Hibulb Cultural Center reopens after months of hiatus

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Nine years ago, a grand opening was held in a newly constructed building located on the Tulalip reservation. Nearly 23,000 square feet, the building would serve as a gateway, where visitors could get a glimpse into the lifeways, as well as learn the true history, of the original caretakers of this region. During those nine years, thousands of people walked into the doors of a museum, perhaps on a field trip with a local school, or a romantic getaway while staying at the Tulalip Resort Casino, or maybe just to kill time. Whatever the case, many people walked out with a new perspective and at least a little more knowledge than provided in local history classrooms. 

The idea was to provide the Tulalip experience to non-tribal members while also showcasing, preserving and reclaiming various keepsakes such as tools, art, jewelry, baskets, drums, photos, and carvings, to name a few, that were passed on through individual families throughout the generations. And by sharing their story, and hosting countless culturally focused events and community driven classes, the Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve (HCC) has become a favorite spot to frequent amongst locals who visit often, whether to tour the exhibits with the family or attend a lecture or art lesson instructed by a Tulalip tribal member or Indigenous peoples from other tribes. And due to the popularity within the greater Snohomish county region, including the Marysville, Arlington, Everett and Stanwood communities, the museum is highly recommended to out-of-towners seeking a one-of-a-kind visual, interactive and sometimes eye-opening experience.

Aside from Mondays, the only day of the week the HCC is closed, the museum opened their doors every day, inviting the public to explore and learn more about the sduhubš way of life, whether about treaty rights, forced assimilation, or ancestral teachings and traditions. That is, until the coronavirus hit causing the HCC to close for an extended period of time for the safety of the museum staff and visitors alike. 

Now, with new safety measures and precautions in place, the Hibulb re-opened their doors to the public on August 4, 2020, after several months of closure and merely days before the museum’s ninth birthday. 

“It feels exciting,” exclaimed Mytyl Hernandez, HCC Marketing and Public Relations. “We were closed for a really long time and it’s refreshing to be back with all of our co-workers and to see everybody again. We opened back up and are operating on normal business hours, but we are not doing any tours or events just yet.”

The key exhibits are still fully accessible, save for a few hands-on interactive stations. During a walk through, return visitors can still view some of their favorite displays and new guests will continue to get an understanding of the Tulalip people and their journey since pre-colonial times to present day. Signage is posted throughout the museum, offering a friendly reminder that masks are required, as well as indicate displays that are temporarily unavailable or restricted to a certain amount of people at a time.  

“It’s essential and required to wear a mask,” Mytyl explained. “We have markers to encourage and keep people social distancing. We’ve got hand sanitizing stations. Our cashiers are wearing gloves and we’ll also have Plexiglas shields for them. We’re using only one entrance and exit, so we can keep track of how many people are in the building. Certain exhibits are limited to a certain amount of people, whether it’s three of four, and the gift shop is limited to six people. We’re doing our best to keep our team and our guests safe and healthy. We’ve got a lot of hands on deck and we’re doing lots of cleaning in the exhibits in between guests. Just about every hour we’re wiping things to down to keep sanitary.”

Before the COVID pandemic occurred, the HCC was granted access to display the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliot by the National Archives as a part of their History of Tulalip Literacy exhibit, in which many Tulalip writers and storytellers were featured. The museum closed only weeks after the Literacy exhibit was launched, and the historic treaty that defined the inherit rights of not only the Tulalip people, but several surrounding tribes as well, received less attention than originally anticipated due to the pandemic. 

“We do still have the treaty on display,” Mytyl happily reported. “The National Archives will be deciding how much longer we can keep it on display. So, we have it for now, and as soon as we find out how long we can keep it, we will definitely get that news out into our community.”

The HCC is back to their regular scheduled hours of 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, please contact (360) 716-2600, or visit the Hibulb Cultural Center’s Facebook page.

“We’re really excited to be back,” expressed Mytyl. “We had a good response from our community and guests, and they are super excited for us to be open. It feels great to give people something else to do, and we believe that we can do it safely.” 

Indians are everywhere

Northwest Coast Barbie doll, 2000. From 1992 to 2000, Native American Barbie modeled various looks, from “modern powwow” to “Eskimo,” that kept her tribal affiliation a mystery. The Northwest Coast Barbie was the first tribally specific doll. The Tlingit-influenced Barbie, complete with a chilkat robe, has long dark hair and tan skin, but she hasn’t lost her Barbie essence.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

It’s so strange that nearly all that can be named or sold has at some point been named or sold with an Indian word or image. If this seems normal, that’s because it has become normal. It started before the United States was colonized and continues today.

