Land Acknowledgment

Territorial Acknowledgement: Where we work/Whose lands

We acknowledge that we live and work in the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary treaty territories of many Coast Salish peoples, including the Samish, Lhaq’temish (Lummi), Swinomish, Tulalip, Skagit, Stillaguamish, Jamestown S’Klallam, Lower Elwha Klallam, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Nooksack, W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich), T’souke (Sooke), lək̓ʷəŋən (Songhees), Semiahmoo, Mitchell Bay Band, Swallah, San Juan Tribes and others, who hold rights and responsibilities to these lands and waters. We continue to learn about these relationships, and recognize that the boundaries of today are of colonial making and do not reflect Indigenous peoples’ traditional relationship to land, governance, and territories.

Why/What does this mean to the San Juan Preservation Trust (SJPT) and our work

We humbly recognize and express gratitude for the Indigenous peoples’ enduring relationship with these islands and waters since Time Immemorial as the original stewards. Native communities continue to contribute to the life of the islands and to celebrate their heritage, practice traditions, and care for the land and waterways. This relationship has long been, and continues to be, integral to the islands’ ecosystems and biodiversity. We have much to learn from it.

Confronting colonization and its legacies

We acknowledge and continue to learn about the recent history of land dispossession, oppression, violence, trauma, as well as the ongoing impacts of the involuntary removals of this region’s Indigenous peoples from their homelands including the San Juan Islands. We see that, despite this history, Indigenous communities remain strong, resilient, and engaged in ongoing resistance to colonization. We are working to better understand how the history of conservation is intertwined with settler colonialism, so that we can interrupt harmful patterns and better support Indigenous sovereignty, rights, self-determination, and wellbeing.

Commitments for Reconciliation

The Preservation Trust is committed to active processes of learning, reconciliation, and building mutually respectful and reciprocal relationships with Indigenous communities to work together in conserving, restoring, and caring for these lands and waters for future generations.

Specifically, we commit to:

  • Educate ourselves about the history of Indigenous peoples in the islands and the impacts and ongoing legacies of settler colonialism in the region.
  • Educate ourselves about contemporary tribal governance and the role of the treaties.
  • Seek to interrupt patterns in conservation work that repeat harms and undermine tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, and self-determination.
  • Be mindful in our work to respect and honor the existing, enduring relationships and connections with these lands and waterways of the original stewards.
  • Listen to Native communities to learn and practice equitable principles for engagement and collaboration in our work.
  • Adopt and/or create processes and tools for land access, co-stewardship, and land return through ongoing consultation with Indigenous communities.
  • Expand opportunities and reduce barriers for Native peoples to be in their ancestral homelands in the islands in a self-determined way.
  • Invite our membership to join with us in learning and becoming better allies to Native communities in conserving and caring for the San Juan Islands.

Call to Action for members

  • Research and learn about the Indigenous history of the San Juan Islands and on whose territories you live and work.
  • Learn how to pronounce the preferred names of the local tribal nations and the place-based languages they speak.
  • Learn how colonization has impacted and continues to impact local Indigenous communities. Look to the available resources and stories they have willingly shared. Attend events at which you can listen and learn.
  • Visit the islands with respect and humility, tread lightly, and care for these ecosystems. Native communities and cultures depend on them.
  • Learn about barriers and issues impacting tribal communities in the San Juan Islands. Support Native-led work in this area.

Some of the resources we referenced in compiling this land acknowledgement: