An ongoing and dynamic practice of education, awareness, and support.
Acknowledging the Land
Sacred Earth Foundation (SEF) is a land stewardship organization that hosts land-based programming, runs summer camps for kids, and operates a conservation burial ground on 1200+ acres of land in the upper Rock Creek watershed.
The land that SEF occupies and stewards as Ekone Ranch is part of 17,000 acres of native land that were ceded in the Walla Walla Treaty of 1855, when 14 regional tribes were confederated and reservationed into Yakama Nation, including the Kah -milt-pah or K'milláma peoples, known colonially as “Rock Creek Band”, who are the primary people indigenous to this land. Ka-milt-pah people continue to honor their stewardship and relationship with this area, and their longhouse is located toward the mouth of Rock Creek, where it meets the greater Columbia River.
For more in depth information about the history and ongoing harm that settler colonialism perpetuates against native peoples of this place, please visit this link to Harms and Concerns which looks more deeply into the history and ongoing impacts of settler colonialism. The Ichishikiin Sinwit language speaking tribes of the Columbia Plateau fought back against reservations during the Yakama Wars, and have been fighting to maintain their treaty rights as a sovereign nation ever since.
In 2018, Klickitat County Conservation District and Yakama Nation Cultural Resource Representatives conducted a Cultural Resource Survey in the Ekone Ranch valley to determine the nature of Indigenous presence and purpose here, and determined that while no evidence of a village exists, that this land was most likely a place for a hunting camp.
SEF respects the long Indigenous presence and relationship with the land that we have occupied since 1972, and acknowledges that there is work to do to support those treaty rights and to develop integral relationships with native peoples, both here and across the US. We recognize the displacement of Indigenous peoples from this land as part of a settler colonialism, and that the continued settler occupation of both ceded and unceded lands compromises the traditional collective use territory and treaty rights of the 14 Confederated Tribes and Bands of Yakama Nation, as well as the neighboring Umatilla, Walla Walla, Cayuse, and other federally unrecognized tribes who did not sign the 1855 Treaty.
We will continue to collectively unpack where we have caused harm in our past on this land specifically, including cultural appropriation of art, teepees, and spiritual concepts, and are committed to integrating practices of remediation and reflection into our programming and education efforts as an organization and with our extended community.
SEF is committed to working through a DEIJ (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice) lens as we move toward greater understanding of the historic and current factors influencing our relationship to this land, and to continuing to develop our integrity in this work. We will continue to seek ways to be actionable, including educating the people who interact with this land so that they too deepen their understanding and relationship to the place and the people who are its traditional stewards, and who must continue to fight for their treaty rights across this region.
Ongoing treaty rights concerns in our region involve large scale energy projects, including Dam Removal efforts on the Columbia, as well as proposed Solar Energy Arrays and Energy Storage projects on sacred and traditional use lands. Here are a few articles from Northwest News Network, OPB, and a local blog, which go into more detail about the impacts of the proposed energy storage project on Indigenous rights. here is a video from the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission about the tribal history with the Columbia River before the Dalles Dam flooded Celilo Falls.
Calls for Support -
what we can and are doing:
1. Ongoing education and awareness
We are committed to sharing an authentic and contextual
history of this place with guests, program participants,
and summer campers. As Board and staff, we will continue
to integrate and share this acknowledgement of land and history with our wider community - recognizing that in many ways this is not our story to tell, but that we have a responsibility to learn it, and to share what we are learning.
2. Practicing Acknowledgement
We believe that acknowledgement is an ongoing, evolving practice, and an entry point into a wider field of care, and that by practice, we can integrate our understanding of harm and support more deeply. Here are some practices we can all do - on this land and on the native land that you call home, too.
3. Treaty Rights for harvesting and gathering
We support and will continue to facilitate tribal access to harvesting opportunities, research, and proactively working to restore access to and relationship with this land - this includes prioritizing camp scholarships for native youth, as well.
4. Funding cultural projects and efforts
Through our Community Support Fund, we designate annual financial support for local tribal entities and projects, with funding for preservation and food storage, native language and cultural reclamation and education.
High Desert Food and Farming Alliance, CTWS Food Sovereignty and Security Project: Labor of Love
Yakama Elders support for gathering traditional foods