Snoqualmie Falls and the Salish Lodge & Spa. File photo

Snoqualmie Falls and the Salish Lodge & Spa. File photo

Help protect the sacred Snoqualmie Falls | Guest editorial

By the Snoqualmie Tribe

  • Tuesday, July 21, 2020 4:40pm
  • Opinion

For the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, Snoqualmie Falls and the surrounding area is home to the spirit of our people. It is the center of the traditional creation history of our people. Our people have lived and died here since time immemorial. It is part of us as much as we are a part of it – it helps to define who we are, and for millennia the Falls’ sacred relationship with our people has been part of its definition too.

In these unprecedented and unpredictable times, it is more important than ever to take steps to protect these sacred lands. And, we are doing so. Sacred places like Snoqualmie Falls serve as a reminder of our common humanity, playing a critical role in so many different faiths, cultures, and histories. The Falls inspire awe and wonder among its visitors from around the world and has for generations, bringing us all closer together in reverence for nature and the divine.

The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe follows the teachings of our ancestors to respect and care for our lands, people, community and the surrounding Valley. Today, we continue to carry our teachings and traditions forward despite the later-introduced concept that land and nature are for consumption and profit.

For the past century and a half, this Valley has endured rapid, staggering and irreversible changes. Development and recreation continue to encroach on all our sacred lands, including sacred Snoqualmie Falls. The Tribe responded with outreach to protect, preserve and to prevent further harm through cultural, historic, spiritual, and environmental education of the general public.

There remains an ever-increasing push for development and recreation around Snoqualmie Falls. New housing, retail, trails, industry and utility have all encroached and taken precedence over protecting and honoring sacred and cultural sites for over 130 years in the Valley. Our Treaty hunting and gathering grounds were clear cut and paved over for Snoqualmie Ridge. Our burial grounds and village sites continue to be threatened by irresponsible development. Our sacred sites, such as Mt. Si, Rattlesnake Ridge and Snoqualmie Falls, have become crowded with people seeking a commodified recreational experience.

The mistreatment of our sacred sites does not diminish our connection to them. In fact, it redoubles our commitment to be their stewards and the urgency which we approach that sacred work.

In November 2019, the Tribe was thrilled to announce the purchase of parcels adjacent to sacred Snoqualmie Falls across State Route 202. The Falls and the surrounding land are important cultural sites and thanks to this recent acquisition, they are now protected private property.

The Snoqualmie People have always been spiritual stewards of the Falls and the surrounding lands and have continually advocated for their protection. This purchase was a hard-fought way for us to reclaim our land and protect it from any future desecration, including putting an immediate stop to the planned housing development on this sacred site.

Now it is time for the land to rest and heal. We ask our surrounding community, as you joined us in celebrating last year, to respect this and refrain from intruding on these protected sacred lands.

When you are near this property, you may notice new signs. We hope they will help remind the community and visitors to the area that this is protected private property of the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe.

Snoqualmie Falls and surrounding lands are central to the history, culture, spiritual practice, and identity of the Snoqualmie People and its preservation is of the highest importance to us. The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe recognizes the sacrifices made by our ancestors to protect and preserve this place. We are proud to continue this honor, duty, and mission to respect and care for sacred Snoqualmie Falls and surrounding lands.

We hope you will be proud to join us in showing Snoqualmie Falls, and all equally irreplaceable sacred sites, the care and respect they deserve.


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Richard Elfers is a columnist, a former Enumclaw City Council member and a Green River College professor.
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