New Burke Museum debuts with grand opening for Indigenous peoples

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

“The Burke Museum stands on the lands of the Coast Salish peoples, whose ancestors resided here since time immemorial,” said Burke executive director Julie Stein to a growing crowd of 400+ people representing tribal nations from all over the Pacific Northwest. “Many Indigenous peoples thrive in this place. Part of that history is embedded in the museum, and we move forward in a good way so happy you are with us.”

Julie’s words were direct and heartfelt as she greeted the hundreds of Native visitors who convened at the Burke Museum’s ‘Indigenous Preview’ on October 10. Nearly a thousand community engaged and local Native culture-bearers RSVP’d to the evening’s event dedicated to relationship building and seeking to preserve the ingenuity, creativity, and complex knowledge of a living and thriving cultural resource. 

“You all are the first to be invited to tour and experience the all-new Burke Museum,” continued the museum’s executive director. “We are truly honored by your presence. The Burke recognizes our colonial legacy, and we promise to dedicate ourselves to learning from communities and building a more ethical and collaborative future together.” 

In honor of its collaborations with Indigenous communities, the Burke invited all Indigenous peoples to see the all-new $99 million, 113,000-square-foot facility before it officially opened to the public. Nearly a decade’s worth of planning and consultation went into the unique redesign of a natural history museum with a massive 16 million object collection. Two highly anticipated exhibitions feature Northwest Native artistry and craftsmanship at its finest.

An emphasis on transparency and treating the hundreds of Native cultural artifacts with the proper respect, while acknowledging their rightful creators, was the topic of many conversations while the gathering of Native peoples toured the museum. Many Coast Salish tribal members found the Culture is Living gallery to be the highlight of the evening. From intricate weaving creations to hundreds of years old traditional regalia to a truly stunning dedication to canoe journey that showcased carved paddles by many of the 29 federally recognized Washington tribes, the gallery offered a very real sense of purpose and awareness to its Native guests. 

According to the Burke, the Culture is Living gallery breaks down traditional museum authority and brings the expertise and knowledge of communities to the forefront. Cultural objects aren’t tucked away on the shelves. They are alive, embodying the knowledge, language, and stores of people and cultures.

“We wanted to share how diverse our Indigenous cultures are and share the fact that we are still here,” said Sven Haakanson (Alutiiq), curator for North American anthropology. “To us, the cultural pieces we have on display are living. We are representing a hundred-plus cultures in our Culture is Living gallery and to pay them their proper respects we interwove elements of Earth, air, water, our ancestors, children, and community.

“As a curator, one of the things I’m most proud of is we put the Native languages first on every item. Over the next decade, I’m hoping to work with our local tribes to get more item descriptions written in their languages and to add quotes from those communities telling us what the item’s story is from their perspective,” continued Sven.

During the special Indigenous Preview event, several local tribes had representative of their canoe families share song and dance for the mostly Native attendees. Food was enjoyed and provided by the much hyped Off the Rez café, a permanent outpost spawned from Seattle’s first and only Native food truck. There were a number of hands-on exhibitions that guests were drawn to. Chief among them a weaving setup that welcomed the expertise of Native weavers to showcase their skills with rope, cedar, or ribbon that have been passed down for generations.

“The inclusivity is awesome!” shared 24-year-old Stephanie Masterman (Tlingit) after she made her signature in weave form. “Yes, there are artifacts dating back hundreds of years, but there is so much contemporary art, too. So many young Native artists have works included among the galleries. The voice and presence of the future generations we always talk about is definitely represented.”

It’s a new kind of museum with a whole new way to experience our world. The Burke is located on the University of Washington campus and is free to all visitors on the first Thursday of every month. You can expect to be blown away by the attention to detail the dedicated acurators used in setting up each and every item in the six new galleries. And with Native voices prominently featured, there is sure to be an opportunity for learning and reflection.

