by Micheal Rios, Tulalip News
On Thursday, May 14, the students of Heritage High School received a special in-person recognition by Inez Bill, Rediscovery Coordinator, for their efforts in cleaning up the natural history preserve located behind the Hibulb Cultural Center on Earth Day. All the Heritage students assembled in the main hall of the high school, received a traditional refreshment (nettle tea), and were recognized by a deeply appreciative tribal elder.
“You’re investing in your own future. It’s you young people that will come up after me and will take care of the museum and take care of the natural history preserve for the future generations, for your children’s children’s children,” said Bill to the Heritage students as they stood attentively around her. “That’s what our ancestors said when they signed the treaties. We wanted to preserve the rights of our people for their children’s children’s children. Today, this is where we are. You’re the ones that our ancestors talked about, they talked about this. It’s up to you to take care of this land, to carry on the teachings and values of our people. You will be the caretaker of our culture and our land….the beliefs, the respect, the honor.
“In doing what you did, you made a contribution to your own future. And so I wanted to acknowledge all those who came to Hibulb and invested in their future because I wasn’t there at the time and that’s the reason why I’m here today. Because I do need to acknowledge that because we can’t let something like that go by and not say thank you, take time and say thank you. I wanted to acknowledge that because you are important to your teachers and your teachers are important to you. That’s the way of our people. All of this is going to mean a lot to you later. I am a person who has had many teachers in my life and have teachers even today who continue to teach me. I am nothing without my teachers. I am nothing without having them people in my life. I appreciate the people who take the time; who teach me how to be a good person and live in a good way. Remember to honor your teachers because in our way of life we will have many teachers.
“Remember to take care of our environment. We’re at a critical time in our lives where our water is polluted, where there are a lot of things going on that are taking up the land, things are happening to our Mother Earth. It’s going to be up to you to help save our environment, to help save the purity of our water. Water is sacred. Everything that is living requires clean water, whether it’s salt water or fresh water, for the salmon and the fish and all Mother Earth.
“I just wanted to come here and share that with you today. Thank you. Try to be good stewards of the Earth 365 days of the year, like our ancestors were. Try to think about it and keep it in your prayers. Thank you.”
Contact Micheal Rios, firstname.lastname@example.org