Students celebrate diversity at Cultural Fair

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Students of Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary, along with their families and friends, were captivated by the richness of Latin American song and dance during the annual Cultural Fair held on February 28th. In collaboration with Marysville School District’s (MSD) Indigenous Education and a truly dedicated school staff, it was an amazing evening to celebrate the diverse community that is Tulalip/Marysville. 

Over two hundred participants filled the elementary’s multi-purpose room where a variety of family-friendly activities and information stations were both available to engage in while broadening cultural understanding. Additional incentives to tour each station came in the form of edible worldly snacks that sparked curiosity in the mind and to the palette. 

Interactive booths represented cultures from around the world, including Tulalip, Mexico, Guam, Ireland, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Traditional powwow music was broadcast through the school’s speakers, while a Spanish guitarist also shared his soothing tones with children and parents alike. 

“It’s always nice to learn about other cultures because it creates a better understanding between people,” shared QCT teacher Ms. Sablan. Along with her daughter, the duo were presenters of the Guam station. “I taught on Guam for six years and during that time I loved learning about the culture. While there I married and had a daughter who is Pacific Islander. My passion for embracing vibrant culture was the reason I become an educator at Tulalip after attending a Salmon Ceremony years ago.”

As fair goers made their way around the culturally informative stations they gained insights into cultures and traditions different than their own. Lushootseed language warrior Maria Martin shared a board game she created. It teaches Lushootseed, traditional Coast Salish culture, and some history via the laid back atmosphere of a children’s game. When the users finished the game their prize was smoked venison and, hopefully, having learned a Lushootseed word or two.

Quil Ceda Tulalip newcomer, 4th grade teacher Gina Bluebird worked tirelessly to make enough mini frybreads for everyone to enjoy. “This is my first year working for the elementary. I really like they recognize the culture of the community, the culture of the students, and whose land we’re on,” she shared. “I appreciate how open the school staff is to learning about Tulalip culture and the emphasis put on learning about historical figures, like Billy Frank, Jr.”

An arts and craft station demonstrated how cultures indigenous to Australia paint vibrant colored stones and rock formations. Children summoned their inner artist to create animal figures, like the kangaroo, sea turtle or sand viper, on the smooth stones using toothpicks and their choice of paint.

The evening’s featured entertainment was Los Solecitos Del Valle, a Latin youth dance troop out of Skagit Valley. Their performance captivated the attention of everyone young and old during the riveting display of tradition and heritage.  

“All the dances we shared today are from the state of Jalisco in Mexico, which is really known for colorful dresses with ribbon, colorful embroidered sombreros, and fast, stomping steps” explained dance instructor Andrea Alaniz. “All the dancers are between 5th and 8th grade now, but have been together since Kindergarten. We’re about community and preserving culture, while learning the history behind the music and dance.”

Los Solecitos Del Valle, a Latin youth dance troop out of Skagit Valley, was the Cultural Fair’s featured entertainment.

“It’s so exciting every time we perform at a new event,” added 13-year-old and lead-dancer Natalia Lopez. “We really enjoy being able to share our culture with people through song and dance.”

The annual Cultural Fair was a tremendous success in putting a spotlight on the richness of a diverse community, as traditional knowledge was gained and shared. For those with a strong understanding of historical context, the fact that people of all backgrounds participated and enjoyed the cross-cultural exchange on a Native American reservation featuring Latin youth performing their dances is a testament to the power of progress. 

“Putting on the Cultural Fair takes coordination and cooperation from so many individuals,” reflected QCT Principal Douglas Shook. “Our assistant Principal Kelly Parsons rallied our staff and coordinated outside groups to be a part of this special night. It means so much for our students to not only know their own local culture, but to also know the culture of their friends, neighbors and teachers.

“It’s important for us to embrace the differences we have and to celebrate our own stories. An event like the Cultural Fair helps to promote not only tolerance, but acceptance. That acceptance makes us more relatable and more human.” 

