Burke educators share cultural insights with Hibulb visitors

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

It was a much busier than normal morning for the Hibulb Cultural Center as many visitors, from young kids to elders, stopped in on April 5 to take advantage of a new opportunity to get up close and personal with cultural objects, artifacts and traditional items. Learning more about Tulalip and other tribes in the Pacific Northwest was made possible by the BurkeMobile and its helpful program educators.

BurkeMobile is a traveling program that brings Burke educators and real museum objects to learning environments across the state. Program participants are able to investigate the cultural heritage of local tribes through hands-on activities that stimulate curiosity and model new ways to learn. 

“BurkeMobile is our statewide outreach program. We travel all over the state visiting schools, communities, and public libraries to showcase natural history and culture programs,” explained Katharine Caning, Burke Mobile Manager. “This specific program we’ve brought to Hibulb is called Living Traditions. It’s about Native American cultural traditions in Washington State.”

A highly appreciated program created by Burke Museum, located on the University of Washington campus, BurkeMobile was created specifically to stimulate learning about accurate Native culture. The program has included Native voices in its creation, such as collaborating with Hibulb and adding a mock Hibulb Village with accompanying miniature longhouse and canoe display. 

“Part of this program is help teachers implement Since Time Immemorial curriculum in their classrooms,” continued Katharine. “A piece of that is having the learning material be more localized in order for students to learn about tribes living close to them. For example, when we reached out to Tulalip, Hibulb offered to build a model longhouse for us to display when we go to schools in this area.”

Over the two-hour window BurkeMobile was available, many Hibulb visitors, especially the youth, were engaged with the hands-on materials. They saw how cultural practices can grow and change over time from generation to generation and learned about the diverse, local Native culture. Burke educators were more than willing to answer any questions and offer insights into various subjects, just like they do when traveling to schools.

“One thing we always do is tell students whose ancestral lands they are on and what tribal cultural center is closest to them. We encourage them to learn more about tribes and ask questions to further their understanding,” shared Beatrice Garrard, BurkeMobile Education Assistant. “These traditions are ancient, in that they have been practiced since time immemorial, yet they have been adopted and are still ongoing today. Students learn that even though some of the objects look old, they were in fact created recently and these items are part of a still living tradition.”

For more information about the BurkeMobile, please contact (206) 543-5591 or email burked@uw.edu 

UW Seminar: Preserving the Past Together

Leonard Forsman, Chairman of the Suquamish Tribe and presidential appointed Vice-Chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, was the keynote speaker.


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The University of Washington has created a new seminar and workshop series sponsored by the College of Arts & Sciences, Office of Research, and the Burke Museum. These two-hour luncheon events bring together tribal representatives, tribal historic preservation offices, representatives from local, state and federal agencies, and cultural resources managers to evaluate the contemporary needs and challenges of preserving heritage in the Salish Sea. The objective is to foster the development of collaborative approaches to heritage management and historic preservation that integrate the needs of these diverse stakeholders.

On Thursday, January 12, the opening seminar of the four-part series, titled Collaborating on Heritage in the Puget Sound, was held at UW’s ωəɬəbʔαltxʷ Intellectual House. Taking place was a facilitated conversation with representatives from local tribes, the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, UW Law, and the Washington State Department of Transportation.

“We want to provide a forum for archaeologists, heritage professionals, and tribal cultural resource managers to consider the current challenges and future possibilities of managing heritage in our own backyard,” explained Sara Gonzalez, UW Assistant Professor and seminar moderator. “Our objective is strengthen and build upon existing methods of knowledge sharing from the diverse stewards and stakeholders who are sitting here today. We have the unique opportunity to think more deeply and creatively about how we can best use our resources to contribute to the capacity of tribes, as well as local agencies and cultural resource firms to manage heritage within the Salish Sea.”

Leonard Forsman, Chairman of the Suquamish Tribe and presidential appointed Vice-Chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, was the key-note speaker and gave a heartfelt opening address that connected with many in the room. The following is an excerpt of his speech that explains the important of cultural resources and sacred site protection to Native peoples and how these topics apply to Standing Rock.

