Chief Seattle Club—Housing for Good in Seattle

According to King County’s 2020 “Count Us In” report, over 11,000 individuals experienced houselessness in 2020—a 5% increase from the previous year. Despite only making up 1% of the Seattle/King County population, American Indian/Alaskan Native peoples make up 15% of the houseless population. Across the nation, for every 10,000 Native people, 67 of them will experience homelessness.

CSC Executive Director Derrick Belgarde (Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon, Chippewa-Cree), Colleen Echohawk (Pawnee, Athabascan), former Chief Seattle Club Executive Director, and part of the tireless team at Chief Seattle Club

Though the epidemic of unaffordable housing is daunting, there are many organizations fighting against it. One such organization that has taken unprecedented steps towards ending Native houselessness in our area is Chief Seattle Club (CSC). Founded in 1970 with the mission "to provide sacred space to nurture, affirm, and strengthen the spirit of urban Native people,” CSC has led the charge in developing affordable housing for the Native population facing houselessness.

Mural on ʔálʔal's exterior

Their first venture into creating housing space for Indigenous peoples took the form of Eagle Village in SODO, which opened in 2019. These residences serve as temporary housing as well as providing a safe, stable, independent, and culturally supportive space for its residents. Serving as one head of the organization Colleen Echohawk decided that there could be more done for our relatives and community here. So, she embarked on a difficult journey of fundraising and developing affordable permanent housing for our Indigenous siblings and community. This effort all culminated in the construction and opening of the ʔálʔal (“Home” in Lushootseed) building in Pioneer Squareright next to CSC’s headquarters. This space provides housing for $200-300 per month, which will help secure housing for 80 of our relatives experiencing houselessness.

Two CSC staff place an Eighth Generation blanket on a bed in ʔálʔal

Now, with Colleen Echohawk as our CEO at Eighth Generation, we are proud to have not only maintained our relationship with CSC, but also strengthened it. Having donated blankets to CSC’s ʔálʔal and Eagle Village earlier this month, we strive to provide the same warmth, security, community, and empowerment that CSC offers everyday in its own services. We are immensely grateful and proud of the incredible work they are performing and offering for our relatives experiencing houselessness.

Author's note: I would like to stress the use of the term “houseless” and not “homeless.” Native people are home in these lands. It is colonization that has taken our houses.