About Cascadia:

 

Timeline of Independence:

Initial Contact: 

Before 1800, it is estimated that more than 500,000 people lived within the region in dozens of tribes such as the Chinook, Haida, Nootka and Tlingit. They communicate using a trade language called Chinook Jargon, which extended throughout the Pacific Northwest. 

 

1803: 

Thomas Jefferson envisions a 'Republic of the Pacific' which is to become an independent and free trading partner, exploring its own democratic experiment. 

 

1820's:  

Scottish naturalist David Douglas, after whom the Doug Fir was named, writes of the Columbia gorges 'cascading waterfalls' and 'great cascades' or later, just simply the Cascades, the first written reference to the mountain range that would later bear this name.

 

1840-1841: 

Wolf Council Meetings begun by Oregon Lyceum members to discuss forming a provisional government. By the end of the year, it is decided to form an independent republic. 

 

1843: 

European settlers in the Oregon Territory establish their first “western style” Provisional Government. Several months later the Organic Act (5th of July 1843) was drawn up to create a legislature, an executive committee, a judicial system and a system of subscriptions to defray expenses. 

 

 

Cascadia like its borders, has an imprecise history.

The idea of an autonomous state along the Pacific coast dates back hundreds of years to when the area was first being explored. It was originally envisioned by Thomas Jefferson after he sent Lewis and Clark into the Pacific Northwest in 1803.

Early History

Jefferson foresaw the establishment of an independent nation in the Western portion of the North American continent that he dubbed the “Republic of the Pacific”. In his mind, this nation was to be home to a “great, free and independent empire”, populated by American settlers, but separate from the United States politically and economically, and eventually becoming a great trading partner exploring its own democratic experiment. In an 1813 letter from Thomas Jefferson to John Jacob Astor he congratulated Astor on the establishment of Fort Astoria (the coastal fur trade post of Astor’s Pacific Fur Company) and described Fort Astoria as “the germ of a great, free, and independent empire on that side of our continent, and that liberty and self-government spreading from that as well as from this side, will insure their complete establishment over the whole.”  

When Lewis and Clark first arrived, they found a densely populated and diverse region. Before 1800, it is estimated that more than 500,000 people lived within the region in dozens of tribes such as the Chinook, Haida, Nootka and Tlingit.

Timber Army Flag Cascadia

It was during these early years of exploration that the root of term Cascadia first came into being. It is credited to Scottish naturalist David Douglas, after whom the Doug Fir was named, and who explored the region in depth throughout the 1820’s. While he was searching for plants near the mouth of the Columbia gorge in 1825 he was struck by the areas ‘cascading waterfalls’. As he writes in his journals he talks in depth about the mountains by these ‘great cascades’ or later, just simply the Cascades, the first written reference to the mountain range that would later bear this name.

Surrounding these mountains lived a hardy and independent people. Even before the area was unified as the Oregon Territory, the idea of an autonomous state was embraced by those who had recently moved to the region.

John McLoughlin, the chief factor of the Columbia District, administered from Fort Vancouver and which included Oregon, Washington and large swaths of British Columbia, was involved with the debate over the future of the Oregon Country. As a member of the Oregon Lyceum, a forum and literary club for influential pioneers, and the first organization to publish a newspaper west of the Rockies, he was engaged at the forefront of a political debate to decide wether or not to form an independent government.

At the time neither the United States nor Great Britain could claim the Oregon Country under the terms of the Treaty of 1818 signed at the conclusion of the War of 1812. During these debates in Oregon City the European settlers argued about whether an independent country or a provisional government should be formed. Beginning in the fall and winter of 1840-1841 before British claims north of the Columbia River were ceded to the U.S.A. by the Oregon Treaty of 1846; Chief Factor John McLoughlin advocated for an independent nation.

