Final eagle artwork created by artist, Sarah Folden

It is with great pride and gratefulness that we announce today that Washougal Learning Academy, working closely with a representative of the Cowlitz Tribal Council, have commissioned our school’s eagle mascot art as a reflection of the history of the land in Southwest Washington. When we began the process of selecting a mascot to represent our school, we decided to choose from Pacific Northwest wildlife, and once our families selected the eagle, we wanted the art to be something special.

The suggestion was made that we could honor the history of this region by commissioning the art to be done by a local Native artist. I met with Suzanne Donaldson, who is a member of the Cowlitz Tribal Council, to discuss our proposal and to make sure we were genuinely honoring Native American culture. Though we understand that people moved throughout this land, The Cowlitz people are the federally recognized tribe for the Southwest Washington region, and the area of Washougal has been lived in by Chinookan peoples as well. We identified an artist who was trained in an art style appropriate to the region, and commissioned the painting. The Cowlitz Tribal Council has unanimously approved the school’s use of the eagle artwork. What you see now is the result of the work that was done by Sarah Folden over the summer, and we are very happy with how it turned out. You can see Sarah’s biographical information and some more details about the art style below.

As we move forward this year, we will be collaborating with members of the Cowlitz Tribal Council to provide WLA students with learning materials directly from the Cowlitz tribe. Washington State has made the teaching of the history of the lands and peoples of our region a priority, and it is also important that we recognize that today over 138,000 people identify as American Indian or Alaskan Native in the State of Washington (according to the 2020 US Census). Recognizing Native American contributions to Southwest Washington is not just about honoring our shared past, but also our present and our future. WLA Eagles soar!

From our artist, Sarah Folden:

“The Washougal Learning Academy Eagle was commissioned by artist Sarah Folden who is a descendant of Chief Scanewa and a member of the Cowlitz Tribe. Sarah’s early career was spent working in tribal fisheries for the treaty tribes in Western Washington. Recently, she has transitioned to creating public art in both contemporary and traditional styles.”

“The eagle was created for Washougal with the approval and blessing of the Cowlitz Tribal Council. Sarah used a Coast Salish design style in the art piece combined with the schools colors. The design comes from relief carvings found regionally which are more than 3,000 years old. “

Land Acknowledgement for Washougal School District

Honoring the Land We Stand On

As we gather here today, we look back into history and acknowledge those who first inhabited this land. “Acknowledgment is a simple, powerful way to show respect, and a step toward correcting the stories and practices that erase indigenous people’s history and culture.” It is a way to invite and honor the truth.

The area we know today as Washougal was likely used by both Chinookan speaking peoples and Cowlitz peoples. Chinookan-speaking people inhabited areas along the lower Columbia River, while the Cowlitz occupied interior areas. We acknowledge that Washougal School District resides on the traditional lands of the Chinookan people. The Chinkookan people have lived on and cared for this land and these waterways since time immemorial. We make this acknowledgement to open a space of recognition, inclusion, and respect for our sovereign tribal partners and all indigenous students, families and staff in our community.