Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Today we celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day and the rich heritage, culture, contributions, and resilience of Indigenous people in our region and here at King County.

There are 29 federally recognized tribes in Washington State and King County is home to a thriving Native American population from Tribal nations across the country. We are on the ancestral lands of the Muckleshoot, Snoqualmie, Puyallup, Tulalip, and Suquamish Tribes, and the Duwamish people.

Our region benefits tremendously from the generations of Native people on whose land we currently live, and who today continue to fight for their rights, and to protect and promote their culture, language, customs, and values – and their future.

Generations of racist practices and institutions continue to harm and hold back Native people nationally and in Washington State. Native people experience disproportionately worse outcomes in our community: health, access to housing and good paying jobs, educational attainment, income, incarceration rates, and more. This year’s Count Us In, the annual Point-in-Time count for Seattle and King County, found that while Native American/Alaska Native people made up one percent of the population in Seattle/King County, 15 percent of the respondents are experiencing homelessness.

Yet as they have done for generations, Indigenous people continue to stand strong in the face of racism, oppression, and injustice. For several years, our employee-led King County Native American Leadership Council has worked hard to lift up the voices of our Native employees and to serve as a link to Tribal communities and urban Native people throughout King County. Together with our Tribal partners, we are working to develop community-driven solutions and a strong government-to-government relationship between King County and Tribal nations that help ensure that Native people can truly thrive in this region.

All of us benefit from strong partnerships with Indigenous people, and the knowledge, perspectives, and experiences they contribute to our workforce and community. As a government and individually, we all have a responsibility to work to remove the barriers which negatively impact the Native community. We have an obligation to ensure future generations thrive.

On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, let us join with the Indigenous community and honor their ancestors in fostering justice and combating racism, and building a strong future here in King County and across the United States.

Sincerely,

 

 

Dow Constantine
King County Executive