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Charlotte Coté: "c̓uumaʕas. The River that Runs through Us"

Thursday, October 6 at 7:00pm

Lillis Business Complex, 282
955 E 13th Ave, Eugene, OR

For Indigenous peoples, their relationships to the lands, waters, plants, and animals provide a sense of belonging, and their cultural identities are embedded within the land and waterscapes in which they call home. Charlotte Coté will share stories from her Tseshaht community—stories of c̓uumaʕas, the river that streams through her ancestral territory like a life vein bringing to them the miʔaat, sockeye salmon, an important haʔum, cultural food, which provides them with nutritional and spiritual nourishment. She will discuss how, through harvesting, processing, and sharing miʔaat, Tseshaht reinforce their cultural bonds to their salmon relatives, to their ancestral waterways and homelands, and to each other. Maintaining theserelationships is central to Tseshaht food sovereignty but, as Dr. Coté explains, realizing food sovereignty for Northwest Coast Indigenous communities such as hers comes with many challenges. Pollution, habitat destruction, fish farms, environmental degradation, and climate change threaten the ecosystems where these sacred relationships have thrived for millennia.

Charlotte Coté is a professor in the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Washington. She is from the Nuu-chah-nulth community of Tseshaht on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Coté has dedicated her personal and academic life to creating awareness around Indigenous health and wellness issues and in working with Indigenous peoples and communities in revitalizing their traditional foodways.

Her current book, A Drum in one Hand, A Sockeye in the Other: Stories of Indigenous Food Sovereignty from the Northwest Coast (UW Press, 2022) examines how cultural foods play a major role in physical, emotional, spiritual, and dietary wellness. She is also the author of the book, Spirits of Our Whaling Ancestors. Revitalizing Makah and Nuu-chah-nulth Traditions (UW Press, 2010) as well as numerous articles. Coté serves as series editor for the UW Press’ Indigenous Confluences Series. She is the founder and chair of UW’s annual “Living Breath of wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ” Indigenous Foods Symposium. wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ is a Lushootseed word meaning Intellectual House.