Steven Madison is teaching traditional carving, and it’s cultural importance

Steven Madison (left) helps a student learn carving techniques.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

The pleasant smell of freshly cut cedar floated out of classroom 2 of the Hibulb Cultural Center (HCC) on the afternoon of January 19, as a group of ten local citizens gathered for the center’s first Intro to Carving class. The museum enlisted longtime HCC collaborator and Tulalip Master Carver, Steven Madison, to teach the two-part culture series. Wood shavings fell to the floor while the group worked, constructing small projects and exchanging stories and laughter. 

Each participant was challenged to learn the art of carving in an expedited fashion, picking up new tips and tricks throughout the two, three-hour courses. As Steven bounced about the room, personally assisting each student with their carvings, he introduced them to an assortment of tools such as the drawknife, a two-handed blade used to shape wood, and emphasized technique for safety reasons, constantly reminding the class to pay attention when sculpting their pieces. During the class, Steven carefully used a bandsaw to cut a whale design out of a block of cedar for one of his students.

One young lady needed assistance with an adze, a large axe-like tool with a sharp blade used for cutting and smoothing out large pieces of wood. He took a seat next to the student and placed a large slab of cedar on his knee, picked up the tool before advising with a chuckle, ‘don’t do this on your leg’ and began hacking with the adze as strands of wood flew all around him. All eyes appeared to be fixated on the master carver as he gave them a step-by-step tutorial on using the traditional tool. 

“This all started with me simply wanting to teach people how to use the adze,” Steven recalls. “I did a carving demonstration here last year at the [HCC annual Salmon Bake Fundraiser]. During that demonstration, a lot of people were interested and asked their questions about my technique and the history, so I end up teaching them a lot about carving that day. After that, we decided we might as well do the carving class.

“This actually had a pretty good turnout. I really didn’t know how I was going to approach this series,” he admits. “Two, three-hour classes aren’t really enough time to get into depth with carving. So what I did with this class is I told them to go online and find a project they wanted to make, and let them know that we’re going to go all in, hands-on. Each of them chose a design; a salmon, the Tulalip whale, one girl is creating a carving with mountains and tress, like you’d see on a cedar basket. We just start carving wood and they’ve been learning as we go.”

The traditional art of carving has been passed down generation after generation. Amongst Coast Salish tribal communities, carving was important to the cultural lifeways of our people. The ancestors carved items for both ceremonial purposes and everyday use, sculpting canoes, paddles, rattles, masks, totem poles and even longhouses out of the spiritual cedar tree. 

“I’ve always been interested in carving,” expressed young tribal member Khianna Calica. “With that being said, I had no idea where to start or how to get involved. I’ve come to other [HCC] events and when I saw this workshop on the events list, it was perfect timing. Prior to this, I have never touched any carving tools and with the two classes I feel more comfortable with the execution. I came to the workshop today because I think that events at the cultural center are a phenomenal way to preserve the old medicine and the traditional arts and craft. We have to participate. If the knowledge keepers are willing to be here, people need to show up. I found it really important for me to show up and invite these traditions in my life, it’s so healing.”

Steven believes this series is an ideal way for beginning carvers to get familiar with the tools and technique. His partnership with the museum extends throughout the course of this year, hosting another Intro to Carving class before starting an in-depth six-week course in the late summer where students will craft paddles and spindle whorls. 

“The reason we’re doing this is really because we want to keep this alive forever,” states Steven. “That’s why it’s always so good to see the younger generations learning. A lot of kids want to learn but don’t necessarily have the patience for it. I’m one of few people who learned from my grandfather [Frank Madison] and Bernie Gobin. There’s a lot of great carvers, but those are the ones I learned from. There are so few of us left who know the technique of the old ways and the reason why we carve. You can go to anybody to learn how to carve a totem pole, it’s not rocket science, but the reason we do it is because each carving has a point and there’s a story to each one. 

“Carving is so important to our people. It was almost gone before [William] Shelton carved his story poles at a time when they were prosecuting people for carving and practicing traditions. Carving was passed down from my grandfather to my uncle to me and now I’m teaching that to the upcoming generations who want to learn.”

For further details about the Intro to Carving classes, please contact the museum at (360) 716-2600.

Our treaties are the last line of defense

Tulalip Tribes educates community on Treaty Rights

Indigenous women were at the forefront of Seattle’s Women’s March on January 21, 2017. Photo by Micheal Rios, Tulalip News.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

If you’re an avid Instagram user, and let’s face it most of us are, chances are you’ve stumbled across somebody’s profile that is filled with gorgeous photos of mountain ranges, waterfalls, beaches and tall evergreens. Every day, more and more people are exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest, hiking hidden trails in search of breathtaking views and secret camping grounds. 

