Donation request! TELA is in need of cedar bark for preschool graduation and weaving activities

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Weaving cedar is a tradition long passed down amongst the sduhubš people. A tribe always attuned with the natural world, Tulalip’s ancestors practiced this art to tailor skirts, shirts, headbands, and baskets pre-contact. The teaching has been passed down through numerous generations and the art of weaving, and the work that goes into it, is still prominent in present day Tulalip. In fact, if one were to attend a cultural gathering, there would be dozens of examples of handmade cedar-woven items, which tribal members proudly adorn to showcase their heritage, teachings, and cultural pride.

During graduation season, it is common to see Tulalip graduates rocking a cedar woven cap as they accept their diplomas. And it’s a longstanding tradition that the preschoolers of the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy weave their very own cedar headbands, with the help of their families, to wear at their moving up ceremony in August. 

Ever since its establishment, it has been TELA’s M.O. to introduce cultural practices to the future of Tulalip at a very young age. The idea is that the children will develop a strong foundation to continue to learn, share, and progress the Tribe’s ancestral way of life by the time they are ready to make the transition to the big kids school. 

TELA is reaching out to the community and seeking assistance in keeping their cedar headband weaving tradition alive. With approximately 80 preschool students graduating this coming summer, TELA is in need of at least two bundles of cedar bark, that has been drying for one year. However, TELA welcomes all donations and hopes that they can actually acquire more than the two rolls needed to complete the project. 

Knowing how integral weaving is to Tulalip culture, TELA is looking to expand this teaching to all of their students and families by hosting weaving classes during their family engagement nights. Additionally, TELA has recently incorporated weaving into their family therapy sessions, in which a handful of families participate in monthly gatherings led by the academy’s mental health specialists. 

After Tulalip News shared TELA’s donation request flyer to our Facebook page, many community members helped spread the word by sharing the post and tagging people who may be of assistance to TELA’s cause. One Facebooker suggested that TELA should reach out to the Rediscovery Program. Absyde Dacoscos, TELA Family Engagement Coordinator, shared that she was thankful for the suggestion and hopes that Virginia Jones would be open to instruct a class if TELA is able to obtain enough cedar bark donations from the community. 

That same Facebook post also led to an opportunity for their students and families to learn about stripping cedar bark, as a Facebook scroller invited the academy to harvest cedar bark from trees on their property for any future projects, as cedar bark needs time, at least one year, to dry before it can be utilized in weavings. 

Said Absyde, “It’s important to keep the Tulalip culture alive and to make sure the traditions are passed on to the kids. We need bark that has been dried properly for at least a year. Mostly for our preschool graduates. That is our number one concern right now, to make sure they get headbands for the graduation ceremony in August. One to two rolls at least for headbands, but we’re willing to accept any amount, so we can hopefully do the weaving nights as well.”

Donations can be made in-person at the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy. For additional information, please contact Absyde at (360) 716-4250.