Community Resilience and Self-Reliance

Working with the Quinault Indian Nation on their strategic plan was a lesson in resilience. The stories of resilience, self-reliance and community wellbeing are abundant in their history.  The oral histories give clear insight for how to strengthen each. It is a blessing to live in a region where the stories and practices of resilience are alive in Elders.  These stories show us patterns of wellbeing worth living into in creative new ways.

“We used to follow the fish and follow the seasons.  Everybody shared everything.  My Mom’s family is Tulalip, my Mom arranged so we had relatives all around the Puget Sound. So if one tribe had a bad season then you came together and were provided for.  It was just tradition.”

“We used to travel all over and get what you needed through those relationships.  Traveling all over, hosted by the communities.  You have abundance and give away lots of food.  It was a regular part of the life ways.  There was an assumption of abundance.  We used to be able to collect and store enough food to last the whole year.”

“We were a gifting culture, shared what you had and trading what you had stored.  What was deepest in the culture was how to hold relationships.”  There wasn’t charity and there wasn’t welfare because we took care of each other.”

Resilience is the ability to recover from disturbance.  Building community resilience is done at the community level AND at the systemic level.   We’ve been in some big questions about the future:

  1.  “How do we build resilience into our forest management plans and fisheries plans in light of climate change?”
  2.  “How do we create a focus on building healthy families and developing systemic solutions to the key realities facing many families on the reservation?”
  3.  “How do we increase our food security and honor our heritage of having food weave us together as community?”

Building many connections among the community – and counting the connections is one of the ways we can see the strength of a given direction or project.  How many connections does it build.

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