A 2016 study, conducted by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, reported that outdoor recreation generated over twenty billion dollars in this state alone. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, outdoor recreation is a three-hundred-billion-dollar industry and is continuing to grow exponentially. And while it’s important to disconnect, inhale fresh air, enjoy scenery and experience the great outdoors, it’s equally important to remember that this land is sacred and has strong spiritual ties to the original caretakers of this region, who have lived off its resources since time immemorial.  

Let’s use the power of imagination to travel back about two-hundred years or so. You’re a young Coast Salish hunter who has been tasked to provide food for your family and village. After many years of cultural teachings, you’re finally ready to head into the woods to get your first elk.

 While you’re trekking up to the mountains, you recall all of the stories about elk roaming about in abundance in an area your family has hunted for generations. But you arrive only to see that there are hundreds of people hanging out, sleeping beneath the stars and enjoying themselves in a not-so-quiet manner. Because of all the people and constant foot traffic, there isn’t an elk in sight. So, you decide to try nearby areas to see if the elk have migrated, but instead you’re met with more people. Now you face the dilemma of providing another source of sustenance for your people, who depend on that meat for the upcoming winter months. 

Although crowded hunting grounds weren’t an issue two hundred years ago, you can see how big of an impact it would’ve had on tribal villages. When the Coast Salish people signed their treaty one hundred and sixty-four years ago, they kept the right to hunt and harvest on the same lands their ancestors had since the beginning of time.

Fast forward to the summer of 2018. A story was released by a popular local radio broadcast, KUOW, with the headline reading, ‘Seattle Hikers: You may be trampling on tribal treaty rights.’ Within the article, Tulalip Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife Director, Jason Gobin, shared a similar story but in modern time, claiming that many outdoor adventurers are showing a total disregard to the tribe’s ancestral lands. He expressed that due to over congestion, the areas for tribal members to conduct their spiritual work, whether it be hunting, gathering cedar or harvesting huckleberries, has decreased substantially since the signing of the Point Elliot Treaty of 1855. 

The story spread like wildfire across Facebook and Twitter as people shared the link, voicing both their support and concern. Over the course of a few months, the article inspired several outdoor recreational organizations and non-profit conservation groups to reach out to the tribe in an effort to learn more about tribal sovereignty. Because of the inquires, the Tulalip Natural Resources department hosted a daylong event for local non-governmental organizations to learn about treaty rights and the history of the Tulalip Tribes.

On the morning of January 9, around thirty individuals from recreational and conservation groups gathered at the Hibulb Cultural Center to begin the day with a tour of the museum. While having fun with the interactive displays, the group gained a basic understanding of tribal lifeways.

“It was a very powerful cultural exhibit, I learned so much I didn’t know before,” expressed Erika Lundahl of the outdoors publishing company, Mountaineers Books. “Particularly about the woolly dogs and also to see the special relationship the people share with the salmon in the area, as well as the weaving and the residential schools. It was powerful to hear first person accounts, it’s a lot to take in. There were things I’ve heard before, but getting a chance to hear the full story is something we all need to look at very closely to get an understanding of the impacts of generational trauma.”

The group then journeyed across the reservation and made their way to the Tulalip Administration building. In conference room 162, Natural Resources’ Environmental Liaison, Ryan Miller, spoke passionately about protecting the treaty rights his ancestors fought to keep. 

Ryan Miller, Tulalip Tribes Natural Resources Environmental Liaison, speaks on the importance of treaty rights and the need to protect them.

“Treaty rights are an inherent right,” he explained. “Treaty rights were not given to tribes, it’s a common misconception that the government gives Native Peoples special rights. That’s the exact opposite of how it works. Tribes are sovereign nations, they give up rights and they retain rights. Treaty rights are rights that are not given up by tribes and they’re upheld by the federal government as part of their trust relationship with the treaty tribes. The tribes right to self-govern is the supreme law of the land. It’s woven into the U.S. constitution as well as many legal decisions and legislative articles. The constitution says, congress has the power to make treaties with sovereign nations and that treaties are the supreme law of the land. 

“We all love the Pacific Northwest,” he continues. “Other people love it here too and they keep coming back, it’s really getting aggravating. I’m not talking about one person going out and hiking. That’s not the issue. What we’re concerned about, just like the population increasing, is that those people are coming here for what we all love to do, get out into nature. They want to see all those places that you love and I love, that I have a spiritual connection to. We have to figure out a way that we can provide that for people in a way that protects not only the inherent rights of tribes but the resources, so all of us can enjoy it.”

