Preserving Heritage: Shoreline Community College introduces new 'Cedar' Building, honoring Pacific Northwest Indigenous Peoples

Monday, February 5, 2024

Cedar Building photo by Steven H. Robinson

In an earnest endeavor to strengthen ties with local tribes, and to honor the rich cultural heritage of the Indigenous Peoples of the Pacific Northwest, Shoreline Community College (Shoreline) is proud to announce the naming of its new academic facility. 

The chosen name for the new building is, "Cedar," and pays homage to the region's natural environment, characterized by towering trees and dense plantings.

Washington State legislation requires the inclusion of Indigenous voices in the creation of new capital building projects, but leadership at Shoreline wanted to go beyond that requirement, and really work to forge an intentional and lasting collaboration with local tribes that will impact not only this building but also future community partnership efforts. 

The naming process was initiated as a collaborative effort with various tribes, including representatives of the Tulalip and Muckleshoot tribes, with a focus on engaging in meaningful conversations and respecting tribal perspectives. 

Cedar Building
Photo by Steven H. Robinson

Shoreline also worked closely with Eliise Bill-Gerrish, a Lushootseed Language Educator from the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, who played a pivotal role in ensuring that the naming process honored the authenticity of the Lushootseed language, the traditional language of many tribes in the Puget Sound Region, reflecting the wishes and cultural nuances of the tribes involved. 

Bill-Gerrish is meticulously translating and creating audio clips for each word in the Southern Lushootseed language. This approach was adopted to honor the language and culture in its true form, avoiding the phonetic translation into English.

“The Cedar building is named after the prolific Western Red Cedar trees, x̌əpay̓ac in Southern Lushootseed, which are beloved by Pacific Northwest Tribal Nations. The cedar tree is revered for its ability to lift the Lushootseed People up in numerous ways. For example, many styles of canoes are made from the trunks of the x̌əpay̓ac, the inner bark and roots are used to weave baskets and hats, and the leaves can be used to support respiratory systems,” said Bill-Gerrish about the meaning of the name.
“Another significant part of the story behind the new building name involves Shoreline’s Associated Student Government (ASG). Often new buildings are named after famous people or donors who made the highest donation toward the project. In our case we are proud to say that our largest donor was our students. 

"Our student government also advocated strongly for honoring our region’s Indigenous heritage and at the recommendation of our Indigenous partners, ASG helped us choose the name Cedar for our new building,” said Dr. Jack Kahn, President of Shoreline Community College.

The Cedar Building
Photo by Steven H. Robinson

Shoreline Community College's commitment to honoring Indigenous Peoples extends beyond this new building. 

“Tulalip and Muckleshoot tribal members, college leaders and the design team embraced Indigenous values by thinking about names for buildings and campus open spaces in terms of the nature of a place,” said Walter Schacht, Architect and Partner at the Mithun Architecture Firm. 

The College's approach aligns with its broader initiative, of wayfinding across campus which seeks to name various features of the campus, including the proposal to associate Lushootseed names with Indigenous trees and shrubs.

"We know there is still much work to be done to acknowledge and serve our Indigenous communities, but we are excited about the prospect of building a relationship with Muckleshoot Tribal College and other tribes, fostering meaningful and ongoing collaboration. This is just the beginning of a continuous effort to strengthen relationships with the tribes and respect the cultural significance of the land we occupy," said Dr. Kahn.

The Cedar building is devoted to the sciences and manufacturing, and will house biology and chemistry courses, biotech and biomanufacturing instruction, and advanced manufacturing, as well as a few other related programs. It is now fully open for instruction as of the start of the Winter Quarter, on January 8, 2024.

Founded in 1964, Shoreline Community College offers more than 100 rigorous academic and professional/technical degrees and certificates to meet the lifelong learning needs of its diverse students and communities. Dedicated faculty and staff are committed to the educational success of its nearly 10,000 students who hail from across the United States and over 50 countries. 

For more information about SCC, visit


Anonymous,  February 6, 2024 at 3:51 AM  

Excellent article. Thank you.

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