Thriving on the Land

Cultural Restoration

Photo by Tim Dustrude

Honoring the First Peoples of the San Juan Islands

Reefnet fishing is a Pacific Northwest salmon fishing method that has been practiced for thousands of years by Coast Salish tribes. This fishing practice is very selective, meaning there is almost ZERO bycatch mortality, making it one of the most sustainable fishing practices today.

The Coast Salish People

The San Juan Islands have a long history of human inhabitants. Beginning 10,000 years ago when the continental ice sheet receded, ancestors of today’s Coast Salish people began making their home in the region. The islands were used for fishing, harvesting, and gathering grounds for Coast Salish tribes.

Today, the Native American presence in the islands is sparse, and much of the island’s historical narrative seems to begin with Spanish sailors, and European and American military and settlers. The cultural erosion of stories omitted or forgotten is a loss for everyone.

Reintroducing traditional place names, art, and practices around the islands provides opportunities to strengthen connections to the ancestral lands and traditions. The island community is strengthened by a diversity of perspectives.

Friends’ programs help to build cross-cultural bridges between non-native and native leaders, students, and community members. Through Inter Tribal Canoe Journey stopovers, reef net restoration, Coast Salish Mini-Univeristy, and  community canoe building, we help improve people’s understanding of Native peoples in these islands and create a stronger, more diverse  community.

“The sea was our everything, the sea still is our everything. The fish are our everything. Past, and present, and future….”

Jay Julius Lummi Nation Councilman
friendsCultural Restoration