Members of the Chumash community paddle a traditional redwood plank canoe

Members of the Chumash community paddle a traditional redwood plank canoe, called a tomol. The Channel Islands are a sacred place in Chumash culture and each year members of the community cross from the California mainland to the islands. Photo: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA

Indigenous Cultures

The lands surrounding many national marine sanctuaries have been inhabited for millennia by seafaring indigenous peoples. Preserving and collaborating with indigenous cultures is a critical part of the mission of national marine sanctuaries: celebrating the great variety of human connections to the sea can help us all become better stewards of our ocean resources.

In Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, native Hawaiian cultural traditions are recognized as crucial to the long-term health of Hawai‘i's ocean and humpback whales. Photos: Kate Thompson/NOAA

samoan women in traditional dress

Fa'a Samoa, the Samoan way of life, has tied the people of National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa to their natural world for centuries. Photo: NPS

Makah Tribe tribe member in traditional dress

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary works closely with the Quinault Indian Nation, the Hoh Tribe, the Quileute Tribe and the Makah Tribe (pictured) in areas of mutual interest. Photo: Kate Thompson/NOAA

Pomo member in tradtional dress

In Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, the Manchester Point Arena Band of Pomo Indians joined in celebrating the sanctuary's expansion in 2015. Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA