Samish Nations statement on death of Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut

Members of the Samish Indian Nation and other Coast Salish peoples have a close kinship with orcas:

“Whales are our relatives beneath the waves, and we mourn Lolita’s/ Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut (given name) passing. She was the face of the obstacles that our orcas face from humans and while we hoped for her safe return home, we know she is now with her ancestors. We will continue to honor these orcas and champion their safety.

This is but another chapter in conquest and imprisonment by people without understanding how things in our world are truly connected. We celebrate her life in passing, knowing that she shined the light of humanity on the inhumane practices that will never happen again to our relatives.” – Chairman Tom Wooten, Samish Indian Nation

We’d be happy to set up an interview with Chairman Tom Wooten to discuss Samish’s and other Coast Salish peoples’ relationship with orcas, including their recent potlatch ceremonies to give Coast Salish nicknames to descendants of orca whale J-14.

In 2022, a new descendant, female calf J-59 was born. On June 24 of this year, Samish Indian Nation held a naming ceremony introducing the newest addition – a calf was named Sxwyeqólh (Swee-a-kosh) meaning “reason for hope child.”