Honoring Place

The Seattle Aquarium honors our location in the traditional and contemporary territories of the Coast Salish people, who have stewarded these lands and waters since time immemorial. 

We recognize we can only achieve our mission by being an inclusive community of varied knowledge, perspectives and skills. Our work with Coast Salish Tribes and Urban Indigenous community has and will continue to inform and shape our family and educational programming, conservation research and policy, visitor experience and transformational campus plan as our mission evolves.

The Seattle Aquarium welcomes and embraces the wisdom of the Coast Salish tribes and the urban Native people who live in the region. The Ocean Pavilion project has demonstrated exemplary community engagement but also has discovered how to listen and engage with the Indigenous community throughout the entire design process, incorporating their immense knowledge and wisdom.

Colleen Echohawk, founder of Headwater People Consulting

Ocean Pavilion Design And Development

As an important element of the Ocean Pavilion design and development process—and in consultation with Colleen Echohawk, citizen of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma and president/founder of Headwater People Consulting—we’ve worked to bring Coast Salish voices into the process of designing the Ocean Pavilion, Aquarium programming and more.

Engagement has included hearing traditional stories from Coast Salish elders, hosting design workshops with tribal youth, visiting tribal cultural centers, inviting Coast Salish tribes to join collaborative projects in the Coral Triangle, and listening sessions with Coast Salish representatives and the Aquarium’s architects and habitat designers.

Coast Salish Art And Recognition

Ongoing collaboration continues to incorporate the intricate and beautiful Coast Salish line art form into the design of the new Ocean Pavilion. The Aquarium hired Asia Tail, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and member of the Urban Native community, to lead and manage the selection of a Coast Salish artist. An all-Indigenous committee selected local artist Daniel Joseph Friday, a member of the Lummi Nation, to create an installation for the entry of the Ocean Pavilion. The planned public artwork will welcome visitors from all over the world and honor the Aquarium’s location on Coast Salish lands.

We have intentionally and purposefully invited an Indigenous design team to partner with the architects and exhibit designers of the Ocean Pavilion. We know that the fields of architecture and design have not traditionally been career paths that Native people have had equal and equitable access to; it was a matter of equity for us to find other ways for Native people to be leaders and designers in this project. All participants have had to practice cultural humility and be open to new ways to understand planning design, science and conservation.

Colleen Echohawk, founder of Headwater People Consulting


Artist Dan Friday working to create a piece of glass art in front of a crowd of people.
Photo courtesy of Dan Friday