Tag Archives: indigenous peoples

Why Don’t We See More People of Color on the Trails of Washington State?

by Caroline Guzman


A friend from India took me to Snow Lake last year. At Snow Lake, there are certain birds so accustomed to humans they will land on your hand or arms for bird seed. Having that connection with the birds made me realize I should stop being anxious about a future I cannot control and start living in the present as wild animals do to enjoy such unprecedented moments. On our way back, my friend and I noticed there were not many People of Color on the trail and we discussed how lovely it would’ve been for our families to experience what we did. 

Being surrounded by the Puget Sound, breathtaking landscapes, mountains, and of course, our iconic active volcano Mount Rainier have led Seattle to be named one of “The World’s Greatest Places of 2021” by TIME Magazine. The Washington Office of Financial Management reported that Washington State added 109,800 people throughout 2019 — a 1.5% increase. But many BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) residents have not gotten the opportunity to see and enjoy the beautiful wilderness that Washington State offers. 

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‘Thriving Peoples, Thriving Places’: Pop Art Campaign Honors the Contributions of Indigenous Women to Global Biodiversity

by Nia Tero

(This article originally appeared on Real Change and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


We are in a critical moment. In the midst of an ongoing global pandemic that is leaving no family untouched, compounded by increasingly extreme weather events linked to climate change, a unique global art project is shining a light on voices essential to the ecological solutions and collective healing we seek: Indigenous women.

“Thriving Peoples, Thriving Places” is a collaboration between two Seattle-based not-for-profit organizations — Indigenous-focused Nia Tero and design lab Amplifier — launching on International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, which is Aug. 9. The global exhibit includes six original portraits commissioned from Washington, D.C.-based artist and illustrator Tracie Ching. The art will be available digitally as well as at public art events in cities, including Seattle, Washington, D.C., New York City, São Paulo, and London. The project celebrates Indigenous women who have acted as stewards of biodiversity across Earth and prompts action amongst an engaged global audience.

The nine Indigenous women at the center of this project are robust examples of real action we can take to strive for the health and future of the planet. They are from communities spanning the globe, from the Philippines and New Zealand, to the Brazilian Amazon to Scandinavia, to the global north, embodying Indigenous experience while carrying generational knowledge and inherited dedication:

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Seedcast: Getting Back to the Dirt

by Edgar Franks

Indigenous peoples and communities have long used stories to understand the world and our place in it. Seedcast is a story-centered podcast by Nia Tero and a special monthly column produced in partnership with the South Seattle Emerald about nurturing and rooting stories of the Indigenous experience.


I grew up in the 1980s in Texas in a family of migrant farmworkers. We spent half of the year in Texas; the other half of the year we lived in Washington State. When I was about 6 or 7, my mom settled in Skagit County, and I’ve been here pretty much ever since then. At age 10, I joined my family members at work. I grew up in the fields and stayed there for a decade and a half.

These days I spend most of my time serving as the political director for an independent farmworker union called Familias Unidas por La Justicia (FUJ). While most people associate unions with strikes, work stoppages, and picket lines, my day-to-day job at FUJ is based in quieter activities. I mostly talk one-on-one with members of the union, whom I consider to be my bosses, prioritizing my tasks based on what they need. I help with work-related problems but also rent-related or immigration-related issues. Care for our members extends past the fields and into the lives of their families.

In June, for example, we focused on getting ready for berry harvesting season — strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry — going out to sites of employment and letting workers know about their rights. When it’s safe to travel, I also represent the union across the state and country as well as around the world, coordinating initiatives with partners then reporting back to our executive committee and our workers. I enjoy my work and the people I get to work for. I’m lucky.

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yəhaw̓ Indigenous Creatives Collective is Here to Lift the Sky and Make a Space for Indigenous Art

by Kamna Shastri


There is a Coast Salish story about a number of neighboring villages, each speaking a different language but sharing the same land. While they did not understand one another, they had a shared challenge: When the Creator had made the world, he had left the sky a little too low. The village communities realized that though they spoke different languages, they had a shared word that could help them change the situation.

yəhaw̓ — a Lushootseed word meaning “to proceed” or “move forward.” Together they called out synchronously. Each time the word escaped their lips, a collective sound powerful and potent, the sky moved up just a little more.

This is the story behind yəhaw̓ Indigenous Creatives Collective, a newly birthed nonprofit which became a larger movement after beginning as a one-time art show at King Street Station in 2019.

“We felt like that was a really beautiful story in terms of art and the power of art and culture to unite communities and become a source of shared empowerment,” said Asia Tail, one of the collective’s three founders.

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Seedcast: You Can’t Complete the Circle Without Us

by Raven Two Feathers in collaboration with Julie Keck

Indigenous peoples and communities have long used stories to understand the world and our place in it. Seedcast is a story-centered podcast by Nia Tero and a special monthly column produced in partnership with the South Seattle Emerald about nurturing and rooting stories of the Indigenous experience.


June is commonly recognized in the United States as Pride Month, a tight 30 days during which LGBTQIA+ folks, whom for brevity I’ll refer to as queer in this piece, are typically expected to embrace being out and proud. Before pandemic times, parades and throbbing beats and feather boas were abundant; corporations are still leaning hard on adding rainbow filters to their logos. However, not as many people know June is also Indigenous History Month in Canada which has bled into the U.S. through proximity and because the same genocidal tactics are happening on both sides of the border. This month lies at the intersection of queerness and Indigeneity, which is especially lovely, because so do many of my loved ones, including yours truly. 

