By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News; photos courtesy Cherokee Nation
One of the largest Native American art shows in the nation is currently underway and 100% free to attend online. The 15th annual Cherokee Art Market is where 90 elite all-Native artists and artisans from across the United States – representing 50+ different tribes – come together to display and sell truly amazing jewelry, pottery, paintings, sculptures, and more. Digital visitors will be blown away by the culturally vibrant, hand-made treasures that can make your favorite household room more striking and holiday gift giving even more memorable.
“Art is a powerful reminder of past and present, of grand traditions and daily routines,” said Cherokee Nation Chief, Chuck Hoskin Jr. “Art adapts to adversity. It is a clear note of perseverance in the worst of times and a powerful reminder of that perseverance in the best of times. Many of our ancestors were once forbidden to tell stories in their Native language. Today you carry their voices, and I look around with a sense of wonder at just how far those voices go.”
Originally scheduled for a traditional, in-person market to be held in October, changes were necessary under current conditions in order to bring the market to fruition. Perseverance by both artists and art enthusiasts was called upon to bring a virtual platform together.
“The 2020 virtual art market created a new and unique opportunity for Cherokee Nation to introduce our market to a worldwide audience,” added Chief Hoskin. “We have a responsibility to keep artisans and patrons safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, so the shift to an online format was the best way to move forward. In this challenging environment, we were able to ensure the most talented Native artists were still able to show their work and find a receptive audience.”
Going virtual for the first time ever expands the possible audience and online engagement, especially for those who live great distances or simply hadn’t been aware that such a market even exists until now. The Cherokee Art Market is currently ‘live’ and is scheduled to end the morning of December 21. It can be reached at visitcherokeenation.com/cherokee-art-market/art-gallery
“This year has been tremendously difficult for artists, with many shows being forced to cancel, so we offered the virtual platform at no cost to help them to show and sell their work safely,” said Deborah Fritts, Cherokee Art Market coordinator. “Not only does their dedication and creativity promote Native culture, it enhances timely and relevant conversations about our past, present and future. We look forward to celebrating their work and hope the public will take time to visit us online.”
Those individuals seeking authentic Native art, created by a wide range of tribal representatives, are encouraged to visit this unique digital marketplace. Even without making a purchase, visitors will be immersed in a bounty of traditional treasure that truly celebrates the diversity of tribal cultures and creativity.
Visit the all virtual Cherokee Art Market now through December 21 at visitcherokeenation.com/cherokee-art-market
Here are a few unique items that highlight the market’s broad range of elite Native artists and their stunning craftsmanship.
Are you looking for interesting, artistic, and one-of-a-kind gifts this season? Meet artist Michael Hoover.
Born in north Seattle’s Waldo Hospital at Northgate on February 6, 1973 I have been a lifelong resident of Washington state. I grew up in the township of Woodway, a small suburban community within the city of Edmonds.
I had the privilege of growing up in a household that practiced old fashioned family values. We prayed together, went to church on Sundays and were taught the values of hard work and honesty.
Life, however, was not always so Rockwellian. I spent many years enduring hardships, isolation, and a sort of self-imposed exile. I went down a hard road and developed a substance use disorder which led me to make some very poor and very regrettable decisions which in turn took me down a path of incarceration. In 2006 I was convicted of robbery and sent to prison for the rest of my life, and without the possibility of parole. As bleak as my prospects were, I was determined to make the best of the situation I had made for myself.
Although I had been sent to prison my father had become a staunch supporter and good friend. And so it was that I strived to live a life that would make my father proud. After several years and some adjustments in my thinking I was bestowed the great honor of serving as the Native American Pipe Man at the Washington State Penitentiary. I remained in that position from 2009 to 2018. I made many personal connections with individuals throughout this time. Within these connections I was reunited with humanity and the sense of dignity that comes with serving others. It was during this time that I grew as a person, and as an artist. I fell in love with the mate of my soul and I was given the opportunity to live life without the burden of addiction and the shame that comes with it.