Community learns traditional Coast Salish art during weekly ‘Honor Our Culture’ Night

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

The people of Tulalip have a strong connection to their artwork. A walk through one of their many establishments, whether it be the Tulalip Resort Casino, the Hibulb Cultural Center or the Tulalip Administration building, you are sure to be blown away by the Coast Salish masterpieces that are proudly on display. Such art includes masks, story poles, drums, and art prints, all of which depict stories about the rich history and traditional lifeways of the Tulalip people. 

Recently, the Don Hatch Youth Center began incorporating more artwork throughout their hallways. Upon entry to the center, you are now greeted by a totem pole that stands at the center of the lobby, and if by chance you glance up, you will notice traditional paintings of a variety of animals lining the ceiling. If you’re lucky enough to find some free time around 5:00 p.m. on a Tuesday, you can learn how to create traditional Salish art at the youth center by attending their weekly Honor Our Culture Night. 

Lushootseed language instructor, Celum Hatch discusses the three shapes that comprise most of the art of the Pacific Northwest tribes; the circle, the crescent and the trigon.

On the evening of February 26, a group of fifteen young adults rushed up to the second floor of the youth center. As the kids settled in and found their seats, they were given blank sheets of paper and pencils to practice three shapes that comprise most, if not all, art of the Pacific Northwest tribes; the circle, the crescent and the trigon. As the students worked on the shapes, Lushootseed Language Instructor Celum Hatch shared the Tulalip story, The Bear and the Ant, incorporating the traditional language into the lesson plan. After drawing a few designs and listening Celum’s story, several kids left the room to participate in other activities at the center while a handful of students stayed behind to perfect their artwork. 

“This was my first time coming to Culture Night,” expressed young participant, Susan O’Day. “We drew animals and shapes today. I drew an owl with lots of detail using the crescent, circle and trigons. I want to come to more Culture Nights because I had a lot of fun learning about the art.”

Honor Our Culture Night focuses on the vast elements of Coast Salish art while simultaneously explaining the history of each project. Currently, Culture Night is in the middle of a three-part drawing series that was actually inspired by the youth who requested the class in order to explore their heritage. 

Susan O’Day working on her design.

“It’s a program that brings the community together, people of all ages from youth to elders,” explains Youth Services Activity Specialist, Rachel Steeve. “We do different activities; we’ve done a few drum making classes where we also painted them, we’ve done cedar weaving, beadwork like necklaces and we did moccasins last year. I ask the community what they want to do and I’m always surprised by the answers, it’s always something different. I didn’t realize there were so many cultural activities and crafts. A lot of times people are making their art for the first time. And with our traditions and our teachings, your first project is the one you put the most love and work into and then you gift it away. It’s nice to see their relatives wearing and showing it off, being so proud of that work.”

For the past three years, the night of traditional art has been organized by Rachel who watched the class evolve since it originally debuted in 2013. Not only has participation grown from the youth within the center, word has spread throughout the community and adults and elders now often frequent the upstairs classroom to learn more about the artwork. Many students are also young Tulalip tribal members who live off the reservation as well as Wellness Court participants who are fulfilling their cultural hours required by the court. 

“My absolute favorite thing I get to see is the elder and youth classes,” says Rachel. “We do specific activities for the elders and youth, like our past drum making class. It’s nice to see them together. The kids just listen, they slow down for a minute and take in everything the elders have to say. I’m always surprised by the people who are interested in the classes, those who we don’t necessarily get a chance to see at the cultural events here, they come and are so enthusiastic and want to learn. Or, they already know and they want to help and assist others. I think it gives them a sense of happiness and pride of their knowledge, that they’re able to pass that down to other people.”

Loretta Frye has fun learning about Pacific Northwest art styles.

The students get to keep their finished projects which in turn can lead to further cultural enrichment, allowing the artists to use their work at traditional ceremonies. For instance, past Culture Night participants have used their handmade drums at local events including several coastal jams and drum circles. Rachel states that seeing the art being used in the community, as it was originally intended centuries ago, is a great way to connect the future generations with their ancestors. 