“Cultural resources has always been deep in my heart and remains a key pillar of my thinking as we move forward. There are a number of issues that face the tribes, from economic development to habitat protection to educating our children to justice and housing for our people. Many, many aspects of our tribal governments take into account the physical cultural resources unique to our respective nations and communities, as well as our spiritual culture.

One topic that there’s been a lot of talk about recently is sacred site protection, especially in regards to Standing Rock. We know natural resources is vital as a part of the context for identifying a sacred site. We are hearing a lot that cultural practitioners are being asked to step in and explain those elements that essentially tell us why a place is important spiritually. The Standing Rock – DAPL protest is an example of this, where there are a lot of different factors and influences to the protest. There’s a very strong argument based on sacred site protection. This highlights the importance landscape has to us as Native people, that we have these ancestral connections to the land.

Chief Seattle spoke of our interconnectedness with the land and nature in his most memorable speech. He explained how we live with our ancestors on a daily basis and how they are with us all the time. What happens to the land is permanent, and knowing this we are very concerned about what may impact the land because that in turn impacts our lives. That is why we are so adamant about protecting our cultural resources and sites we can preserve because we want to remain respectful of that constant presence in our lives.”

Native American scholar John Mohawk (Seneca) defined culture as a learned means of survival in an environment. As tribes, our means of survival used to be finding what the need was within our community and then each member doing their part to fulfill that need.

In thinking about opportunities and challenges of caring for heritage and protecting our culture in the Pacific Northwest, there is a glaring need to better understand one another. We have to work together to communicate and understand each other’s viewpoints, instead of making assumptions about one another. There are assumptions made about the tribes, about the government, about federal agencies, and seemingly everything in between. Some of these assumptions may be true, but a lot of them aren’t. We have to make sure that we talk to each other and feel safe in doing that, even if it means being blunt in order to express how we feel.



In order to preserve the past together and continue protecting our cultural resources there must be an open dialogue that allows for questions and understanding. This UW workshop series is a promoter of such dialogue and looks to build upon all the knowledge shared and communicated by all those who attend. The next workshop in the series, Meaningful Collaboration and Indigenous Archaeologies, takes place on February 16 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Suzzallo Allen Library (located on the UW campus). For more information please visit http://blogs.uw.edu/preserve.


Contact Micheal Rios: mrios@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

Unlocking Indigenous Knowledge

Burke Museum helping to revive lost traditions


The model Angyaaq, which means ‘open boat’ to the Sugpiat peoples of Alaska. Photo/Micheal Rios

The model Angyaaq, which means ‘open boat’ to the Sugpiat peoples of Alaska.
Photo/Micheal Rios


by Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The Burke Museum, located on the University of Washington campus in Seattle, is home to more than 16 million historical artifacts and objects. The thing is, only a few thousand are on display on a daily basis. Of those millions and millions of artifacts hidden away in archives and storage rooms, there is no telling how many hold cultural keys that could unlock indigenous knowledge once thought lost or destroyed forever during colonization and European settlement.

Enter Dr. Sven Haakanson, member of the Alutiq people of Kodiak, Alaska. Sven is a world renowned curator of North American ethnology and currently the head of Native American anthropology at the Burke Museum. Sven has joined the Burke team to use the museum’s amazing collection and vast resources to find those keys to indigenous knowledge currently hidden away.

“For me, the real privilege is having access to such an amazing collection because when I look at ethnographic pieces I don’t see an art piece, I see a historic object,” says Sven. “I see something that we can use the museum as a way to bring back a lot of that traditional knowledge, that we thought was lost, and put it back into a living context.”

A prime example of rediscovering indigenous knowledge that was thought lost forever has been the finding of simple model boat. Well, it was thought of as simple and sat away in collections until Sven came across it and realized he had stumbled across long lost knowledge.

What he found was a model Angyaaq, which means ‘open boat’ to the Sugpiat peoples of Alaska. This model Angyaaq is one of only a dozen known to exist and hold secrets to a long ago mode of transportation. It demonstrates a lost building tradition, models the difference pieces needed, and material and engineering techniques used to build a full-size Angyaaq – like marine animal skins to wrap the hull and lashing to tie all the pieces together. This model is key to Sven unlocking and reviving a practice of boat making absent on Kodiak for nearly 200 years.

