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‘Pochashsquinest’ Ron Kanim Enick: Native American Heritage Month

In celebration of Native American Heritage Month, we are hosting a series of profiles and stories to amplify and honor people, businesses, organizations, stories, and projects connected to Seattle’s Indigenous community.

by Ron Kanim Enick

wiʔaac Hello, as we all pause to remember and acknowledge Native American Heritage Month, let us not forget to pray, for the Creator’s authority, sovereignty, and power throughout the nation. All things are sacred, and all we have belongs to GOD, and we are all under His care.

When our hearts are filled with GOD, when our hearts are filled with Love, you can be confident that our prayers, plans, and desires are in line with our GOD.

Creator said seek me, ask me, and serve me, and I will give you all that you ask for by the power of our Creator. But if you seek yourself, your own wisdom, prestige, successes, and whatever arises from selfish motivation, GOD said, I am not in those things.

After my ancestors Chief Pat Kanim, Chief John Kanim, and 12 other Kanim family members signed the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855, we did not immediately gain tribal lands to live on. And from 1855 to 1999 it was a continuous struggle with the federal government as we tried to keep in contact with them through the STO (Snoqualmie Tribal Organization) to secure land for our people. Our grandfather Chief Jerry Kanim led the formalization of the STO and the creation of the tribe’s constitution and council structure, knowing that someday our Snoqualmie Tribe would gain recognition. After our grandfather’s passing in 1956 we continued with the STO. Evelyn Kanim Enick, my grandmother, kept everything together within the tribe to help live our ancestors’ dream of becoming a federally recognized tribe. There were other members that had a hand in helping the STO: Ed Davis, Judy Moses, and many others. In 1999, the Great Snoqualmie finally gained recognition. Ever since this time we have been replenishing our traditional ways of living and restoring our traditional practices with food, culture, and our spirituality.

With our recognition, we as a tribe have had the opportunity to secure a Class Ill gaming license. We opened our gaming facility in 2008. And with this milestone in the history of the Snoqualmie Tribe, we are able to buy 10,000 acres of our “Land Back.” Also, with this financial help, we are able to secure businesses such as Snoqualmie Falls Salish Lodge, Eighth Generation, and Crescent Market. That helps our tribal departments, our tribe, and our people. This financial help has helped us to bring back to our people, our sacred place of prayer – Snoqualmie Falls.

Every year during the National Day of Prayer for the Protection of Native American Sacred Places we gather as a tribe and with community members to pray for our sacred places at Snoqualmie Falls. During this precious and short time that we are sharing and praying with introductions, stories, history, and prayer, we are all blessed to be together. At the conclusion of the ceremony, we all walk down to our spiritual place below the falls to do more prayer and thanksgiving. As we pray, our prayers are lifted up to the spirit by the mist.

We are the Lushootseed people, living on Lushootseed territory. Our songs, our teachings, and our foods are from these lands — Snoqualmie land. We have been here since time began, since time immemorial. Our teachings explain to us how we came to be. When our creator was blessing the lands with his work and placing each member in their area, he told them to be stewards of their area. The creator said, “Take care of these lands, I have made food for you to eat.” The deer, the salmon, and other sources he made for us to eat and have sustenance. For the rest he created laws for us to abide by. He says, “If this plant is to make you perish, you should not touch this or eat it.” There was a boundary set up around this area. Just as we are today, we should not touch things that do not belong to us, and we should not go into areas we do not belong, for all this would be breaking the traditional laws of this land. Creator said, “Learn from your surroundings, learn from the animals, and learn from all of my creations. If the animals do not eat bad food, then you do not eat the bad food as well.” These are just some of our traditional laws.

I have been living in the Pacific Northwest all my life and have come to love my homeland. The beauty of every season brings joy and happiness on different scales. My home, to me, is like no place in this world. In the summertime, I like to visit the islands of San Juan and visit the shores of the Pacific at Rialto Beach. Fall time is Mountain Time, I like to spend time in the mountains harvesting huckleberries until they have gone out of season. Wintertime is time spent at home in the warmth of my home with family, also sharing with community and having fun in the snow. Springtime is a time of newness and brings a time of energy to get out and explore our beautiful territory.

The teachings of our Snoqualmie Lands is our connection with the creator. We all hold a spiritual connection and love within our hearts for every area of Snoqualmie lands, and all the landmarks that explain who we are as Snoqualmie People. Blessings be to our creation, blessings to our lands and the living creatures. The creator is on the other side, he put everything here, everything was already here before we came, and we did not have to do anything. This is why we give praise, praise for our Creator and His creations. ƛ̕ub ʔəsʔistəʔ Amen.

~ Chief Pochashsquinest

photo of Native American man in button-up shirt and blazer

My name is ‘Pochashsquinest’ Ron Kanim Enick. I come from the Kanim family in a long line of traditional chiefs. My father was Head Chief ‘Twees-wich’, named after Pat Kanim’s older brother most favored who died early. My mother Is ‘Tenne-chus-pum’ from the Yakima tribe. My grandmother is Evelyn Kanim Enick, the daughter and only child of my great grandfather Chief Jerry Kanim. My grandfather is Rev. James Enick. I am both humbled and honored by my family’s place in Snoqualmie history. In loving memory and great respect of my father Chief Jerry Kanim Enick, ‘Twees-wich’ and those that have proceeded me.

This piece was commissioned by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. The opinions expressed and information contained herein do not necessarily reflect the policies, plans, beliefs, conclusions, or ideas of the City of Seattle.