Klahowya Tilikum – How to open meetings and events in Cascadia

Step 1: Research local indigenous history from your region.

This step is crucial in that it allows you to start creating a connection to place. Where we live now in Cascadia, often has been changed dramatically from the environment that existed before European contact. By learning about the people who still occupy the space and have for thousands of years, we are better able to make a connection to the culture and meaning of the spaces we now share.

Acknowledging Native Place 

Accessing maps such as the one below are a great place to start to begin to understand the distinct cultures and distribution of indigenous peoples across the landscape of Cascadia. Most tribes have information centers, museums and longhouses that you can connect with as you begin your journey towards greater understanding and recognition of native culture. 


Here are some additional resources to guide your initial study:

Intro to Cascadian Indigenous Culture

List of Indigenous Groups

Step 2: Identify a native place name or story local to you.

This step will usually require you to make a connection with the indigenous population that exists near your home. Often, there are resources including maps, lists, or stories about the respective place that you live, and the people and culture that have existed upon it for thousands of years. For places near Seattle, resources created by the Duwamish tribe exits  to access and learn from. The link below is an example of a list of place names that exist or existed prior to european contact. Choosing a place near where your event our meeting is being held highlights the power of place as it recognizes the stewardship of the land that native tribes and peoples still have.

Seattle area indigenous place names.

Step 3: Plug the story into an opening speech you can share.

This step, is the easiest, but the most important part of this exercise. Once you’ve found a place name or a story related to where you are, commit to sharing it with others in this practice of opening meetings and events by first recognizing the indigenous population that has existed there for thousands of years.

Start with the words, “Klahowya Tilikum” they mean welcome everyone, and are a wonderful way of recognizing Chinook Wawa, the indigenous trade language that has been existent here in the Pacific Northwest since before the colonial period. After that, proceed with an opening that is appropriate to the place where you are. Click the link below for a written example of a meeting opening. There is also an audio link if you’d prefer an audio example.

Written Example

Audio Example

Step 4: Proceed with your meeting or event.

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