American Indian images are everywhere. From consumer products to Hollywood big screens to local high school, collegiate, and professional athletics mascots. American Indian names are everywhere too, from state (e.g. Alaska, Dakotas, Oklahoma), city (e.g. Seattle, Tacoma, Snohomish) and street names to the Tomahawk missile. And familiar historical events such as Pocahontas’s life, the Trail of Tears, and the Battle of Little Bighorn remain popular reference points in everyday conversation.

Americans, a major exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, highlights the ways in which American Indians have been part of the nation’s identity since time immemorial. It delves into the power of story, surrounds visitors with images, and invites them to begin a conversation about why this phenomenon exists.

Brave Eagle lunchbox and thermos, 1950s. Brave Eagle was one of the first television shows to feature an American Indian as the lead and hero. The half-hour episodes focused on the settlement of the West from the Native American perspective. The premiered in 1955 and ended in 1956.

The images accompanying this article are worth a closer look. What if they are not trivial? What if they are instead symbols of great power? What if the stories they tell reveal a buried history and a country forever fascinated, conflicted, and shaped by its relationship with American Indians? Pervasive, powerful, at times demeaning, the images, names, and stories reveal how we have been embedded in unexpected ways in the history, pop culture, and identity of the United States.

Indian Chief motorcycle, 1948. A classic, the Indian is considered the most stylish of mass-produced motorcycles. In 1897, American-made bicycles named Indian were sold overseas. The name stuck when the company sold its first motorcycles in 1902. It became a true brand, with a feathered headdress as the logo and the Indian Red as the signature color. In the 1930s, models could be customized with colors such as Mohawk Green, Seminole Cream, Navajo Blue, and Apache Gray.
This model’s fender ornament is an Indian figure with headdress, and the word Indian is written in stylish script on the tank. The company’s first advertising executive said, “No more popular or wealth-producing name could have been chosen.”
Though the Indian Motorcycle Company has changed hands many times, its name and distinctive logo have endured.

As American Indians, we are estimated to comprise just 1% of the entire U.S. population. Yet everywhere you go in the United States, you can see images of us. Why?

How is that Indians can be so present and so absent in American life? One reason is that the land of the free and home of the brave is still trying to come to grips with centuries of wildly mixed feelings about us. Are we the merciless Indian savages described in the Declaration of Independence or are we the noble Indians who strive to be stewards of the Earth? Domestic dependents granted special privileges by the U.S. government or sovereign nations free to govern ourselves?  The answer to both questions is somewhere between nether and both. 

Savage Arms bullet box, 1950. Things aren’t always what they seem. Savage Arms, whose guns are widely used in police department, is named after its founder, Arthur Savage.

We have been seen as both authentic and threatening, almost mythological yet deeply appealing. In present day America, citizens of all cultural backgrounds can surround themselves with dream catchers, have Pendleton accessories, and describe a football game as a trail of tears because they know that Indians are in the country’s DNA. They know we have shaped this nation from the beginning and have convinced themselves that the best way to honor us is by filling the void left by cultural genocide with cultural appropriation. 

Chicago Blackhawks infant onesie, 2016. How do you decide what sports team to cheer for? Well, in many cases you don’t. Your parents decide for you. They clothe you in adorable onesies and bibs form the hometown team. The onesies give way to T-shirts, hats, and family outings to games. Before you know it, you can’t remember a time when you weren’t a fan.
Similarly, you don’t choose the name. Team owners do. In 1926, Frederic McLaughlin decided to name his new hockey team after Chief Blackhawk, who sided with the British in the War of 1812. Why name a team after a leader who fought against the Americans? One reason is the American tradition of linking military might and fighting skill to American Indians.

The objects, images, and stories shown here are not just what they seem to be at the surface level. They are insistent reminders of larger truths and an empathic refusal to forget our shared history. 

Wild West tribal Lego set, 1997. The Tribal Chief figure, most recently knowns as the Lego Movie character Chief from the Old West, is part of the 1997 Lego System. The chief’s accessories include a headdress, a steed, a spear, an oval-patterned shield, a green bush, and a black snake. 

Building Upon the Past, Visioning Into the Future: Celebrating sgʷi gʷi ?altxʷ 25th anniversary

Bird painting: Yatika Starr Fields (Osage/Cherokee/Creek). Diving Birds of Green Lake. 2016. Oil on canvas.
“As a new resident to the Seattle area I was searching for new ideas and inspirations for a painting. My work usually conveys movement and colors of various subject matter joining together to create a dynamic force. I knew I wanted to find something that is of Washington and the Seattle area. Using nature oriented objects and forms in most of my works I wanted to apply the same for what this new piece would be. I went running one afternoon around Green Lake in Seattle and was watching the diving birds that disappear and reappear while in search for food. Diving under the surface and into the depths of the water. I imagined the landscape below the surface with shadowy silhouettes of the diving birds, crossing over one another layered by the lakes aquatic plants. After imagining this scene and seeing these birds once again on Lake Union I decided I would paint this image out as my first paining living here in Seattle. Using oil paints, my preferred medium in the studio, this painting conveys a feeling of light coming through the surface as the water moves above, the birds joined in movement as they swim underneath the surface in search for food. Abstracted plants and forms convey a swift dance taking place below unseen by the passerby above.”