According to Burke researchers, the Angyaat (plural for Angyaaq) were an essential part of the Sugpiat peoples of Southern Alaska’s livelihood and culture for thousands of years. An open boat used for transportation, hunting, trading, warring and more. Angyaat were a symbol of prosperity and wealth. Remnants of these boats are present in archaeological sites; yet, by the 1820s, roughly twenty years after contact, Russian settlers had either taken or destroyed all Angyaat in an effort to restrict the Native peoples’ ability to move, gather in large numbers, and display their wealth and power. Due to this destruction, very little is known about a type of boat once common on Kodiak Island.

What Sven set out to do was first make successful models of the model, in an effort to teach himself how to build the open boat without the use of modern methods. “No nails, no glue” in order to replicate and then teach the traditional way. After many intricate sketches and even more attempted models later, Sven had taught himself how to replicate the Angyaaq model using the same traditional techniques. The next phase is to use the model to build a full-size, working boat.


Photo/Micheal Rios

Photo/Micheal Rios

Photo/Micheal Rios

Photo/Micheal Rios


“By building this traditional boat in the traditional style, we are taking information that was lost from my community in the 1800s and figuring out innovative ways restore that indigenous knowledge,” explains Sven. “We are not just reverse engineering the model, but we will build a full-size one so we can share that information back into the communities from which it came. This is just one example of thousands that we can do for the next 100 years for our local Native communities both here in Washington and in Alaska.”

“The amazing can happen when you look at these museum objects not just as beautiful art pieces, but think about the history embodied in them. Think about what it means to the indigenous peoples and how they can then take this lost knowledge and re-embrace it while celebrating it. For me, it’s a process of rediscovery, of looking at how innovative, how adaptive, and how scientific my ancestors were. In that, this Angyaaq is just one example of who knows how many others we have and haven’t explored yet. I’m hoping this will be a catalyst for asking even more questions and continue to be innovative as we search through the past.”

Over the summer, Sven will travel to Kodiak Island to work with tribal members on the construction of several model Angyaat, with the goal of training students how to build a full-size, working boat in the future. Practicing this reconstruction with community members is helping share Sugpiat heritage and traditions, restoring knowledge that’s been lost, and providing a research model for others around the world to emulate.

Until then, Sven with continue to hone his Angyaat building skills as he hosts a live exhibit that can be witnessed by all. Witness the revival of a lost practice as part of a special month-long program at the Burke Museum. Visitors can see the finished Angyaaq in the Maker-Market from December 20 – January 3. Check burkemuseum.org/maker for the up-to-date boat construction schedule.


Tulalip News visits the Burke Museum, and so should you!

Traditional inspirations, modern expressions



Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News



By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

The Burke Museum, located on the University of Washington campus in Seattle, is currently showcasing their Native American artwork exhibit Here & Now: Native Artists Inspired. The exhibit is on display through July 27, 2015.

Here & Now showcases how today’s artists learn from past generations. According to Burke curators, the exhibit features 30 new works by contemporary Native artists, paired with historic pieces from the Burke Museum that artists identified as key to their learning.

“One can never be done learning,” explains esteemed Tsimshian artist David R. Boxley of Metlakatla, Alaska. “I want to see every piece I can of the old masters. They are my teachers and this is the only way I can learn from them.”


Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News


Over the past ten years, the Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Native Art at the Burke Museum has awarded grants to over 90 artists and scholars providing access to the Burke Museum’s collections. To gauge the real-world effects that their grants had on recipients, the Burke contacted each of their grantees and invited then to share how their artistic practice was affected by their study at the UW. Many of the grantee artists conveyed messages about how new pieces they had made were inspired by the historical artworks they had come into contact with at the museum. Each artist identified one key piece that influenced them, which are now on display next to each artist’s modern day interpretation of the artwork.

