Native Americans | KUOW News and Information

Native Americans

Turning to face the water behind her, Roxanne White recalled her ancestors’ memories of the Columbia River.

“At one point, if you can imagine, they would say you could walk off the backs of the salmon across the river,” said White, a Yakama Nation descendant. “Now they’re so minimal, and they’re sick. Just like our mother earth; just like our water.” 

The rare but ever-present risk of a tsunami has worried people along the Pacific Northwest coast for years. Different communities are working on moving critical facilities to higher ground.

Jill Davenport

Nearly half the anchor lines on an Atlantic salmon farm snapped one evening in July, a month before an even worse accident caused the aging pens to collapse completely.


The list of racist place names in Washington is long, but the state is slowly getting rid of them.

The latest is a “Squaw Creek” southwest of the town of Methow in Eastern Washington.

The White House is blocking money to build new tribal housing along the Columbia River. That’s according to five members of the Washington and Oregon congressional delegations.

KUOW / John Ryan

Protesters at Gov. Jay Inslee’s town hall on climate change at the University of Washington in Seattle said the governor’s actions don’t live up to his stirring words.

In the 1940s, construction of the Grand Coulee Dam ended a generations-long tradition among the region’s Native American tribes who had gathered at a nearby waterfall every year. But last year, five tribes revived that tradition.

Colleen Echohawk, executive director of the Chief Seattle Club.
KUOW Photo/Katherine Banwell


Many Native people who are homeless in Seattle say they feel invisible.

“We are a city that’s named after a great chief of Suquamish-Duwamish descent, and we don’t always know and feel that in this city,” said Colleen Echohawk-Hayashi, executive director of the Chief Seattle Club. “I think that we have an issue where we don’t really want to engage in it.”

Nikk Dakota of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Tribe walks into the Indigenous Peoples' Day Celebration at Daybreak Star Cultural Center on Monday, October 9, 2017, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Seattle celebrated Indigenous Peoples' Day on Monday with a march from Westlake Park to Seattle City Hall.

"It means we're still here and I'm proud," said Frieda Eide, an Alaskan native and member of the Tlingit Tribe. "I'd like to see more involvement with other communities joining together and acknowledging whose land we're on." 

Sara Jacobsen, left, never gave much thought to the Chilkat robe hanging over her dining room table. Until she took a class in high school, when she saw another robe that looked eerily similar to the one at home.
Courtesy of Sara Jacobsen

Sara Jacobsen, 19, grew up eating family dinners beneath a stunning Native American robe.


What was expected to be a two-day hearing on tribal sovereignty spilled into its third day Friday. The provincial government in British Columbia is appealing a landmark decision that reestablished hunting rights for members of an Indian tribe who live on both sides of the border.

Members of the Sinixt Indian tribe reside on the reservation of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville in Washington. Last spring, one of them won a landmark court case in Canada reestablishing their tribal rights there.

The forest fires raging in the Columbia River Gorge are unlikely to disturb adult coho salmon right now. But Northwest tribal fishers are worried about what will happen in the fall.

Nobu Koch / Sealaska Heritage Institute

When Bruce Jacobsen moved to Seattle in 1986, he fell in love with the Pacific Northwest. He wanted to express his appreciation with a piece of Native art, and found one at a gallery Pioneer Square: an antique Chilkat robe.

"I just thought it was so beautiful, and it was like nothing I had seen before," Jacobsen said.


Why more Native Americans are homeless in Seattle

Aug 18, 2017
Colleen Echohawk, executive director of the Chief Seattle Club.
KUOW Photo/Katherine Banwell

The number of Native Americans on King County streets is greater than ever. A recent survey found that there are more American Indians and Alaska Natives than a year ago.

Colleen Echohawk said there are many reasons for that, but the most important is that Natives are nervous about trusting the current system of finding houses for them.

Storme Webber's  'I Cover the Waterfront', a 1950s photograph of the artist's grandmother, 2016. Digital prints modified from original.
Courtesy of Frye Art Museum/Storme Webber

For much of the 20th century, Pioneer Square was the heart of Seattle’s gay community.

Artist Storme Webber grew up lesbian in Seattle and often went to Pioneer Square with her mother – who was also gay.


Flickr/Daniella Urdinlaiz (CC BY 2.0)

Comedian George Carlin is funny and serious as he talks about white privilege, things he could do without, and why he dislikes the label Native American. 