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Real NDN painting: Ka’ila Farrell-Smith (Klamath/Modoc). HÉYÓKA. 2014. Oil paint, wax crayon on canvas.
“This image emerged through processing the authenticity of what contemporary American Indian looks like and how it is perceived by Native and non-Native viewers. The painting HÉYÓKA tackles Indigenous identity through invoking multiple variables such as skin color, hair length (a visual quotation from the Boarding School eras), gender roles, authentic regalia, and speaking tribal languages. As the artist, I am taking a look at how post-assimilation policies have affected our collective Indigenous identities, primarily through understanding how pan-Indian tropes have played an important role in rebuilding Native Pride in the recent past. However, to continue on a true path of decolonization and re-Indigenization we need to begin the dire acts of reclaiming our specific Tribal cultures and memories (names of tribes in the headdress).
This portrait utilizes a conceptual irony by quoting the ‘Hollywood Injun’ through the text reel NDN, evoking a hybrid character, perhaps half-Tonto / half-Lone Ranger. However, the smirk on the characters scarred face, reveals a tension that is both of humor and confidence. Perhaps asking the viewer to take a look at their own preconceived content that is brought to this image. Are the blue circles in the headdress feathers, or corporate suits? Is this stereotype or contemporary Indigenous warrior? Can authentic forms of visual decolonization and indigenization occur through painting? HÉYÓKA is trickster, the sacred opposite whose empowerment comes by reflecting taboos within the culture. Through putting the mirror back onto the viewer (a negation of ‘eyes’ in the figure) this HÉYÓKA is now the one asking the questions.”

In the ancestral language of this land, Lushootseed, the phrase sgʷi gʷi ?altxʷ  means House of Welcome. More than just a name, the Longhouse Education and Cultural Center at Evergreen State College in Olympia being officially dubbed sgʷi gʷi ?altxʷ  gives credence to a reciprocal relationship that is both open hearted and open minded.

Created in 1995 as a public service center, the Longhouse’s mission is to promote Indigenous arts and cultures through education, cultural preservation, creative expression, and economic development.

In the beginning, the cultural center’s focus was on six local Puget Sound tribes and their ever-evolving artists. Today, the Longhouse collaborates with highly talented Indigenous artists throughout the Pacific Northwest region, across the nation, and distant lands spanning the globe. Through residency programs with master artists, culture bearers are inspired to develop their abilities while expanding their imaginative capacities in pursuit of creating entirely new boundaries for what defines ‘traditional’ and ‘contemporary’ designs.

“Art allows us to sing without a song, to give our true spirit into something we create out of something nature has given us,” explained Master artist Bruce Subiyay Miller (Skokomish). “Our people create with the natural elements of wood, plant fibers or native plants. Through these acts of creation, our culture continues to live today. That is important at a time when many of us have lost our languages, our customs, and many of the things we look upon as comprising a complete culture.

“We still have our artwork!” he added. “Through that, all the ancestors that lived on this Earth from the beginning of time in our tribal lineages, still exist as long as we have the art. That is what art means to me.”

To celebrate the House of Welcome’s 25 years of groundbreaking work we examine an art exhibition that truly captures the essence of what it means to facilitate cross cultural exchange.  Building Upon the Past, Visioning Into the Future showcases cultural concepts and next level skillfulness from over 70 Indigenous artists with whom the Longhouse has built relationship, from the early days, right up to the present. Many of the featured artists have received a grant, taught a workshop, exhibited work, been an artist-in-residence, or otherwise participated in Longhouse programming. 

Curated by Longhouse staff members Erin Genia (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate) and Linly Logan (Seneca), this one-of-a-kind exhibition features beautiful artistry from tribal members that call this land home. Local tribal representation include Squaxin Island, Skokomish, Puyallup and many other Coast Salish tribes. Tribes from across the nation are also represented, from Alaska to the Great Plains, and across the Pacific Rim, including Native Hawaiians and Maori artists from New Zealand.

Glass weavings 
Ho-Wan-Ut Old Peter (Skokomish). Glass Basket. 2015. 
Halisa Higheagle (Chehalis). Glass Basket. 2015. 
Wa x WupKaya Jack-lyn Smith (Skokomish). Salmon Gill Design Glass Basket. 2015. Glass.
*Made during a workshop with hot shop lead artist, Dan Friday (Lummi), as a partnership between the Museum of Glass and the Longhouse.

