Tribes and First Nations

View of Cascades valley from the Pacific Crest Trail. Credit: Tory Stevens

View of Cascades valley from the Pacific Crest Trail. Credit: Tory Stevens

The Cascadia landscape includes a rich cultural history of first peoples that lived on and moved through the lands for thousands of years.  They carry knowledge of the landscape, the species, and changes through generations.  They  had their own names for places within the Cascades and many of the smaller peaks, the most well-known to non-natives being Tahoma, the Lushootseed name for Mount Rainier.  The cultures were numerous and complex with overlapping territories, but in general historians say that the spine of the Cascades formed a kind of divide between the Interior and Coast Salish language groupings, and mythographically between the realm of Coyote on the east and that of the Transformers and the spirit-world of the Coast on the west.

Today individual tribes and First Nations own land in Cascadia on both sides of the border, and engage in management of many individual species and public lands that overlap territories and areas of historical importance to their people including across the international border.

British Columbia is home to 203 First Nations and approximately 30 different tribal groupings and has an estimated indigenous population of 196,000 (2006 census figure),which is about 4.6% of the total population in BC.  Within Cascadia, First Nations include the Sta’at’imc, Secwepemc, Nlaka’pamux, and Okanagan with multiple individual member bands within each.  Further information can be found in the First Nations BC Portal.

In Washington, there are twenty-nine federally recognized tribes.  Tribal reservations and usual and accustomed areas are throughout the Cascadia region.  Tribes with reservations or engagement in Cascadia include the Confederated Tribes of the Yakama Nation, Nisqually, Puyallup, Muckelshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Tulalip, Stillaguamish, Sauk-Suiattle, Swinomish, Upper Skagit, Sammish, Lummi, and Nooksack.  The Colville Confederated Tribes usual and accustomed area touches on the eastern boundaries of Cascadia along the Okanogan River.

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