At one with our natural surroundings | Tulalip Tribes

Our oral traditions tell us we have been here since the beginning of time and will be here until the end.

As the first people of this land, we are brought up with a deeply held respect for our ancestral lands and waters, as well as the plants and animals who share these environments with us.

The ancestral teachings and values that govern our lives guide our vision to honor, restore and protect the natural resources that our people have relied upon for centuries. “We are not only thinking of today, but of the future generations— we respect, honor, and give thanks to all livings things because that is what our people have always done,” said Inez Bill, a tribal elder and the Rediscovery Program manager at Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve.

Through projects like the restoration of the 400 acres Qwuloot Estuary, the Tulalip Salmon Fisheries, our work with the Obama administration to protect the Puget Sound and much more, we continue to uphold these values today. Kit Rawson, a long-time Natural Resources Department employee said: “Even as they have become more successful from a business standpoint, the Tribes have never lost focus on the environmental issues that face this region.”

Many of our environmental initiatives can be traced directly to the lifeways and traditions of our ancestors. Our work to get Chinook and Steelhead Salmon registered on the endangered species list, The Wetland program and Snohomish River Basin Watershed plan reflect our deep ties to fish and the waters they inhabit. The phrase “the right to hunt, gather, and fish in all of our usual and accustomed areas” from the Elliot Point Treaty is often quoted in the context of fish harvesting, but it has applications in the realm of restorative and conservationist action as well. “Salmon was always the only livelihood of our people. That’s all the tribes ever lived on. Tribes have been protecting the salmon and shellfish for thousands of years,” Stan Jones, said, “That’s all we want to do – continue to protect and enhance our natural resources. That’s how all of the tribes feel, and we’re doing our share to bring these resources back. We just have to keep working at it and get everybody to protect the salmon.”

Partners in Conservation

And dwindling salmon populations aren’t our region’s only concern. We have seen how modernization and pollution are affecting the climate and are aggressively forming partnerships, on the local, regional, and national levels to mitigate and reverse this phenomenon. Specifically, we’re working side by side with a task force of federal agencies to tackle environmental issues that face the Puget Sound and its surrounding region. Our values, teachings, and heritage position the tribes as a key player in the fight to reverse climate change— a role we will humbly accept on behalf of the land we are so deeply attached to.

Through time we have evolved and adapted to many changes, but for our people, there are some things that will always ring true:

  • We have respect for all living things.
  • We don’t take more than what we need.
  • We give thanks and prayer to our surroundings.
  • We have humbleness in our hearts.
  • We work today with the prosperity of future generations in mind.