Forum for student expression since 1977

The Patriot Press

Forum for student expression since 1977

The Patriot Press

Forum for student expression since 1977

The Patriot Press

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The land we live on: a history of Liberty’s land

I acknowledge that I am on the Indigenous Land of Coast Salish people who have reserved treaty rights to this land, specifically the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe and Duwamish. I thank these caretakers of this land who have lived and continue to live here since time immemorial.

Along with the Pledge of Allegiance, Liberty’s land acknowledgement is said over the loudspeakers in the morning and at assemblies, concerts, and sporting events. However, many students aren’t informed on its significance and how they can truly acknowledge the land they live on.

In 2021, Liberty, along with the rest of the Issaquah School District, partnered with the Snoqualmie Tribe Ancestral Lands Movement. Following this partnership, Liberty’s Land Acknowledgement was introduced as a first step to educate the student body on the indigenous peoples that once lived on the land Liberty was built on. With November being National Native American Heritage Month, it is time to take a closer look at the history of the land Liberty occupies and the indigenous peoples who the land originally belonged to.

Washington state’s implementation of the Time Immemorial curriculum in 2015 passed legislation that required schools to teach about Native American history.

“I think one of the biggest points is to integrate native perspectives into our education system,” First Nations Culture Club President and senior indigenous student Kendall Sullivan said.

History teacher Peter Kurtz has made a point to include indigenous history wherever he can while teaching.

“I’ve been teaching about it in my Northwest Studies class and then whenever I can make a link to it in my other classes, I do. For example, if I’m doing a unit on genocide in World History III, I make sure we talk about the genocide that happened here in Washington,” Kurtz said.

As previous indigenous struggles are beginning to be taught at Liberty, it is also important to look at the many issues Indigenous peoples still face due to them being removed from their land.

“It is a lot of disposition when you grow up in a world that is so culturally different from that of other family members,” Sullivan said. “I grew up very separated from my culture. My mother did too.”

Many indigenous families have had similar experiences, often rooting from indigenous children being taken from their parents decades prior in an attempt to forcefully assimilate indigenous peoples into American society.

“It caused a lot of culture loss because, for indigenous communities, your culture stays alive through your children,” Sullivan said.

The separation that many indigenous families dealt with in earlier generations still affects newer and their knowledge about their own family’s history.

“I didn’t know much about my culture, and I had to teach myself about a lot of the history of my family as I had little contact with my family members who live on reservations,” Sullivan said.

Additionally, indigenous people’s rights are still vulnerable in the current day.

“The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) came under fire last year. Luckily the Supreme Court upheld the ruling, which ensured that Indigenous children would continue to be allowed to stay with their families and tribes,” Sullivan said.

As the Liberty community continues to grow and become more educated on indigenous history, here are some things students can do to respect the land they are on.

“The best way to show respect for the land that you live on is to figure out whose land you’re currently occupying,” senior Kendall Sullivan said.

One way you can find out what land you are on is through an interactive map called Native Land Digital, which shows the user the ancestral lands they live on. It also displays the different languages spoken by the tribes on the land.

Knowing what land you occupy can be a first step to ensuring that the land is being treated properly. The introduction of the land acknowledgement helps to provide Liberty students with this information.

“It is important to respect the land you are on. Try not to litter and also get a deeper understanding of the way that the world works. One of the biggest points of indigenous culture is living alongside the land and living with nature, not just living on top of it or using it,” Sullivan said.

About the Contributor
Brigitte Potter, Editorial Board Member
Brigitte Potter is a senior at Liberty High School. She is an Editorial Board Member and a Design and Art co-editor for the paper. She is also on the Liberty Drill team. In her free time she enjoys reading and cuddling with her cats.