Chenoa Egawa is Coast Salish of the Lummi and S’Kallam Nations of Washington State. She is a ceremonial leader, singer, speaker, environmental activist and artist dedicated to bringing healing to our Mother Earth, and to people of all cultures, backgrounds and origins through recognition of our shared experiences as human beings.
One of her principal teachings today is the importance of preserving and sharing the wisdom human beings of all cultures, languages and ways of life still hold that benefit the health, well being and protection of all life on our Mother Earth. In that regard, she serves as a voice to bring Native wisdom and perspectives to the world at a time when these teachings are particularly poignant reminders of our shared responsibility to live with respect for ourselves, one another, and for our Earth.
Chenoa has long been active in local, and international work for Indigenous peoples, children and the environment. For over 20 years, she has worked in Washington State schools, creating programs that integrate Native American culture and history, often teaching through songs and storytelling, empowering Native youth and bringing greater appreciation for cultural diversity to all children in the public school system. Over the past 25 years, she has traveled throughout North, Central and South America facilitating communication among indigenous peoples with the intent of protecting and preserving cultural heritage, languages and homelands. From 1997-1999 Chenoa was an Institute of Current World Affairs (ICWA) Fellow in Mexico and Guatemala where she studied and wrote on issues concerning Indigenous peoples of both countries. In 1996, she was part of an international Native delegation that traveled to Chile to support Mapuche and Pehuenche Indigenous communities in their efforts to halt construction of large-scale dams on their homelands. In 1992 she traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to attend the Earth Summit where she served as a Lummi delegate, and as a English, Spanish and Portuguese translator at meetings with tribes from the United States, Canada, Central and South America. In 1991, she worked as an intern at the United Nations Center for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland, serving as a member of the Secretariat during the 10th Session of the Working Group of Indigenous Peoples. Throughout her work she has served as a bridge in cross-cultural interactions, encouraging mutual respect and understanding among Native and non-Native communities, educators and environmental groups.
As a vocalist, Chenoa has released five CD’s - Sacred Fire (Sound of America Records), Road of Life (Swan Clan), Heartbeat of Life (Swan Clan), Songs of Strength and Beauty (Cool Runnings), and Spirit of Salishan (Swan Clan). In 2013, Chenoa and her brother, Keith Egawa, released their first children’s book, 'Tani’s Search for the Heart.' They are currently writing and illustrating their second children’s to be released summer of 2015. Her experience as an actor includes performing in lead roles in the World Premiere of Ghosts of Celilo at Portland, Oregon’s Newmark Theatre in 2007, 2011, where she also won the Portland Area Musical Theatre Award for “Best Original Score” 2011 (co-writer with Marv Ross); in Sacagawea, at the Oregon Children’s Theatre in 2003, and at the New Visions, New Voices series at Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center in May 2002. From 2003-2009 Chenoa was Host for the Native news television program ‘Northwest Indian News.’ In 2010 she was Host for the television news program ‘Native Heartbeat.’ Both programs are still viewed across the Western United States, Canada, Hawaii, Alaska and New Zealand.