“This exhibition reflects the [twenty-five years] of building relationships with artists locally, regionally, nationally and internationally,” stated exhibition co-curator Erin Genia. “Each of the artists you see here in the show has in some way worked with the Longhouse through one of our programs. Native artists are using so many different methods for expressing themselves and we really wanted to display as many of those methods as possible. The result is we have close to ninety beautiful pieces of art, treasures really, that make up this exhibition.” 

Hat: Vickie Era Pankretz (Alutiiq/Sugpiag). AWIRNAQ – Alutiiq Hunting Hat. 2015. Spruce root, sea otter fur, dentalium shells, antique Russian trade beads, glass beads, imitation sea lion whiskers and suet, cloth straps.

The subjects and techniques exhibited by the Longhouse artists draw from a diverse range of stylistic traditions, which arise from cultural teachings, ancestral lineages, and each artist’s unique experience as Indigenous peoples. Works on display include paintings, drums, carvings, beadwork, photography, baskets, and jewelry. 

Glass vessels created using basket designs demonstrate the way traditional design can beautifully translate into new media. Other sculptural forms created in clay, bronze and wood, alongside two-dimensional prints, paintings and drawing spotlight the mastery of mediums that Longhouse artists are fluent in.

“As a curator of this exhibition it’s such an awe-inspiring experience to hear from the artists themselves as to the perspective and inspiration behind their artwork,” added fellow co-curator Linly Logan. “We have artists who are very traditional and roots oriented; artists who use the natural resources around them to showcase their creativeness. 

Wooden spindle: Andrea Wilbur-Sigo (Squaxin Island). New Beginnings. 2015. Maple.

“As Native and Indigenous people we’ve always used the resources around us,” he continued. “In a contemporary lifestyle in nature, we’ve continued to use the resources around us which now include materials other than natural materials. We’ve come full circle in our intent to build upon the past and vision into the future creatively and intellectually as Indigenous people.”

The House of Welcome graciously allowed Tulalip News staff a private tour of the exhibition so that we could share a glimpse of the amazingly creative and exceptional Native art with our local community. These artists are luminaries of their cultures, lighting the pathway back into the far reaches of history, and leading the way into the future with their creative vision.

Salish Sea Reflections: 2020 Canoe Journey cancelled, culture continues at Tulalip

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“The first time I got out on the canoe and went outside of Tulalip Bay, I felt a deep connection not only with the water, but with the canoe,” expressed Tulalip tribal member and Canoe Puller, Monie Ordonia. “I felt my ancestor’s gratitude for me being on the water, the silence of serenity is palpable.  It was like an interconnection meditation for me. Every time my paddle digs into the water, it’s like a prayer for my people, the community, and for the water with all that live in it.”

The people of the Northwest have been enjoying beautiful sunrays during the late weeks of July. Although safely partaking in outdoor adventures may be a bit more challenging with the threat of contracting the coronavirus, many people are still finding ways to safely soak up some sun such as family bike rides, scenic car trips, or lounging out on the patio. It’s safe to say the sunshine has brightened up spirits across local Native tribes during a dark time period. And although it’s understandable that we all must make necessary adjustments to protect ourselves and our people, many can’t help but miss the yearly summertime journey across the Salish Sea.

“It was one of those things that was hard to believe,” expressed Tulalip Canoe Family Skipper, Andrew Gobin. “We were getting our canoes ready, we set the practice schedule and we were all planned for journey. We we’re ready to go and all this happened.”

If it were not for the coronavirus, many Natives would be in a cedar dugout canoe this very moment, coasting through the Salish waters and pulling in unison with their canoe family, perhaps offering a traditional song to the sea while enroute to Nanaimo B.C., visiting with different tribes and creating lifelong friendships along the way. 

During a colonial celebration, Washington State’s 100th centennial in 1989, Quinault tribal member Emmett Oliver organized an historic moment-in-time, famously known as the ‘Paddle to Seattle’, by calling upon a number of fellow Northwest Treaty Tribes and First Nations bands to participate in a traditional canoe pull into Elliot Bay.

 The Paddle to Seattle sparked a cultural revitalization. Once experiencing the medicine offered by the sacred waters, as well as feeling the power of unity amongst coastal Nations, tribal leaders planned the first Tribal Canoe Journey in 1993 with the paddle to Bella Bella. And each summer since, Canoe Journey has been hosted at different villages, helping tribal members reconnect with both their people and ancestral lifeways, while also providing its participants with a lifetime’s worth of memories and healing.