Libby Nelson, Natural Resources Senior Environmental Policy Analyst, gave the group an in depth look at the Point Elliot Treaty. During her presentation, she familiarized the participants with the term, ‘usual and accustomed grounds’. She also touched on the Boldt Decision and spoke of the Tulalip’s current co-stewardship with the U.S. Forestry department, which dedicated an area solely for spiritual use such as berry picking and the annual mountain camp for tribal youth during the summertime. 

Natural Resources Special Projects Manager, Patti Gobin, shared a personal and moving story about her grandma, Celum Young, who was a first generation Tulalip boarding school student. As she shared her grandmother’s painful experiences, she quickly followed with a heartwarming story of Celum, depicting her as a woman full of love who struggled loving herself. Because of years of forced assimilation, Celum endured physical abuse for speaking her language and practicing her traditions while at the boarding school. And as a direct result from the boarding schools, Patti admitted that her grandmother never spoke Lushootseed or taught the language to her children and grandchildren, in fear that they would be punished just as she was. 

Patti Gobin, Tulalip Tribes Natural Resources Special Projects Manager, speaks passionately about the boarding school era and asks that attendees honor the tribal treaties.

Native children who were around Celum’s age also experienced these atrocities at the boarding schools. Indigenous languages slowly began to slip away from their respective tribal communities. It wasn’t until recently that the language saw a major revitalization within the Tulalip community. Patti shared all this information, weaving together tales of happiness during dark times, to paint a picture that showcases how the trauma from the boarding schools trickled down generation after generation. 

Patti then asked the group to help honor tribal treaties, now that they are equipped with more knowledge and understanding of treaty rights and the tribal experience. She suggested signage depicting the tribe’s history as well as murals, such as the ones that will be displayed shortly in Skykomish and the San Juan Islands. 

“You don’t have to tell the intimate story of the Stu-hubs people,” she stated. “You can simply begin with the most general knowledge, that there are Indian tribes in the area and we will respect their treaty rights.”

At the end of the presentations, Ryan handed out a list of principals to the recreationalists and conservationists, stating that the tribe wants to be included in any project proposals and to build strong relationships with each organization. He urged them to bring the principals back to their team and discuss and modify the list to meet their mission and values. 

“Protection of treaty rights protects endangered species and habitat for all of Washington citizens, not just for tribes,” he said. “All the places that you love, all the species you care about, the orca, the salmon; our treaties are the last line of defense. When our state’s governor was telling the Trump administration that they couldn’t drill for oil off of our coast, he said it would be a violation of tribal treaty rights. We’re the last vanguard, help us protect it. Treaties are the supreme law of the land. They’re living documents and they have as much importance today, to us as Indian People, and they should to you as Washington citizens, as they did the day they were signed.”

The Tulalip Natural Resources Department plans on hosting several more Treaty Rights events like this throughout the year, tailoring their presentations to groups such as environmentalists and governmental entities. For more information, please contact Natural Resources at (360) 716-4480. 

Related Articles: 

The Treaty of Point Elliott: A living document

Tulalip prepares for Treaty Days

Tulalip youth exercise treaty rights, learn hunting safety

New colonizer in chief, same fight to protect our treaty rights

Tulalip educates community on habitat restoration and treaty rights

Point Elliott Treaty, 159 years later

Tulalip Tribes stewardship recognized by the Harvard Project

Pacific Northwest Tribes unite to protect and defend salmon

 

 

Share your story: Poetry at Hibulb

Shawnee tribal member and renowned Indigenous Poet, Laura Da’, read poems from her most recent book, ‘Instruments of the True Measure’, the follow up to the critically acclaimed, Tributaries.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

As far back as many can recall, long before precontact times, Indigenous Peoples used the art of poetry to engage their communities and convey important life lessons. Through stories, the younger generations learn how to navigate through their journey and avoid some of the many pitfalls life has to offer. 

Poetry has always been a way to cleverly portray a story, rhythmically using words to paint vivid pictures into the audience’s mind. Traditionally, poems were crafted as blessings to the creator and countless storytellers throughout time used poetry to explain how Mother Earth came to be, with such verses describing the raven stealing the moon and tossing it into the sky. And across the world, generation after generation, romantics relied on the expressive art form to win the hearts of their main attraction. 

Once a month, the Hibulb Cultural Center hosts a poetry series inside of their longhouse where local Indigenous poets are featured and invited to share their words with the community. The series provides a space where creatives can tell their story and explain the thought behind each of their readings, while listeners delve into the deeper meaning, paying close attention and hanging onto every word.  

“Tulalip elders were the foremost poets in our area,” says Hibulb Cultural Center Education Curator, Lena Jones. “Our ancestral language itself is rhythmical and expressive. When one translates the elders’ words and wisdom from Lushootseed, the words contain profound meaning expressed in a beautiful way. Our elders tell us that the ancestral elders advised us to use words as medicine for the people.

