2021 Indigenous Communities Fellowship

Selected

WE - Digital Ecocultural Mapping Project

Mapping cultural and biological data at traditional village sites in the Salish Sea to support thriving cultures and ecosystems

Team Lead

Shirley Williams

Solution Pitch

The Problem

In the last 165 years, Indigenous peoples of the Salish Sea were forcefully removed from ancestral homelands and placed on federally reserved lands, violating their inherent right to clean food and water. The reef net, an Aboriginal fishing technology outlawed by settlers, is today considered the most respectful, sustainable way to produce the highest quality salmon. Wild salmon are endangered, and out of 60 tribal nations at the Royal BC Museum, only 4.1 percent are fluent in the salmon people’s language. Today, we all face a climate and global health crisis.

The Solution

WE aims to address this ambiguous loss: heal the people, heal the land. WE’s solution maps cultural and biological data at traditional village sites in the Salish Sea to support thriving cultures and ecosystems for all. This map will store Traditional Local Knowledge (TLK) and natural management systems, bringing to life ancestral village sites, camps, reef net locations, and 13 moons food sovereignty through protection and restoration.

WE also uses Indigenous and Western nomenclature to describe and name places and species. The process of gathering this data empowers Indigenous project participants, as well as those who access the digital map, because this work supports language and cultural revitalization. Additionally, this project will generate and provide curriculum materials that are desperately needed to teach regional Native history, culture, governance, and language per Washington state’s requirement.

Market Opportunity

Very little money is spent to support environmental education through TLK. Even though agencies support up to $3 million dollars in funding, such as through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Education grant, many grantors want environmental education through a Western science lens. 

There are 8.6 million people who live in the Salish Sea; 0.6 percent are Coast Salish People with 300,000 tourists that visit NPS Pe'pi'ow' elh per year. WE will use this map to share the Salish People’s story with the public and philanthropists who are willing to help rebuild village sites, camps, reef net locations, and 13 moons food sovereignty to their ancestral homelands.

Organization Highlights

  • Won Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Prize and The ASA Prize for Equitable Education at Solve Challenge Finals

  • In 2016, President Obama signed and sent San Juan Island Presidential Proclamation 8947 thanking WE for their shared commitment to the environment and putting children’s futures first.

  • Team Lead Shirley Williams was featured in the National Parks Service Women’s Heritage Project.

Partnership Goals

WE seeks:

  • Partners who are dedicated to supporting Native vision.

  • Support on business model development, hiring practices, and human resources.

Solver Team

Organization Type:
Non-Profit

Headquarters:
Bellingham, WA, United States

Stage:
Pilot

Working In:
Washington, United States

Current Employees: 
1

Solution Website:
https://www.whiteswanenvironmental.org/

Solution Team:

 
 
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