"They're not natives, they emigrated here. They came from Asia. And putting the word American on them is the supreme insult. After you steal their cultures, put them on the worst land possible, give them blankets with smallpox then turn around and give your name. It's repulsive." 

Carlin was interviewed by KUOW's Steve Scher on the occasion of publishing his book "Brain Droppings." 

Shxwhá:y drummer Leonard Gladstone, 17, center, stands while drumming on Thursday, July 27, 2017, while waiting for the 'Emma canoe' to arrive in Tsawassen, British Columbia.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Over the past few weeks, dozens of tribes across the Pacific Northwest have been paddling canoes 200-400 miles on the salty waters between Washington and Vancouver Island.

Deborah Alexander led about a dozen young paddlers on the annual canoe journey along traditional trade routes. Alexander’s canoe was filled with many people, including herself, who have been disenrolled from their tribe.


A new film based on an award-winning novel by a Portland author is playing across the country this summer. It’s star hails from Yakima, Washington.

The triumph and tragedy of the Ballard Locks

Jul 3, 2017
A postcard of the Ballard Locks, 1917
Flickr Photo/Seattle Municipal Archives (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/ecguhZ

Bill Radke speaks with Seattle Times environment reporter Lynda Mapes about the 100-year anniversary of the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, also known as the Ballard Locks.

Mapes discusses how truly transformational the Locks were, for both good and ill. She details the ways in which the city was reshaped in ways that were only possibly because of the Locks. But she also discusses the human cost and how the oppressed Native American population was even further harmed by this progress. 

Kwiaht

The Bureau of Land Management will not allow an archaeological dig at Iceberg Point in the San Juan Islands this summer after officials got an earful from residents concerned about possible impacts to the popular area.

KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

The federal government explained to the Nooksack tribe Wednesday how it will take over tribal health and social services.

Public Domain

If you find yourself at Lake Washington this summer, breathe deeply.

Matthew Klingle, author of "Emerald City: An Environmental History of Seattle," says you wouldn't have wanted to do that 60 years ago, when the lake was chronically polluted with sewage.

Attorney Bree Black Horse (left) and Renee Davis' foster sister Danielle Bargala at Davis' home.
KUOW Photo/Dan DeLong

Jurors in an inquest found unanimously that two King County deputies feared for their lives when they shot Muckleshoot tribal member Renee Davis last October. Half of the jurors also found the deputies — upon entering Davis’ bedroom —  were not concerned about her welfare.  

U.S. Bureau of Land Management

The Trump administration has given an initial thumbs-up to a plan to dig holes throughout a meadow of rare wildflowers inside the San Juan Islands National Monument.

It’s not part of any effort to eliminate the monument: It’s part of local tribes’ efforts to improve their diets and revive old traditions.

Khu.eex'
Russell Johnson

What do you get when you cross tribal music with jazz and funk? Khu.eex'

That’s the name of a Seattle band performing at this weekend’s Folklife festival in Seattle.

Well over 100 people gathered Saturday to show support after vandals broke into the Salish School of Spokane and scrawled racial slurs targeting Native Americans on the walls of a classroom.

Children between the ages of one and 11 attend the school, where they learn Salish—a language spoken among many Indian tribes in the Northwest, including the Colville, Kalispell, and the Spokane tribes.

Lactation consultant Camie Goldhammer helps 5-week-old Darius latch onto his mother, Carole Gibson-Smith. Goldhammer, a social worker by training, focuses on breastfeeding in communities of color, particularly in Native communities.
KUOW Photo/Ann Dornfeld

The birth of Camie Goldhammer's first daughter did not go as planned. The labor had gone long, and Goldhammer, a social worker, ended up having an emergency C-section. 

And she was still in shock when a nurse gently helped her open the top of her gown to put the tiny child to her breast.  

British Columbia’s government has taken the next step in a long running legal dispute with an Indian tribe in Washington state.

The case dates back to 2009 when Washington resident and defendant Rick Desautel knowingly hunted elk illegally in British Columbia.

In Indian Country, a gym membership is not a cultural norm and the incidence of heart disease and obesity are high. Native Americans are 60 percent more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic whites. The Coeur D'Alene tribe, whose headquarters is in northern Idaho, is trying to combat the problem by incorporating culture into fitness programs.

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