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Ah, the great outdoors! There is nothing quite like escaping the hectic pace of the city to breathe in the fresh air, walk through a forest or field, and reconnect with nature. Here in the Seattle area, one of the most beautiful places to enjoy the great outdoors is on the Snoqualmie Tribe’s ancestral lands, which include many popular hiking and recreation areas in the Cascades region such as Mt Si, Twin Falls, Lake Sammamish, Snoqualmie Falls, Snoqualmie Pass, and more. Natural wonders are waiting around every bend, yet as more and more people visit each year, these lands are at a greater risk of degradation through littering, overuse, and visitors not staying on trails or respecting wildlife. None of us want that! If we recreate respectfully, we can go beyond recitation of land acknowledgment to actually practicing it, while also ensuring that these lands endure for future generations.
River area on traditional Snoqualmie lands; photo by Dave Hoefler/Unsplash
To better enjoy and respect these Native lands, it helps to know a little bit about the history of the Snoqualmie Tribe. The Snoqualmie people have lived throughout the Snoqualmie Valley and Salish Sea region since time immemorial. The US government first recognized the Tribe as a sovereign nation under the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott; however, it took almost 150 years for the Tribe’s sovereignty to be federally affirmed. (The US government recognized the Tribe’s sovereignty on October 6, 1999, and the momentous date is celebrated each year as Snoqualmie Rights Day.)
For thousands of years the Snoqualmie people have acted as stewards of the region’s forests, waterways, and wildlife. As a result, a deep connection with the environment remains central to the Snoqualmie way of life. To bring greater awareness to the specialness of the region and the challenges it is facing, the Tribe launched the Snoqualmie Tribe Ancestral Lands Movement, which works to teach people about the need to support, protect, restore, and respect Native lands in the region for the benefit of everyone.
The Snoqualmie Falls; photo by GanapathyKumar/Unsplash
If you are searching for outdoor adventure and beauty, the region around Seattle is an amazing place to start. Whether exploring trails and streams or searching for an epic view, the Snoqualmie Tribe’s ancestral lands are the perfect place to escape and recreate, no matter the outdoor activity you desire. From hiking the trails of Mt. Si for breathtaking views of Snoqualmie Valley to kayaking Lake Sammamish while catching a glimpse of a Great Blue Heron, endless recreational possibilities await.
However, no visit to the region would be complete without experiencing the majesty of one of the Pacific Northwest’s most spectacular destinations, Snoqualmie Falls. This sacred site is open to the public, and you can enhance your visit and show respect by learning about the significance of the Falls on the Snoqualmie Tribe’s website.
The beautiful Falls with autumn foliage; photo by Taylor Simpson/Unsplash
Visitors to Snoqualmie Tribal lands can join in the positive impact of the Ancestral Lands Movement and have a great time too by following a few simple practices that can help the Snoqualmie communities achieve the Ancestral Lands Movement’s mission to protect, preserve, and restore.
A “carry in, carry out” policy is always a good plan when exploring the outdoors. An even better idea is to “leave it better than how you found it,” meaning that you remove not only your own trash, but any other litter you find on your adventure. And always properly dispose of waste from any furry friends you bring with you.
While we might get the urge to go off the beaten path to find a better view or that perfect “Top of the World” moment for our next TikTok video, it is best to respect ancestral lands and keep to designated trails. Trailblazing, no matter how cool you feel doing it, can be dangerous, and even the slightest off-trail human encroachment can wreak havoc on ecosystems.
No matter your reasons for visiting tribal lands, be mindful of the experience. Learn the tribal history of the area you’re visiting—it will help you form an even greater connection to the natural beauty around you. It is informative, respectful, and makes for much more fun and rewarding adventures.
One of the best ways to honor the region’s people and traditions is to simply acknowledge you are visiting sovereign tribal lands. When you post photos on social media, make a point to share whose ancestral lands you’re on, and if possible, tag the tribe or share a link for further reading. If you’re on Snoqualmie lands, it’s easy to tag @snotribeancestrallandsmovement to share with them you support the sovereignty of the Snoqualmie Tribe and pledge to always recreate respectfully on tribal lands.
Following these simple practices to recreate respectfully helps protect the cultural and spiritual connection the Snoqualmie people share with their ancestral lands. So, be mindful of the importance the lands hold for the Snoqualmie community when you get out there and recreate!
Founded in 2008 by artist, educator, and activist Louie Gong (Nooksack), Seattle-based Eighth Generation was acquired by the Snoqualmie Tribe in 2019. Just as Eighth Generation is a model for how other businesses and ethical consumers can work with Native artists and respectfully purchase cultural art, the Snoqualmie Tribe Ancestral Land Movement is lighting the way for how all people can respectfully enjoy the beautiful lands that have been cared for by Native people since time immemorial.
It’s easy to support Native lands! You can have fun while you recreate respectfully, acknowledge Native voices and traditions, and find meaning in each discovery. Learn more about Eighth Generation and the Snoqualmie Tribe and join the mission to help preserve ancestral lands and traditions for all time.