My neighbor asked me how I was planning to honor the indigenous land that I will be crossing in my trip. Immediately I replied “I planned the route to not cross any reservations so I need less permits.” I also though in the time of Covid tribes do not want people on their reservations.
I quickly realized I did not fully understand the questions and the answer gave showed my ignorance. She was talking about all land, because the land I walk across was cared for by a vast number of Native American tribes for centuries.
I have spent some time thinking about my first quick response and realize it came from my lack of education and a lack of respect. I live in the Pacific Northwest, the land of the Salish people. I am minimally aware of the history of indigenous people in my area, and with my limits of knowledge I have always felt that indigenous people got robbed of their land. For example, is the Yakama Nation’s reservation located where they traditionally lived most the year? The answer is an unsurprising no. They live off the abundant Columbia River salmon runs, but their “reservation” lands are not along the Columbia because they were robbed of their land along the river. It continues to this day, the Colville tribe were recently robbed of their entire livelihood when the Grand Coulee Dam was developed cutting off the flow of salmon. The absence of salmon above the dam continues to have negatively effects for the Colville people.
Can I say I am educated on the indigenous people of the Salish sea, because I have typed a few sentences here. A few sentences that are based on some reading, but probably mostly opinion. An opinion which lacks basic knowledge of their struggles caused by the forced changes of the white man in search of resources.
If I neglect to honor the indigenous lands of the Salish Sea, do I have the knowledge or capacity to truly honor the indigenous lands I will travel through while hiking the Four Corners Loop. At this time my answer to the question is no. I don’t know enough. I have not lived on and not cared for the lands for over 10,000 years like Native Americans have. They know the land and I am only beginning to enjoy it as they have done for centuries.
I appreciate my local radio station KEXP 90.3 because they frequently make public service announcements acknowledging the fact they are broadcasting from the land of the Salish and Duwamish people. Acknowledging native peoples and their land they cared for is a start and I look forward to learning more as I travel.
It has always been my plan to learn about the land, and the people on the land as I walk for six months. I do look forward to learning about the indigenous people of the Southwest. I tried to honor the region with the creation of the Four Corners Loop Logo the sunset and the juniper tree, but now it is time to honor the indigenous tribes who’s land I will be traveling through.
I would like to thank and honor the following tribes for who’s land I will enjoy and you will enjoy by following me. I will respect the land for its beauty and honor it as you have for a long time.
Havasu Baaja (Havasupai)
Nuwuvi (South Pairte)
Shoshone - Bannock
White Mountain Apache
I know I will be awed by the views, sounds, silence. I look forward to learning more as I walk which will enable me to respect the land and take care of it as you have done for a very long time.