To Be Native in the Northwest
Photo courtesy of 7 Directions Architects/Planner
Though Europeans arrived in the Northwest more than two centuries ago, that historic colonization continues to have profound impacts on the way Native people live here. Today, more Native people live in urban areas, and access to comfortable, affordable, and safe housing is becoming increasingly limited. In response to that trend, Native organizations and tribes are creating safe spaces for Native communities.
Though the shape and style of housing has changed over time, the idea of having a safe space has always been valued. Northwest longhouses, for example, were not only shelter, but places for Native communities to gather, catch up, mourn, celebrate and make important decisions. In longhouses, every voice had value.
In case you were wondering...
Most Natives live on reservations, right?
Actually, no. Most Native people live in urban areas. Policies like The Indian Relocation Act of 1956, encouraged many Native people to assimilate into the broader U.S. population. For some Natives, it was a difficult move. They were often vulnerable, subject to discrimination, low-paying jobs, higher living expenses, and redlining that made it difficult to work close to home.
Who is addressing Native homelessness?
Native individuals, organizations, and Tribes, organizations and individuals across Washington are leading efforts for housing justice in different ways, from sustainable development, to building new villages. The Yakama Nation, for instance, has begun construction of a tiny house village to develop stability for those struggling members.
“We sacrificed our land to make the City of Seattle a beautiful reality. We are still waiting for our justice”Cecile Hansen, Chairwoman of the Duwamish