“Hank Gobin,” she continues. “The first director of the Hibulb Cultural Center and himself a talented poet, included poetry as one of the objectives of the Center, feeling poetry was becoming a lost art.”

On the afternoon of January 3, Shawnee tribal member and renowned Indigenous Poet, Laura Da’ read poems from her most recent book, Instruments of the True Measure, the follow up to the critically acclaimed, Tributaries. During Hibulb’s first poetry series of the year, she explained that she created fictional characters to tell the true story of the relocation of the Shawnee people.

“I see them [my books] as part of the same art, they definitely go together,” says Laura about her publications. “They both have a sense of going back and forth from the history to the present time and kind of wobbling along that line and taking the linear piece of time out. Mostly they [show]how the past impacts the present, particularly for Shawnee people and how the history informs how we live today and how knowledge of it can gives us more strength, but also understanding of our conflicts within our own nation. Knowing what my own ancestors have gone through is helpful to me to know how to interact with challenges today.”

Poetry is an essential art within many cultures and has led to modern day music and film. To Native American culture specifically, poems are integral to many tribal communities’ way of life. Since the years of forced relocation and assimilation, contemporary Indigenous writers use poetry to speak about important issues and accurately recount the colonization era that is far too often romanticized in U.S. History. While displaying incredible resiliency, the poets give insight to rez life, coping with generational trauma as well as many other issues happening across Native America. 

“Poetry is the way I love to write best because I like that it allows a lot for the unsaid,” Laura explains. “I feel that it gives you time to sit with difficulty and also with beauty but it doesn’t tell you what to do with it. It’s a meditative kind of writing and I like to do it because it’s so difficult. It makes you notice things so much as a person. You work so hard to get the line, the image and the rhythm, you create a relationship with words that ebbs back to an original appreciation of what it means to say something.”

The one-hour poetry series allows the featured artist to express their words for approximately half-an-hour. The floor is then opened up for fellow wordsmiths to share their poems and ideas with the people. 

“Poets such as Laura Da’ bear historical witness to the strength of the Native American spirit and inspire appreciation for the diversity of the American experience,” states Lena. “Others, such as Tulalip tribal member Sarah Miller, a poet and Lushootseed Language teacher, illuminate Tulalip’s vibrant cultural legacy. Sarah will be the featured poet on February 7. The open mic portion of the poetry series brings an endless source of wisdom and imagination, often times humor, and quite often meaningful dialogue to the Tulalip experience and current social issues.”

In recent years, poetry has seen a huge resurgence within tribal communities. More and more youth are reciting original words that reflect their perspectives while tackling issues that they witness on a day-to-day basis including suicide and drug abuse. Laura encourages young Indigenous writers and artists to pursue their dream and continue creating. She also urges young Native women to use their talents as a tool to heighten their voice, expressing that stories about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, as well as domestic and sexual assault, need to be heard. 

 “My main piece of advice is, seek and cultivate your community,” she says. “Use your writing to enhance your friendships, use your writing to talk to your elders and listen to them while honoring your voice too. For young Indigenous writers, know how much we need your story.”

The next Hibulb Cultural Center Poetry Series will be held on February 7. For additional details, please contact the museum at (360) 716-2600.

Major exhibition presents a Native-activated space, explores legacy of Edward S. Curtis

 

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) presents Double Exposure: Edward S. Curtis, Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, Will Wilson (on display from June 14 – September 9). Featuring iconic early 20th-century photographs by photographer Edward S. Curtis alongside contemporary works – including photography, video, and installations – by Indigenous artists Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, and Will Wilson. Their powerful portrayals of Native identity offer a compelling counter narrative to the stereotypes present in Curtis’s images.

Edward S. Curtis is one of the most well-known photographers of Native people and the American West. Double Exposure features over 150 of his photographs. Threaded throughout the galleries of his works are multimedia installations by Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, and Will Wilson. Their work provides a crucial framework for a critical reassessment and understanding of Curtis’s representations of Native peoples, while shedding light on the complex responses Natives and others have to those representations today.*

“The historical significance of Curtis’s project is well-established,” says Barbara Brotherton, SAM’s Curator of Native American Art. “In many cases, his photographs and texts provide important records of Native culture. However, it’s time for a reevaluation of his work. His methodology perpetuated the problematic myth of Native people as a ‘vanishing race.’ This exhibition reflects a collaboration among SAM, the artists, and an advisory committee comprising Native leaders to make a space for a reckoning with Curtis’s legacy.”

Three contemporary Indigenous artists in Double Exposure challenge assumptions about Native art and illustrate how Native communities continue to creatively define their identity and cultures for themselves. First Nation artist Marianne Nicolson created an immersive sculptural light installation that casts moving shadows to address the impact of the 1964 Columbia River Treaty on Native communities. 