“The first time I did Canoe Journey, there were only ten pullers with our Skipper,” Monie reflected. “No relief pullers, and we didn’t use our support boat to tow us at any time.  It was just us pulling to Swinomish. It was a long 10+ hour pull. We were making our final turn to pull up the river to land on Swinomish grounds, we started singing a tribal song and an energy of renewal just came over all of us. We were pulling strong and hard. As soon as we got near the bridge that takes you onto Swinomish land, I became very emotional. 

“I couldn’t sing anymore and my eyes were full of tears,” she continued. “My sister Muffy had been the only one of my family who ever done canoe pulling, and she had just passed away in December of 2015.  She was the one who inspired me to pull canoe. My grandmother Dora Hilliare Wyakes is buried in Swinomish, so to see that we were pulling up to the bridge that leads to the cemetery where my grandmother was laid to rest, it made me feel like I was honoring both my grandmother and my sister Muffy.”

From ’93 until present day there have only been two instances when the Tribal Canoe Journey celebration did not occur, a hiatus in 2015 after no Tribal Nation volunteered for hosting duties, though several tribes did hold small gatherings that year, allowing the canoes the opportunity to still travel the waters. The second instance is this year.

“Before our Tribe even closed, Nanaimo already canceled journey,” explained Andrew. “I thought, like a lot of people, that COVID was just going to be a lot of hype and that it would pass. I was a strong proponent of keeping plans in place and coming up with secondary plans in case journey started up again.”

For Tulalip, Canoe Journey season begins long before their canoes leave the Tulalip Bay shores and extend far past the last song at protocol. In fact, many tribal members dedicate their time months in advance, preparing for journey by harvesting traditional plants and making salves, oils, balms and herbal blends to gift to other tribes during the near month-long experience. The canoe journey participants also take time to practice their traditional songs and dances so when it’s Tulalip’s turn at protocol, their voices are strong and each dance precise, providing medicine while proudly representing the sduhubš way of life. 

With the absence of this year’s event, many Tulalip canoe family members continued with the work that goes into preparing for journey by harvesting traditional plants and foods within their households and gifting those medicines to local elders as opposed to neighboring tribes. Tulalip singers, dancers and pullers are also staying connected via social media, sharing songs, updates and stories online. Andrew extended his many thanks to the crew who have taken it upon themselves to give back to the community such as Thomas Williams and Dean Pablo. 

“I see a lot of people from the canoe family gathering, using this time to harvest, taking advantage of slowing down and taking part in those traditional practices,” Andrew said. “Some of the people on Canoe Journey are turning back to fishing as way to feed their family and their community. People are smoking fish and giving it to our elders. And some of the younger ones are using social media to stay connected this year. The gifts of our people are coming back into the community during this time. When we prepare for Canoe Journey we gather those things and we give them out when we travel. Since we can’t travel, people are taking it on themselves to put it back in their own community.” 

Another tradition of the canoe family is a ceremony that takes place at the beginning of Spring where they formally wake the family canoes, Big Brother and Big Sister, by cleansing and singing songs in their honor, as the canoes are living spirits that come from sacred cedar. The canoes are then taken out on the water twice-a-week until Canoe Journey in order to build up the endurance of the canoes and its pullers. 

“I really enjoy practice,” Monie stated. “Getting out on the water as well as the comradery that goes with it. When you practice with mostly the same people every week, they truly become your canoe family.  You pull together and sing songs. You encourage each other, so when journey actually begins there is a sense of teamwork, because not one person can pull the canoe by themselves. There is  something about sharing your energy on the water in the sacred canoe.”

Though the annual summertime paddle offers healing in many ways, whether it’s pulling on the water, camping and visiting with people from other tribes, or proudly representing your Nation during protocol, many will agree that coming together as a people and forging bonds based on Indigenous culture is one, if not thee, most important aspects of Tribal Canoe Journeys.

“My favorite part of the journey is that togetherness,” said Andrew. “When we leave Tulalip and travel, we all help each other. We don’t leave anybody behind. If someone needs help, everyone is helping. Everyone is looking out for each other and it really reminds us of the best part of our community and what it means to come together. 

“The time on the water, every day is a different adventure.  It could be the same crew, same canoe, same paddle, but there’s different jokes and things that happen. Last year, one of the canoes jumped a wave, now those people who were on that canoe all joke about that, they have that unique story they get to reflect on. It’s all about building that community trust and accountability. When we camp and hold circle, everyone is equal, everyone is accountable, everyone has the same responsibilities. Big Shot (Cyrus James) would say, to uphold one another, to care for one another.”

Recently, Nanaimo officially passed the torch to the Tla’amin Nation who plans on hosting the 2021 Canoe Journey festivities in their homeland of Powell River B.C. For more updates, be sure to follow the ‘Tribal Canoe Journeys’ and the ‘Tulalip Canoes’ Facebook pages. 

