Cultural Resources

icon - Cultural Resources

honoring ancestral lands, waters, and lifeways

C o a s t   S a l i s h   C u l t u r a l   R e s o u r c e s 

Canoe CRNative American Tribes and First Nations of Canada have lived in and stewarded the San Juan Islands as part of their ancestral territory since time immemorial. Coast Salish people in the Islands tended and harvested shellfish, salmon, crab, and other species from the Sea, camas in the prairies, berries along streams and in forests, and other flora and fauna for food and traditional uses. These ancestral lands and waters are still utilized today, and are protected under inherent, ancestral, and tribal treaty rights.

Patti and Debra

Coast Salish Acknowledgement

The following acknowledgment follows language shared at the Coast Salish Gatherings. The County's Department of Environmental Stewardship ensures that the Coast Salish presence and treaty rights are acknowledged prior to in-person advisory and public meetings, and encourages others to do so also.

Let us acknowledge we reside on the ancestral lands and waters of the Coast Salish people who have called this place home since time immemorial and let us honor inherent, aboriginal and treaty rights that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Tribes and Treaties of Washington State

There is a combination of treaty and non-treaty tribes in WA State. Between 1854 and 1856 seven treaties were signed between the Federal Government and tribes. This included the Treaty of Point Elliott that encompasses the San Juan Islands. The Treaty of Point Elliott was signed on January 22, 1855 at Mukilteo and included the Duwamish, Suquamish, Lummi, Skagit, Swinomish, Samish, and Tulalip Tribes (the Tulalip tribes included the Snoqualmie, Skykomish, and Snohomish Tribes).

Links to the Treaties

Coast Salish Cultural Work Sessions

In December 2020 San Juan County Environmental Stewardship hosted a 3-session virtual workshop with Debra Lekanoff to share Coast Salish relationships through the Salish Sea and connections to the environment and resources and a discussion of best practices to working with Washington Tribes.

Along with Debra Lekanoff panelists included Jay Julius of the Lummi Nation, Patti Gobin of the Tulalip Tribes, Ray Harris of the Chemainus First Nation, Sam Barr of the Samish Indian Nation and the Stillaguamish Tribe, and Diana Bob from Native Law Firm.

These sessions have been made available for your viewing below.

In March 2021 San Juan County Environmental Stewardship hosted a second set of work sessions. These sessions, led by Stacey Bumbeck of Jacobs Engineering focused on the technical aspects of Section 106 requirements of the National Historic Preservation Act and local and state laws.  Due to some sensitive material shared in the presentations, these recordings are only available to county staff upon request. Please contact Frances Robertson or Kendra Smith if you are interested. 


Video 1: Coast Salish Relationship 

Through the Salish Sea


Video 2: Science and Policy of the Salish Sea


Video 3: Best Practices to Work with Washington Tribes

Other Links of Interest

Evaluating threats in the Salish Sea: A Coast Salish and First Nations Perspective

A Decade of Disappearance: Bull Kelp in the San Juan Islands - A presence/absence comparison of Bull Kelp canopies over a decade of time in Samish Traditional Territory, San Juan Archipelago, Washington 


For County departments please note that Environmental Stewardship manages four Archaeological Master Services Contracts, these are available to all County departments. If you have a project in the nearshore, or are required to have an archaeological review, please contact us to help select an appropriate firm for your needs.

If you have permit related questions about cultural resources, please contact Shannon FitzGerald at the Department of Community Development & Planning: Email Shannon Fitzgerald

For all other questions please contact Frances Robertson, Environmental Stewardship: Email Frances Robertson