Those lyceum members advocating an independent country were mainly British, including Dr. McLoughlin and his HBC employees, although many former fur trappers, predominately French Canadian, Roman Catholics, and the region’s Jesuit missionaries sided with McLoughlin on this issue. His view won support at first and a resolution was adopted, but was later moved away from in favor of a resolution by George Abernethy of the Methodist Mission to delay the formation an independent government to see if the United States would extend its jurisdiction.

oregonseal
oregonseal

In the February edition of the Oregonian and Indian Advocate, a case was laid out by the articles author, known only as ‘W’, for the logical creation of a country along the Pacific Coast, stretching from California through the entirety of the Oregon Territory, then comprising Oregon, Washington, Idaho and British Columbia. At this time, the Oregon country was a neutrally aligned area in which the British, American, Russian governments all had a stake, with Spain still controlling large swaths of California.

In the article, the author argues that the general prevailing sentiment of the US populace was the country was large enough, noting that “The feeling is now very prevalent that we have territory enough. It is in every one’s mouth, ‘We have territory enough, why do we want more?” and it would be hard indeed to persuade the people to relish a war for a tract of land most of them do not want, and many of them would be unwilling to have attached to the United States. With the merchants, and the people against it, shall we have war for Oregon? Will the Executive, will the Congress plunge the nation in carnage and blood against the people’s will, for a tract of country the nation cares but little for?

He goes on to argue that “during this time, while the United States and England are with the greatest ceremony disputing and negotiating, thousands will be pressing into the territy. It will be settled, and Oregon and California will be united in a common cause and destiny. Then will come the realization of the event which Mr. Jefferson predicted, and “the whole extent of that coast will be covered with free and independent Americans, unconnected with us, but by the ties of blood and friendship.”

He even argued the important role that bioregionalism would play “Nature herself has marked out Western America for the home of an independent nation. The Rocky Mountains will be to Oregon, what the Alps have been to Italy, or the Pyrenees to Spain. The Nation which extends itself across them, must be broken in the centre by the weight of the extremities. When we merely glance at a map, it seems absurd to suppose that Oregon is to belong to a nation whose capital is on the Atlantic Seabord. What! Must the people of that land be six months journey from the seat of Government? Must they send their delegates four thousand miles to represent them in the legislature of a nation with whom they can have but few common interests or sympathies?”

1841 Wilkes Expedition to the Pacific Northwest Cascadia
1841 Wilkes Expedition to the Pacific Northwest Cascadia

Military Commander Charles Wilkes, leader of a 1841 expedition to map the Pacific Northwest was the first to fully document what later became known as the Cascadia bioregion. His map, published in 1845 fully documents the interconnectedness of the then Oregon Territories. The illustration cuts off in the north due to Imperial Russian control, and in the south due to Imperial Spanish control.

The Republic of Oregon

By the 1840’s the term Oregon Country referred to all land from the border with Spanish Mexico (the northern border of California) to the border with the Russian territory in Alaska, from the pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains and by 1843, the most important move towards an independent Pacific Northwest was established with the Republic of Oregon, encompassing almost all of this territory. This land was jointly claimed by the U.S. and Britain, and it was not until 1846 that the dispute was settled with the extension of the 49th parallel across the continent, with the exception of Vancouver Island.

Euroamerican settlement was sparse but growing, as fur trappers operating in the area in the 1830’s began to settle down, often intermarrying with the native population. Hudson’s Bay Company and various stripes of Catholic and Christian missionaries had outposts in the country, and were the de facto government for Euroamericans. The Hudon’s Bay Company held judgment over British Columbia, while the missionaries had outposts in the country, and were the de facto government for many of the American settlers.

In 1841 near Newberg, Oregon, members of the Methodist missionary community met together on February 18th and drafted an initial plan for a provisional government, though when put forward at a public council meeting, this first effort was struck down by Catholics under the guidance of Father Blanchet. These sentiments began to change by 1843, as more settlers continued to arrive in the Willamette Valley, not just drawn by the allure of the fur trade (which was beginning a precipitous decline due to over hunting), or the need to ‘save the souls’ of the native population, but also to begin a new life in the fabled Oregon Country.