In 2017 Governor Jay Inslee commuted my life without parole sentence to a determinate 231 months. I now have a release date of February 2, 2025. Since being given this rare and extraordinary act of grace I have enrolled in Walla Walla Community College and am working to earn my Associates Degree in Social work. Upon my eventual release I wish to continue working with at risk individuals who have found themselves in the unlikely place that is prison or those who are facing the trauma of their past who are at risk of incarceration. It will be my duty as a citizen to never again commit a crime and to honor those whom I have harmed in my past by being a beacon of change and a force for good.
I don’t know exactly how the future will play out but my faith in God and with the support of my family and beautiful wife I know I will be exactly where I am supposed to be. And, that whatever station I find myself in, I will continue to make my father proud.
As a man of Lumbee Irish American ancestry, I was raised with Native and urban American influences. My works of art are inspired by the Powerful and ancient Northwest Coast Indian Art form and are a reflection of my cross-cultural experiences. Most works are executed in acrylic paint and often incorporate reclaimed wood as my medium. Mixed-media paintings incorporate items from the natural world such as abalone shell and unprocessed wood. A few of my older pieces from years ago are not original. I was learning the art form by replicating the beautiful art of others. To them I am grateful and do my best to refer to another artist’s work if I know the source.
I strive to create evocative pieces that pay respect to the history of the Salish people and the Native culture. Many of my pieces reflect cultural and religious function such as dancing, drumming, and praying which are a celebration and acknowledgement of all parts of my history. This art form allows me to express my world view: joy, sadness, freedom, incarceration and my ever deepening cultural awareness. I am honored to be practicing such a revenant and spiritual art form that spans generations and inspires transformation both internally and externally. This platform allows me to start from center, deepening my own understanding of all the complexities of culture and storytelling through the construction of ancient elements.
By highlighting the strength, beauty, power, gracefulness and legacy of Northwest Coast Indian Art I hope to inspire a recognition of indigenous art as a bridge between the past, present and future. The audience is invited to consider that the history of the past is truly intertwined with the present. I believe the past echoes in each of our hearts and that art strikes a vibrant chord in the soul which reminds us that parallel histories are truly intertwined.
It is my hope that my art will inspire a conversation about the challenges of indigenous artist who attempt to create art which is both evocative and meaningful from such an oppressive environment such as prison and the lack of representation of underprivileged artist in the mainstream.
“How did I let this happen?” cried a mourning Indigenous mother.
“Did you know?” she asks, turning her attention away from a photograph to a young Native man standing in her doorway.
“I had no idea, I didn’t think it mattered,” he responded, fighting back tears of his own.
“He’s my son, he matters.”
This emotional dialogue may seem familiar to you if you grew up in Native America. However, it is directly quoted from an upcoming project titled In Spirit, a short film based on a story by Tulalip tribal member, Nathan Williams, also referred to as his moniker, DEAMA. For years, Nate has been expressing himself creatively, giving people a glimpse into his world, whether through music, street art, fashion or most recently, film.
“If I were to put it in my words, short and sweet, the film is about a troubled kid named Jared,” Nate explains. “He’s about 17 or 18 years old and he’s trying to come to grips with his own emotions, with the passing of his long-time best friend turned addict. I tried to make it like a saturated version of my story, as much of my reality as possible without making it the same exact scenario. I tried to paint a typical scenario for everybody else’s situation when confronting those emotions. So, I would say it’s based on a true story, but the film was not the actual timeline.”
There is a meme, or a statement rather, that occasionally will make an appearance on the social media platforms, stating “our generation has been to more of their friend’s funerals than to their weddings,” and unfortunately that is a reality that many Indigenous youth live with in modern society. At tribal gatherings that aim to bring attention to today’s drug epidemic, Tulalip Board Member Mel Sheldon often opens the events by asking attendees to raise their hand if they have ever lost anybody due to a drug overdose. Each time nearly everybody’s hand goes up.
According to current research conducted by the Washington Post, over the course of 8 years, 2006-2014, Native Americans were approximately 50% more likely to die from an opioid overdose than any other race. Furthermore, a new study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) showed that the suicide rate amongst Native teens is continuing to rise and is up 139% for Native women and 71% for Native men since 1999.
