We the People of the Salish Sea celebrate In(ter)dependence Day | Guest column

We the People of the Salish Sea celebrate In(ter)dependence Day | Guest column

by Chom Greacen

Lopez Island

We the People of the Salish Sea …

We are descendants of European settlers who declared independence from the unjust colonial rule and secured inherent unalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for all, regardless of bloodlines.

We are children of our native ancestors, the Coast Salish peoples and others who have walked the land and traveled the sea. We embody the memories of their gentle ways in the glint of the water, the murmur of the trees. We strive to reconcile past wrongs and to honor and lean on their enduring wisdom to be our guiding light.

We are offspring of abolitionists, suffragists and civil rights activists who fought to liberate humans from being shackled property and to bring about equality for all, regardless of gender or skin colors.

We are the progeny of veterans and officers in active duty who put their lives on the line to defend the country’s freedom, security and democracy.

We are farmers, fishermen and homesteaders who have for generations stewarded, relied on the generosity of, and cultivated a deep connection to the soil, the sea, the seasons of the islands.

We are storytellers, writers, poets and artists who capture nuggets of island life, amplify voices of the unheard and tell truths that need to be told.

We are newcomers yearning for quiet beauty and community, immigrants striving to breathe more freely and returning visitors moved by the surrounding splendor and local friendliness.

Despite our varied histories and stories, we are united in our wish for children’s vibrant future, and our love for our community, our islands and the Salish Sea.

We stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us, who have fought long and hard to rid us of oppressive separations and to expand the circle of rights and liberty to a greater number of people in America.

To carry on with this long march toward justice, compassion and inclusiveness, we understand the need to recognize the rights to exist and thrive of our sister orca, our brother fir trees, our Mother Earth and the Salish Sea. We also recognize the need for a more just, more caring way of being, of treating one another, of respecting the land and the sea that sustain us.

Recognizing the Rights of Nature and the Rights of the Salish Sea is a step toward this goal. The sea, along with her sea-shed and diverse inhabitants, are not anyone’s property. She, too, has her inherent, unalienable rights. She is part of us, and we are part of her.

We hereby affirm interdependence. We celebrate a more generous embrace of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

Life … is the breath of a contented baby orca swimming close to its mother, the light in the eyes of our offspring, beholding awe and wonder of sprouting seeds, lounging beasts, and a morning mist.

Liberty … is the freedom and opportunity to grow up healthy and realize the full potential of each individual as a valued member of the community, human or non-human, for this and generations to come.

Happiness … is walking gently in beauty through the world, feeling a deep sense of belonging and peace from within, knowing that we always have one another’s back.

We the People of the Salish Sea strive toward a more perfect union—with nature and the sea, on which life depends.

Happy Interdependence Day!

Chom Greacen is working with Community Rights San Juan Islands on the Rights of Nature and the Rights of the Salish Sea.