About the Gathering
The Coast Salish peoples sacred inherent right is to restore, preserve, and protect our shared environment and natural resources in our ancestral homelands — the Salish Sea.
Our homelands are rich in a diverse array of marine and upland resources unique to this area that sustain our cultures and traditions. Salmon are the icon of this essential and yet diminishing connection of our people to our land. Our homelands and our resources are under significant pressure from population growth, industrial expansion, and economic demands.
Due to the serious environmental challenges to the Salish Sea, Tribal and First Nation leaders, along with non-tribal governing officials, come together in a non-government to government consultation event yearly to engage in a policy dialogue to find common ground on environmental issues in our shared region.
The focus is to find a means of resolving these critical issues together. We remember that our environment and natural resources know no boundary, nor do the traditions and cultural life ways of the Coast Salish Peoples.
The Coast Salish Gathering provides the opportunity for U.S. tribal leaders and First Nation Chiefs, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada to build a collaborative body for mutual understanding to solve the environmental issues facing our shared homelands.
We do not observe the gathering as a government to government consultation process, as we respect each autonomous governing body, but merely a means of coming together to find common grounds on environmental and natural resources issues, concerns, and projects.
The Gathering facilitates a shared effort to identify priority environmental concerns, issues, and projects in the transboundary Coast Salish Region that is comprised of the Puget Sound in the United States, the Georgia Basin in Canada, and the Straits of Juan de Fuca shared by both countries.
The Gathering is a “Policy Dialogue” that brings major environmental issues to the attention of government officials in a common voice. The Gathering is a common voice calling out that exposes the policy officials to the many values of the traditions, knowledge, and informs our habitat restoration and environmental management efforts.
About the Coast Salish People
The Coast Salish Nation covers over 645,000 acres and is the ancestral territory of British Columbia Coast Salish Nations and Western Washington Tribes. The Nation shares family ties, cultural, political alliances and desire to protect our resources in the endangered eco-region. Since time immemorial, the Coast Salish people have related by languages and bloodlines, have lived in the mountains, shorelines and watersheds of the Salish Sea.
Swinomish Chairman Brian Cladoosby described the position of leaders of the Coast Salish Nation,
"We are a Nation of the 21st Century, we are not our grandfathers' generation. Our inherent rights to protect the resources and people of the Salish Sea must be recognized by federal agencies and regulations and policies put in place to protect our way of life for generations to come. Our identity is intimately linked to our ancestral territories. We cannot forget our teachings and their relevance to our role as stewards over our lands and the Salish Sea."
Ray Harris, Co-Chair of the First Nations Summit, shared,
"In the past 150 years since the Nation States of Canada and the U.S. made their claims to our territory, we have seen the thriving Salish Sea of our ancestors degraded by pollution, development and environmental mismanagement. Today we will continue to come together as one People, the Coast Salish Nation, and we will move our neighboring governments to protect our shared way of life in a seven generation mind frame."