preservation of this sacred land. Years ago, Shi Shi used to be accessible only by the daring, the dirty, and the otherwise determined. Now, people from all across the world come to revel in its beauty, thanks to the efforts of our client, the Makah Tribe.

When I first moved to Washington, five or six years ago, my best friend came to town and we landed at Shi Shi beach together. We stayed in the same campground, but in a luxurious six-person tent, instead of a brand new cabin. It was my first remote excursion in the woods. This week, I find myself coming full circle, as a new person, on my first engagement. The steep descent to the beach doesn’t intimidate me as much as it did that first time, the low visibility doesn’t disappoint me as much, but the most important part of me has not changed: I am still blown away by the unique and drastic beauty of the beach.

 

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