If you are a non-Native reading those statistics, you may find yourself shocked to learn of this news. This is felt on an even greater level for tribal communities because those ‘statistics’ are often our siblings, cousins, uncles, aunties, parents or friends. And while those articles may provide a lot of eye-opening info, more times than not, they fail to encapsulate the hardship Indigenous Nations are feeling – what they go through with each young tribal member that is buried far too soon.
In Spirit places you directly into that storm of emotions that we are left to deal with after our loved ones make the transition to the afterlife; the hurt, the anger, the guilt, all of those raw emotions are on display and they are portrayed so evocatively you almost feel like you’re reliving moments of your personal life. Nate explained that when casting the roles for the film, he called upon the people in his life that best fit the personalities of his characters, and that all of the cast members were first time actors.
“We tried to go across everything that could possibly happen emotionally in these scenarios,” said Nate. “I’m super impressed with how everyone killed their roles. For the most part, we kind of just gave people a template of what to say. We told them to say it naturally, how they would speak if we were having a normal conversation; the way you say it, your cadence, your emotion that comes out. I think that helped a lot of people with their performance because they didn’t feel like they had to remember their bars. Every shot was under ten takes.”
The 8-minute film was originally intended to be just a scene in a full-length feature that Nate was writing at the time he met the film’s director, Jonathan ‘Jon’ Salmon. The two creatives crossed-paths when Jon hired filmmaker Luis Perez, a close friend of Nate’s, for a 3-part series dubbed Residents. That project was shot in three neighborhoods in the Pacific Northwest; South Seattle, Tacoma and Tulalip. From that project, Nate and Jon built a collaborative relationship and the first project they worked on together, a music video for Seattle artist Ben Zaidi, won Best Music Video at the Tacoma Film Festival.
“From there, we started talking,” Jon stated. “A lot of people don’t know what happens on tribal lands, and they’re not too familiar with the genocide of Indigenous people and how the genocidal trauma can continue to affect and spread through the lineage of the people. We opened up and talked about our experience with death, how fast I thought I was losing people from the young age of 15 all the way up until today. And he talked about how it happens on the reservation and how it happens at Tulalip. We need to talk about that because that’s something that’s always put in the headlines, the opioid epidemic tearing apart suburban white neighborhoods, but you never hear that same focus and energy put in the tribal lands that need resources more than suburban families who have the means to deal with it, in a sense.”
After a ten-month writing session, the two created a script that they felt could honestly address the issue of generational trauma and how it affects the Native youth specifically. Once the roles were cast and locations were successfully scouted, filming began at the beginning of 2020 before COVID struck. And thanks to what Nate credits as Jon’s deep connections, multiple crews – filming, editing, makeup, colorists, were in place and the entire filming process took place over the course of only 48 hours. Post-production was relatively quick as well, taking approximately 5-6 months to wrap the film up.
Nate expressed, “I got to give it up to Jon for being such a good director, because he’s down to get real personal with you. There were times he would pull me to the side and remind me what I was there for. Coming from the situation we are in, you grow accustomed to suppressing your emotions to a degree. You don’t want to relive those emotions, because you don’t genuinely want to hurt yourself again, but you got to put yourself in that ballpark for the film and that is what Jon is good at getting you to.”
And while Nate praised Jon for his work ethic and his execution of bringing his vision to the screen, Jon was quick to reciprocate, claiming that it was a collaborative process the entire way through, stating, “The film was organically developed. It wasn’t me saying, let me tell a story that I didn’t know anything about or relate to any of their experiences. It was me and Nate walking through everything together because he’s also the main actor in the film and the producer as well.”
Jon is non-Native but has close ties to families within the Puyallup tribe, which allowed him to have a better understanding of the reservation lifestyle than many filmmakers throughout the region. Coupled with his conversations with Nate, he took on the project with intentions of not only raising awareness to the drug epidemic and dealing with the loss of a loved one at a young age, but also to find a way to support a program or organization that helps Natives work on their mental health as it relates to generational trauma.
“We understand that there is trauma,” he said. “We were trying to do something informative and insightful, we do believe we achieved that, but the film was also highlighting a very traumatic event and it kind of encouraged the cycle of trauma that I try to break in all of my work. We can’t open up a wound and not want to help people deal with it. We want to partner with an organization; whether it’s from the Tulalip Tribes, or any tribe in the State of Washington that offers services for the mental health and mental improvement for young adults between the ages of 13-30, to help them cope with experiences like this.”
