Cultural Wellbeing

Puget Sound is home to people from diverse cultures, some with long-held connections to the region and others who have arrived more recently. The Cultural Wellbeing Vital Sign tells us whether people feel satisfied with their ability to participate in and maintain cultural traditions. Cultural practices and knowledge systems are shaped by ecosystems and are critical to human wellbeing because they provide a sense of belonging, create the foundation for moral development, and define rules for social interaction. There is no question that many of the cultural traditions held by Puget Sound residents are dependent on the health of Puget Sound ecosystems.

Tribal Canoe Journey. Photo credit: NW Treaty Tribes.

Key Vital Sign Messages

  • Scientists asked Puget Sound residents about their satisfaction with participating in four categories of cultural activities or traditions related to the environment. Puget Sound residents that do engage in cultural practices generally feel satisfied with or neutral on their ability to participate in such practices. However, many people report that they do not engage in cultural activities related to the environment.
  • About 50 percent of people are satisfied with their engagement in cultural practices that they consider to be environmentally oriented social activities (such as environmental clubs, festivals, or outdoor events). Fewer people are satisfied with their engagement in practices they consider to be Native practices (such as Tribal center events, canoe journey, or potlach ceremony).
  • The act of collecting and preparing local foods supports cultural wellbeing and traditions. Engagement in environmentally-based cultural practices may be related to low frequencies of collecting local foods.
  • Satisfaction with cultural practices can influence a person’s Sense of Place. For example, residents develop connections to nature through shellfish harvesting.

Background Documents

Contributing Partners