By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
Once a year during the summertime, Tulalip tribal members celebrate the Annual Spee-Bi-Dah beach potlatch. The gathering allows tribal members the opportunity to socialize with friends and family while enjoying foods that are caught and prepared traditionally such as salmon, shrimp, crab and clams. Tribal members utilize seine nets to capture the seafood and a traditional clambake follows.
“That’s how our ancestors gathered when they fished; they held a potlatch and shared the food,” explains Tulalip tribal member, Mona Ordonia. “Our ancestors actually used to harvest nettles and make nets out of the nettle stems, way back in the day. I harvested nettle myself and made some rope out of it, which was actually a special experience because now I understand how strong the ropes were. They are a lot stronger than some of the rope today, and that’s what our ancestors used before the modern nets.”
The skies were clear, providing beautiful weather for the July 8 beach event as many young tribal members seized the opportunity to splash about the water. Spee-Bi-Dah continues to unite multiple generations while honoring Tulalip’s culture and traditional way of life.
“I look forward to Spee-Bi-Dah every year because it’s such a great gathering,” Mona expresses. “And to also experience [seining]. That’s like bringing history to today’s experience, a way of not forgetting that’s how we did it back in the day. To be able to come together and share that experience, especially with the children, so that they can see that’s how we always did it. And to help; I like helping shuck the crab for everybody and I also like watching Tony [Hatch] cook the clams and shrimp on the pit, that’s so awesome to me.”
Tulalip Events Manager Robert Watson said the event wouldn’t be possible without the Tulalip Charitable Fund. “We’re so grateful that every year the Tulalip Charity fund donates money for us to put on the Spee-Bi-Dah event.”