“It’s great to go and study the old pieces, to look at them, and hold them. You feel the energy. You can’t get over the quality, the detail, in the pieces. They’re some of the best teachers you get,” explains Latham Mack, Bill Holm grantee and Nuxalk artist from an Indigenous First Nation in Canada.


Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News


The Burke made the statement: Ours is a working collection, serving artists and scholars who forge connections with these artworks to maintain a continuum of knowledge and creativity that spans the generations.

For more information about the Burke Museum, including daily hours, admission costs, location and directions, please visit www.burkemuseum.org or call Burke Reception at (206) 543-7907.


Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Photo/Micheal Rios, Tulalip News



Contact Micheal Rios, mrios@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

Burke Museum’s Newest Exhibit Celebrates Native Art from the Pacific Northwest

Here & Now: Native Artists Inspired  November 22, 2014 – July 27, 2015

Source: Burke Museum

Seattle Northwest Native artists create 30 new works inspired by 200 years of history.

 Here & Now: Native Artists Inspired features work by artists whose practice has been informed by the objects in the Burke’s collections, demonstrating how today’s artists and art historians learn from past generations. The exhibit will include contemporary works in a variety of media alongside the historic pieces that artists identified as key to their learning. “The objects in the Burke’s collection embody the knowledge of their makers and they can be a catalyst for transferring this knowledge across generations,” explains exhibit curator and assistant director of the Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Native Art, Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse.

Commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Bill Holm Center, Here & Now explores the dynamic relationship between the Burke Museum and Northwest Native art, artists, and scholars. In the past ten years, over ninety grants have been awarded by the center to researchers, artists, and graduate students. The grant program is unique in its breadth, providing funding for artists to conduct workshops in their own communities, and travel funding to study collections at the Burke Museum or other institutions that hold collections key to an artist or researcher’s interests. These grantees have all contributed to the current dynamism of Northwest Native art.

 Here & Now shares the results of the conversations artists have with historical artworks. Celebrate master artists of the past and present and share in the enthusiasm and creativity of today’s emerging artists.


The Kwakwaka’wakw transformation mask that inspired the design of the original Seahawks logo. Photo courtesy of the Hudson Museum

The Kwakwaka’wakw transformation mask that inspired the design of the original Seahawks logo.
Photo courtesy of the Hudson Museum


The Mask That Inspired the Seahawks Logo:  In the lead up to the 2014 Super Bowl, Dr. Robin K. Wright, Curator of Native American Art and Director of the Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Native Art at the Burke Museum and Bill Holm – one of the most knowledgeable experts in the field of Northwest Coast Native art history – tracked down the origins of the Seahawk’s logo. A photo in Robert Bruce Inverarity’s 1950 book, Art of the Northwest Coast Indians depicts a Kwakwaka’wakw transformation mask which depicts an eagle in its closed form with a human face inside (revealed when the mask opens). Further research revealed press articles from 1976 that described this Kwakwaka’wakw mask from Vancouver Island as the source of the logo. It is now part of the Hudson Museum at the University of Maine’s collections.

During Here & Now, the mask will be displayed along with Native artists’ interpretations of the signature Seahawks design and logo. The Burke is currently fundraising through Kickstarter to bring community experts from the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation to the museum to study the mask and for further preservation and mounting before it is put on display. To meet our goal, the museum still needs to raise about $6,000 and we are encouraging fans to donate $12 to the cause.

Meet the artists of Here & Now! On Sunday, November 23, participate in a panel discussion with selected artists whose work is featured in the exhibit, Here & Now: Native Artists Inspired; and join them for in-gallery conversations about their work. See the documentary “Tracing Roots,” which offers a heartfelt glimpse into the world of Haida elder and weaver Delores Churchill, and visit with her daughter and renowned weaver Evelyn Vanderhoop. Get an up close view of tools and techniques as Burke Curator Sven Haakanson demonstrates the process of cleaning and preparing a Kodiak bear intestine for use in clothing and boat-making.


