What is Cascadia?

Cascadia is a bioregion.

Cascadia is a noun and a place.

Cascadian, as an adjective or demonym, means someone or something associated with Cascadia (the bioregion). The name Cascadia comes from the word “cascades” meaning falling water or waterfalls. In the 1820s, David Douglas named the mountain range the Cascades. The name Cascadia in various circles came to mean the whole Pacific Northwest. This bioregion was also called Chinook Illahee in the trade language of Chinook Wawa that was spoken by indigenous and settler people alike. We honor both names as names of this beautiful place.

Cascadia as a geographical region includes most of Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and the majority of Idaho as well as northern California, parts of northwestern Wyoming, northwestern Montana, northeastern Nevada, the northwestern corner of Utah, southeastern Alaska, and the southwest corner of the Yukon Territory.

Why not the “Pacific Northwest?” Because the Pacific Northwest is a geographic description based on an Atlantic centered map. By both the place (Cascadia) and the people (Cascadians) remaining as only a geographic description of a distant corner of Atlantic empires, then we do ourselves a great disservice. As “Pacific Northwesterners” we remain a nameless object or second thought to the power centers of Washington DC and Ottawa. By remaining the “Pacific Northwest” the bioregion ends up being an object or description. We have a name, we are Cascadians and we have a home and it is called Cascadia. By giving ourselves and our home a name we empower ourselves and restore the sacredness of the land as a place of home and not a place for “resource extraction” [plunder] for empire or greed!

~ Alexander Baretich

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2 thoughts on “What is Cascadia?”

  1. In order for this to work, the Cascadian movement will have to compromise. There are many people living in the region that you are describing that love America as an ideal. We love coffee and ale and the urban landscape of Portland and Seattle; we appreciate the forests and high deserts of our states; we admire hard working farmers and ranchers and don’t want to see that go away; but we recognize the need for better stewardship. The problem with the current national political climate is that there are too many people that see things as black or white. There will never be enough people willing to throw away 240 years of history to make an autonomous Cascadia a reality. If you can create an idea that honors that history, accepts Atlantic based American culture and values, while at the same time offering a future of better stewardship of the environment and greater respect for indigenous heritage, you might have something.

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