Osiyo, Sgeno, Nya:wëh sgë:nö’, Haa marúawe, ʔi, syaʔyaʔ. Hello, my name is Raven Two Feathers; I’m Cherokee, Seneca, Cayuga, and Comanche. I live on Coast Salish territory, commonly known as Seattle. I am from Pueblo, Diné, and Apache territory (Albuquerque, New Mexico). I’m an Emmy-award winning creator with a B.F.A. in film production, and most pertinent, I’m Two Spirit and trans masculine. No need to worry if this is the first time learning the term Two Spirit: I wrote a whole comic about my journey toward better understanding myself called Qualifications of Being. It includes a primer on what it means to be Two Spirit on page 25. You can read it here for free!

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Seedcast: Re-Indigenizing the Family

by Mariana Harvey

Indigenous peoples and communities have long used stories to understand the world and our place in it. Seedcast is a story-centered podcast by Nia Tero and a special monthly column produced in partnership with the South Seattle Emerald about nurturing and rooting stories of the Indigenous experience.


(In Ichishskíin) Ínknash waníkxa̱ Mariana Harvey. Washnash Yakama kníck. 

I’m Mariana Harvey. I’m an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. My bands are Klickitat and Sk’in-pah. I am also Táytnapam, Spokane, Choctaw, Swedish, and Black. Culturally, I was raised Yakama in the City of Seattle. Being Yakama and an Urban Native is how I orient myself in the world. 

I am the wild foods and medicines program coordinator for Garden Raised Bounty, or GRuB, in Olympia, Washington. I’m an íła (mother), and I have a beautiful 2-year-old son named Áyut as well as a loving partner named Itsa. We all live together in the lands of the Squaxin Island, Nisqually, and Chehalis peoples, currently known as Olympia, Washington. I am honored to share a little bit about our journey re-Indigenizing our lives through parenthood.

The revolution, as they say, starts at home. When I was pregnant, I started to ask more questions about my grandmothers. What were their lives like? What was motherhood like for them? I’d grown up knowing that my paternal grandmother went to boarding school and that Ichishskíin was her first language. Due to the violence, trauma, and assimilation of boarding school, she did not pass on her first language in our family. It wasn’t until I was on my own motherhood journey that I really sat with these stories, sat with and appreciated the strength of my grandmother for all she went through raising seven children after what she had been through as a child herself. I had a moment where I realized, “These are the traumas we [today’s Indigenous families] are trying to heal from today.”

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Be’er Sheva Park to Host Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Solidarity Prayer Walk

by Chloe Collyer


May 5 was the annual day to honor Hanna Harris and the movement for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). Harris (Northern Cheyenne) was a 21-year-old new mother who was murdered in July of 2013. What sounds like a plot to a psychological thriller is a daily reality for the families of over 5800 missing and murdered Indigenous women in North America.

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Seedcast: Protecting Mother Earth, Standing Up for #MMIWG

by Rachel Heaton

Indigenous peoples and communities have long used stories to understand the world and our place in it. Seedcast is a story-centered podcast by Nia Tero and a special monthly column produced in partnership with the South Seattle Emerald about nurturing and rooting stories of the Indigenous experience.


I’m Rachel Heaton. I am a member of the Muckleshoot Tribe in Auburn, Washington. I’m also a descendant of the Duwamish peoples, the original inhabitants of Seattle, and do hold descendancy with European folks, mostly Welsh, German, and Irish. I’m a mother to three children, ages 22, 14, and 2. I work as a cultural educator for the Muckleshoot Tribe, and I’m a co-founder of Mazaska Talks

Inspired by our learnings from Standing Rock, specifically finding out which banks funded the pipeline and learning about the coalition work done by organizers to get the City of Seattle to divest their money from Wells Fargo, co-founder Matt Remle and I formed Mazaska Talks. We use it as a way to educate people on issues related to the harming of Mother Earth and repression of Indigenous rights, then to organize action. For example, because we see the harm brought by the fossil fuel industry, we organize divestment campaigns.

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Native Communities Seek to Keep the Spirit of the Powwow Alive During the Pandemic

by Alexa Peters


Any Native American powwow performer, artisan, staffer, or organizer will tell you that a powwow — rich with intricately-beaded regalia, the dust of dancing moccasins, and the call and response of traditional songs — is a celebration of life itself; it’s a chance to honor the drum that beats in us all.

While nothing can stop the beat of this drum, the ways of celebration must adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic, which disproportionately affects Native Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 23 selected states, the number of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases among American Indian and Alaskan Native people “was 3.5 times that of non-Hispanic whites.”

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Seedcast: Colleen Echohawk on Family and Inspiration

by Felipe Contreras

Indigenous peoples and communities have long used stories to understand the world and our place in it. Seedcast is a story-centered podcast by Nia Tero and a special monthly column produced in partnership with the South Seattle Emerald about nurturing and rooting stories of the Indigenous experience.


On March 24, my colleagues and I on Nia Tero’s Seedcast team will release the first episode of our new season of the podcast, featuring an interview with Colleen Echohawk, executive director of Chief Seattle Club. Colleen is an enrolled member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, and she is also adopted into the Ahtna/Athabaskan community where she grew up in Mentasta Lake, Alaska. I was honored to interview Colleen for the episode, which is focused on Colleen’s exploration of what shaped her into the leader she is today, with an emphasis on her Indigenous heritage.

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