Cascadia and Bioregionalism

Cascadia is the land and bioregion that defines the Pacific Northwest of North America through the watersheds of the Columbia, Fraser and Snake rivers. This powerful idea and movement began at the first Cascadian Bioregional Congress on July 25, 1986 held at Evergreen State College in Olympia and celebrated it’s 30th anniversary in 2016.

Cascadia and its underlying philosophy of bioregionalism continue to inspire future generations to challenge the status quo and what is possible,  envision something different and act on what could be. Today, tens of thousands of individuals, hundreds of businesses and organizations, movements and causes have adopted and promote this positive regional identity and movement. What is the world that you would want to live in if all reality were stripped away?

What does a world look like where people live happily, their needs met and in balance with their environments? What would this society look like? What steps can we take to get us there? With this passport, we invite you to join us as a citizen and inhabitant of our bioregion that spreads these principles and makes this vision a reality.

Cascadia is a:

  • bioregion defined by the watersheds of the Columbia and Fraser river valleys that stretches from Northern California to south east Alaska and as far east as the Yellowstone Caldera and continental divide. It encompasses most of the states and province of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and Idaho, and parts of southeast Alaska, Northern California and Western Montana.

  • inclusive social, economic, cultural and political movement to empower every individual and community to be active around issues they care about, and find solidarity and support.

  • regional identity rooted in a love of place and stemming from shared experiences, environment, and need, as well as principles and values.

  • positive vision for a bioregion that is resilient, vibrant and autonomous, that protects the things we find special

Welcome to Cascadia Illahee - Welcome Home.

The land of the watersheds of the Columbia, Fraser in traditional Chinook and Chinuk Wawa is known as Cascadia Illahee.

Illahee, illahie, illi'i -  Land, country, earth, soil - in both physical and political senses; the apostrophe in the last spelling denotes a glottal stop, as may also the 'h' in the other spellings. The Chinook word for ‘homeland’ defined through the connection of people rather than geography - a network of peoples arranged through the interweaving of family, blood marriages, allies.

Cascadia Illahee - the Cascadia region, or the land of the Cascadia people (watersheds of the Columbia, Fraser and Snake). Home. Family.

Cascadia is more than simply a bioregion, or lines drawn on a map.

The term Illahee comes from the Chinook world that comprised a network of kin-based villages, and a complex and vast trading network throughout the Cascadia bioregion and North America. This understanding of homeland, as expressed by Illahee was not, like European definitions, predicated on a physical location, boundaries or finite amount of space, but instead was centered around family, friends and allies, and the networks of interrelation that grew from these. Chinook Jargon was the defacto language of the Cascadia Bioregion pre-European settlement, and as a trade language it incorporated different words and cultures as they moved into the region, including Chinese, French, English and Spanish. By the late 1800’s, more than 100,000 people spoke this regional language, and was often the first second language of immigrants who moved to the area.

We choose Cascadia Illahee to represent our land and movement in recognition that a place is more than simply lines on a map or a physical bioregion - but rather where the heart is, and the people who make it up. Our Cascadia Illahee means every person who identifies as a citizen of this place and watershed, the values and principles of what that means, and is committed to becoming an ambassador for this idea and movement. Cascadia means family. We hope you join us.

Cascadia as a Bioregional Movement

A much more common definition is simply to further local autonomy, empower individuals and communities to better represent their own needs, push for environmental and economic responsibility, and increase dynamic, transparent and open governance. The Cascadia movement encourages people to re-engage with their local communities, develop local and personal resilience (community gardens, disaster preparedness, etc.), and create alternate lines of regional communication, politics, and interdependence that better represent the social, cultural and political boundaries that define our region.

The term Cascadia was adopted in 1981 by Seattle University professor David McCloskey, as a way to better describe our growing regional identity. McCloskey describes Cascadia as "a land of falling waters." He notes the blending of the natural integrity and the sociocultural unity that gives Cascadia its character. Definitions of the region's boundaries vary, but usually include the area between the Cascade Range and the Pacific Ocean, and some part of the Coast Mountains. Other definitions follow the boundaries of existing subnational entities, and usually include the territory of British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon, while others also include parts of California, Idaho, Alaska and Yukon.

In general, the area in and around the Cascadia region is more commonly referred to as the Pacific Northwest. The area's biomes and ecoregions are distinct from surrounding areas. The resource-rich Salish Sea (or Georgia Basin) is shared between British Columbia and Washington, and the Pacific temperate rain forests, comprising the world's largest temperate rain forest zone, stretch along the coast from Alaska to California.

Cascadia Map by David McCloskey. Find them at

Cascadia Map by David McCloskey. Find them at

Use the Flag


The Cascadia Doug Flag is held in a Creative Commons License  CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 and is available for re-use and designs. Please make sure to attribute the flag creator Alexander Baretich, and read his statement against use for any type of perceived hate speech. Please use, re-use, create and share!