A series of ‘Wolf-Meetings’ had been held that winter to organize armed patrols throughout the region to help control predation of livestock. With these meetings, the sentiment that Oregon needed a government continued to grow. At the start of May, settlers, Hudson’s Bay men, and missionaries gathered at Champoeg, on the bank of the Willamette River near Newberg and on May 2nd the most prolific ‘Champoeg Wolf Meeting’ was held, in which organizing a government was heavily debated.

It was decided that the proposed government was to be an independent republic. Some opposed it both as either loyal subjects of the British Crown, or as American citizens (the Methodist missionaries had already sent petitions to the U.S. Congress, asking that body to extend protection to its settlements, but with no response). Mountain man Joe Meek famously drew a line in the sand and demanded those in favor of the government to one side, those against to the other.

By the end of the day, the vote for an independent provisional government was passed by a vote of 55 to 50, and the Republic of Oregon was born. A committee was immediately appointed to begin drafting a constitution, and assembled July 6th to pick a legislative and executive committee.

In May of 1843 the European settlers in the Oregon Territory established their first “western style” Provisional Government. Several months later the Organic Act (5th of July 1843) was drawn up to create a legislature, an executive committee, a judicial system and a system of subscriptions to defray expenses. Members of an ultra-American party insisted that the final lines of the Organic Act would be “until such time as the USA extend their jurisdiction over us” to try to end the Oregon Territorial independence movement.

George Abernethy was elected its first and only Provisional Governor, but the opposing  faction led by Osborne Russell favored Independence. Russell proposed that the Oregon Territory not join the United States, but instead become a Pacific Republic that stretched from the Pacific Ocean to the Continental Divide.

The government of the Republic of Oregon was based on the model of governance, that is to say a republic, and it’s boundaries reached to Russian America (Alaska) in the North, south to Mexico (present day California) and east to the Rocky Mountains. Legislators set about writing the ‘Organic Laws of Oregon’ and in her 1870 biography of Joe Meek, River of the West, Frances Fuller Victor writes “there were those in the legislative committee for 1844, and in the executive committee also, who were revolving in their minds the question of an independent government; that is a government owning no allegiance either to the US or Great Britain, but which should lay the foundations of an empire on the Pacific Coast”.

In 1844 the Republic of Oregon executive committee published the following statement: “And we sincerely hope that Oregon, by special aid of Divine Providence, may set an unprecedented example to the world, of industry, morality, and virtue. And, although we may now be unknown as state or power, yet we have the advantages by united efforts of our increasing population, in a diligent attention to agriculture, arts, and literature, of attaining, at no distant day, to as conspicuous an elevation as any state or power on the continent in America”.

On June 15th, 1846, the treaty with Great Britain was signed that secured to the United States the territory of Oregon lying south of the 49th parallel. It was assumed that the American government would then organize a government for the newly acquired territory. However, the bill providing this organization didn’t occur until August 14, 1848 due to pro-slavery leaders in Congress who opposed a clause in the Oregon Provisional Government declaring that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime, would ever be permitted in the territory.

The citizens of Oregon, many who felt it was through their efforts that the territory had been acquired, were outraged at what they felt was then a refusal by the US government to grant them necessary assistance and protection. In addition, the inability for citizens to elect their own representatives, those instead being appointed by the Eastern federal government, led to a dramatic increase of dissatisfaction throughout the 1850’s, culminating in a growing movement to demand Independence.

This is summed up well in by an article in 1855 from a periodical the Standard (run by the Democratic Party) entitled “Our Future”, published in Portland: “In a new country there are no old associations, no stereo typed habits which filter in an accustomed routine our actions and our thoughts. Yes, it is indeed too true that we must look for new and energetic governments in recently settled countries. . . . Can- it be possible that within a few years the Pacific coast will ask, and can secure, an independent government?

If Nature ever marked out the division of countries, it has done so in North America. The vast chain of the Rocky Mountains present an unmistakable boundary, and we have reason to believe that these boundaries, laid down by an over ruling providence, ought to be more strictly regarded…. Should we secure anything to our advantage by coming into the Union which we could, not have by ourselves? Let us think before we act. The growing disparity of habits between us and the Atlantic states, and the pecuniary advantages or disadvantages of a separation from the states, are not the only questions which ought to be considered. Is it policy for us to join a government, the different sections of which are even now antipodal on a most exciting question, and which are cultivating a spirit of disunion by their altercations?

