A Celebration of the Canoe Journey

The Puyallup School District & the Karshner Museum and Center for Culture & Arts present: A Celebration of the Canoe Journey (August 2 and 3, 10 am to 4 pm)

PUYALLUP, WA (7/13/18)–The Puyallup School District will help celebrate the Canoe Journey 2018 with special events at the Karshner Museum and Center for Culture & Arts on August 2 and 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. All are invited to this free family event. With the Puyallup Tribe of Indians hosting the 2018 Canoe Journey “Power Paddle to Puyallup” from July 28 to August 4, over 100 canoes and over 10,000 people representing coastal tribes and friends from all over the Pacific Northwest are expected to participate.

Visitors at the Karshner Museum and Center for Culture & Arts will experience the Coast Salish traditional culture through artifacts, displays, film, photo, art, and storytelling. Over 300 artifacts will be on display and include model canoes, paddles, and baskets, tools and more. A photo history of the Canoe Journey by Denny Hurtado, Skokomish member and past OPSI Indian Education Director will be on display. Secretary of State’s Legacy Washington exhibit “We’re Still Here: The Survival of Washington Indians” and the Karshner Museum’s own exhibit “From Mt. Tacobet to the Salish Sea: The Culture & Artifacts of Coast Salish Peoples” artifacts will also be on exhibit.  In addition, films of past Canoe Journeys and a film “Muckleshoot Indian Tribe Sla-Hal 2015 Tournament” directed by Lyn Dennis, Lummi/Tahltan,B.C., will be shown.

Storytellers will keep audience members entertained with traditional stories and legends. Storytellers include  Lois Landgrebe, Snohomish, Duwamish, Nez Perce; Gene Tagaban, Tlingit, Cherokee and Filipino; Barbara Lawrence-Piecuch, Suquamish; Tobey Joseph, Apache, Ute

Melvin Blacketer, Nisqually and Puyallup.

Educators are invited to one or two days of professional development. Activities and learning will include the culture of the canoe, canoe-making, the canoe journey and its importance to Coast Salish tribes today, the traditional methods for cooking, making baskets, cattail mats, art, use of natural resources, food gathering and the tribal importance of protecting the environment and its wildlife. Up to six clock hours will be available through the Puyallup School District Professional Development website.

The district will provide free round-trip shuttle buses from Chief Leschi Schools to the Karshner Center so visitors at the Canoe Journey, “Power Paddle to Puyallup 2018” will have easy access to the events of the day at the museum. Likewise, visitors to the Karshner Center may use the shuttles for easy transport to the Canoe Journey festivities and protocols at Chief Leschi Schools.

For more information contact: The Karshner Museum and Center for Culture & Arts

309 4th St NE, Puyallup, WA 98372, phone (253) 841-8748, or visit the center’s website or Facebook page: Website: https://karctr.puyallup.k12.wa.us, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KarshnerMuseum.


Art Talk: We Got Styles!

Conversations on Northwest Native Art

David Boxley. Photo davidboxley.com.
David Boxley.
Photo davidboxley.com.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Over the weekend of March 27-29, the University of Washington held ArtTalk: Conversations on Northwest Native Art. The event was free for all to attend and join leading scholars and Native American/First Nations artists as they presented and discussed current trends and recent research on the distinctive art traditions of our region. They examined the last fifty years of Northwest Coast art, as marked by the 50th anniversary volume of Bill Holm’s influential book, Northwest Coast Indian Art: Analysis of Form, and look forward to the next fifty years in an art form that is just as thriving and innovative as the cultures it stems from.

So what’s the point of studying all the northwest coast styles? Most objects were removed from their sources and were not well documented. They often reside in museum collections with little to no documentation, or documentation that is misleading or incorrect. The pure analysis of forms of objects that have been removed from their cultural context is precisely so that these objects can be reconnected with their cultures. By studying styles it’s possible to determine where on the coast an object originated. Sometimes being able to determine with some certainty who the artist was and what their names were even when documentation is missing or incorrect.

The symposium began on Friday, March 27 at 7:00 p.m. with a keynote program by Dr. Robin Wright and artists Qwalsius Shaun Peterson (Puyallup/Tulalip) and David R. Boxley (Tsimshian) discussing the past 50 years of Northwest Coast Native art, including the impact of Bill Holm’s influential book.

Boxley has spent his life researching and practicing northern Northwest Coast style, the Tsimshian language and dance, and in particular the subtleties and variations of the Tsimshian art style he has come to master. Boxley just returned from Juneau, Alaska where he and his father, David A. Boxley, have installed the first fully carved and painted Tsimshian house-front in modern time. It is one of the largest, if not the largest, carved-and-painted Tsimshian house front in the world.