“Our goal for the spring is to get a regalia class going so we can make regalia for the Salmon Ceremony and Canoe Journey. We have a drum class here every Friday and they just jam out, a group of boys come every week. We’ve also had a couple drums that we made and donated to the Native liaisons at the schools. At MMS (Marysville Middle School), Saundra Yon-Wagner, the Youth Services Native Liaison, has two drums that we made during these classes and the kids fight over who gets to use them every day, because during lunch they have a daily drum session. It’s nice to see that they’re actually being used enthusiastically.”

 Ask any Coast Salish artist, carver or storyteller, there is a great deal of spiritual work that goes into constructing these projects. Youth Services wants to continue to produce items where the people can experience that medicine and continue to pass down that knowledge generation after generation. 

“There’s a lot of importance in carrying on these cultural activities,” Rachel states. “As years go on, we get busy and we either forget or push back our teachings. Our community needs programs like these because whether it’s a community or personal issue, everybody needs a little healing and working with your hands is healing. I want to extend our hands out from Youth Services and welcome and invite everyone. I ask that people invite their family, don’t just come yourself. Bring your cousin, your uncle, your auntie and bring an elder who doesn’t have the means to get down here or needs a little extra company.”

Honor Our Culture Night is held every Tuesday at the Don Hatch Youth Center from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. For more information, please contact the Youth Center at (360) 716-4909.

Renovated third floor of King Street Station opens as a dynamic art space with inaugural exhibition offering collective portrait of Native America

 yəhaw̓, on view at ARTS at King Street Station March 23 to Aug. 3, 2019,
highlights contemporary Indigenous creatives
Opening celebration Saturday, March 23, 2019, noon – 7 p.m.
Admission is free

SEATTLE, Jan. 31, 2019 – An exciting new arts and cultural hub opens in Seattle on March 23, 2019, when ARTS at King Street Station debuts with the dynamic exhibition yəhaw̓, which presents some 200 works showcasing contemporary Indigenous creatives.

ARTS at King Street Station was conceived as an innovative, community-powered arts and cultural hub that encompasses art, artists and culture through the lens of racial equity. The exhibition space provides a holistic view of art and the people who make, consume and live it. Informed by an extensive community input process, ARTS at King Street Station was conceived to reflect the creativity and talents of people that continue to create the fabric of Seattle.

On view through Aug. 3, 2019, the inaugural exhibition yəhaw̓ (pronounced yee-hout) will open ARTS at King Street Station, an historic space now dedicated to increasing opportunities for communities of color to present work. “It is fitting that we inaugurate the space with a nod to the incredible artistry of the Coast Salish peoples, on whose land the City of Seattle is built,” says Randy Engstrom, director of the Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS).

The exhibition title yəhaw̓ is drawn from the Coast Salish story that tells of Native people from all tribes uniting around a common cause and lifting up the sky together. Appropriately, yəhaw̓ reflects a nuanced, inclusive narrative that firmly establishes Native creatives as belonging in the here and now.  Prior to the culminating exhibition that opens March 23, yəhaw̓  has encompassed satellite installations throughout the region, performances, artist-in-residence, a publication, art markets, in an expansive, yearlong project.

All Indigenous creatives living in the Puget Sound region were invited to participate in the yəhaw̓ project, and all who applied had the opportunity to have their work represented in the programming. Conceived and curated by Tracy Rector (Choctaw/Seminole), Asia Tail (Cherokee Nation) and Satpreet Kahlon, the resulting yəhaw̓ project features the work of some 200 creators of all backgrounds and experience, in disciplines including sculpture, photography, design, printmaking, woodworking, film, metalwork, glass and textiles.

Several artists were commissioned for site-specific artworks, including Chai Adera, Natalie Ball, Demian DinéYazhi´, Malynn Foster, Sara Siestreem, Adam Sings in the Timber, Timothy White Eagle, Christine Babic and more. In addition, 10 emerging artists, such as Priscilla Dobler, Randi Purser and Asa Wright were selected to participate in a mentorship program, receiving artistic guidance from established Native artists.