The duo plan on officially releasing In Spirit on Indigenous Peoples Day, October 12th. The film is a must-watch; a modern day observation of how generational trauma is impacting the future of Native communities nationwide, as well as an important piece of work that helps open up a much-needed conversation about issues that are often overlooked or deemed too uncomfortable to talk about growing up on the rez.
“I feel like us, as Native Americans, are way too accustomed and jaded to these situations, and for the most part people aren’t seeking the therapy needed for certain things,” Nate expressed. “I don’t know if it’s because they don’t feel supported or if they just don’t have the resources. But as fortunate as the Tribe can be, I still feel like mental health is one of those things that’s not taken as serious as it should. We wanted this film to be the mirror; this is us – we are like this. As a community, we need to take it upon ourselves to help the people around us. That’s what I’m on.”
For kids and adults alike, Halloween is a favorite holiday. And this year it lands on a Saturday, with a full moon. But also, a pandemic. The end-of-year holiday celebrations may seem bleak this year, but there are ways to have fun and be safe.
Tulalip tribal member Malory Simpson and her team of volunteers are continuing to work hard to bring Trunk or Treat to the Tulalip community. Happening at 1:00 p.m. on October 31 at the Tulalip admin building parking lot, the group is determined to not let a fave holiday go uncelebrated. There are costumes to be worn and candy to be had!
“Although the event will look different this year, I believe our community looks forward to not only volunteering, but also allowing children to participate,” said Malory. “I think it’s good for the kids to see some type of normalcy, while we practice safe measures.”
“We haven’t had any events that have enabled us to bring the community together safely, and this will hopefully allow our people to reconnect with one another, added tribal member Natosha Gobin, “We all have been going through our own struggles during the pandemic, often times feeling like our kids are going without their normal interactions. Through hosting this gathering we will remind our community of the strength we share by showing up to serve: Together We’re Better!”
Trunk or Treat will still feature plenty of good Halloween fun with buckets of candy handed out at the entrance. And although party goers need to remain in their cars, they can drive slowly through to view the festive décor and wave to their friends, and any roaming ghosts, princesses, superheroes and more.
“I am not sure how many parents will allow their kids to go out and trick or treat so this will give them something to do to replace that safely,” added Malory.
To help out with the event, Malory and crew are accepting donations of pre-filled candy bags. They request that folks please wear a mask and gloves while preparing candy bags, as they are working to ensure the safest possible environment for the community.
Another necessity is Halloween buckets. These can be found at Wal-Mart for one dollar each.
And of course, cash donations are always helpful as well. If you can volunteer in any way, please contact Malory at 360.716.4722. Have a fun and safe Halloween.
The film festival lives on! With each year that passed since the Hibulb Cultural Center (HCC) first announced the Film Festival, more and more participants found community by bonding with other likeminded creatives at the yearly Fall time event. Each year the film festival culture grows stronger as Indigenous filmmakers, actors, and storytellers showcase their art to the public. The festival is open to all who work in film, whether you live locally or a few states or continents away, everyone is encouraged to take part in the festival and several filmmakers, scorers and screenplay writers from around the world submit their works each year.
“The film festivals began at Hibulb to celebrate films and filmmaking, and to highlight Coast Salish communities as well as communities around the world and the values that we share,” explains Lena Jones, HCC Education Curator and Film Festival Organizer. “There is always an international element to our festivals that remind us of the beauty of the world.”
In years past, the event typically occurs throughout the course of an entire day and movie lovers are treated to multiple screenings in both the HCC classrooms and longhouse. The participants who submit their films provide an introduction before the film plays and afterwards, they explain in detail the intricacies of each scene and answer any questions from the audience, allowing the creatives to fully engage about all the specifics that go into making a film.
Lena expressed, “We believe it is important to celebrate Indigenous filmmakers and actors because they carry our voice and perspective into the world, a perspective that is much needed during these times. They provide role models for our younger generation with their strong, healing messages. They uplift their communities. We know there is so much talent in our communities and so much knowledge to draw from in our heritage.”