“Museums have always been colonial spaces and the way the old Burke was structured separated each culture rather than having conversations across cultures that are relevant to our people,” said recent UW graduate Natalie Bruecher (Native Hawaiian). “Here in the new Burke, our knowledge, our ways of being, and even our relationships to each other are really uplifted. This space is a home for our students, our Indigenous communities, and our ancestors that are embodied in every single piece on display.” 

For more information please visit burkemuseum.org or call (206) 543-7907

Global Village adds permanent Tribal Tales exhibit

Artist and storyteller Ty Juvinel (center) with Devin Leatherman and Amy Hale at the opening of Tribal Tales exhibit.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The Seattle Children’s Museum is a destination place for people from all around the world. Located at the heart of Seattle Center, the always active and engaging museum sees close to 200,000 visitors every year. With a mission to bring to life the joy of discovery for children and their families through creative, hands-on exploration of the world around them, the museum’s heralded Global Village recently debuted an all-new permanent exhibit titled Tribal Tales.

Created by and inspired from the beautifully diverse and thriving Native cultures encompassing the Puget Sound area, Tribal Tales was development over the past two years in direct collaboration with Native artists from Pacific Northwest tribes. 

“We thought it would be great if we developed a space that helps us create a real relationship with local tribal communities and members,” explained Amy Hale, director of education for Seattle Children’s Museum. “The artists we collaborated with drew from their own individual experiences in order to create culturally relevant representations of their culture.”

Native storytellers who collaborated on the project include John Edward Smith (Skokomish), Roger Fernandez (Lower Elwha S’Kallam), and Tulalip’s own Ty Juvinel. 

“Because of Ty’s trust and active willingness to participate in building up this idea from the very beginning, his efforts had a direct influence on other artists and their willingness to commit,” added Amy. “When I look at this final project, I see not only Ty and his amazing individual pieces, but his influence that led to more artists of other tribal communities working with us and really making Tribal Tales an immersive exhibit.”

Prior to becoming the home of Tribal Tales, the space housed a puppet theatre. The original seed money that created the puppet theatre came via Tulalip Cares, the charitable contributions division of the tribe. It’s only too fitting then that the puppet theatre space was transformed into an interactive, educational exhibit showcasing the richness of Native values and oral tradition, while being co-curated by Tulalip tribal member Ty Juvinel. 

“This exhibit really honors the Indigenous peoples of this land and gives the acknowledgment that our people were here before first contact,” shared the Tulalip storyteller. “Tribal Tales is all about acknowledging the past people that were here while honoring the many Coast Salish tribes thriving today.

“I contributed an original story created for my kids How Puppy Got His Ears, a Salish Sea map detailing all the tribes in Western Washington, a couple house posts, and hand puppets that go along with my story that visiting children can play with,” continued Ty. “The fact the museum got money a long time ago from the tribe and now I’m refreshing the concept for my generation is just awesome.”

Tribal Tales explores the universal art of storytelling through a collective showcase of Native art and culture, curated by the actual artists themselves. “As opposed to white bodies dictating and reflecting back to ourselves what other cultures look like, we gave the artists all the agency to share with us their stories,” added Amy.

The direction and attention to detail is what really makes Tribal Tales stand apart from the many other Global Village exhibits. And for the countless children who visit the museum every day, they’ve already shown a fondness to the exhibit’s bright colors and hands-on puppetry that makes the Native stories easily understood.

“The Children’s Museum shares all kinds of fantastic things, like science, knowledge and culture,” said Roger Fernandes, sharer of the prolific Ant and Bear story. “I thought it would be a good way to get our stories out there. Each of the stories were illustrated by the Native artists, so the children could not just hear the story but see some visuals that would help them remember it. Ultimately, this project was well thought out and as a result now more kids will have the chance to hear our traditional stories.”

With over 18,000 sq. feet of play space designed for kids ages birth to 8-years-old to enjoy with families, the Seattle Children’s Museum is open Tuesdays – Sundays from 10:00am – 5:00pm. First time visitors are sure to be blown away by the hands-on exhibits and open-ended exploration, especially those who experience the richness of Tribal Tales. 