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The new ARTS at King Street Station space responds directly to feedback from community focus groups with an emphasis on people of color. Located on the third floor of the 123-year-old train station, the 17,500 square-foot cultural hub was designed by Schacht Aslani to provide flexible, co-use areas for community gathering in addition to professional office and gallery space. The design contains a large multi-disciplinary arts presentation gallery, a public “living room” lobby, a multi-use conference room for large meetings and public presentations, an artist-in-residence space, offices and meeting rooms. In the presentation space kinetic gallery walls designed by Olson Kundig enable community and artists to reconfigure the displays as needed for changing exhibitions and events. Throughout, new architectural interventions emphasize transparency, highlighting and revealing historic elements of the original building such as the historic masonry and steel structural system, ornamental stairway and original terrazzo floor. ARTS at King Street Station is located at 303 S. Jackson St., third floor, Seattle, WA 98104. Open Tuesday – Saturday,
10 am – 6 pm, and First Thursdays, 10 am – 8 pm. Admission is free.

Annual Christmas Pow Wow Spreads Holiday Cheer

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Families traveled from near and far to celebrate Indigenous culture and Christmastime at the 5th annual Tulalip Tribes and Marysville School District (MSD) Indian Education Christmas Powwow. On the evening of December 15, the Francy J. Sheldon Gymnasium was at capacity and rocking as local Veterans kicked off the ceremony, leading the way during grand entry. 

Dancers draped in beautiful regalia, that showcased their beading and seaming talents, competed in a number of categories including fancy shawl, jingle and traditional dances. The crowd was highly interactive, cheering on their loved ones as they hit the floor to honor the traditions of their ancestors. Babies to elders engaged throughout the entire evening, dancing in circles around the gym to hypnotic drum beats provided by five drum circles.

“It started five years ago through the MSD and the Tulalip Tribes,” explained Deborah Parker, MSD Director of Equity, Diversity and Indigenous Education. “Our Native American liaisons wanted to provide a little holiday cheer because sometimes it can be a difficult time of year for some families. So we wanted to do a powwow, bring the drums out and let everybody have a good time to remind us that the holidays are about families coming together and about us loving and uplifting each other.”

Across campus, at Marysville Mountain View Arts and Technology High School, Santa Clause paid a visit to drop off gifts donated by Toys for Tots, as well as a handful of community members. While Ol’ Saint Nick stuck around for a bit to take photos with the families, the kids checked out all of the toys and got to pick one present each, choosing from a selection of stuffed animals, Hot Wheels and books. 

“Little kids look forward to this all year. They’re always asking, when’s the next Santa powwow,” said Deborah. “This year we served 1,100 plates of roast, mashed potatoes and corn. We had about forty plus dancers, five drums and we gave out close to 1,000 toys. The kids were super excited, even before we opened the doors, we had a huge lineup. Every kid gets a toy and they get to pick their own toy, so that’s special. We had Santa pictures and lots of vendors, it’s kind of a festival type atmosphere. Everybody’s laughing, hugging and sharing good words with each other and that’s the spirit of what we came to do.”  

Holiday season kicks off with Festival of Trees

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

 Extravagantly festive Christmas trees and wreaths, each decorated with its own unique theme and style, brightened the Orca Ballroom at the Tulalip Resort Casino during the 33rd annual Festival of Trees. 

The week-long celebration kicked off November 27 with Opening Night festivities, continued with the excitement-filled Gala Dinner and Live Auction on November 30, and concluded December 1 with the family friendly Teddy Bear Breakfast.

Each year, thousands of community members take part in the Festival of Trees – including volunteers, sponsors, and attendees – to raise funds for Children’s Services at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett. For more than three decades, Providence Children’s Center has been providing comprehensive, family-oriented care and highly specialized therapies – such as physical, occupational, speech and feeding therapy – for children with a wide variety of special needs.

“Knowing this is one of the largest charitable events for Snohomish County, it is appropriate for us to host and participate with goodwill and sharing the opportunity to help all children in need,” explained Marilyn Sheldon, manager of Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund, on the importance of hosting the Festival and being the title sponsor. “We recognize that over 50% of Tulalip’s population is 0-24 years of age and Providence is our local hospital for care most tribal members use for emergency situations and other needs. Also, this event brings many people to our facilities for the week and encourages them to come back and host their own business/charity event at our venue.”

