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.