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.
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.
“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.
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.
By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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).
“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.
By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News
School groups visit Hibulb Cultural Center (HCC) frequently to receive an educational tour of the 23,000 square foot facility dedicated to collecting and enhancing the traditional cultural values and history of the Tulalip Tribes. These school group tours always start in the HCC longhouse with a brief video presentation that introduces the legacy of the Tulalip people to students with minimal knowledge of Native peoples in general, let alone specific knowledge about the successors in interest to Snohomish, Snoqualmie and other tribes signatory to the Treaty of Point Elliot.
However, once a year when then the 3rd graders from Quil Ceda Tulalip (QCT) Elementary have their school tour the script is a bit different. These particular 3rd graders do have knowledge, an inherent history, and personal experiences galore with what it means to be a Native American citizen and Tulalip culture bearers. For Quil Ceda 3rd graders, their museum tour is less new information acquisition and more reinforcement of a history they breathe life into every day.
“We have a partnership with Marysville School District and the Indigenous Education Department to bring in every single 3rd grade class within the district and give them a museum a tour,” explains Mary Jane Topash, HCC Group Tour Specialist. “The Quil Ceda tours are unique because for a lot of the students it’s their own family history being exhibited, which means my tours with them are different. I can play off their background knowledge and personal histories they have as tribal members and growing up Tulalip.
“During the Quil Ceda tours we really reinforce key values and history points that make us Tulalip,” continued Mary Jane. “There were several students that went to the family tree section and entered their own tribal IDs to find their family connections within the Hibulb exhibits. That is something unique only they are able to connect with.”
From teachings of the cedar tree to lifeways of salmon, HCC exhibits echo traditional values many of the QCT students have heard and experienced many times over during their young lives. Of course that doesn’t mean they no longer get super excited to showcase their natural skills with a cedar weave, yarn pattern, or fish net…because they certainly do.
Young tribal members were seen routinely schooling their non-Native counterparts on what certain exhibits were really about. In some exhibits there is an option to hear narration in either English or traditional Lushootseed. Many of the kids didn’t hesitate to choose Lushootseed, making their teachers very proud.
While learning from the wool exhibit, the kids were hyped when they saw the puppet theater setup. Many took the opportunity to use their imagination and do creative storytelling all on their own with the puppets available. Also in the wool exhibit is a digital touch-screen game that teaches weaving basics in a comfortable setting today’s children are most used to. The interactive nature of such exhibits made learning all the more easier, while still holding the rambunctious groups attention.
“With many of the Quil Ceda third graders being Tulalip tribal members, we stressed the important and significance of our lifeways while exploring our canoes, cedar collection and life cycle of salmon exhibits,” shared museum assistant Cary Michael Williams. “We got into our 1855 treaty and explaining its importance to our everyday life today, and how our treaty rights allows us to live our culture.
“It was a very good opportunity to share more insight on what that means to them and their responsibility as tribal members to uphold those rights for future generations. It was an honor to see our young people interact with Hibulb and make connections they can take with them going forward while bringing cultural values into their own lives.”
The foundation of their Quil Ceda education allowed the four 3rd grade classes to use Hibulb educational spaces in an engaged and interactive way. Drawing from their own experiences and family history, students demonstrated traditional skills like fish net tying and cedar weaving, while practicing Lushootseed words to connect with various exhibits. Witnessing them interact with exhibits and cultural items with an innate understanding that required zero explanation is proof the next generation of culture bearers will have much to add to Tulalip’s history of resiliency and self-determination.
Submitted by Lena Jones, MaOM, Education Curator, Tulalip Tribes Hibulb Cultural Center
One ancestral teaching is that ‘everyone comes from a great people.’ In a recent symposium hosted at the Hibulb Cultural Center on March 2, entitled Interwoven Oral History Project: The Blended Heritage of Nordics and Native Peoples, guests heard stories, memories, experiences, and shared values from a panel of individuals who are descended from Nordic and Native American ancestry. Panel member Odin Lonning, an award winning Tlingit artist with Norwegian ancestry, said it is another way to remember our ancestry and be proud of the lands we come from.
Moderated by Fred Poyner IV, the collections manager of the Nordic Museum, this was the second symposium in the series. The first was held at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle on September 15, 2018. Tessa Campbell, lead curator for the Hibulb Cultural Center, participated as a panelist for that symposium. The Nordic Museum is the largest museum in the United States to honor the legacy of immigrants from the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.
The Interwoven Oral History project began in 2016 when the Nordic Museum expanded an oral history program to record the stories of individuals who share Nordic and Native American ancestry in the Pacific Northwest. It is an active outreach program to multicultural audiences, as well as an archive for recording blended-heritage histories. Several practicing artists were interviewed, including Tulalip carver Steven Madison who also has Swedish ancestry.
Panelist Gwen Whiting, lead curator of the Washington State Historical Society with White Mountain Apache and Swedish ancestry, said programs like this can help folks find their identity and knowledge about their culture. Fellow panelist Richard Hanks, a retired professor of American Indian History at the University of California Riverside and president of the Floyd Norgaard Cultural Center in Stanwood compared culture to the ripples of a rock dropped in water, the first ripples being your family, and then a wider community, and then a society. As folks grow, they understand their identity through culture, geography, and choice.
The discussion of tribal identity with Nordic identity served as a common thread for all the interviews and panelist review. Fred Poyner said a goal of the project was to build relationships among the communities. Panelist Aaron Jones explained that his traditional introduction let folks know his ancestral ties within the Coast Salish community by giving his grandparents’ names, and giving his Indian names which would help folks recognize he has Snoqualmie and First Nations ancestry, but that much of his Norwegian ancestry stories and memories were lost. Audience members were helpful in giving him information about where to find leads in his Nordic ancestry and culture. He said he felt grateful and honored for the opportunity to learn more about that part of his family in the symposium.
Tessa Campbell, who set up the symposium at the Hibulb Cultural Center, said the Oral History Project is now going national, beginning with oral history interviews in the Midwest. The interviews can be found on the Nordic Museum site.