A highlight of the holiday season, the Festival of Trees provides entertainment for countless families and children. Whether it’s a black-tie evening with a three-course dinner or a free afternoon with cookies and Santa, the Festival’s variety of events offer holiday cheer for all kinds of crowds. The stunningly decorated Christmas trees won’t soon be forgotten as their specialized themes like ‘Tiding of Comfort’ and ‘Christmas with Rudolph’ to ‘Escape with Alaskan Wildlife’ and ‘Holiday at Hogwarts’ capture the imagination.

During the elegant Gala Dinner and Live Auction, the dazzling Christmas trees and wreaths were sold to the highest bidders, with proceeds going to Providence Children’s Services. Several of the trees were reserved to be put on display throughout the Children’s Center as a special treat for the kids this holiday season.

“We continue an annual tradition that has raised more than $11 million over the past 33 years for children and families who come to Providence for care,” stated Festival Chairs, Sean and Lisa Kelly. “Funds raised will not only provide critical support for pre-term and at-risk infants, but will also touch the lives of thousands of children in our community, from birth through age 18.”

The generosity of the donors and Festival attendees support Providence in growing and expanding the specialized therapies, equipment and educational classes that do so much to change young lives. All funds raised will support Providence programs and services such as Pediatrics, the Newborn Intensive Care Unit, the Children’s Center, the Autism Center, and Camp Prov, a summer camp for children with special needs. 

For nearly two decades, Tulalip Tribes has been an important partner to Providence in the Northwest Washington Region, by helping provide the funding and support needs to care for the health of our growing community. Contributions made by Tulalip to Providence General Foundation since 2002 have totaled more than $700,000. For their dedication to the Festival of Trees, the Tulalip Tribes were honored with the third annual Spirit of Festival Award.

“The lives of thousands of children, that includes Tulalip tribal children, will be helped thanks to the generosity received from the Festival of Trees fundraising efforts,” said Board of Director Mel Sheldon, thirteen-year member of the Providence General Foundation. “We are very fortunate to have a relationship with Providence Medical Center and to support such an amazing opportunity that really looks at the bigger the picture. We all want to do our part to create a sustainable and healthy community.”

One of Snohomish County’s largest and most well attended holiday events, the Festival of Trees has been a beloved community tradition for 33 years. The magical setting and community spirit at the Festival is a wonderful kick-off to the holiday season. 

Tulalip Resort Casino Chefs Are Serving Exotic Sweetness Nov. 30-Dec. 31

Honey and Spice and Everything Nice This Holiday Season
Tulalip Resort Casino Chefs Are Serving Exotic Sweetness Nov. 30-Dec. 31

Tulalip, Washington — Move over, Pumpkin! Honey and Spice are shaking things up this holiday season at Tulalip Resort Casino. The Resort’s culinary teams have procured several exotic kinds of honey and spice flavors to showcase in their holiday specials. From seafood to sweets, Executive Chef Perry Mascitti challenged his chefs to examine the complexities of how different kinds of honey and spices can take a dining experience to a new height when done right.

The Honey and Spice promotion will run from November 30 through December 31.

Savory Honey and Spice dishes at the Resort include: Tula Bene Pastaria + Chophouse’s Lavender Honey, Blue, and Bergamot appetizer served with Purple Haze Lavender Honey “caviar,” gorgonzola dolce cheese and a pot of earl gray tea; Blackfish Wild Salmon Grill and Bar’s Honey & Spice Alder Roasted Sockeye Salmon laced with anise, cumin, orange and Skagit Wild Flower Honey; Cedars Café’s Grilled Lamb Chops glazed with honey, horseradish, mustard and mint; Journeys East’s signature Deep Fried Lamb Rib coated with a wildflower honey and fresh garlic sauce; and The Draft Sports Bar and Grill’s Honey and Rosemary Spiced Parmesan Chicken Bites served with an Oregon Wildflower Honey and Rosemary Butter.

