My name is Karen Yanhs-Anderson (楊劍虹). I was born in Cambodia with ethnic Chinese parents during the Pol Pot era. My family was fortunate enough to escape the Killing Fields, into Vietnam. We were very fortunate to have a breather for couple of good years during U.S occupation before the Viet Cong took over Saigon. We went from the frying pan into the fire because we were caught in Saigon during the Vietnam War.
Several years after the communist took over Vietnam, we once again escaped as Boat People. Our family was one of the lucky few to arrive in Thailand, and from there, we immigrated to the U.S.
During the Cambodia and Vietnam War era, I learned very early that the health care options available were acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and your own immune systems. There were no western medicines available or any kind of hospitals or clinics. Imagine what it would be like if you have a broken tooth and you have to go to the dentist. You will be looking at dentists with a pair of pliers and no anesthesia in some dingy dark office in some illegal back alleyway. That’s the kind of health care we had. Fortunately, my mother was an acupuncturist; and my dad a librarian so they were able to keep us healthy with what you would consider alternative health knowledge.
From these experiences, I learned very early that health is very different than going to doctors and asking for a pill when the illness arrived. I learned as much as I can from books and other practitioners.
My education consisted of earning a BA in Psychology and working in medical facilities since I was a freshman in high school. I have worked for Kaiser Permanente, GlaxoSmithKline, and Oregon Health Science University (OHSU). I was a 911 dispatcher for Cowlitz County, Washington, and I am currently a Mandarin, Cantonese medical interpreter for Language Line Solutions.
I live in the beautiful Pacific NW with my husband and two fur babies (dogs). I enjoy hiking, skiing, traveling, reading, playing on the computer. I am also an active member in our church, and serve in our community.
My partner is Diana Davidson.
I was born and raised for the most part in California. My parents, between the two, are of Irish, German, Cherokee, Choctaw, and Delaware descent. My family traces its lineage through the Kennedys from Kerry County Ireland, to Nanye-hi (Nancy Ward) and Kingfisher (both sides).
My indigenous heritage was a major influence from an early age. I spent many summers with my native grandmother, who was a retired nurse, and my German and Cherokee Grandfather. They owned a farm where I was taught the old ways. Their neighbor friend owned a bed and breakfast in which she would house guests from the stagecoach and the train station. This is who taught me the benefits of cactus apple. I have fond memories of sunny days working and learning from the plants and wildlife. Here is where I found my life-long passion for plants, not only as sources of food and natural medicine but also for our connection to mother earth.
My roots run deep and wide in family, having a good moral compass, plant appreciation, as well as caring for mother earth. I am active in our tribal community. I write the herbal section in our tribal newsletter hoping to remind everyone about what they used to know. I feel somewhere in our DNA we all have memories of wild crafting and learning from our four-legged relatives as well as our long-legged tree relatives.
I raised my daughters in part on Grand Ronde Reservation in Oregon where we had a small farm and were blessed to go to sleep hearing the drums during Pow Wows.
We spent many hours walking on Spirit Mountain where I truly got inspired. I used to own an herb shop called Spirit Mountain Herbs and More. Currently I am the owner of Battle Ground Apothecary. I was an Future Farmer of America (FFA) leader, Camp Fire, and Girl Scout leader. We spent many nights with the young ones teaching them how to respect all forms of life, how we depend on one another, to respect our elders, as well as how to make do with what you have while out in the wild. Where we find food and medicine, and if remain very quiet, we can learn. If we listen, they will teach us.
I guess you can say, I’m a lifelong herbalist. I’ve been referred to as “the plant medicine lady”. I have been schooled in everything from Reiki, wellness advocate, herbalist, pilot, and skydiving.