Seminole and Choctaw filmmaker/artists Tracy Rector empowers Indigenous communities by capturing the activism, defiance, and reclaimed traditions of Native tribes through her new video work of short stories derived from environmental awareness and life experiences of Natives today.

“All of my work is centered in Indigenous story: for, by, and about Indigenous people,” says Rector, whose video will welcome viewers inside a “Native-activated space” surrounded by related art.

Will Wilson’s large-scale tintype portraits feature Native lawmakers, artists, educators, and community members from the Seattle area. Artist Tracy Rector, Senator John McCoy, and others will speak through “talking” tintypes created using augmented reality. Wilson, a Navajo/Diné photographer, aims to counter stereotypes that Curtis’s work propagated.

“I want to supplant Curtis’s ‘settler’ gaze and the remarkable body of ethnographic material he compiled with a contemporary vision of Native North America,” states Wilson.

Double Exposure is a chance to see art of Native Americans in all its complexity through each of these artists’ perspectives on culture and identity.*

In honor of Double Exposure’s opening, the Seattle Art Museum invited any individuals with tribal affiliations to be the first visitors to view the exhibit. Dubbed ‘the Indigenous Peoples opening’, held the evening of June 11, representatives from many Coast Salish tribes gathered at SAM for the free event which included admission to the exhibit, performances by the Suquamish canoe family, and songs shared by Lummi violinist Swil Kanim.

“This Indigenous-only celebration was inspired by Miranda Belarde-Lewis (Tlingit/Zuni),” explains artist Tracy Rector. “She suggested the idea of decolonizing curation and what it means to indigenize museum spaces. Having a Native-centered exhibit opening is a way we could be in community experiencing artwork together.”

*source: Seattle Art Museum press releases, exhibition literature

Image credits: Kalamath Lake Marshes, 1923, Edward S. Curtis, goldstone. Mussel Gatherer, 1900, Edward S. Curtis, photogravure. John McCoy (Tulalip) – Talking Tintype, 2018, Will Wilson, exhibition print. Madrienne Salgado (Muckleshoot) – Talking Tintype, 2018, Will Wilson, exhibition print.

Exploring Healthy Boundaries With the Help of Horses

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News.  Photos courtesy of Monica Holmes

The horse was a major part of Native American history and still plays a vital role in enabling Native youth to connect to their heritage of being caretakers of Mother Earth and all her animals. A new form of spiritual healing can also be derived from individuals and their interaction with the majestic horse, called equine therapy.

Using horses in a therapeutic setting offers youth clear opportunities to learn about themselves and others in an effective way. This is why on October 6 the Girl’s Talking Circle took a trip to Cedar Groves Stables in Stanwood, WA for a fun-filled, therapeutic afternoon.

“Our trip to Cedar Groves Stables was for an ‘Exploring Healthy Boundaries’ workshop with the goal to enlighten the youth about their own inherent boundaries and the need to adjust those boundaries based on the people they encounter along their journey,” explained event coordinator and para-pro Monica Holmes. “We did many exercises individually and with one another that illustrated each person’s ability to tap into their own gut instinct to determine where they position themselves, how they behave around others, and how they may need to regulate their emotional output.”

Horse and human encounters provide opportunities for learning about relationships and further understanding about boundaries. Once the girls transitioned inside the stables and began interacting with the herd of horses, they found themselves using the personal boundary skills they just learned and adjusting to the horses’ needs.

“I learned horses sometimes feel trapped or unsafe, so they tell us to back off by moving their heads and trying to get away,” beamed 11-year-old tribal member, Tieriana McLean. “When we humans did boundary work we learned that we sometimes flinch or feel stressed or react and that means we were setting our own boundaries with others.”

Horses, much like people, are social creatures and require mutual trust and respect in order to engage in a productive relationship. If a horse is acting stubborn or defiant, then it can often be understood as a lack of engagement and thoughtfulness on the part of the person.

“I liked learning about how you need to calm yourself around the horses, so they’ll learn to trust you and won’t hurt you,” remarked 14-year-old Ariyah Guardipee (Salish Kootenai).

For the girls, making a connection with a horse required self-awareness in order to produce positive intentions, while also reading the emotional output of the horse. Once a balance has been reached, the girls were able to approach the horses and establish a bond. How much space to give a certain horse and when or if they could reciprocate attention or affection is a learned skill they showcased brilliantly.

“Rather than shying away from them or feeling overwhelmed by the horses’ size, the girls were zoned into reading the horses individually,” added Monica. “They adjusted their interactions accordingly, so the horse was on the receiving end of the time and attention it wanted and needed. Miraculously, each girl walked away with a deeper connection to the horses, each other and themselves.”