Revisiting the range of imagination from emerging Tulalip artists

Above: Kamaya Craig, 1st place – Culture. Seventh grader at 10th Street Middle School.  “This is wall hanging showing my family symbol. Its two salmon with an egg between them. The techniques I used were lots of cutting, for the details, ironing and sewing.”

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Every year, around this time, hundreds of artistically inclined students stroll through the makeshift art gala at Tulalip’s Youth Center to experience the annual Native American Student Art Festival. Accompanied by their families, friends and teachers, the 1st to 12th grade student-artists wow festival attendees and judges with their imaginative creations.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 completely derailed the 2020 Art Festival. Social distancing protocols and stay-home directives wouldn’t allow for the student showcase to happen. Our emerging Tulalip artists are still worth celebrating, so we now bring you a flashback to the best of last year’s art extravaganza.

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.”

“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 Indigenous Education 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.

Taylee Warbus, 1st place – Painting. Sophomore at Lake Stevens High School. “I wanted to put something together that represented a lot 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.”

The 2019 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 possible. Taylee Warbus and Samara Davis were two such overachievers who claimed top honors in multiple categories.

“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.”

Adrian Jefferson, 1st place – Drawing. 7th grader.

Native culture and art are often thought of us intrinsically tied together or, in the case of Savannah Black Tomahawk and Lilly Jefferson, 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.

Definitely worth mentioning is young Emiliano Benavides-Cheer, a 3rd grader at Liberty Elementary, who was well ahead of his time by created an educational digital art piece all about Killer Bees. Who knew that a year later the ominous murder hornet would be a trending topic on national news platforms? Emiliano, that’s who!

Catherine Velasquez, 2nd place – Mixed Media. 5th grader at Grace Academy.

“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 future Art Festivals.”

 Emiliano Benavides-Cheer, 2nd place – Digital Art. Third grader at Liberty Elementary.

National Museum of the American Indian highlights

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

In the heart of Washington D.C. is the world’s largest museum complex, known as the Smithsonian Institution. Among the many museums, libraries and research centers that make up this diverse information paradise is the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). 

According to the museum’s website, NMAI cares for one of the world’s most expansive collections of Native artifacts, including culturally significant objects, photographs, treaties, and media covering the entire Western Hemisphere. From its indigenous landscaping to its wide-ranging exhibitions, everything is designed in collaboration with tribes and tribal communities, giving visitors from around the world the sense and spirit of Native America.

“I feel a profound and increasing gratitude to the founders of this museum,” said museum director Kevin Gover (Pawnee). “We are here as a result of the farsighted and tireless efforts of Native culture warriors who demanded that the nation respect and celebrate the contributions that Native people have made to this country and to the world.”

Huichol miniature violin and bow, 2000
Jalisco or Nayarit State, Mexico
Wood, glass beads, beeswax, vegetal fiber and nylon monofilament.


The earliest beads were made from shell, stone, bone, ivory, and seeds. By 1492, Venetian factories were producing glass beads that early explorers and traders carried all over the world. Native people saw brightly colored glass beads as prized possessions and eagerly traded for them. Large “pony beads” are found on Great Plains clothing before the 1850s. The tiniest beads, called “seed beads,” become popular after about 1855.

Beads could be worn as necklaces, stitched to clothing, or woven into strips. They often replaced earlier decorative materials such as porcupine quills or painted designs. Since women learned beadwork from their elders, clothing and other items often matched distinctive traditional tribal styles.

Color preferences, influenced by the symbolic meanings ascribed to certain colors, varied regionally. In the western Arctic, for example, blue beads were thought to have great cultural importance.

Today, beadwork continues to delight us, with both women and men creating traditional clothing and regalia as well as innovations such as beaded neckties, baseball caps, and high-top sneakers. All are worn by both Native people and non-Native admirers of this unique American creation.

Cradleboard, 1995-2001
Ardena M. Whiteshield (Cheyenne), 1939-2001
Wood, glass beads, hide, metal tacks and cotton cloth.

Native Glass

In the early 1960s, innovations in glass furnaces brought glass-blowing out of the industrial settings and into individuals studios and workshops, as well as Native art schools. Since then, dozens of Native artists have created works in blown, cast, etched, fused, and electroplated glass, stretching the boundaries of Native Art.

