Where does the name Cascadia come from?


"Cascadia is named for the whitewaters pouring down the slopes of her mountains. Home of salmon & rivers, mountains & forests, Cascadia rises as a Great Green Land from the Northeast Pacific Rim. Cascadia curves from coast to crest--from the Pacific Ocean on the west, to the Rocky Mountains and Continental Divide on the east. On the seafloor Cascadia ranges from the Mendocino Fracture Zone on the south, to the Aleutian Trench in the corner of the Gulf of Alaska on the north."

- David McCloskey, Seattle University Professor who coined the term 'Cascadia'

While the Cascadia bioregion is inhabited by more than forty different first nations people, many of them united through a coastal trade language of Chinook Wawa, there has never been one unified term for the entire area that makes up the Cascadia bioregion. The first roots of the word Cascadia, date back to Scottish botanist David Douglas (for whom the Douglas Fir is also named) who explored the Columbia River Gorge in the early 1800’s. He wrote of the area’s ‘cascading waterfalls’, and it is through these that we hear the first mention of ‘the Cascades’ – from which the mountain range is now called.

‘Cascadia’ in its entirety, was coined by Seattle sociology professor David McCloskey in 1981, who used it to describe a region that was culturally and environmentally distinct from surrounding areas. This new notion of Cascadia, was heavily influenced by the bioregionalism movement of the 1970’s, inspired by Peter Berg and the Drum Foundation, seminal works like Joel Garraeu’s Nine Nations of North America, and Ernest Callenbachs novel Ecotopia, which portrayed an independent eco-state of the Northwest, and contained many then radical notions such as recycling and mass transportation.

The name Cascadia has now been embraced by a wide range of thought leaders, geographers, tribes, organizations, businesses and governmental planners.

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