Changing the way we see Native America

Matika Wilbur at Northwest Indian College. Photo by Micheal Rios, Tulalip News.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News. Photos by Matika Wilbur and Micheal Rios.

In 2012, Tulalip tribal member and visual storyteller Matika Wilbur sold everything she owned in her Seattle apartment and invested the proceeds into a vision: to unveil the true essence of contemporary Native issues, the beauty of Native culture, and the magnitude of tradition. Her vision’s name? Project 562.

Reflecting her commitment to visit, engage, and photograph all 562 federally recognized Native American tribes (in 2012), Project 562 reveals a name that serves to both inspire and educate. 

“While teaching at [Tulalip] Heritage High School and attempting to create a photography curriculum with a narrative that our children deserve, I found an outdated narrative,” she recalled. “It’s an incomplete story that perpetuates an American historical amnesia. It’s a story that’s romantic, dire and insatiable…it’s the story of extinction.”

Matika points out the extinction theme often associated with Native America is easily perceived by doing a quick Google Images search. If you search for ‘African American’, ‘Hispanic American’ or ‘Asian American’, then you’ll find images of present day citizens who represent each culture. You’ll see proud, smiling faces and depictions of happy families. 

But if you search for ‘Native American’ the results are very different. You’ll see mostly black and white photos of centuries old Natives who are “leathered and feathered”.  Making matters worse, you’ll also find more images of white people wearing headdresses than of modern day Native families. 

“All of these images and misconceptions contribute to the collective consciousness of the American people, but more importantly it affects us in the ways that we imagine ourselves, in the ways we dream of possibility,” explained Matika. 

Darkfeather, Eckos and Bibiana Ancheta, Tulalip. Pictured at the edge of Tulalip Bay, they are wearing traditional regalia that was prepared for their annual Canoe Journey. Every year, upward of 100 U.S. tribes, Canadian First Nations and New Zealand canoe families will make the journey by pulling their canoes to a rotating host destination tribe. Canoe families pull for weeks, and upon landing, there will be several days and nights of ‘protocol’: a celebration of shared traditional knowledge, ancestral songs, and sacred dances.

And so began her 7-year journey to photograph and collect stories of contemporary Native citizens from tribes all across the United States. As her photographic portfolio continued to expand, so too did her realm of possibilities.

Project 562 has driven her to travel hundreds of thousands of miles, many in her RV dubbed ‘the Big Girl’, but also by horseback, train, plane, boat and on foot across all 48 continental states, Hawaii, deep into the Canadian tundra and into Alaska. The number of federally recognized tribes has risen to 573, according to the Department of the Interior, since the inception of her vision back in 2012, but that fact is just superficial.

Presently, the now 35-year-old Matika has come to realize that Indigenous identity far surpasses federal acknowledgement. There are state-recognized tribes, urban and rural Native communities, and other spaces for Indigenous identity that don’t fall under the U.S. government’s recognition. Astonishingly, she estimates she has photographs that represent about 900 different tribal communities. 

Jon Red Corn, Osage Nation and Waxak’olin district Osage, leads boys to the Zonzolin arbor where traditional values and teachings of the Osage people are celebrated.

In a respectful way, Matika has been welcomed into hundreds of tribal communities, and she has found that people support the project because they would like to see things change. Conversations about tribal sovereignty, self-determination, wellness, recovery from historical trauma, decolonization of the mind, and revitalization of culture accompany the photographs in captions, videos, and audio recordings.*

“For the past six-years I’ve been sojourning in my big girl. It’s been a whirlwind of a journey, an amazing experience!” beamed the Tulalip photographer who routinely has her brilliant images displayed in museum galleries and college campuses across the nation. 

 Miss Melba Appawara from the Northern Ute Tribe, born in 1932, and Grandma to many beautiful bear dancers.