How Raven stole the Sun, 2003
Emil Her Many Horses (Oglala Lakota)
The sun figures prominently in Native American ceremonies, creation stories, and art. This sculpture is based on the Tlingit story, “How Raven stole the Sun.” In the story, Raven releases the sun and the moon from boxes held by a chief. This gives light to the people and created day and night.
Yup’ik Mask, ca. 1905
Wood, feathers, paint and cotton string.
Kuskokwim River, Alaska
Yup’ik people used masks as prayers to ask for what they needed, including good weather and plenty of animals to hunt. This mask was intended to heal someone who was sick.
Allies in War, Partners in Peace, 2004
Edward E. Hlavka (Oneida Nation)
This bronze statue honors the alliance between the Oneida Indian Nation and the United States during the American Revolution. General George Washington stands alongside the Oneida diplomat Oskanondonha and Polly Cooper, an Oneida woman who came to the aid of Washington’s starving troops at Valley Forge in 1777-78.

National Museum of the American Indian highlights

Pontiac hood ornament, 1951
Pontiac was an Ottawa war chief who defeated the British in the 1760s. The city near Detroit is named for him, as was the General Motors brand of cars, which featured a hood ornament in the form of an Indian-head profile. During the 1950s its design was meant to suggest jet planes and rockets. The last Pontiac rolled off the assembly line in 2010.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

In the heart of Washington D.C. is the world’s largest museum complex, known as the Smithsonian Institution. Among the many museums, libraries and research centers that make up this diverse information paradise is the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). 

According to the museum’s website, NMAI cares for one of the world’s most expansive collections of Native artifacts, including culturally significant objects, photographs, treaties, and media covering the entire Western Hemisphere. From its indigenous landscaping to its wide-ranging exhibitions, everything is designed in collaboration with tribes and tribal communities, giving visitors from around the world the sense and spirit of Native America.

“I feel a profound and increasing gratitude to the founders of this museum,” said museum director Kevin Gover (Pawnee). “We are here as a result of the farsighted and tireless efforts of Native culture warriors who demanded that the nation respect and celebrate the contributions that Native people have made to this country and to the world.”

Tribal flags across Native America
There are currently 574 federally recognized tribes. Hanging proudly from the vaulted ceilings of NMAI are the illustrative flags from each tribe, including the iconic killer whale representing the Tulalip Tribes.
Muscogee bandolier bag, ca. 1814
This bandolier bag is said to have been captured at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, the climatic clash  of the Muscogee civil war of  1813. An estimated eight-hundred men died.
Bald eagle feather and flute, ca. 2000
In November 2002, U.S. Navy Commander John Bennett Harrington – a member of the Chickasaw Nation – made history as the first Native American to board the Space Shuttle Endeavour. On his journey, Commander Herrington carried a flute made by Cherokee tribal member Jim Gilliland, a decorated eagle feather beaded by a Yankton Sioux citizen Philip Lane, and a Chickasaw Nation flag.
Both significant cultural items, the flute and eagle feather travelled to space with Commander Harrington. After arriving at the International Space Station, he placed both items within the airlock where they floated together in the zero gravity environment.
Pipe tomahawk, ca. 1788
This pipe tomahawk bears two incised British flags and the names “Bowles” and “Tustonackjajo.” It is thought that William Augustus Bowles, the self-appointed director-general of the Muscogee Nation, presented the tomahawk to Muscogee leader Tustenuggee Hajo.

Tribal members get creative during coronavirus

Meet the mother-daughter team making  powerful and educational jewelry

By Kim Kalliber, photos courtesy of 

Michelle Myles 

Well known around Tulalip for teaching Lushootseed, the traditional Coast Salish language, tribal member Michelle Myles is also recognized for her beautiful artwork. Some of her hand-crafted paddles have been hot ticket items at the Annual Tulalip Boys & Girls Club Auction, where she often donates them to benefit the younger generation. 

Lately, Michelle and her teenage daughter Jacynta have been honing their artistic skills on a new craft; Native earrings. Constructed from wood and hand painted, many of the earrings feature Lushootseed words. 

The mother-daughter duo has created a bright space in what many consider a gloomy time. During the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, their colorful designs shared on social media give local and non-local residents something exciting to view and even purchase. As Michelle says, “We’re not going to be cooped up forever, get your sexy ready now,”

Michelle agreed to an interview with syeceb staff. The following is an inside look to their craft and how to purchase their earrings. 

SYS: What are your artistic backgrounds?

MM: My artistic background stems back to Jerry Jones and his training in 2001. He taught our [Language] department how to carve paddles and I’ve been dabbling ever since. Jacynta has expressed an interest in the artwork and she has always been willing to learn. She has a better eye for what might work and her youth brings a creativity that transcends traditional boundaries. 

SYS: What inspired you to make earrings?

MM: To be honest, Covid-19 inspired me to make earrings. When the shutdown started, I was looking for something simple to do with the kids. I have been experimenting in different mediums and shaved cedar was something that I had dabbled in. When we first did it, we hadn’t thought about earrings as much as just doing small crafts. We finished the first couple, Jacynta got our jewelry kit and suggested we make earrings and pendants.