For a little Honey and Spice on the go, guests can enjoy Espresso/Carvery’s Asian Chicken Salad with sesame-roasted chicken breast, cabbage slaw and Mountain Wild Flower Honey Blossom vinaigrette.

Pastry Chef Nikol Nakamura’s Sweet Kitchen Honey and Spice featured desserts include a Spiced Apple Tarte Tatin with honey caramel on puff pastry paired with spiced house holiday blend of vanilla ice cream and blackberries at Blackfish Wild Salmon Grill or a Baked Pecan Tart at Cedars Café. The tart filling includes toasted pecans, honey and house-made spice blend, topped with spiced whipped cream and orange. And, nothing says pizza pie like the Ginger and Honey Chocolate Pie served hot right from Blazing Paddles’ pizza oven. This extraordinary creation is prepared with their house-made fresh dough, ginger-infused honey, hazelnuts, chocolate chips, fresh peaches and orange zest to top it all off.

For more information about the Honey and Spice promotion or Tulalip Resort Casino, visit here.

Hibulb Cultural Center opens new wool weaving exhibit

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Generation after generation, the Coast Salish tradition of wool weaving was historically passed down from mother to daughter, since the beginning of time all the way until the years of assimilation. The art of creating clothing, regalia and blankets from wool was nearly lost until it saw a sudden resurgence in the early 2000’s. Of course, the tradition wasn’t completely lost, after the boarding school years a number of families continued to practice weaving. Both oral history as well as several artifacts served as reference points when bringing back traditional wool weaving. 

Master Weavers Betty Pasco (Suquamish), Danielle Morsette (Suquamish), Dr. Susan Pavel and Frieda George (Sto:lo Nation) are among the few names who deserve the most credit for the revival. These ladies took it upon themselves to host a number of classes on local reservations to teach tribal members the tradition that seemed to be fading from existence due to the advancement of technology.  

The revitalization allowed Coast Salish people to reconnect with the tools and textiles our ancestors created, as well as reflect on the significance certain woven items possess within tribal communities. Now all of the students from the wool weaving resurgence are passing their knowledge down to the next generation as more and more tribal members want to learn how to traditionally weave blankets and regalia, as well as the history of wool weaving.

On the night of November 2, Tulalip and surrounding communities gathered at the Hibulb Cultural Center (HCC) for an exclusive first look at the museum’s new exhibit, Interwoven History: Coast Salish Wool. As the guests entered the museum’s longhouse they were welcomed by HCC Senior Curator, Tessa Campbell. 

“This exhibit demonstrates the resilience of our people, our culture and how the teachings have been passed down,” explained Tessa. “Coast Salish wool weaving started to disappear around the early 1900’s with the introduction of the boarding schools. Around 1905 you started seeing the sale of goods by tribal members such as vegetables because they were learning how to grow crops. But basketry and woven blankets were being sold around this time also. Around 1920, tons of socks were being knitted, which seemed to replace wool weaving. And in the 30’s, the Tulalip Home Improvement Club was started by a group of Tulalip women and this one woman started teaching Coast Salish wool weaving. It seemed to disappear up until around 2000-2005 when Tulalip people start weaving again and it seems they learned from Susan Pavel and Danielle Morrissett. Those two weavers were the forces that brought back Coast Salish weaving in Tulalip.”

Woven tapestry by Frieda George.

Master Weaver Frieda George traveled all the way from Chilliwack B.C. with her family and was honored as the evening’s guest speaker. Frieda recalled first learning how to weave as a child, when she would visit with her grandmother. She also stated that she is a fourth generation weaver and has carried the tradition for her entire life, sharing her techniques with Coast Salish people for decades. Frieda’s daughter, Roxanne, then took the floor to share a story about how her great-great-grandmother used to cleverly place branches along pathways in the Canadian mountains where mountain goats were known to pass through. After a few days, she would return to the mountains and collect all of the fur from the branches to use for weaving traditional blankets. 