These sentiments continued to grow, spawning into the Klamath, Trinity and Jackson movements, largely dying with the beginning of the US civil war in 1861. With the outbreak of the civil war, while the Southern states broke away to form the Confederacy, many supporters of a sovereign Oregon territory saw it as a perfect opportunity to give new life to Jefferson’s original idea, especially because the Oregon territory had not yet been broken up into states. The most famous movement attempted to establish a country under Thomas Jefferson’s original vision: the “Republic of the Pacific”.

The American government however launched a successful propaganda attack to destroy the Pacific movement by associating it with a group called the Knights of the Golden Circle, which was a pro-Confederate, pro-slavery organization. At the same time, other movements inside of Cascadia, such as the Klamath movement, Trinity and Jackson movements all sought to wrench certain areas of Cascadia free from U.S. control. These too failed, largely by being put down through various uses of force.

As these events were occurring to the south, British Columbia also actively threatened to secede, almost immediately after leaving the Oregon Territory. This largely had to do with the initial failure of the transcontinental railway promises that were one of its conditions for joining with Canada. Later, these disputes would lead to the Columbia River Treaty, where then premier WAC Bennett would threaten to “take BC out of Canada” – and the Yukon as well – if Ottawa and Washington would not accede to his demands. This was the first of several conflicts to arise; as this part of the West was still relatively independent, culturally distinct, and as increasing Anglophonic colonization from the east disrupted this balance, setting the stage for the Red River Rebellion in Manitoba against Canada in 1870 by the Metis and the Northwest rebellion in Saskatchewan in 1885.

Western America Watershed Map
Western America Watershed Map

These earlier arguments fit into a growing movement towards the creation of Western US States based on bioregional principles, primarily that of watersheds. In a series of maps published in 1890, soldier, explore and geologist John Wesley Powell laid out his proposal for the “essential units of government, either as states or as watershed commonwealths”.

Using the arid regions of the United States as a basis, he argued that only a small fraction of the American West was suitable for agriculture and that the bulk of arid regions should be reserved for conservation and low-intensity grazing, reframing the national Jeffersonian grid already in place. These calls however, were soon trumped over in favor of the continuing expansion of powerful timber, coal and railroad interests, which strongly affected late 19th and early 20th US development patterns.

While these independence movements failed to achieve their goals, they continued to help ferment a radical and aggressive form of regionalism, as exemplified by the speech from Adell M. Parker at the groundbreaking of the University of Washington in 1894:

“That the West should un-falteringly follow the East in fashions and ideals would be as false and fatal as that America should obey the standards of Europe. Let the West, daring and unprejudiced, discover its own ideals and follow them. The American standard in literature and philosophy has long been fixed by the remote East. Something wild and free, something robust and full will come out of the West and be recognized in the final American type. Under the shadow of those great mountains a distinct personality shall arise, it shall adopt other fashions, create new ideals, and generations shall justify them” (“With Due Formality” 1894).

This mindset continued to play an important part in sparking a fierce internal debate over the place and identity of the Pacific Northwest in a broader context and was embraced by a number of different groups with generally similar aims.

Some groups have sought to extend the interpretation of “Cascadia” to embrace parts of Northern California and Alaska, while others are more closely aligned with such related concepts as the State of Jefferson, the New California Republic, the State of Trinity, State of Jackson, State of Klamath, State of Shasta and Pacifica. Political motivations for the secession and autonomy movements deal mostly with perceived shared Cascadian political culture, values, language dialect, history and interests, which the eastern federal governments are accused of ignoring and being out of touch with.

Into the 20th Century

It wasn’t until the next century, during geological explorations in the early 1900s, that the term “Cascadia” came into use to describe the region. The name was given to a mythical landmass located in the northeastern corner of the Pacific Ocean, just beyond the exist­ing shoreline. This landmass was thought to have eroded, depositing sediment upon what is now Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. While geologists and historians continue to debate the origin of Cascadia’s soils, the name has remained a permanent descriptor of the region.