With local events throughout the nation being pushed-back or canceled completely due to the coronavirus, it is refreshing and exciting to see the continuation of the film festival, especially since last year’s event drew many spectators and submissions. And although the HCC is open to the public, with many safety measures and practices in place, they are taking an extra-cautious approach to this year’s festival because of the infectious disease and are proceeding with the event digitally.
“The show must go on,” said Lena. “This year the festival will be virtual. We will livestream the film awards and lifetime achievement awards on our Hibulb Cultural Center Facebook page at noon on November 7, and we will post links of the films for folks to view. An audience award will be given this year on the film selected by the audience as the overall best film.”
Over the past eight years, the festival has welcomed several genres of films such as music videos about rez love, fantasy films, documentaries about local tribes and their people. Local cinephiles are often treated to a look into tribal lifeways when films regarding sovereignty, treaty rights, harvesting, and art are shared during the festival.
Some films feature songs and on-screen interactions that are spoken and sang in the filmmaker’s Native language, such as fan favorite films by Tulalip Filmmaker, David Spencer Sr., Waiting for Blackberries and I Am Frog in which the film’s dialogues are spoken entirely in Lushootseed.
“The films are diverse. Each year we pick a theme for the festival,” said Lena. “This year is ‘Past, Present, and Future’. Our judges, Swinomish tribal elder and filmmaker Robin Carneen, filmmaker Mike Van Luvan, and chef and film consultant Brit Reed all bring unique and inspiring perspectives to our film festival. We’re honored for their help and expertise.
“We accept all films. In the past we’ve received historical and biographical documentaries, animations, romance, fantasies, thriller films, action films, comedies, music films, experimental films, and sci-fi films.”
So far, the HCC has received five film submissions including, Bittersweet Life as We Know It by Julie Antony, Nobody Cares by Tim Fraser-Granados, Salish Cedar Canoes by Costa Boutsikaris, The Battle of Blythe by Robert Lundahl, and The Vision, Death, and Ghost of Isaac Ebey by Jefferson Elliot. The Film Festival will continue accepting submissions throughout the month of October as they gear-upfor the 8th Annual Hibulb Cultural Center Film live on Facebook, November 7th.
“It is important for the festival to continue,” Lena stated. “There’s so much history, heritage, diversity, and beauty in our communities. Our cultures and values are medicine to our communities. This is one way to keep spreading the wisdom and highlighting the ideals of our ancestors. We would be happy to receive more entries for our festival. The entry form can be found on our Hibulb Cultural Center website, Film Festival 2020, https://www.hibulbculturalcenter.org/Events/Film-Festival-2020/. Then e-mail me the form along with a link to your film. My e-mail address is email@example.com.”
The new Quil Ceda Creek Casino is scheduled to open early next year
TULALIP, WA – A major commitment to food excellence and state-of-the-industry “green kitchen” operations are among the attractions coming to the new Quil Ceda Creek Casino, slated to open in early 2021. The centerpieces for the enhanced culinary focus include “The Kitchen,” offering guests casual dining with an array of made-to-order menu choices and “The Landing,” an exciting a la carte dining experience. Menu items will spotlight fresh, local ingredients from Northwest suppliers and prepared with the latest “green cooking” techniques.
“The unveiling of ‘The Kitchen,’ ‘The Landing’ and other new food and beverage venues will support our goal of providing guests with a total gaming, dining and entertainment experience,” said Belinda Hegnes, Interim Executive VP of Quil Ceda Creek Casino. “Healthier, safer and environmentally conscious technology literally transforms the way recipes are developed and prepared. And by embracing the ‘green kitchen’ concept, we are aligning our operations with the Tulalip Tribes’ commitment to the environment.”
More than doubling the size of the current casino located across the street, the impressive new “Q” will span over 120,000 square feet and will include 1,500 gaming machines (an increase of 500 machines), additional table games, an expanded entertainment lounge and a multi-story parking garage. The new Quil Ceda Creek Casino is located on 15 acres of Tulalip Tribal land directly off I-5 at exit 199.
In addition to the greatly enhanced restaurant operations, guests will have multiple choices at three bars for craft cocktails, regional beers, Northwest wines and appetizers.