Volunteer chaperone and tribal member, Darkfeather Ancheta, jumped at the opportunity to attend the workshop with the Girls Talking Circle. She witnessed first-hand the girls learn personal boundary skills and then use them to develop bonds with the horses. “It was very powerful! The girls’ energy and moods changed instantly around the horses. To watch them react, learn, and respond the way they did was so amazing. This program can change lives for the better,” stated Darkfeather.

The connection established with these equine companions brought out the hidden inner strength and courage of each and every youth participant. Overcoming doubts and developing confidence are only a couple of supplemental results they also enjoyed from their time at the Stables.

Activities that teach skills ‘outside of the box’ are vital to programs like the Girls Talking Circle for developing healthy, well-rounded individuals and groups of youth in our community. These are experiences the youth and those adults who are privileged enough to work with them won’t soon forget.

Over 5,000 Indigenous athletes compete in NAIG 2017

Let the Games begin!

NAIG opened with a surprise musical appearance from Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas, flanked by traditional hoop dancers putting on a mesmerizing cultural performance.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

On the spectacular evening of Sunday, July 16 an estimated 5,250 Indigenous athletes, coaches and support staff proudly marched into the Aviva Center, located just outside of Canada’s largest city Toronto, for the opening ceremony of the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) 2017.

The over 5,000 athletes represent 26 regions across North America, consisting of 13 provinces and territories in Canada and 13 regions in the United States. Since 1990, Indigenous competitors between the ages of 13 and 19-years-old have taken part in the showcase that celebrates their athleticism and heritage. This year’s Indigenous Games marks the 9th edition of the multi-sport, multi-disciplinary event dedicated to Indigenous youth from the United States and Canada. The Games offer 14 sport competitions in addition to a vibrant cultural program.

For the first time in over 25 years NAIG returned to eastern Canada, notably allowing the province of Ontario to host its first ever Indigenous Games. For many of the young tribal competitors who reside on reservations in the United States, their athletic expertise allowed them their first ever entrance into Canada, to sightsee the City of Toronto, and, most importantly, to experience and connect with Indigenous cultures from around the continent.

Mississauga of the New Credit First Nation elder Gary Sioux lit the ceremonial smudge and offered a blessing, while his granddaughter fanned the flames of competition for NAIG 2017.

During the opening ceremony of NAIG 2017, which was delayed approximately 90-minutes due to a thunderstorm, the capacity crowd of over 9,000 was rightfully energized by a surprise musical performance from Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas, flanked by traditional hoop dancers putting on a mesmerizing cultural performance.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honor to be here. I represent the Shoshone and Hopi Nation,” said Taboo before performing his musical medley. “I am very proud to be Native American representing here with you all in Toronto. We represent the future. Natives, Indigenous, First Nations, and Aboriginals all coming together as one people, one nation, one tribe to make dreams come true.”

Spanning the week of July 17-22, more than 5,000 athletes from across the continent will compete in 14 sporting categories on the traditional lands and homelands of the Huron-Wendat Nation, Metis Nation of Ontario, Mississauga of the New Credit First Nation, Mississauga of Scugog Island First Nation, and Six Nations of the Grand River.

Government and Indigenous leadership from various regions took to stage to deliver rallying messages of encouragement, strength, and unity through sport.

“On behalf of the Six Nations, we are the Haudenosaunee and we welcome you. We are so excited and proud to be one of the community partners hosting these Games,” exclaimed Chief Ava Hill, representing the Six Nations of the Grand River. “To the athletes, these are your Games! It is so emotional to me as a leader to witness all you young people here today because each and every one of you is a dream come true. You are role models for the younger ones who are watching you. You are ambassadors for your families and for your communities. You are all winners! You are all winners just by being here and being a participant in the North American Indigenous Games.”

Following a rocking performance by A Tribe Called Red, fireworks filled the night sky at the Aviva Center to signal the beginning of the Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games.

Sport can be a launching pad for many great things yet to come for youth. Through participation in NAIG 2017, youth are given many opportunities to travel, make new Indigenous friends, and form life-long connections. As athletes participating in NAIG 2017, Indigenous youth learn many character building skills, such as team building, courage, determination, and goal-setting in a familiar setting located at the intersection of culture and sport. These are all skills that will help greatly as the youth move on to the next chapters in their lives.

Representing the Pacific Northwest region of the United States is Team Washington and its 19U men’s basketball team which includes three Tulalip tribal members: Robert Miles, Darion Joseph, and Bryce Juneau. They are joined by Michael Leslie (Muckleshoot), who played basketball for Tulalip Heritage during his sophomore year, Tre Williams (Nez Pierce), Xavier Littlehead (Northern Cheyenne), and Isiah Strom (Yakama). They are coached by Tulalip tribal member Harold Joseph, who participated in the first four editions of NAIG as a competitor and has coached in every NAIG since.