Museum attendees were free to explore the new exhibit in an open-house style setting. Upon entering the exhibit, your eyes immediately meet a beautiful wool woven shawl that was gifted to Tulalip Board of Director Mel Sheldon. You’re then taken on an interactive adventure that is fun for the entire family. The exhibit features a number of hands-on activities for the youth including a puppet show, a touch-screen weaving game as well as a sensory station. On display were a number of pieces created by Tulalip tribal members including a spindle whorl by Tulalip carver Mike Gobin and several regalia pieces woven by a number of Tulalip artists. 

Spindle whorl
by Mike Gobin.

“We reached out to the community to see who was an active weaver and if they wanted to loan any pieces,” says Tessa. “We had twelve pieces donated by weavers Virginia Jones, Carolyn Moses, Sarah Andres, Joy Lacy, Tessa Campbell, Andrew Gobin and Taylor Henry.”

“I did two pieces for this exhibit, a speaker sash with a matching headband,” explains Taylor Henry. “I’ve been weaving since 2014 and have been beading since 2004. Once I mastered beading, I wanted to expand my knowledge and put my hands in other textiles. I did these pieces on my own, it was my second project that I made on the loom my auntie Marci gave me. I wanted to stick with traditional colors, I did the natural white and brown, I didn’t want to go too contemporary. 

“It’s an honor to be asked to have something displayed in the museum,” he continues. “It’s important because it teaches us our identity and where we come from, who we are. We may work with commercial wool now, but we still use that traditional technique and style of weaving and that’s something that connects us to our ancestors.”

Traditionally, the Coast Salish people utilized fur from mountain goats as well as from wooly dogs when weaving. Wooly dogs were a breed that the Northwest tribes held in high regard because of their fur, so much so that tribes kept the dogs on nearby islands away from village dogs to prevent crossbreeding. In his expedition log, Captain George Vancouver stated that the wooly dogs resembled pomeranians but larger. The dogs were sheared every summer and their wool was used to prepare for the upcoming cold seasons. After the arrival of blanket manufacturers like the Hudson Bay Company and the importation of sheep, tribes no longer had to use wooly dog fur as sheep fur was more water resistant and blankets became easily accessible. Tribes eventually brought the wooly dogs back to their villages and because of crossbreeding, the breed went extinct in the early 1900’s. 

Shortly after the opening of the museum, HCC sent a traditional blanket to the University of Victoria so they could determine what type of fabric was used to create the blanket. The university recently contacted the cultural center with the results and to great surprise, the blanket was comprised of both mountain goat and wooly dog fur.

“I think the focal point of the exhibit is the fact that we have a wooly dog blanket which is very rare and very few museums throughout the whole world have them,” Tessa exclaims. “We’re so fortunate to have something from the 1820’s that helps preserve our culture and helps us tell the history of this important part of Coast Salish weaving.” 

Master Weaver Tillie Jones held a live demonstration during the exhibit’s first night. On large looms, she displayed two of the projects that she’s currently working on and explained the many intricacies and the importance of weaving. 

“We have a twill pattern, twine pattern and tabby pattern,” she says. “I really like to mix them, it reminds me of the blankets I grew up seeing, the significant ones the chiefs would wear and the status that comes with those different pieces. We also have different dyes. We use huckleberries and different natural materials whether it’s nettles, walnuts, madrona bark, you can use commercial dyes as well. Twining really teaches patience. You have to be present when your weaving, if you let your mind wander, you can make a mistake. It’s important because you’re putting yourself into your work, whether you’re a carver or a weaver, you’re bringing that work to life, you’re breathing life into your piece.”

Tillie is currently hosting a six-week course at the museum, teaching the community the art of wool weaving. The class immediately filled up upon its announcement but she encourages you to call HCC and request to be put on a waitlist for the next course and to visit the Interwoven History exhibit in the meantime.

“Whether we’re teaching or creating our weavings, we’re keeping it alive for the generations to come,” says Tillie. “We’re showing that this is the regalia that we used to wear, that we still wear and that this is who we are as Coast Salish people. That’s how we’re recognized, by our regalia. When we travel people recognize where we come from, who we are and what our roles are in life.”

Interwoven History: Coast Salish Wool is on display until the end of 2019, be sure to visit soon. And for more information, please visit www.HibulbCulturalCenter.org