By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
The coronavirus has put a halt to many local events, ceremonies and traditions that occur annually at Tulalip. In some instances, events were canceled entirely to limit the spread of the disease on the reservation. Other times, throughout the year, programs modified their events so they can continue offering their services to the people in a responsible manner.
After months of closure, the Hibulb Cultural Center (HCC) re-opened their doors to the public in August. Since then, they have safely offered a space for people to learn about Tulalip culture, while re-introducing a sense of normalcy during a time of unknown. Thanks to modern technology and a dedicated fanbase, HCC held their annual Film Festival, that would have otherwise been canceled due to gathering limitations.
The same cannot be said for all events, however. For the well-being and betterment of the community, HCC has declared that the always popular Veterans Day Celebration will not take place this year.
Before COVID-19, HCC held an honoring in observance of Veterans Day. Every November 11th, Tulalip veterans and their loved ones gathered in the museum’s longhouse where memories were shared and tears were shed for the fallen soldiers and those veterans who are no longer with us.
A particularly moving moment during the event is Roll Call, when each veteran states their name and which military branch they served. Family members of veterans who passed speak their names aloud in remembrance, highlighting their dedication to protecting the country and their people. The event typically ends with a special gifting, when the ladies of the Veteran Quilt Project blanket and thank a select group of vets for their service with a beautiful, handmade-with-love quilt.
Although the 2020 Veterans Day gathering has been officially nixed, HCC is still observing the holiday and paying tribute to the veterans of Tulalip and the community.
HCC Museum Manger Mytyl Hernandez explains, “This year looks a lot different for us on Veterans Day. In the past, we’ve been privileged to host a large celebration and honor all of the veterans in our community. Since we are not able to gather in the same way, we are still offering free admission to all veterans, active military, and their families on Wednesday, November 11, in honor of Veterans Day. We will be open 10 AM to 5 PM.”
The free admission of course includes access to the many displays which pay respect to Tulalip veterans of the United States Military. These displays include a tribute to Tulalip Gold Star Mothers, whose children never returned home from combat, as well as the Veterans Gallery which showcases a photo of each Tribal veteran, categorized by which war they served in such as WWI, WWII, Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq. The Veterans Gallery is quite popular amongst Tribal youth, who excitedly identify their family members who served. A number of personal items that returned home from war are also on display in the halls of the museum like Mel Sheldon’s combat helmet and Sam Wold Jr.’s service medals and uniform.
If you are interested in learning more about Tulalip veterans and wanting to observe the holiday safely, drop by the HCC museum on Veterans Day and remember admission is free to those who served, are currently serving, as well as to the family members of veterans and active duty service men and women.
“It is always a privilege to spend time paying tribute to our veterans at the museum,” Mytyl expressed. “No matter the day, it is always important to honor our veterans. They gave up so much for each and every one of us to have individual freedoms. They sacrificed so that we didn’t have to. I am always grateful to the veterans in our community and I will personally miss spending the day with our veterans. It is always my favorite event of the year and a day that my children look forward to volunteering at.”
For more information, please visit the Hibulb Cultural Center’s Facebook page, website, or dial (360) 716-2600. And be sure to extend a thank you to those warriors who bravely defended our freedom.