This November, Amplify Indigenous Voices

It’s Native American Heritage Month, and here at Friends, we’re reflecting amongst ourselves and with our partners, exploring what it means to be good allies to Tribal Nations. Our work takes place on the homelands of the Lummi, Saanich, Klallam and Samish who have a deep history rooted here in their traditional fishing grounds—though many Tribes and Coast Salish peoples have ancestral ties and lived in harmony with these lands and waters since time immemorial.

We know this:

We strive to be the best allies we can by centering and supporting Tribal Nations in their fight to protect this place we all love. First people have been at the frontline of the environmental advocacy movement since the beginning of beginnings. We have much to learn from their stewardship of the San Juan Islands and the Salish Sea. We’re dedicated to honoring and amplifying Indigenous wisdom as we work to protect the land, waters, and creatures that call this place home.

We care deeply about rebuilding trust and relationships. We know this is not an overnight process: a one-and-done workshop or a checkbox in our strategic planning. It takes time, reciprocity, and deep listening. Pull a chair up. Have a seat at the table. Join us as we explore how to effectively honor and support Indigenous peoples in their long history of fighting for environmental justice.

Here are a few of the questions we are asking ourselves … 

“Who is our work serving?”

“How are we contributing to or enforcing the oppressive systems that strip away
Treaty Rights and Indigenous Ways of Life?”

“Is our land acknowledgment just checking a box? Is it a starting point to do more?

“What are our blind spots and biases?”

“How can we do more to honor, amplify, and respect front-line, Indigenous voices in our work?

Resources for learning and discussion

Indigenous-Led Organizations in our Region

The following is a list of Indigenous organizations involved in environmental work in our region. It is by no means an all-inclusive or absolute list—it’s a work in progress of organizations we are following to better understand indigenous voices in our region, especially as it pertains to environmental protection. If you have a recommendation for an organization to add to the list, please email us!

Se’Si’Le
Children of the Setting Sun
Northwest Treaty Tribes
The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission
WA Tribes
Salmon Defense
Sacred Seas
House of Tears Carvers
White Swan Environmental
Lhaq’temish Foundation
Native Americans in Philanthropy
Northwest Indian College
Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians

Exploring a Sense of Place — Interactive Maps

Understanding Treaty Rights

Relevant Online Readings + News

Click to see the full list!

Watch + Listen + Read

Friends of the San Juans honors the salmon, the orca, and all of the plants and creatures on the land and in the sea and air that makes the San Juan Islands and the Salish Sea region unique and significant. We respectfully acknowledge the fact that this beautiful place we strive to protect and restore is comprised of the ancestral lands, waters, and tangible and intangible resources of the Lummi, Saanich, S’klallam, and other Coast Salish peoples. We honor the Tribes who have cared for and stewarded the San Juan Islands and the Salish Sea since time immemorial—and continue to do so—and we honor the inherent, aboriginal, and treaty rights that have been passed down from generation to generation. Friends further recognizes our community’s shared responsibility of upholding Treaty rights entered into by the leaders of sovereign nations, including the United States.

We believe that our property is more valuable if we and our neighbors protect the shoreline. Orcas need salmon. Salmon need forage fish. Salmon and forage fish need the protection of eelgrass and kelp. Eelgrass and kelp need clean water. Shoreline protections are good for ecosystems and for the long-term economy of these lovely islands.

Val and Leslie Veirs

members, San Juan Island