“If the art is going to move forward then we have to get back to where it was when it got stuck,” says Boxley, referring to the period that Native American culture was banned when the missionaries and boarding schools took root. “Once we can understand, to the best of our abilities, how things went together before that era then whatever comes next will be the natural progression. So the art, this very visual thing that our people could grab onto and be proud of, is what led to the revival of our culture. Now that the art has reached the point where quality is really being pushed, maintaining a certain quality that the collections market pushed to create, we’ve really been able to bring a lot of our culture back.

“The thing for us now is to make sure it’s attached to what we are doing culturally. Because the art nearly preceded our modern cultural practices, we now have to assign meaning and the depth of it all into our everyday lives. It’s been a really long journey and something I am very honored to be a part of it. We all find reasons to do what we do. There’s the pride we feel in reclaiming what belongs to us, and then there’s the simple things like knowing if we work hard our ancestors will be proud of us.”


Shaun Peterson Photo nativex.com.
Shaun Peterson
Photo nativex.com.


Peterson is a Puyallup and Tulalip artist who carves, paints and works in many forms in digital media. Peterson is a pivotal figure in contemporary Coast Salish art traditions, and has major installations throughout the Northwest, ranging from works created in wood, glass and metal. Just last month Peterson was chosen by Seattle Office of Arts & Culture for the tribal commission on the new Seattle waterfront. Peterson is also a founding member of the Bill Holm Center’s advisory board and in 2014 published an essay titled Coast Salish Design: an anticipated southern analysis.

“I’ve studied Salish artwork very intently now for twenty years, and having these intense conversations with masters of their craft. It’s through those conversations, the oral tradition of our culture, looking at things and observing these things that have been so important in sustaining and advancing our culture,” Peterson says of stretching the limits of styles and breaking out of limitations and expectations while honoring our ancestors. “Our culture reflects and informs what we make. There are fewer examples of southern Northwest Coast work because for a very long time our art was strictly created for ceremony and inner-tribal use, not for collecting and public consumption. What’s changed in the last fifteen to twenty years is that our people are more free to create work in the public realm and as more artists master their craft the boundaries of what we know to be traditional guidelines will continue to be pushed.”


To see the stunning visual displays that these two well renowned Native American artists, please visit their websites:

Shaun Peterson, http://www.qwalsius.com/

David R. Boxley, http://davidrobertboxley.com/


Contact Micheal Rios, mrios@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

Shaun Peterson, Puyallup, Tapped to Make Public Art on Seattle Waterfront

The 'Welcome Figure,' spuy'elepebS near Tollefson Plaza, Tacoma, Washington, created by Shaun Peterson.
The ‘Welcome Figure,’ spuy’elepebS near Tollefson Plaza, Tacoma, Washington, created by Shaun Peterson.


Indian Country Today


Shaun Peterson, Puyallup, has been selected for a commission on the Seattle Waterfront. Peterson’s art is a showcase of Coast Salish traditions for the modern world, and he’s experienced in creating public installations. After the announcement, he took to his blog at Qwalsius.com:

I wouldn’t have foreseen this coming if you had asked me but it is here and it is now. I hope to make the most of this opportunity and showcase that Coast Salish culture is alive and well. That it is deserving of the land on which it comes from and that it will, as all art does, adapt to the world around it and will continue to thrive as long as the people exist in its region. As Chief Sealth once said long, when people believe our people have vanished we will be among you… something like that, I’m paraphrasing of course but the gist is, my art and others of Coast Salish heritage are making public works that will continue to be standing long after we have gone, and there is something to say for that. Today, I am overjoyed with the task ahead of me.

Below are a video portrait of Peterson, examples of his public art, and the full press release from the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture:

Artist biography Qwalsius – Shaun Peterson from Shaun Peterson on Vimeo.


Salmon Continuum Bus Shelter, Tacoma Washington, by Shaun Peterson
Salmon Continuum Bus Shelter, Tacoma Washington, by Shaun Peterson



Welcome Figure, spuy'elepebS near Tollefson Plaza, Tacoma, Washington, by Shaun Peterson.
Welcome Figure, spuy’elepebS near Tollefson Plaza, Tacoma, Washington, by Shaun Peterson.



Welcome Figure (night), spuy'elepebS near Tollefson Plaza, Tacoma, Washington, by Shaun Peterson.
Welcome Figure (night), spuy’elepebS near Tollefson Plaza, Tacoma, Washington, by Shaun Peterson.