Far from an afterthought, planning for the new dining concepts and kitchen operations have been underway for more than two years.
“The Kitchen” spotlights a new food hall dining experience where guests may visit one or multiple stations and choose from a variety of made-to-order menu items. Selections are recorded on a single card as they go, and guests pay one bill for all orders when they are finished, as opposed to “food court” experiences at most other casinos where patrons pay at each and every station or restaurant they visit.
Guests at ‘The Kitchen’ can expect a tasty lineup of choices including freshly-prepared pizza and pasta, roasted prime rib, hand carved meats for sandwiches, tossed salads made on the spot, breakfast served 24/7, plus a few surprises: fresh gelatos, “chocolate lasagna” and a vertical cone of chocolate for serving up hand-shaved additions to desserts!
There’s good reason for the growing excitement behind the food hall concept.
“With all the preparation activity taking place in front of guests, it’s a stimulating scene that adds to the interest and anticipation of the meal,” said Hegnes. “It’s a feast for the senses.”
To prepare food efficiently in a high-output kitchen – without sacrificing flavor and character – the new Q culinary team introduces windspeed ovens and other innovations to the food preparation. It’s a no-fry, greaseless kitchen with no vents, and the integration of new kitchen technologies will greatly reduce waste output and energy consumption. Even to-go containers will have a short “life” of 90 days and will be compostable.
“From the front door to the back door and beyond, the restaurants at the new Quil Ceda Creek Casino will be the ‘greenest’ in the Northwest when they open. It’s a tribute to forward-thinking by the Tulalip Tribes,” said Hegnes.
The current Quil Ceda Creek Casino facility will remain fully operational until the new casino opens to the public in early 2021. More information on the new Quil Ceda Creek Casino and a livestream look at construction can be found at quilcedacreekcasino.com/NewQCCCasino.
Farm-to-table focus, locally sourced ingredients showcased in casual dining menus at the new Quil Ceda Creek Casino
The new Quil Ceda Creek Casino will showcase a variety of casual dining options, but there will nothing casual behind the thoughtful sourcing of premium ingredients on the menus when it opens in early 2021.
Coupled with the casino’s advanced “green kitchen” preparation techniques, the focus on local and regional products promises guests a memorable dining experience.
“We are fortunate to live in a region where the unrivaled bounty of our farms, ranches and fisheries is readily available,” said Belinda Hegnes, Interim Executive VP of Quil Ceda Creek Casino. “From fresh-tossed salads and hand-carved prime rib to shellfish harvested nearby, our ingredients will represent the best our region has to offer.”
Hegnes said local ingredients will be featured in multiple food stations in the casino’s innovative “The Kitchen,” serving made-to-order dishes, as well as a la carte dining at “The Landing” and appetizers in three bars featuring regional beers, Northwest wines and craft cocktails.
The new casino’s culinary team has been developing vendor relationships to source a variety of products, including:
Locally sourced fresh Puget Sound clams, mussels and oysters
Fresh berries from Skagit Valley growers – showcased on menus as availability allows
Alaskan wild-caught sockeye salmon and line-caught cod
Chicken from nearby Draper Valley Farms, a Northwest Tradition since 1935
Certified Angus beef from Oregon
Sun-kissed Walla Walla Sweet Onions
“Fresh, never frozen” ground chuck and hand-carved prime rib
From Seattle’s Pike Place Market, offerings from Uli’s Famous Sausages
Tasty hamburgers featuring flavorful American Wagyu beef patties
Chocolate-lovers should be prepared to be “wowed” by unusual Chocolate Shawarmas – pillars of solid chocolate goodness from chocolatier Sagra Inc. in Tacoma. Hand-shaved over scrumptious desserts or coffees, selections will include rich milk chocolate with a white chocolate swirl and dark chocolate marbled with strawberry white chocolate.
“Our commitment to ‘staying local’ not only enhances the dining experience for our guests, it stimulates the local economy by putting money back into the hands of growers, farmers and artisans,” said Hegnes.
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.”
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.
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.
“This exhibition reflects the [twenty-five years] of building relationships with artists locally, regionally, nationally and internationally,” stated exhibition co-curator Erin Genia. “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.”
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.
“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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.