Snoqualmie Indian Tribe
The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe launched the Snoqualmie Tribe Ancestral Lands Movement this summer to raise awareness of the cultural significance and ecological fragility of the Tribe’s ancestral lands, as well as the detrimental impacts outdoor recreation has had on them.
“We hope that by proactively sharing information with the public about these sacred spaces that people will be more mindful, respectful, and restrained when they choose to recreate on the Snoqualmie Tribe’s ancestral lands,” said Robert de los Angeles, Snoqualmie Tribal Chairman.
As the Salish Sea region’s population has grown, the Snoqualmie Tribe’s ancestral lands have suffered severe ecological damage due to outdoor recreation. The impact is especially apparent at the popular trails in the Snoqualmie corridor including Mt Si, Twin Falls, Rattlesnake Ledge, Issaquah Alps, Tiger Mountain, Franklin Falls, Snoqualmie Falls, Lake Sammamish, and the Middle Fork – all of which traverse lands that have had cultural and spiritual significance to the Snoqualmie People for time immemorial.
In 2018, one survey found that the number of people in the Seattle area who said they had been hiking during the previous year had more than doubled since 2008, to an estimated total of more than 940,000 people in the last ten years. In that same year, the Seattle Times reported that this increase in the number of hikers in the region was seven times greater than the region’s rapid population growth over the last decade. This increase in recreation pressure has not been addressed with equivalent increases in investments for land conservation, stewardship, and recreation, or in staffing for the public agencies entrusted with safeguarding these irreplaceable landscapes, resulting in extensive damage to Snoqualmie Tribe’s ancestral lands.
“The Tribe welcomes those who respectfully enjoy our beautiful ancestral lands,” said McKenna Sweet Dorman, a Snoqualmie Tribal Member who serves as the assistant director of governmental affairs & special projects with the Tribe. “Unfortunately, because of the exponential increase in outdoor recreation coupled with the selfish and destructive practices of recreators who are unaware, these lands are being loved to death. The Tribe is asking its neighbors to show respect when interacting with these lands so that future generations may also experience their unique beauty. The Snoqualmie Tribe encourages Washingtonians to heal past damage and avoid future impacts through the practice of appropriate land acknowledgment, which includes educating themselves about the lands’ history and connection to the Snoqualmie People, recreating in moderation, respecting rules about littering and staying on designated trails, and supporting the Snoqualmie Tribe’s stewardship and education efforts.”
The Tribe also encourages individuals to commit to experiencing Snoqualmie ancestral lands in a way that is focused on mindfulness.
“By being fully present in a mindful way when enjoying these lands and behaving with moderation and care for its ecosystems, individuals are showing respect to the generations who came before us and to the plants and animals that survive today,” said Jaime Martin, Snoqualmie Tribal Member and executive director of governmental affairs and special projects with the Snoqualmie Tribe. “To make sure these lands are preserved for future generations, we need to shift how we relate to these lands from a selfish individualistic approach to a mindset equally focused on avoiding harm to the landscapes themselves. These lands cannot be taken for granted and it is critical that we slow down and experience these spaces in a meaningful way, rather than seeing them as something simply to consume.”
The Snoqualmie Tribe Ancestral Lands Movement Facebook page features information and resources about native plants, Tribal place names, and resources for youth. The Tribe also hopes to organize some events with local businesses in the area to encourage visitors to pick up trash that has become all too common on the trails.
Prominent organizations in the region have signed on to support the Ancestral Lands Movement, including Seattle Mountain Rescue, Oxbow Farms, Issaquah Alps Trail Club, Conservation NW, and King County Parks. The City of Sammamish also approved a proclamation officially supporting the Snoqualmie Tribe Ancestral Lands Movement on July 7th. The online pledge, where individuals can commit to supporting the Ancestral Lands Movement has garnered over 5,000 signatures.
Introductory materials are available in 6 languages, reflecting the diverse community that today calls the Snoqualmie Tribe’s Ancestral Lands home. Individuals, governments and organizations looking to learn more can visit the Tribe’s website and social media pages for more information.
The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe is a federally recognized tribe in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. Known as the People of the Moon, Snoqualmie tribal members were signatories to the Treaty of Point Elliott in 1855. For more information about the Tribe, visit www.snoqualmietribe.us.