“I started in Washington and worked my way south through Oregon, California, Arizona, and New Mexico,” she detailed. “I went to all the pueblos, so many places in Navajo Nation, then down to the south and into the bayou. I continued on to the Everglades and then all the way up the East coast into Haudenosaunee country where I learned about the Great Law. I then zig-zagged across through the country until finally making it up to Alaska. Now, I am back home.” 

She’s returned with an unprecedented repository of imagery and oral histories that accurately portray present-day Native America. Project 562 will ultimately culminate as an awe-inspiring hardcover, series of exhibitions and online resources filled with a dynamic variety of proud Native Americans telling their stories their way. But until that long-awaited day comes, Matika gave adoring fans and devote followers of her project a glimpse into her 7-year journey during the first weekend of October. From October 3 – 5, she held a four-part project preview at Northwest Indian College, Ferndale Library, Nooksack Community Building and the Deming Library. 

The Project 562 creator spoke passionately at each venue while sharing stories about overcoming historical inaccuracies, stereotypical representations, and silenced Native American voices in mass media. She shared about meeting one of her real life heroes John Trudell, being at Standing Rock during the 2016 Dakota Access Pipeline protests, and offered powerful stories detailing Native citizens from around the nation rising up from racism and injustice to create a better world for themselves and future generations. 

Swinomish Village. “One of my favorite shots from canoe journey this year. It’s always an epic feeling to watch dozens of canoes paddle up to our shores. I feel grateful that I am among the generation that gets to know this cultural revolution. That we are the descendants of people who refused to let canoe culture go to sleep. We are the generation that gets to see this awaken. For that, I will always be grateful.” – Matika

“If I’m here to bring a message at all, it’s the message that Indian Country is alive and well,” said Matika during her NWIC presentation. “It’s the message of hope and resiliency. It’s the story of Indigenous intelligence. 

“There are still Ghost Dances, Sun Dances and long houses filled with songs and traditional medicines. Our story is worth knowing, telling, and inspiring one another with. Because doing modern things while gathering and encouraging the collective consciousness to uplift Indigenous intelligence is the only pathway forward. That is the dream.”

*Source: matikawilbur.com


Showtime at Hibulb: Cultural Center Hosts 7th annual Film Festival

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Cinephiles from near and far gathered at the Hibulb Cultural Center (HCC) on the afternoon of September 21. The always popular film festival welcomed the works of local filmmakers who wished to showcase their modern storytelling abilities with the community. Each year, word about the festival spreads throughout the region, continuingly expanding the list of films on the following year’s docket. Now in its seventh year, the festival saw its largest attendance, as well as the largest number of film submissions to date, supporting local artists and encouraging them to share their stories through film.

“The inspiration behind the festival initially was to celebrate films and filmmaking, to showcase communities in our area and around the world the values that keep them moving forward, and to elevate the perspectives and voices of our community and our ancestors,” said Lena Jones, film festival organizer and Hibulb Cultural Center education curator.

The festival began with a lifetime achievement award ceremony, honoring two Lummi tribal members for their work in the film industry, actor and storyteller Swil Kanim and playwright and filmmaker Darrell Hillaire. Both individuals are locally renowned. Swil is known for many his talents as a violinist and Darrell is the founder and executive director of the multimedia production company, Children of the Setting Sun, which produces contemporary Coast Salish content on film and podcasts. Darrell also allowed HCC to hold an exclusive screening of his new thirty-minute project, Waiting for God, a story of a young Lummi girl’s journey to finding herself, as well as the way back to her ancestral homelands.  

“I had the honor of being recognized today, but I represent a whole team,” Darrell expressed. “I’m proud of our team because we’re in the middle of a lot of work and we don’t get to celebrate enough, so we came here to celebrate with the Tulalip people and it means a lot to me. We try to meet the young people where they’re at, with all the technology of today like podcasts and short films, and introduce them to the stories of our ancestors. This a great way to preserve history. As our elders move on to the next life, we need to capture their stories about their time here.”

