Tribal Relations and Treaty Rights
A recent report from the Treaty Indian Tribes of Western Washington, entitled “Treaty Rights At Risk”, highlights the serious concerns of these twenty tribes regarding the sharp decline in salmon populations due to the loss of spawning and rearing habitat. The report states, “As the salmon disappear, our tribal cultures, communities, and economies are threatened as never before. Some tribes have lost even their most basic ceremonial and subsistence fisheries – the cornerstone of tribal life.” The Madrona Institute is working to build closer relations between the San Juan Islands community and tribal communities in our region. Natural resources management is a common concern and focus for relationship-building, and greater efforts are needed to address tribal concerns. The Madrona Institute believes it is mutually beneficial to have greater tribal presence and engagement in the life of the islands because people of the Lummi Nation, the Samish Indian Nation, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, and the Tulalip Tribes continue to have a strong bond to the San Juans – and this connection should be honored… as well as their concerns over fishing rights.
Coast Salish people lived in these islands for thousands of years prior to European and American settlement. This long-standing tribal ancestry needs to be respected, and there is still much we can learn from each other through increased interaction – prospects for greater cooperation can be improved in many areas from natural resource management to economic development to education. We are most fortunate to enjoy the beauty and bounty of the Salish Sea together.
The Annual Tribal Canoe Journey has become a significant cultural event in the Pacific Northwest, with over 100 canoes now paddling in honor of tribal ancestors and for the preservation of tribal culture through the marine highway of the Salish Sea. FRIENDS of the San Juans helps facilitate the Canoe Journey through the San Juan Islands, and it’s an important intercultural activity supported by our local community highlighting common bonds. The Madrona Institute works with FRIENDS and other organizations to broaden cultural ties of all peoples of the Salish Sea. The 2013 Canoe Journey will arrive in the San Juan Islands on July 18 on Lopez and July 19 on San Juan. For more information contact FRIENDS of the San Juans at 378-2319.
Madrona President Ron Zee will continue visiting with tribal officials to engage in a dialogue leading to constructive action on the issues of increased tribal presence in the San Juan Islands and cooperation on natural resources management. For more information about the tribal communities noted above, please visit their websites: