Reflections for Native American Heritage Month

Native American Heritage Month is recognized each November. Here are some resources to explore and thoughts on what the month means.
November 22, 2023

As folks across Northwest Washington settle down for the holiday season of shared meals, loved ones, gifts, and torrential downpours, November offers the perfect chance to reflect on the abundance of our region — and our collective need to protect it.

November is Native American Heritage Month. This month (and honestly any month), we call on our supporters to celebrate, learn about, and honor the Indigenous people of this region.

What Native American Heritage Month means to us

RE Sources staff work and live on the ancestral homelands of the Coast Salish Peoples, including Lummi Nation and Nooksack Indian Tribe, who have lived in the region from time immemorial. We acknowledge the Tribes’ treaty rights, as well as our responsibility to uphold them, and we are grateful for the Tribes’ enduring care and protection of the lands and waterways.

Beyond this simple acknowledgement, we invite you to think about what it really means to live on Native land in the 21st century. Take this opportunity to better understand:

  • The regions’ Indigenous history and traditions. This understanding is essential for honoring the contributions of the Indigenous people as the original stewards of these land and waters, as keepers of the region’s ecological knowledge, and as voices that must be centered in efforts to build an ecologically restorative future.
  • The history and consequences of Euro-American settler colonialism in Whatcom County and Bellingham, efforts rooted in white supremacy and manifest destiny that fractured and traumatized Indigenous communities, while simultaneously exploiting the region’s ecosystems.
  • The legacies of those traumas and ongoing environmental injustices, and how they manifest in health disparities today.
  • The traditions, holidays, ingenuity, vibrant arts, foods and cultural practices that are embraced by the tribes where you live.
  • Tribal sovereignty, the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855, treaty rights and the obligation all newcomers have to uphold those rights.
  • The leadership of Lummi Nation in defeating what would have been North America’s largest coal export terminal here in Whatcom County, a potential source of devastating air, water and climate pollution averted to the benefit of all who live in this region.
  • Indigenous perspectives on current environmental issues, from water rights  adjudication to the recovery of sacred Southern Resident Killer Whales, Pacific salmon and more.

To us, living on Native land means working to protect and heal this place we share — and the relationships between communities — in solidarity with Coast Salish leadership.

We encourage you to learn about a Lummi Nation member-led effort to support healing and community through the restoration of Coast Salish longhouses across the central Salish Sea, including at the mouth of Xwotqwem (Whatcom Creek). Read and sign the petition.

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Some resources to read and follow

This week, as we try and reconcile the Thanksgiving traditions of togetherness and gratitude with the distorted, whitewashed mythology behind the first Thanksgiving, we encourage you to check out some of these resources and follow these local Indigenous-led organizations. They regularly offer events, opportunities to engage, and highlights from their important work.

  • Listen to this podcast from Young & Indigenous, a project of Whatcom-based Children of the Setting Sun Productions, on an authentic conversation about Thanksgiving.
  • Rethinking Thanksgiving Celebrations: Native Perspectives on Thanksgiving (National Museum of the American Indian)
  • Salmon People, a project of Children of the Setting Sun Productions advocating for salmon recovery through films and gatherings sharing the profound connection to salmon shared by Indigenous peoples across the Pacific Northwest.
  • Northwest Treaty Tribes, a publication of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, which supports tribes in the exercise of their treaty rights. The publication tells the stories of the tribes protecting and restoring natural resources.
  •, a local non-profit committed to promoting ancestral knowledge and practices for the protection and revitalization of the the waters, culture, life, and sacred sites of the Salish Sea.
  • Whiteswan Environmental,  is an Indigenous-led non-profit that supports community healing through the natural, cultural and historical restoration to the Salish Sea for 7th generations sustainability as a measure of ecological health protection for all.
  •, a joint project of the Nooksack Tribe and the Lummi Nation that provides information about water and salmon, and the Nooksack River adjudication process.
  • Check out Whatcom County Library System’s Native American Heritage Month reading lists for adults and for children.