These earlier attempts towards independence in the Pacific Northwest continued to be well documented. In a 1916 article in the Oregon Historical Quarterly, author Dorothy Hull helps capture these earlier sentiments:

To fully understand the political tendencies of the West it is necessary to understand the Western spirit, for political platforms are but a more or less clear reflection of the spirit which animates those who frame them.

She continues "The West has always been the home of democracy. The Western movement in the United States from its first inception was a democratic movement. The fur traders who blazed the trail to the West, and the ranchers and farmers who followed in their wake forging the broader path for civilization were not aristocrats, but the common people – rugged, self-reliant and ambitious… seeking cheap lands, and a chance to work out their political and social ideas free from the aristocratic organization of the East. Hence in the West democracy, social and political, became the dominant force”.

“The early isolation of the West, and the completeness of its geographic separation from the political center of the nation fostered an intense feeling of local independence. It was not surprising then that in times of great public danger when vital sectional interests were believed to be at stake, this spirit of local independence should find expression in the doctrines of popular sovereignty, states-rights, nullification and even secession”.

jefferson state map
jefferson state map

In the 1930s, the State of Jefferson movement came into being and is, to date, the best known of such movements in the region. During 1940 and 1941, organizers attracted massive media attention by arming themselves and blockading Highway 99 to the south of Yreka where they collected tolls from motorists and passed out proclamations of independence. When a California Highway Patrolman turned up on the scene, he was told to “get down the road back to California”.

The movement was created to draw attention to the area by proposing that Southern Oregon and Northern California form a separate state. As this is historically a depressed area, many locals placed the blame on the governments of Salem and Sacramento. For that reason, a flag bearing two X’s and a gold pan was adopted. The two X’s represented the so-called “double crosses” from Sacramento and Salem.

In 1956, groups from Cave Junction, Oregon and Dunsmuir, California threatened to tear Southern Oregon and Northern California from their respective state rulers to form the State of Shasta. Several of the organizers involved took one step further and threatened the federal government with armed resistance unless demands were met.

The Recent Notion of Cascadia

The notion of Cascadia as we think of it emerged in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and was championed by authors such as Ernest Callenbach, sociologist David McCloskey and Joel Garreau, as well as embraced by the newly emerging field of bioregional study.

Two novels by Ernest Callenbach, Ecotopia (1975) and Ecotopia Emerging (1981), are fictional futuristic portrayals of the secession of the region from the United States. Callenbach’s novels include Washington, Oregon, and the northern half of California in the new country (with the dividing line between northern and southern California drawn roughly through Santa Barbara and Bakersfield). The novels describes the Northwest as a ‘ecologically sensitive country’ with a female president and spawned a wave of interest from environmentalists and idealists. Several magazines such as Seriatim were founded throughout the late 70’s which also promoted the secession of the region along the lines portrayed by Callenbach.

David McCloskey, a Seattle University Sociologist and founder of the Cascadia Institute, coined the term Cascadia in the late 1970’s. According to McCloskey, this “initial’ Cascadia included parts of Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Western Montana, British Columbia and South East Alaska), running in the north from the top of the Alaska panhandle to Cape Mendicino, California in the south – and was the first to adapt the area to follow ecological boundaries over preexisting political ones. In his words, they covered all the land and “falling waters” from the continental divide at the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean and he viewed Cascadia as something which transcends political – even geographic – definitions; it is more an ideological notion rooted in bioregionalism and a respect for the environment.

Author, journalist, law scholar and sociologist Joel Garreau built on these sentiments in his seminal work The Nine Nations of America. In this book, he argues that there are several distinct regions within North America that are unique both culturally and geographically. He dubbed those along the Pacific rim ‘Ecotopia’ in reference to earlier novels by Ernest Callenbach, and according to Garreau, is a land of individualism and the environment, and is necessarily different from surrounding areas, as well as the rest of the country both economically and ecologically.

