Editorial Page

Land Acknowledgment: Red Cedar – Tree of Life

Throughout the world, across time and place, cultures recognize a Tree of Life. The Tree may grow as a specific species, or express as an archetypal form, yet the gifts this Tree bears are not only of physical abundance, but of sacred relationship, generosity, promise, and well-being.

Here in the Salish Sea (Puget Sound) region, the Tree of Life is x̌payʔac, Western Red Cedar. For millennia, the indigenous peoples and this magnificent tree have served sacred life and death in immense and creative ways, including the crafting of longhouses, canoes, clothing, baskets, and medicines, and in ceremony, story, song, and carvings. In a dance with the earth, x̌payʔac nourishes and shelters myriad beings, large and tiny, and supports the elements, including the very air we breathe, and the health of the waters and soil.

We honor and recognize the sx̌ʷəbabš, the indigenous people of this Island, and their richly woven relationship with x̌payʔac. Forcibly relocated, the sx̌ʷəbabš are now part of the Puyallup, Nisqually, Squaxin Island, and Muckleshoot tribes. And so, this season, may we rest into the imaginative beauty and generosity that the Tree of Life offers to our many streams of heritage, and also to our Island with x̌payʔac, Red Cedar. May we humbly act as trees ourselves, offering our gifts in service to life, one another, and to the sx̌ʷəbabš, the other Salish Sea native peoples, and to x̌payʔac. May this Island again know widely and deeply such devotion, human and tree.

Approximate pronunciations:
x̌payʔac: hpaye-ahts
sx̌ʷəbabš: swhuh-bahbsh

December 7, 2022

About Author

jane Jane writes about what it means to be an Islander, and how we can nourish healthy community. A harper, storyteller, and herbalist, she also shares tales and art that she is sure the Island told her. Having lived with her family on Vashon for 20+ years, she is convinced of the Island's magic.