It was showtime after festival-goers enjoyed a lunchtime feast prepared by Tribal member Chandra Reeves and her daughters, one of whom gave a heartfelt welcome speech to the visitors. For nearly six hours, the attendees were treated to a selection of visual art created by ten filmmakers, both tribal and non-tribal. This year’s viewing had a good amount of variety, ranging in a number of genres, for a total of eleven films. 

Inspired after his first submission received a standing ovation at last year’s festival, local music composer and film scorer, Ed Hartman, returned with two new projects this year, including Time for No One, a four-minute short film where Ed displays his piano skills set to images of the World Trade Center. Perhaps his most impressive piece submitted thus far, Ed worked diligently for an entire year, preparing a scored edition of As the Earth Turns, an unreleased Seattle-based silent film made in the late 1930’s. Ed’s music had movie goers on the edge of their seats during suspenseful moments, and fully invested throughout all of the movies emotional scenes. 

The crew of the critically acclaimed fantasy film, Chosen One, wins the third best feature award at the HCC Film Festival. Writer/Director Thomas Meyer pictured at center.

A crowd favorite this year was a fantasy film which involved a battle between elves and vampires titled Chosen One. Written and directed by Thomas Meyer, Chosen One has been featured at several national and international film festivals, winning awards for Best Fantasy at many of them. 

Music, paintings, carvings, treaty rights and decolonization were the topics highlighted by eight Native American filmmakers who submitted one project each this year. Over the years, HCC has made it a point of emphasis to encourage local Native creatives to explore the medium of film to express their views and share what it means to grow up Indigenous in the Northwest. 

“We’re very proud of our artists and storytellers,” Lena stated. “They remind us of how wealthy we are and how important it is to remember our values. Filmmakers, as artists, help us do that as they share the stories and heroes of our culture.  They give us role models of how we can support our environment or our community.”

The art of storytelling has been passed down through the generations since the beginning of time. Our stories are shared to teach youth valuable lessons and they often incorporate our traditional language, dances and songs. Indigenous stories explain the mysteries of the universe like how the sun, stars and moon came to be and emphasize cultural values like respecting our elders, helping our communities and practicing our ancestral teachings. As technology advances, storytellers will continue to explore new forms of storytelling through art, publications, music, film and animation. Attention will be brought to social issues and current world problems like climate change, declining fish runs, MMIW, suicide and overdose, promoting awareness to protect our people, waterways and land, and begin the healing process from years of generational trauma.

Among the many standout Native films was a documentary called A Quiet Warrior, which follows the life and works of the late and highly respectable leader of the Yakama Nation, Russell Jim. Russell was an environmental activist who dedicated his life to protecting the Colombia River waterways. During World War II, a nuclear reservation was established in the nearby town of Hanford where they produced plutonium. Russell fought the U.S. Department of Energy in court to prevent Hanford from becoming a repository for nuclear waste and endangering salmon and local wildlife and habitat. 

Coeur d’Alene Filmmaker Jeanne Givens (left) with family members of late Yakama leader, Russell Jim, after a screening of her documentary A Quiet Warrior about Russell’s life and times.

“I met Russell several times and I found him to be such an intriguing individual,” said filmmaker and Coeur d’Alene tribal member, Jeanne Givens. “He was a person who walked in so many worlds, most importantly the political world. He didn’t just know political people, he helped write the Nuclear Waste Regulatory Act, very important work.”

While the film festival carried on through the night, the crowd enjoyed thought provoking and interesting pieces that touched on the effects of colonization, such as We Only Answer Our Land Line by Cherokee and Klamath tribal member Woodrow Hunt, and the two-hour award winning special feature ωαατšι?αƛιν: Coming Home by Brandon Thompson of Huu-ay-aht First Nations. HCC was also sure to incorporate Indigenous art into the program with Makah War Clubs by Jason Roberts, which delves into the traditional weapons of Northwest tribes as well as A Modern Creation Story, which follows Tlingit Artist, Preston Singletary, as he combines the past and the present by creating traditional designs through glass art. 