Unrelated to any of the other secessionist movements and regarded with near-universal hostility among residents of the Northwest was the Northwest Territorial Imperative, a secessionist proposal promoted by the Aryan Nations during the 1980s.

In more recent years, a more organized movement calling for the re-unification of the original Oregon Country (which included the area of the modern day southern British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and Idaho into a single entity for the purpose of gaining independence from both the United States and Canada has come into being under the name of Cascadia. Supporters of the Evergreen Revolution hope to one day achieve the independence of Cascadia through peaceful means, through a referendum of the people and much the same way as was done in the former Czecho-Slovakia’s Velvet Revolution in 1989.

In the 1990′s the idea of Cascadia as an economic cross-border region became embraced by a wide diversity of civic leaders and organizations. The “Main Street Cascadia” transportation corridor concept was formed by former mayor of Seattle Paul Schell during 1991 and 1992. Schell later defended his cross-border efforts during the 1999 American Planning Association convention, saying that

Cascadia represents better than states, countries and cities the cultural and geographical realities of the corridor from Eugene to Vancouver, B.C.” 

Schell also formed the Cascadia Mayors Council, bringing together mayors from cities along the corridor from Whistler, BC, to Medford, Oregon. The council last met in May, 2004. Other cross-border groups were set up in the 1990s, such as the Cascadia Economic Council and the Cascadia Corridor Commission. Another report commissioned at this time went so far as to claim:

Cascadia is a shared notion, and one in active evolution. We’re still inventing ourselves as a regional culture. Cascadia is a recognition of emerging realities, a way to celebtrate commonality with diversity, a way to make the whole more than the sum of it’s parts. Cascadia is not a State, but a state of mind. But a state of mind can have important practical consequences.

Cascadia also exhibits binational and regional cooperation, governing bodies as well as cross-border NGOs. These ties continue to be strengthened through initiatives such as the establishment of a cross-border state ID card in 2006, the ‘Pacific Coast Collaboration’ agreement (PCC) signed by the governors of California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska and the premier of British Columbia in 2008, the bioregional ‘Cascadia Mayors Council’ founded in 1996 and the establishment of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region in 1991, a regional U.S.-Canadian forum in which all legislative members and governors are voting members, along with a consortium of the regions most powerful non-profit, public and private sector companies. PNWER is recognized by both the United States and Canada as the “model” for regional and bi-national cooperation that provides the public and private sectors a cross-border forum that legal scholar Andrew Petter, a former BC cabinet minister and President of Simon Fraser University, describes as one of North America’s most sophisticated examples of “regionalist paradiplomacy”. PNWER is the only statutory, non-partisan, bi-national, public/private partnership in North America.

The area from Vancouver B.C. down to Portland has been termed an emerging megaregion by the National Committee for America 2050, a coalition of regional planners, scholars, and policy-makers. This group defines a megaregion as an area where “boundaries [between metropolitan regions] begin to blur, creating a new scale of geography”. These areas have interlocking economic systems, shared natural resources and ecosystems, and common transportation systems link these population centers together. This area contains 17% of Cascadian land mass, but more than 80% of the Cascadian population.

On September 9, 2001, the Cascadian National Party website was launched on Angelfire but faltered quickly due to the terrorist attacks on September 11th.

Cascadian movements and organizations generally state that their political motivations deal mostly with political, economic, cultural and ecological ties, as well as the beliefs that the eastern federal governments are out of touch, slow to respond, and hinder state and provincial attempts at further bioregional integration. These connections go back to the Oregon Territory, and further back to the Oregon Country, the land most commonly associated with Cascadia, and the last time the region was treated as a single political unit, though administered by two countries.

While support for the movement is difficult to gauge, a research study by the Western Standard in 2005 found that support for exploring secession from Canada was at 35.7% in British Columbia, and 42% in Alberta. While difficult to gauge support specifically in Washington and Oregon, because no research has been done for those states, a nationwide poll by Zogby International in 2008 found that 22% of Americans now support a state’s or region’s right to peacefully secede from the United States, the highest rate since the American Civil War and a number that has probably significantly increased over the past 6 years. In addition, studies from 2012 have shown 81% of Americans feel that their country is on the wrong track, 9% approve of the US congress (the lowest in recorded history), while support for the democratic and republican parties each sit at roughly 30%.