SYS: How long does each pair of earrings take to make? 

MM: The earrings that I’ve started promoting take about an hour each. Some of the other mediums were experimenting with take a couple of days each.

SYS: Do most of the people buying your earrings understand the language? Are some learning first-hand from you?

MM: So far, all of our earrings have been sold to tribal members. Most of these women recognize the symbology and language that we’re using. For example, the Missing Murdered Indigenous Women campaign has grown in strength thanks to women like [activist] Debbie Parker, who has passionately championed on behalf of our sisters who have been neglected or forgotten. We wanted to follow her lead in the promotion of strong Indigenous women.

SYS: How has art helped you through the stay-at-home situation? How has your culture helped? 

MM: The time at home has allowed me to actively participate in my kids’ life, which I appreciate. As a teacher, I’m typically busy during their education, so it’s nice to be around for their curriculum. 

 My culture has always kept me grounded. We’re so westernized as Tulalips that we treat this hiatus as an intrusion. I think of it as our ancestors giving us a hiatus to reflect. That’s why I appreciate my colleagues like Thomas Williams, who are using this time to educate our people on traditional remedies and healing.

SYS: Have you noticed an upswing on artistic and interactive posts on social media?

MM: I don’t really see a difference online in artwork. Most of the people I’m following are full-time artists who are simply continuing to promote their craft. The difference that I see is in my own time to try out things that I spend the day thinking about, but never have the time to pursue. 

SYS: What advice can you offer to those that may be going stir crazy?

MM: For people who may be going stir crazy, I encourage them to set life goals and explore ways to accomplish them. I want to be a better artist and historian, so I’ve been spending my time learning about our history, and experimenting in different mediums. I have to listen to [my partner] Lee constantly complaining about the stock market and politics, which takes up way more time than I’d care to admit. 

SYS: How do we purchase your earrings and pendants? 

MM: All of my art business has been conducted through Facebook. I’ve been so successful through word of mouth that it’s never made sense to run a website. I have my hands in so many different things, art wise, that I would not have even got to this if it wasn’t for the hiatus from work. 

You can find Michelle on Facebook at Michelle Myles, where she posts items for sale and how to purchase them. She also wishes everyone to stay safe and healthy. 

If you have artwork, stories, article ideas or photos you’d like to share with us, please email Kim Kalliber at kkalliber@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov or Micheal Rios at mrios@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov. 

Native American community quilt show comes to Tulalip

By Cullen Salinas-Zackuse, Tulalip News; photos courtesy of Colette Keith, NWIC Tulalip Site manager

On February 11-13 Northwest Indian College Tulalip campus is hosting a quilt show called Humble Stitches, Generous Quilts from Indian Country. It will be held at the Tulalip admin building from 9am – 4pm and will feature quilting styles from five tribal regions, including Northeast, South East, Southwest, Northwest, and Plains. There will be over 30 unique quilts on display with noticeable traits to their respectable region of influence. Whether it is Coast Salish design with trigons, crescents, and circles, a plains lone star quilt, a Northeastern woodland ribbon flower design, a Southwest Hopi pinwheel, or a Seminole patchwork style, all were beautifully crafted with a labor of love. 

Traditionally, quilts in all regions are to be gifted to loved ones or someone you want to honor. A symbolism of generosity and respect that can be gifted during ceremonies and gatherings. Tulalip has a long history of crafting and sharing during community gatherings. In 1950, at what people in the local area called the thrift shop at the bottom basement of an old gathering community hall is where a lot of the traditions of quilting were passed down. The tradition is being carried on at NWIC Tulalip campus where students and community members gather together and craft quilts that will soon be displayed for everyone to marvel at the workmanship.

Colette Keith, NWIC Tulalip Site manager, explains how the quilt show came to be. “When we received a grant [for the quilting class] from the Stillaguamish Tribe, we then attended the Everett Quilt Show two springs ago. I said, ‘Why don’t we have our own show?’ So, I asked the staff and students and they were excited about the idea. ”

The Tulalip Tribes contributed to the showcase by donating a quilting machine, space for the quilt show to be held, and informative catalogues for attendees. With the generous donations and hard work put in to make this vision come to reality, the anticipation level for the quilting showcase is rising. 

“This is big! There has not been a show even close to one like this since the University of New Mexico did one 20 years ago. And they are a large university, we are one small humble, but extremely talented and resourceful, satellite campus. As we get closer to the Feb 11th show date, people are starting to realize just what a significant deal this is,” Colette exclaimed.

Anyone in the community can submit their own quilting work to the show. It must be submitted to the Tulalip NWIC site by January 31. There will also be a free quilt raffle and free admission to the general public.

Tulalip Tribes Administration Building, 6406 Marine Drive, Tulalip WA 98271