Perhaps the film of the evening, the reception of Could You Imagine? came just as much of a shock to the filmmaker as it was to the attendees. As the five-minute video ended, nearly every person in the HCC Longhouse exchanged stunned looks after they witnessed the works of an artist by the name of MomentumX. Combining many elements of his background, MomentumX incorporated his Swinomish heritage, passion for music, artistic abilities and storytelling talents into one project. Between two long thirty-two measure rap verses, he urged his audience to study their treaty rights and utilize the power of their voice. Not only was MomentumX rapping in the video, he was also spray-painting a large 3-D Salish design onto a canvas. The time-lapse music video impressed the festival attendees who erupted in loud applause by the end of the film. And when Marcus Joe, a young man who sat at the back of the room, introduced himself as MomentumX the crowd rose to their feet and praised him for his talents.  

“It’s important that we use our own voice and create our own art,” Marcus expressed. “As an Indigenous youth who grew up in the big city of Seattle, a lot of times I felt alienated and alone. But I always knew who I was and was proud to be Indigenous. It’s important that we tell our stories, our true story, because it was already told wrong once. It’s up to us to set the record straight and let people know who we are in today’s society.” 

“He did all of that on his phone,” said film festival judge, Robin Carneen, still in awe over the MomentumX video. “A hip hop Native American film, wow. It just goes to show how prevalent technology and social media is today.”

The film festival aims to preserve the traditional teachings of Native peoples in a modern day format that future leaders can look back to reference or draw inspiration from. 

“We hope folks watch the films and are inspired to recognize how important our ancestral culture is to the recent environmental and cultural needs of the nation,” Lena stated. “We hope our younger ones will build their storytelling and technical skills and support their elders work in the communities by sharing important Native perspectives. We hope filmmakers will continue to share their work here and come together for an enjoyable day, viewing the films at our festivals.”

The Hibulb Cultural Center will continue their monthly film series, the next event is scheduled for October 17. For more information, please contact the museum at (360) 716-2600.

Imagine Children’s Museum Offers Free Museum Memberships to Tulalip Tribal Members


Family Extravaganza Memberships allow for a year of unlimited visits for the whole family

Everett, WA – Imagine Children’s Museum announces a program to provide free Family Extravaganza Museum Memberships to enrolled Tulalip tribal members with a child age 12 or below. Funded by Tulalip Tribes Charitable Funds, the membership program’s goal is to provide enrichment opportunities to Tulalip families.


The membership includes unlimited visits for two adults, all children in the household and one extra adult per visit. It also includes five one-time admissions, free and reduced admissions at select museums throughout the U.S. and Canada, Museum store member discounts and discounts on Imagine’s classes, camps and birthday parties. Limited quantities of memberships are available on a first come, first served basis. At least one household member must present tribal I.D. when applying for this Museum membership.


“Imagine is honored to have the opportunity to provide these memberships to Tulalip families. It is really special that the memberships allow other adults to visit with the families so that aunties and grandmas can join in the fun,” said Jen Garcia, Imagine’s Visitor Services Manager. “The feedback has been great. Parents can’t believe they get to visit the Museum for free for an entire year!”


For information on the benefits of a Family Extravaganza Membership visit
https://www.imaginecm.org/membership-gift-certificates/extravaganza-membership/ . Tulalip tribal members who would like to sign up for a membership can contact Quinn Schell at (425) 258-1006, Ext. 1026 or QuinnS@ImagineCM.org


ABOUT IMAGINE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM
Imagine Children’s Museum (Imagine) began in 1993 as the result of a grassroots effort to give children and families a place to play and learn in Snohomish County. Now we serve more than 251,000 people annually through the Museum and outreach programs. Imagine serves children ages 1-12 and their caregivers. The Museum is located on the corner of Wall and Hoyt Streets in downtown Everett. For hours and admission information, visit www.ImagineCM.org or call (425) 258-1006.

