Poetry is alive at Hibulb Cultural Center

LuLu Canales takes a break after of series of poetry she read to the crowd on at the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center on December 6th.

Article and photo By Jeannie Briones

TULALIP, Washington- Poetry is alive at the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center. Guest poet, Jamestown S’Kallam tribal member, Lulu Canales, is a student at the Northwest Indian College at the Tulalip site and on December 6th, she shared the most intimate moments of her struggles, pain, and joy, giving the audience a gritty look into her heart and soul.

Despite her small stature, Lulu stands tall in front of her audience, her words flowing with a fierce energy, piecing like jolts of electricity, sending out a tidal wave of emotions. The crowd responded, listening attentively to every word being spoken.

Only 20-years-old, she draws on past experience to provide her inspiration. She wrote her first poem at the tender age of seven, a poem about the loss of her mother, a woman she never knew. Poetry became a way for her to heal from the pain she felt throughout her lifetime.

“Poetry and music, that’s my life, poetry is the only way healthy way I know how to get the yuckiness out in a positive matter,” said LuLu. “If I am feeling angry about something and I feel like writing a poem, I will turn on real harsh hip hop beats, real fast, big base, really slamming and booming and it will come to me. One word turns into a phrase, a phrase turns into two lines, and into a stanza, and it will keep going and by the time I have come down, I’m sitting there with one to three sheets of paper. I try to let all my poetry have a beat,” said LuLu.

Lulu’s mother is Native American and her father is Hispanic. She never knew her mother and was raised most of her life by her father. As a young child, she had an appetite for words and read the dictionary for fun. Her need for knowledge and words fueled her curiosity and her natural ability to write raw emotions on paper.

At a young age, Lulu gained insight into her soul through poetry. She feels everything happens for a reason and that people good or bad have taught her valuable and tough lessons. She hales her late uncle, William Hunter, for changing her life. At thirteen, she recalls her uncle was the most sweet, loving, and charismatic man.

“With the exception of my father and my two little brothers, William David Hunter is one of the most important men in my life. He gave me the gift of being the women that I am today through learning my Native culture; he gave me back the other half of who I was.”

Another mentor to Lulu is her adoptive mother Renee Roman Nose. Both share a love for writing poetry. Renne inspired her to write and read her poetry, and through that support and encouragement she now shares her poetry and wants to help other through her poetic words.

“I am going to school for my certification in chemical dependency. Ultimately my goal is to be a social worker because I come from a hard background. I know there are kids out there like me who didn’t hear when they were younger that they have potential and that they have talent and what’s in their head and heart is important. I want to go out there and tell them, you are important and you do count, you are a person, and what’s inside is important. I want to take this poetry and writing and take it to people who need it and help them through my writing,” said LuLu.

For more information on future poetry series or other series at the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center & Natural History Preserves, please call 360-716-2600 or visit www.HibulbCulturalCenter.org

nes: 360-716-4188; jbriones@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

Filmmaker showcases lives of Native people

Article and photo by Jeannie Briones

  TULALIP, Washington-  Makah tribal member Sandra Osawa, is known for her work as a producer, director, and co-owner of Upstream Production. Sandra along with her husband, Yasu Osawa, has created 63 films for various tribes, museums, and non-profit organizations, along with five films that have been broadcasted on PBS. Her production company explores political issues affecting Native American tribes, which is reflected through a variety of documentaries, and contemporary art mediums.

            The documentary film “On and Off the Res with Charlie Hill” was featured as part of the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center Film Series on November 29th.  Sandra directed the film which takes the viewer on an intimate journey through the life of a Native American comedian and his rise to fame.

            At an early age, Sandra was aware that Native Americans were being depicted as stereotypes in the media. It wasn’t until she worked for her tribe that she became interested in making films that would correctly represent Native Americans in a more contemporary fashion. 

“When I worked for my own tribe at Neah Bay, I was a Community Action Director. I couldn’t find any films relevant to Native people and that began my interest. I decided that I wanted to get into media to see if we can do something about the void in Native American films and to break down stereotypes.”

