cultural restoration

honoring the First Peoples of the San Juan Islands

photo by: Tim Dustrude

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 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.

related news

Canoe Journey In Traditional Lands & Waters of Coast Salish Peoples

April 15, 2022

Friends is honored to sponsor a special inter-island tribal canoe journey, “Esqaplh etse Kwelengsen (Gathering of Eagles) Canoe Encampment.” All are welcome at this grassroots journey following the ancestral highways of the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) people, beginning May 22 and running through May 27 in the Lhaq’temish homelands of Lopez, San Juan, Orcas and Waldron Islands. … read more

The Friends of the San Juans are at the forefront in efforts to prevent oil spills from impacting the San Juans. They work to identify the threats and then work with the US Coast Guard, Ecology, and others to get the best oil spill planning and prevention efforts in place.

Debby Clausen and Kim Sundberg

members, San Juan Island