“Having three Tulalip tribal members on the team is special because they get to share this experience with the younger youth back home,” says Coach Harold. “All three of them are positive role models in our community. They each played high school sports; Robert at Heritage, Bryce at Marysville-Pilchuck and Darion at Archbishop Murphy, so the younger kids see that and it pushes them in the right way. I want to thank the Tulalip Tribe for supporting us and giving us the opportunity to represent all our people back home in our quest for a gold medal.”

Schack Art Center Features Haida Art

Article and photos by Kalvin Valdillez

The National Basketry Organization (NBO) is a non-profit organization consisting of basket-makers, collectors, art gallery owners, students, schools and museums. Members from the organization recently traveled to the Northwest for a basketry conference held in Tacoma.

Fiber Artist, Jan Hopkins, wanted to host a Native American art gala at her home in Everett, for the NBO. Unfortunately, due to conflicting times, NBO members informed Jan that they would be unable to attend her event. The organization, however, originally scheduled time to tour Everett’s Schack Art Center, where Jan’s husband, Chris, frequently showcases his paintings. Jan contacted art collectors John Price and Nancy Kovalik as well as Haida Master Weaver, Lisa Telford, to see if they were interested in showcasing their Haida art collections at the Schack for the NBO.

With the art collectors and Lisa on board, the Art Center allowed Jan to guest curate Courtesy of: Extraordinary Basketry, Textiles and Sculptures from the Northwest Collections. The exhibit features paintings, carvings and weavings created by Haida artists Delores Churchill, Isabelle Rorick and Evelyn Vanderhoop – to name a few.

Lisa, who also works for the Tulalip TERO program, is a world renowned Haida Weaver. Her works are featured in museums nationwide including exhibits at the Burke Museum in Seattle, the Heard Museum in Phoenix, the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.

“[Weaving] is my thread to sanity,” states Lisa. “When my older brother passed, the first person in my family to pass away that affected me, I didn’t weave for about six months. When I started weaving again, I went to work on Monday and everybody asked ‘what happened to you’ and when I said nothing, they said ‘yeah, something life changing happened to you this weekend because you’re glowing.’ I feel like it keeps me grounded and it makes me happy, so I just say it’s my thread to sanity, when I do it I’m happy, I don’t know how else to say it.”

“I come from a family of weavers; everybody wove,” continued Lisa. “My grandmother wanted to teach me when I was thirteen, but when you’re thirteen you’re too busy running around to settle down. My grandmother sat me down and said ‘I want to show you something,’ and I said ‘I don’t have time for that.’ I always regretted that. After she passed away, I moved to Washington and joined a dance group and I wore her hat. People would ask ‘where’d you get that hat?’ and when I said my grandma, they asked ‘can she could make any more?’ That’s what made me start weaving. I realized that I took it all for granted. I told my mom and she called my auntie and shortly after that I started apprenticing for my aunt Dolores.”

Lisa created six weavings for the exhibit. Her art submissions include a big spoon basket, a traditional hat, two small baskets as well as two pairs of cedar high heel shoes.

“I think it was probably in 1999, this fellow from the Heard Museum asked me if I would give a pair of shoes for this show called Sole Stories,” explains Lisa.

After trial and error, she created a pair of high heels, using BBs and a dress weight to shape the shoes. When submitting the shoes, the museum was shocked by her invention.

“I brought them to the show, the guy goes ‘Oh my God! I didn’t know you were going to make a pair of shoes. I didn’t even know that was possible! I meant a pair of your personal shoes.’ Now people keep wanting the shoes, even after I say I’m done with it. Every time I think I’m done, they pull me back in,” she states.

Many of the works that were provided by the art collectors, were weaved by Lisa’s family members.

“It really could be called my family’s show because the person who wove the tunic was my cousin Evelyn, the person who wove the canoe cape was my cousin Holly and the person who wove the robe was my aunt Dolores,” Lisa exclaimed.

The Courtesy of: Extraordinary Basketry, Textiles and Sculptures from the Northwest Collections exhibit is featured until July 29 at the Schack Art Center., 2921 Hoyt Ave, Everett, WA 98201. For additional information, please visit www.Schack.org

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World

Poster image of RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked The World by Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana, an official selection of the World Cinema Documentary Competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

 

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The contributions of Native Americans in modern music (from Link Wray to Robbie Robertson, Charley Patton to Buffy Sainte-Marie) got a much-deserved showcase at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) premiere of Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World. A celebratory documentary uncovering the indigenous influence on American music history, Rumble was received by an energetic crowd at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre on Friday, May 16.