 After working for her tribe for more than three years, Sandra attended UCLA Graduate film school in the 70s. During this time, Sandra notes there were sixteen minority students enrolled in her film class, more than she had ever seen. After working on experimental films, she received her first break in television in 1975.

“We [my husband and I] did a Native American ten-part series[“THe Native American Series”] for NBC Television. Historically that is important because it has become the first major series produced by a Native American for television in the country,” said Sandra. “The topics range from Indian religion, family, treaties, powerless politics, art, stereotypes, and fishing rights in the Northwest. Some colleges are now buying that series for historical archival purposes because it represents the start for Indians in films inAmerica, so I am really happy that it is getting a bit of attention.”

Through her travels and work in Indian Country she has realized the beauty and rich humor Native Americans have. She incorporated those experiences to portray the realistic personality and humor of Native Americans, by presenting films with real images of Native peoples in biographical documentary filmmaking.

“On and Off the Res with Charlie Hill” covers the life of Charlie through his early years as a comedian with brief reflections into his childhood and his family.

“Meeting all the different people that we have come in contact with in all the films, I have gained intimate relationships with each of our subjects and think in turn, it has made the films more powerful,” said Sandra.

Films that Sandra directed include, “Lighting the Seventh Fire” (1995), “Pepper’s Pow Wow”(1996), and “Maria Tallchief “(2007) produced and written by Sandra.

Visit Upstreamvideos.com for listings of her films or you can email Sandra Osawa at uproduct@aol.com.


Jeannie Briones: 360-716-4188; jbriones@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov


Tulalip filmmaker protrays the beauty of Native culture

Tribal member Derek C. Jones showchased five short films at the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center on October 25th.

Article and photo by Jeannie Briones

TULALIP, Washington-  Tribal member Derek C. Jones is a filmmaker, musician, and programmer with over twenty short films to his credit at the young age of twenty-four.  He continues to pursue his vision and passion to help people understand each other by breaking down barriers and stereotypes through his film work.

On October 25th, Derek showcased five short films at the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center Film Series. “Raising Our Arms in Thanksgiving,” “Puppet Reporters,” “Who Am I,” and “Happiness” are early works that were co-directed with his younger brother, Aaron. Derek also presented a short storytelling film about Coast Salish history and art. This video is shown to third and fourth graders at theMuseum ofHistory and Industry.

“I really want to provide positive images of indigenous Native Americans and the beauty of our culture,” said Derek. “A large part of my artistic inspiration is drawing out small details and interactions that people have with each other and with nature and placing those interactions into a larger context,” said Derek.

A large part of his film storytelling is a reflection of his life. Derek is in the creative stages of writing and creating new material. He plans to travel and experience life and expand his knowledge to help build his craft in filmmaking.

“A lot of projects I’m working on are related to race, gender, and sexuality,” said Derek. “One topic that resonates strongly is gender, because when you look at a lot of the media today, it’s skewed towards the male perspective. We have Hollywood films with only one out of three speaking roles for women.”

“Something I have been thinking about a lot is the power that comes with presenting someone’s story. As far as media goes, we are to be mindful of how we share stories and present stories because those do have affects on how we view and treat people. I think when you look at race, genders, and sexualities there are a history of denigrating or stereotyping. I am really keen in providing positive images of people,” said Derek.

At the 2007  Tulalip Film Festival Awards, “Raising Our Arms in Thanksgiving” won Best Original Score and has been shown at several film festivals, including the Seattle International Film Festival and Cowichan International Aboriginal Film Festival. His work has also been shown at the Smithsonian National Museumof the American Indian’s Film andVideo Center.

For more information on the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Centers’ up-coming events visit http://www.hibulbculturalcenter.org/ and check out www.aseasonintherain.com to view Derek’s film work.


Jeannie Briones: 360-716-4188; jbriones@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov