Harvard Honoring Nations Awards Ceremony 2010

Opening introduction by HHN Board Member | November 17, 2010

The Salish Sea Eco-region is comprised of the watersheds of the Straits of Georgia, Straits of Juan De Fuca, and Puget Sound, spanning the western US and Canadian Border lands. For millennia, the waterways of the Salish Sea have provided resources to the Indigenous peoples of the region.

Today, however, environmental degradation is a grave concern of the Coast Salish People. Over the years, these Indigenous nations have witnessed vital resources needed for their sustenance, economic livelihoods, and cultural practices diminish under significant environmental pressures form population growth, industrial expansion, and economic demands. Salmon runs have declined or lost, shellfish beds have been polluted, and a once-productive resources habitat has been converted to suburban development.

The Coast Salish Gathering provides and environmental policy platform for the tribal and First nations governments, states, and provincial and the US and Canadian federal governments-all of which have interest in the Salish Sea region-to discuss and determine effective environmental strategies and practices. Most important for the environmental issues that matter most to them: access to toxin-free traditional foods, adequate water quality and quantity, and collective climate change policies.

The Coast Salish Gathering has resulted in tremendous environmental advocacy. But it has also rejuvenated the Salish as a people, reawakening relationships that were broken with the US-Canadian border. The phrase "One People, One Body of Water" now resonates throughout the region. To Date, there have been five Gatherings, bringing together over 800 elected and traditional leaders. The Coast Salish Gathering has directly resulted in a revitalization of blood-ties, language usage, songs and traditions and has restored generations of reciprocity.

High Honors goes to the Coast Salish Gathering.

Video (to come)

Photos: 2010 Harvard Honoring Nations Award