In the wake of Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut’s passing, we are working on how we might honor her memory and secure her legacy.
We are grateful that Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut (Tokitae / Lolita) was happy, healthy, and active up until two days before she swam on. Her suffering was not long.
We are grateful that her work in our human world taught us so much. Native nations, politicians, philanthropists, scientists, corporations, and individuals around the world all worked together for common cause. Science and ceremony complemented one another. We worked together for healing and wholeness. Her story resonated, her story inspired. She made us better humans.
Her family still swims in the Salish Sea, and they are still imperiled by pollution, noise, ship traffic, and lack of salmon. There are still free-born qwe’lhol’mechen (orcas) in captivity. Sk’aliCh’elh-tenaut made so many of us aware of these issues. There is still much work to be done by us for our relations under water. There is still much for us to repair, restore, and protect.
We are grateful that her family — all three pods of the Southern Resident orca community — came together the day before she passed, and stayed together until she left her body. We believe that they knew, and that they were spiritually with her.
She is coming home, though not in the way that any of us imagined. Our understanding is that her ashes will be given to Lummi Nation to lovingly return her to her native Salish Sea. Our collective Xa xalh Xechnging (sacred obligation) to her will be fulfilled.
The logistics and timing of her homecoming are still in the works. We will keep you apprised of news and public events when we learn of any such news.
Monies raised to bring her home will go towards a homecoming gathering, and towards securing her legacy. As plans develop, we will share them with you. We are honored to have witnessed the love and generosity of you all.