Killer Whale (Aluminum), Puyallup Tribal Health Authority, Tacoma, Washington, by Shaun Peterson.
Killer Whale (Aluminum), Puyallup Tribal Health Authority, Tacoma, Washington, by Shaun Peterson.



From the Natural World, Puyallup Tribe Elders Building, Tacoma, Washingto, by Shaun Peterson.
From the Natural World, Puyallup Tribe Elders Building, Tacoma, Washingto, by Shaun Peterson.



SEATTLE (March 25, 2015) — The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture is pleased to announce that artist Shaun Peterson, of Milton, WA, has been selected for a commission on the Seattle Waterfront. Peterson is a pivotal figure in contemporary Coast Salish art traditions, and is a member of the Puyallup tribe. He has major installations throughout the Northwest, ranging from works created in wood, glass and metal.

“This is an historic opportunity to have an artwork by a Native artist on our Waterfront,” says Mayor Murray. “Peterson’s artwork will be a tribute to the cultural significance of the waterfront to the Coast Salish first peoples and our city. The waterfront will finally reflect the origins of our vibrant City and also the many peoples who made this region what it is today—one of the fastest growing in the nation.”

This commission, undertaken in partnership with the Office of the Waterfront and Seattle Department of Transportation, sought an artist to create an artwork that recognizes the tribal peoples of this regionfor Seattle’s Central Waterfront project. Peterson will work with the city and its design team to develop a site-specific artwork or artist designed space that reflects the Coast Salish tribes that have a historic connection to this territory. The budget for the project, inclusive of artist fees, is $250,000.

“Seattle is named after our Coast Salish Chief, and in honor of that I hope that my work will demonstrate that Native art is not static,” says Peterson. “Our people are part of this land and its history, but most importantly we are part of the present. The art I create will aim to communicate that, and in the process, create space for dialogue.”

“Shaun’s work embraces new interpretations of traditional designs, and his facility in blending both the traditional tribal art forms along with contemporary elements and materials makes him the ideal artist to envision the Coast Salish presence on the waterfront,” says Ruri Yampolsky, Public Art Program Director. “We are incredibly excited to have Peterson create a permanent artwork that will be reflective of the Coast Salish peoples and the region.”

Waterfront Seattle is the large-scale project to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with 26 acres of new public space, streets, parks, and buildings. The public piers will be rebuilt as part of the Seawall Bond passed by voters in 2012. Peterson’s first major public installation was a 37 foot story pole for Chief Leschi School in 1996; it was quickly followed by commissions in Tacoma and Seattle, Washington.  He continues to explore the future possibilities of indigenous art traditions.

Peterson joins artists Cedric Bomford, Ann Hamilton, Norie Sato, Buster Simpson, Oscar Tuazon and Stephen Vitiello in creating a permanent artwork which will transform the waterfront. This roster of diverse artists will help to create a sense of place on the renewed waterfront that will act as an invitation to residents and visitors alike.

About Shaun Peterson
Shaun Peterson is a pivotal figure in the revival of Coast Salish art traditions. An enrolled member of the Puyallup tribe, and also affiliated with the Tulalip tribe, Peterson carries the name Qwalsius, originally carried by his great grandfather, Lawrence Williams. The name has been translated in two possible meanings as the Lushootseed language spoken by many Western Washington tribes has become scarce. The first translation is “Painted Face” and the second is “Traveling to the face of Enlightenment.”

Peterson is a Native American artist producing work that is a continuation of the ancient art of the Northwest Coast first peoples. While knowledgeable and invested in diverse tribal styles and applications, his focus and expertise is the art of the Southern regions that encompass the many tribes of Western Washington and Southern British Columbia known as Salish territory. Shaun’s artistic career began under the guidance of key mentors in the field of Northwest Coast art including master artists Steve Brown, Greg Colfax (Makah), George David (Nuu-chah-nulth), and Loren White.

