Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Black Belt Eagle Scout to perform at Lucky You Lounge

Katherine Paul, aka Black Belt Eagle Scout, will perform on Saturday at the Lucky You Lounge. Paul, who grew up in the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, expects to see many of her extended family members from Eastern Washington at the show.  (Nate Lemuel/Darklisted Photography)
By Ed Condran For The Spokesman-Review

It’ll be a sort of homecoming for Katharine Paul, aka Black Belt Eagle Scout, when she returns to Spokane. The singer-songwriter, who grew up an hour north of Seattle in the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, spent considerable time throughout her childhood visiting relatives in Spokane and Colville.

“I’m related to the Tomeo family, which is huge,” Paul said, because her aunt and uncle had 15 children. “There are a number of people (in Spokane) who are part of our Paul family. I remember coming over the mountains when I was a kid on the way to Spokane and I loved it. It’s like home.”

Her actual home in the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community inspired “My Blood Runs Through This Land,” the latest Black Belt Eagle Scout album.

If it weren’t for the pandemic Paul never would have written “The Land, The Water, The Sky.” Prior to lockdown, Paul was living in Portland but returned to where she grew up after the coronavirus spread.

“I was living in this crappy apartment in Portland but I moved back home and started processing everything that happened,” Paul said. “I started writing about what was going on in my mind and in my life and all of a sudden I had an album’s worth of material.”

Much of the heartfelt project, which dropped in February, is dreamy, melancholic and elegant, but it is also intense and introspective at points.

Paul sets the tone with the moody, droning shoe-gazer “My Blood Runs Through This Land.”

“That song is a true statement of where I am right now,” Paul said. “That phrase came to me right here. That song captured the moment.”

Nature inspired much of the album . Songs like “On the River,” “Salmon Stinta,” which means “salmon love,” and “Treeline” reflect Paul’s communing with her environment.

“The great outdoors moved me,” Paul said. “It’s part of me. The land depends on us to do the right thing. It’s about our stewardship.”

Paul, who will perform Saturday at the Lucky You Lounge, couldn’t be happier living where she grew up and has no plans to return to Portland.

“I’m going to stay here forever,” Paul said. “It’s a small community, 1,400 people, but I have all that I need. I had the opportunity to leave and I took it. I went to college and then I lived in Portland. Some people never leave the reservation, but I have a fresh appreciation for it so I’m staying. I was going to come back here at some point anyway. The pandemic just drew me back here sooner. I love it here. I love Washington!”

Paul is on the road most of the time anyway.

“So I’m in a great situation,” Paul said. “I get to see the country. I get to see the world and I have the opportunity to return to the place I love the most. It’s beautiful here. There’s space and I stay connected to my culture.”

“The Land, The Water, The Sky” concludes with the optimistic tune “Don’t Give Up.” “That song honors the connection to where I’m from. It’s upbeat and it connects with what’s so wonderful here. It also connects with what’s powerful, what’s heartbreaking and romantic. That song covers a lot of ground. When I look back at the entire album, the message is that it’s important to go back to all of the things that are important to you. What’s important to me is on the album. It’s about the land, the water and the sky. Don’t take those things or anything for granted. I think people can relate to my message since there is a place for everyone.”

Paul hopes her music will inspire the Indigenous community to follow in her creative footsteps.

“When I was growing up I really didn’t have anyone to relate to in terms of recording artists,” Paul said. “There was (singer-songwriter) Buffy Sainte-Marie and (the band) Redbone, but both of those were from a previous time. I hope people see that I can do this and maybe they’ll try to make music as well. I was always passionate about music and you should follow your passion in life.”

It’ll be a family affair when Paul performs at the Lucky You Lounge. “I’m sure I’ll see a lot of familiar faces,” Paul said. “I know relatives and friends will be there. It’s Spokane, which has always been a comfortable place for me.”

Reach Ed Condran at