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Land Acknowledgement and Equity Initiatives

Land Acknowledgement 

Wilderness Awareness School is based on the traditional lands of the Coast Salish Peoples, specifically the Snoqualmie Tribe. In an effort to honor the land where we live and learn, as well as the Indigenous Nations who have tended to it for generations, and continue tending to it beyond the settlements of the Treaty of Point Elliot of 1855, we acknowledge the history of colonization and the ongoing fight for promised treaty-rights that continue to shape Indigenous-settler relationships in our community and our bioregion. 

Our organization aims to lead with a spirit of compassion, deep reflection, and understanding. We begin this effort by honoring the truth of the history that brings us to where we are today. Colonization is an ongoing process and the Snoqualmie People continue to be resilient in tending to their ecological and cultural lifeways. It is a privilege for us to be here on their ancestral lands. Please join us in honoring them, as well as their elders past and present. 

Supporting Indigenous Nations

Wilderness Awareness School is committed to taking actionable steps to support the Indigenous Nations who live on the lands where our school operates and resides. Some of our commitments include:

  • Becoming a corporate member of the Hibulb Cultural Center, which is both a rich public educational resource and a source of civic pride for the Tulalip Tribes of Washington.
  • Participating in Snoqualmie Tribe's Habitat Restoration projects, which are working to restore traditional ecological knowledge through tree plantings, noxious weed removal, and trail building.
  • Paying Real Rent to the Duwamish Tribal Services to support the revival of Duwamish culture and the vitality of the Duwamish Tribe.
  • Donating to the Lummi Nation's Sacred Sea project which is working to protect and revitalize the Salish Sea. 

Equity Declaration

Wilderness Awareness School is committed to fostering a culture that:

  • Recognizes difference.
  • Invites diverse perspectives.
  • Acknowledges current inequities and grief resulting from centuries of oppression in all its forms, including structural racism.
  • Cultivates an increasingly welcoming space for diverse representation of staff, students, apprentices, board, and elders.

In 2017, we founded an Equity Council with the charter to shape practices and policies in service to justice. We encourage and support students, staff, elders, families, and other stakeholders of WAS to build their own awareness and deepen their skill sets required for a just and equitable future for all.

Equity Council

The Wilderness Awareness School Equity Council supports our organization as we navigate the inspiring, challenging, and complex terrain of creating a more welcoming, inclusive, and safe environment. Historical trauma and oppressive social structures are certainly at work in keeping some people from having a meaningful connection to the natural world. WAS is committed to doing our best to identify and reduce these barriers in order to improve access to our programs. While this work is generational and ongoing, the council serves as an advisory group supporting students, staff, elders, board, parents, and other supporters in taking concrete steps towards a more just and equitable community and organization.

Core commitments that the council helps:

  • To raise awareness of the native communities, cultures, and knowledge that have created a deep history of this place we now call home, the Snoqualmie Valley, and the history of, and present-day relationships between, settler-colonial cultures and native cultures in our region and beyond.
  • To represent our history and curriculum in a way that honors our legacy, and also creates an inclusive and welcoming environment for learning. We will honor and acknowledge the skills and traditions of native communities that now inform some of the curricula at our programs.
  • To cultivate a more welcoming and inclusive space for diverse representation of staff, students, apprentices, board and elders.

We see equity and inclusion work as a constant practice and dialogue that is most effective when there is unity and understanding. The Equity Council is tasked with keeping these conversations alive and present for all stakeholder groups in our organization and the greater community. Members of the council are available for any questions about our work at WAS.

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