Selection panel members and advisors:

Tina Jackson, Cultural Activities Coordinator/ Kate Ahvakana, Suquamish Tribe
Barbara Brotherton, curator of Native American Art, Seattle Art Museum
Patti Gobin, Tulalip Tribes
Candice Hopkins, curator, University of New Mexico, Carcross/Tagish
Warren KingGeorge, historian, Muckleshoot Tribe
Cary Moon, urban designer
Eric Robertson, artist, Métis/Gitksan

Heather Johnson-Jock, artist and Tribal Council Secretary, S’Klallam Tribe
Guy Michaelson, Berger Partnership
Steve Pearce, Office of the Waterfront
Tracy Rector, Seattle Art Commission
Denise Stiffarm, Urban Indians, Gros Ventre (A’aninin/White Clay)
Ken Workman, Duwamish Tribe
Nicole Willis, Tribal Relations Director, Office of Intergovernmental Relations

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Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/04/03/shaun-peterson-puyallup-tapped-make-public-art-seattle-waterfront-159871

Puyallup Tribe, city working toward cemetery solution


By LARRY LARUE larry.larue@thenewstribune.com

December 2, 2013 The News Tribune

Ryan Conway grew up across the street from the Indian Willard Cemetery in Puyallup, visiting ancestral graves and living in what was then called the “Blue House.”

Today, the Blue House is Blue Sky Landscape Services and Conway, for the past six years, has been the caretaker in that cemetery, which dates back more than 200 years.

“I tell people I treat each grave as if it were your mother’s,” Conway said. “That way anyone who comes to visit a family member can see every grave site has been treated the same, with respect.”

Early last month, Conway was working and found, between the cemetery fence and Valley Avenue, a flurry of red-flagged stakes.

“It was the first I knew that there was work scheduled,” Conway said.

It was also the first the Puyallup Tribe had heard of the city’s plan to trench the road for new sewer and water lines for two new businesses across Valley Avenue.

Why did that horrify tribe elders and others?

“We don’t know the boundaries of the cemetery, because it dates back to the early 1800s, maybe earlier,” tribe archaeologist Brandon Reynon said. “We do know it extends well beyond the fenced area.”

Fearing ancestral remains might be disturbed, the tribe notified the city, pointing out laws and agreements that required Puyallup to notify the tribe before beginning any onsite construction. City planners were stunned.

“The city was aware of the tribal cemetery but we were unaware until two weeks ago of contention that the area of the cemetery included a larger area outside the fence,” said Tom Utterback, the city director of development services.

A stop order was issued for all work in front of the cemetery.

“That cemetery is sacred to us, it’s where our families are,” tribal Police Chief Joe Duenas said. “I remember visiting it as a boy. It’s an active cemetery – I buried my mother, Jody Wright, there last year.”

The first concern of the tribe, then the city and construction company, Trammell Crow, was not to disturb human remains.

“The developer has hired a Seattle archaeologist and he’s working out there,” Utterback said. “We heartily go along with this. We want to know the issues out there.”

Reynon, representing the tribe, will also be part of the cultural assessment of the dig.

One question raised by all this is how did the paved road, in the 1100 block of Valley Avenue, come to cross land that was part of the tribal graveyard? No one involved is certain.

Neither the city nor the tribe was sure whether the fence surrounding the 1.27-acre cemetery or the road came first. The road was built by Pierce County – Utterback believes that was in the 1930s or 1940s – and Puyallup annexed the land in the 1990s.

There are gravestones in the cemetery dating back to the mid-1800s, but that wasn’t when burials first occurred there.

“There are sites without stones, where families couldn’t afford one,” Conway said. “There are stones with entire family’s names on them, covering multiple sites. There’s no way to tell how many are buried within the fences.”

And no certainty on how far beyond those fences grave sites might exist.

It’s no surprise that history never recorded such information. Though the tribe simply calls it Willard Cemetery, it has been known on state and county records as the Firwood Cemetery, the Firwood Indian Cemetery and the Firwood (Willard) Cemetery.

The land is owned by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.

When the city was in the permitting process 18 months ago, Utterback said environmental reports were sent to two representatives of the tribe. Tribal attorney Lisa A. Brautigam said that was the critical mistake.

“Two individuals involved with water quality and fisheries did receive the state environmental checklist but they are in individual departments not even located at the Tribal Government Headquarters,” she said. “And they only deal with fisheries and water quality issues.”

Archaeologist Reynon shook his head.

“If we had known about the issue, we would have worked with them on alternatives,” he said. “And we should have known. Now, we’d like to go back to the beginning.”

Utterback does not disagree, but insists there was never an intent to keep the tribe in the dark.

“If we were doing it again, we’d do it differently,” Utterback said. “We didn’t realize we should have sent it to others. We thought it would be shared by those we did send it to.”

For now, work in front of the cemetery has halted, and the city and tribe will have meetings this week to discuss alternatives.

“We’re not obstructionists. This is a matter of respect,” said Tribal Council member Lawrence LaPointe. “These are our ancestors, our families.”

Larry LaRue: 253-597-8638 larry.larue@thenewstribune.com