The Cascadian Independence Project

Today, the primary organization promoting regional autonomy and independence is the Cascadian Independence Project.

cascadialogo
cascadialogo

While the majority of organizing is done through online platforms such as Facebook, reddit, and twitter, the group serves as a central hub, embracing a non-traditional, non-hierarchical, horizontal organizing model. The group now has 2,200 members on Myspace, 5,600 readers on the Cascadia Subreddit, 2,000 on Facebook, with dozens of members actively working within chapters, groups or as regional coordinators in more than 35 cities throughout the Northwest, including Vancouver BC, Victoria, Bellingham, Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, Walla Walla, Spokane, Olympia, Portland, Eugene, and Salem, San Francisco and Fairbanks, Alaska.

These efforts are reinforced by an emerging trend by non-profits, academics, business leaders as well as government planners to embrace the idea of Cascadia to help strengthen the Pacific Northwest and towards increased cooperation between elected official and representatives within the Cascadia bioregion, as regional economies continue to realign and become more important in a 21st global economic environment. This trend includes the establishment of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PWNER) in 1991, the Cascadia Mayors Council in 1996, the establishment of a cross-border state ID card in 2006 and the Pacific Coast Collaboration agreement signed in 2008.

Efforts such as the Pacific Northwest Economic Region were the first of their kind, notable as a regional US-Canadian forum in which all legislative members and governors are voting members, along with a consortium of the regions most powerful non-profit, public and private sector companies. PNWER is recognized by the both the United States and Canada as the ‘model’ for regional and bi-national cooperation that provides public and private sectors a cross-border forum that legal scholar Andrew Petter, a former BC cabinet minister and president of Simon Fraser University described as one of North America’s most sophisticated examples of ‘regionalist paradiplomacy’. PNWER remains the only statuatory, non-partisan, bi-national, public/private partnership in North America.

The Pacific Coast Collaboration Agreement was similarly impressive. Signed on June 30th, 2008 by the governors of California, Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Alaska, it was the first of its kind to bring together Pacific leaders as a common front to work co-operatively on a range of dynamic challenges facing the Cascadia bioregion. The agreement established a formal basis for cooperative action, a forum for leadership and information and sharing on issues faced by the Pacific Northwest with the overall goal of innovation, sustainability, and maintaining a high standard of living for all residents of the Northwest. It’s primary goals are “regional economy, regional transportation, clean energy, energy conservation and innovation”. Their website also notes the incredible potential possible from a united Cascadia bioregion, noting: 

With a combined population of 52 million and a GDP of $2.5 trillion, Alaska, British Columbia, California, Oregon and Washington are poised to emerge as a mega-region and global economic powerhouse driven by innovation, energy, geographic location and sustainable resource management, attracting new jobs and investment while enhancing an already unparalleled quality of life.

Most recently, officials from British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California have come together to form the West Coast Infrastructure Exchange (WCX), which brings together governors, treasurers and key development agencies help meet critical infrastructure needs over the next 30 years to fund infrastructure needs estimated at more than $1 trillion. The shared goal: Make vital public works and energy projects more feasible in order to improve economic competitiveness and to maintain the region’s unparalleled quality of life. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer and Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler unveiled the nonprofit entity, along with representatives from Washington, British Columbia.

Other groups discussing the Cascadia concept, such as the Sightline InstituteCrosscut.com, and Cascadia Prospectus, see the concept as one of a transnational cooperative identity, not secession. Still others, such as The Republic of Cascadia which runs the Save the Pacific Northwest Octopus Campaign and Sasquatch Militia, are whimsical expressions of political protest.

Written and compiled by:

By Brandon Letsinger, Abram Goldman-Armstrong, Alexander Baretich

Sources:

  1. Malcolm Clark, Jr. Eden Seekers
  2. Victor, Frances Fuller River of the West vol. II the Oregon Years