“First off, let us recognize we are on the land of indigenous peoples, the Coast Salish people,” stated Tracy Rector (Seminole/Choctaw), SIFF Program Director and Native activist as she introduced the film. “Tonight is a celebration of indigenous art, indigenous musicians, and our community.”

From Charley Patton and Mildred Bailey to Link Wray and Jimi Hendrix; from Jesse Ed Davis and Buffy-Sainte Marie to Robbie Robertson and Randy Castillo, the contributions of Native Americans to the soundtrack of popular culture music are as undeniable as they are underreported. The Indigenous influence spans nearly all the musical genres like blues, jazz, pop, rock and heavy metal.

In the celebratory exposé Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World, director Catherine Bainbridge takes us through a rollercoaster of fantastic music and wide-ranging interviews – Martin Scorsese and Taj Mahal rub shoulders with Pat Vegas and late poet John Trudell – while never losing sight of the politically precarious place indigenous persons hold in America’s troubled history, a history in which Native culture has been systematically silenced.

“There was this key express: be proud you’re an Indian, but be careful who you tell,” says Robertson (Mohawk), best known for his work as lead guitarist for The Band, recounting advice he once received. Loud, lively, and endlessly illuminating, Rumble is as powerful as the 1958 Link Wray song it’s named after, one of the rare instrumental tracks banned from radio airwaves since it supposedly “glorified juvenile delinquency.”*

Film producers Lisa Roth and Ernest Webb attend the SIFF premier of their documentary Rumble.

“People don’t understand nor realize that there was a Native contribution and influence, an intermingling of cultures from so long that helped shape the early sounds of many musical genres,” says Producer Lisa Roth on the film’s vision to entertain while educating the public. “This isn’t commonly known because at the time [the U.S. government] was attempting to erase Native culture, essentially. We know this is a lot of information to take in and absorb. I’ve been approached by many Native people after viewing the film who tell me, ‘I learned something that I should have known and I didn’t. Thank you for that.’”

“We don’t want to take anything away from anybody, it’s just that we want to add to the story. We want the contributions of Native musicians and artists who helped shape music recognized in the history,” adds Executive Producer Ernest Webb (Cree). “Just because we hid, they thought we had disappeared. A lot of our people and culture was forced to go underground in order to survive. Presently, a lot of our ceremonies and traditional ways are coming back.

We’re in a new age, especially with successful music groups like A Tribe Called Red. We don’t need to hide who we are anymore. With the new and young generation coming up I’m hopeful our culture will continue to grow and thrive on the foundation our ancestors provided.”

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World will be wide-released to select theaters in the Seattle area later this Summer.

To view the Rumble trailer you can visit http://rezolutionpictures.com/portfolio_page/rumble/

*Source: Rumble press material provided by Seattle International Film Festival

Veterans and Gold Star Mothers honored at Tulalip

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

In commemoration of Memorial Day, the Tulalip Tribes held memorial services at both Priest Point and Mission Beach cemeteries, to honor and remember the fallen soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice while fighting for this Nation’s freedom. The Tribe thanked the veterans, Gold Star Mothers and active duty members of the military for their service.

Tulalip Board member and Vietnam Veteran, Mel Sheldon, hosted the services and thanked the Honor Guards, veterans and families who prepared the cemetery for the memorial services.

“It’s heartfelt to see all the flags on bedsides of Veterans who served, especially for those who paid their life, the ultimate sacrifice,” Mel expressed.

Several Tulalip Veterans shared their experience with the community, recounting their days while on active duty. The services included roll call as well as a 21-gun salute at each cemetery. This year, the Tribe enlisted two Vietnam veterans as guest speakers for the memorial services.

Washington State Council President for the Vietnam Veterans of America, Francisco Ivarra, spoke to the Tulalip community about the important role of family during wartime.

“When we talk about a veteran we have to include his wife, girlfriend and family. It has to be inclusive, because when a Veteran comes home from war, combat and foreign lands, they are not the same person,” said Francisco. “For those of us who served, war will always be with us for the rest of our lives. That war filters down to our families. What we are feeling, going through and experiencing, so are our families. We fought the battle, but when we come home, they are also fighting the battle.”

President of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, John Shafer, served alongside Mel during Vietnam. John shared that there were over 42,000 aviators during the Vietnam War and made sure to take a moment to pay respect to Raymond Moses, a Tulalip Veteran who recently was laid to rest.

John also thanked the Tulalip Veterans and community members stating, “It is an honor to be here today with the Tulalip families and Veterans. [In the military,] Native American men and women have the highest participation role, in history.  The Tulalip families stepped up for our country and I thank each of you for your service.”