Native Art Festival highlights range of imagination from emerging Tulalip artists

Taylee Warbus, 1st place – Painting. Sophomore at Lake Stevens High School. “I wanted to put something together that represented a lot of things I really care about and love. I love looking at the stars, which is represented with the night sky. I just love succulents and learning about them, so I added a lot of plants. The clock read 5:17 that represents my birthday. It’s definitely a patchwork painting with lots of colors that shows a variety of my passions.”

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Jacynta Miles, 1st place – Culture. Freshman at Heritage High School. “My paddle represents the layers of life. At the top is the sun, then Earth represented by a beach and the ocean, followed by a mermaid, and then finally the salmon. The colors are bright at the top and get darker the further down you go just like in nature.”

Hundreds of artistically inclined students strolled through the makeshift art gala that was the Don Hatch Youth Center on Thursday, April 18th, for the annual Native American Student Art Festival. Accompanied by their families, friends and teachers, the student-artists ranging from 1st to 12th grade wowed festival attendees and judges with their imaginative creations.

“The Art Festival is an opportunity for each student to express themselves in a positive way. It is the largest community event we have where we get to showcase our Native students,” explained Jessica Bustad, Positive Youth Development Manager. “It’s the pride each of the students have in their artwork, their parents and community members coming together to support our children that make this event so great.”

For more than two decades now, Marysville School District has partnered with the Tulalip Tribes to dedicate an evening to the art scene created by emerging Tulalip artists and other Native students within the district. The Festival gives these young people an opportunity to show off their creative talents to the community, while getting a chance to take home a coveted 1st place ribbon.

Artists were able to win 1st, 2nd or 3rd place, plus honorable mention, in a variety of artistic mediums. Categories included culture, drawing, painting, writing, mixed media, sculpture, digital art, and pure heart. The top four from each grade and category not only received a ceremonial ribbon as recognition for their talents, but a monetary prize as well.

Peyton Gobin, 2nd place – Sculpture. Third
grader. “My inspiration was Chihuly’s art, like his glass blowing. First, I had to cut all around these plastic water bottles to make the swirly parts. Then I painted every single one a different color because if they were all the same color it wouldn’t be artistic.”

“Everyone that attends is a winner by the end of the event because they’ve helped to create unity and teamwork,” said Josh Fryberg, Youth Services Manager. “The Festival turned out amazing. From all of the families sharing a meal together to seeing the looks on each person’s face when they win a raffle to seeing all the art being showcased for all to see.”

This year’s Native Art Festival received a whopping 700+ submissions, with the most popular category being painting. There were many young artists who showed off their diverse talents by submitting artwork in as many categories as they could. Taylee Warbus and Samara Davis were two such overachievers who claimed top honors in multiple categories.

Irista Reeves, 1st place – Sculpture. Ninth grader at Heritage High School. “My sculpture depicts sadness, which is the black layers, and its peeling away to show an underlying happiness, which in my case is my family. When your sad it’s important to remember who are the ones that love you and are truly there for you.”

“It was amazing to see just how talented our Native students are; the new ideas and concepts they come up with every year continue to surprise us judges,” marveled Native Advocate Doug Salinas. “Every kid has the capability to be an artist because their imagination has no limits.”

Native culture and art are often thought of us intrinsically tied together or, in the case of Savannah Black Tomahawk and Lilly Jefferson, they are sewn together. According to their mothers, neither Savannah nor Lilly had ever sewn before prior to creating traditional ribbon skirts to enter in the Festival. By putting a modern twist on a traditional concept, Savannah’s Disney princess skirt and Lilly’s metallic blue with shimmery pink ribbons both received high praise and earned an additional ribbon – 2nd place and 1st place, respectively. 

“As coordinating staff, we look at every single piece of artwork and recognize how much work each student puts in. Some art pieces show real vulnerability in the students, they are showing themselves and expressing their thoughts, feelings and dreams,” added Jessica. “It is also very gratifying when students are already coming to us with their creative ideas for next year’s Art Festival.”

If you missed out on this year’s Student Art Festival, each and every piece of authentic Native American art that received a winning ribbon will be on display at the Hibulb Cultural Center from now – May 5th.

A perfect day, a perfect moment’: UNITY mural revealed

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Don “Penoke” Hatch Youth Center. Kenny Moses Building. Greg Williams Court. Alpheus “Gunny” Jones Ball Field. Debra Barto Skate Park. 

These locations have become five common place names in everyday Tulalip lexicon. However, the people these locations are named after are anything but common.            They were influential individuals who dedicated much of their lives to supporting, bettering, and empowering tribal youth. 

Each a Tulalip citizen, their commendable spirits are now immortalized in paint as part of a five portrait project known as the UNITY mural. The highly anticipated mural reveal took place on Saturday, April 13.

 “This is a perfect day, a perfect moment,” declared Herman Williams Jr., a representative from Greg Williams’ family shortly after the murals were unveiled. “This is what we are about as Tulalip people, honoring those who had a positive effect on ourselves. Each mural is of someone who was very influential to us as young people, old people, and everything in between.” 

More than 150 community members gathered at Greg Williams Court to share in the special moment as the curtains were pulled down and the vibrant portraits were put on full display. This type of gathering was exactly what the project coordinator had in mind.

“Initially, I envisioned something that would bring the community together and bring families together,” explained mural coordinator Deyamonta Diaz. “These murals tell the stories behind our buildings, who they are named after, and the legacy these people left. To see all five people together gives the families an opportunity to share memories. 

“Also, for the people who don’t know them, they are going ask ‘who are these people?’ and ‘why are their pictures up?’” added Deyamonta. “I think that’s a great conversation starter for the community to keep these people’s legacies alive.”

Legacy was a concept routinely mentioned as speakers and representatives for each painted figure shared loving words and fond memories. A shared hope for future generations to carry on their family member’s legacy through resolve and action, while looking to each painting as a symbol of support when needed, was also expressed repeatedly at the podium. 

Don “Penoke” Hatch gets an up close and personal view of his portrait, while daughter Denise speaks of his long-time commitment to the youth.

Four of the five mural honorees have passed on, with Penoke Hatch being the lone exception. 

“As we look at these murals, it’s important to know each one of them is still here with us. They are here in their families who tell their stories,” shared Penoke. “Each one of them made an impact in different ways. They always took care of everybody, especially the young ones. Thank you to the artists, Youth Services, and the Tribe for what they did here to honor us.” 

Honoring those represented on the Tulalip Bay athletic campus with a UNITY mural was made possible in partnership with Youth Services and local Native artists, Monie Ordonia (Tulalip) and Jordan Willard (Tlingit).

Tulalip artist Monie Ordonia (right) and assistant Jordan Williard (Tlingit) reflect on their painting process during the mural reveal.

“They had a vision of having portraits in mural form of all the legends that these building are named after,” said Monie. “The concept incorporates Native colors, so we used red, black, yellow, and white as the backgrounds. For Debbie, we used gray as the background and then incorporated her grandchildren’s hand prints.

“I like to feel the energy of who I’m painting, like an activation, it helps bring the person to life,” continued Monie. “Once the murals are complete and I look into the eyes of the painting, then I can feel them communicating with me. Hopefully, that helps other people have the ability to do the same.”

The memories of Kenny Moses, Debra Barto, Greg Williams, Penoke and Gunny Jones are kept alive by those who knew them best. Some were beneficiaries of their admirable determination, while others were fortunate to witness their heroic exploits in action. For everyone else, the UNITY mural serves as a reminder that legends are never forgotten.