About the Burke Museum:  The Burke Museum is located on the University of Washington campus, at the corner of NE 45th St. and 17th Ave. NE. Hours are 10 am to 5 pm daily, and until 8 pm on first Thursdays. Admission: $10 general, $8 senior, $7.50 student/ youth. Admission is free to children four and under, Burke members, UW students, faculty, and staff. Admission is free to the public on the first Thursday of each month. Prorated parking fees are $15 and partially refundable upon exit if paid in cash. Call 206-543-5590 or visit www.burkemuseum.org. The Burke Museum is an American Alliance of Museums-accredited museum and a Smithsonian Affiliate.

To request disability accommodation, contact the Disability Services Office at: 206.543.6450 (voice), 206.543.6452 (TTY), 206.685.7264 (fax), or email at dso@u.washington.edu. The University of Washington makes every effort to honor disability accommodation requests. Requests can be responded to most effectively if received as far in advance of the event as possible, preferably at least 10 days.

Burke Museum Hopes To Bring Original Kwakwaka’wakw Seahawks Mask to Seattle



By Kelton Sears, Seattle Weekly


During the apex of Seahawks fever earlier this year, U.W. art students began researching the origins of the team’s logo. When they asked Burke Museum curator Robin K. Wright, she remembered a conversation she had with a past curator who identified the source as a photo in a 1950’s book of Northwest coastal art.

After a bit more research, students found the inspiration was a photo of a transformation eagle mask from the Kwakwaka’wakw—an indigenous tribe from British Columbia. After poking around some more, the director of the Hudson museum at the University of Maine revealed that the original mask was in their collection, and are now willing to lend the mask to the Burke for display in November.

The Burke Museum has launched a Power2Give campaign to pay for the conservation, insurance, and shipping of the mask. Those who donate will get an early look at the mask during the exhibit’s opening.

Until then, check out some amazing Kwakwaka’wakw dance:

Ancient tribal artifacts go home to be displayed in Port Angeles

In an emotional ceremony Monday at the Burke Museum in Seattle, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe prepared to transport 14 ancient artifacts to the tribe’s heritage center in Port Angeles.

Arlene Wheeler, left, escorts artifacts pushed by Maurice Pitchford, 4, and the Burke’s Laura Phillips on Monday.STEVE RINGMAN / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Arlene Wheeler, left, escorts artifacts pushed by Maurice Pitchford, 4, and the Burke’s Laura Phillips on Monday.

By Lynda V. Mapes

Seattle Times staff reporter

Originally published July 7, 2014 at 9:09 PM | Page modified July 8, 2014 at 4:51 PM

State construction contractors inadvertently dug up parts of the largest Indian village ever unearthed in the Northwest 10 years ago this August.

On Monday, members of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe realized a long-held dream, bringing some of the most spectacular belongings of their ancestors back to their home territory, for display in their own heritage center in Port Angeles.

Fourteen artifacts — just a fraction of more than 80,000 recovered from the site — were handed over to the tribe after a brief, but emotional private ceremony at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle, where the rest of the collection is still held for safekeeping.

“This is a long time coming,” said tribal Chairwoman Frances Charles, who made the trip to the Burke with her 4-year-old grandson, along with leaders of the Elwha Drum Group and prayer warrior Jonathan Arakawa to commemorate the transfer.

In a basement room with no windows, tribal members first lined up facing east, with two simple cardboard bankers’ boxes on a table before them, holding their ancestors’ possessions, dug up from their waterfront village.

Arakawa called down a blessing on the gathering, and offered thanks and prayers for a historic day, finally come.

Then Mark Charles, dressed in red and black ceremonial regalia, took deep breaths and focused his concentration for long moments, preparing to sing. He at last raised his elk-skin, hand-painted drum and began beating the stately cadence of an ancient song.

Charles’ deep, powerful voice boomed in the small room, which filled with sound as other tribal members joined in, and raised their hands to receive the song.

The objects selected by the tribe are among the most spectacular in the collection: A bone comb, carved on two sides, and found at the site virtually intact. Two blanket pins, carved in the shape of a fawn’s head, and a halibut. Seven etched stones — from more than 900 collected at the site, more than from any other village in the Northwest. The stones depict stories and teachings, and no two are alike.

Also included in the collection is a net weight, and a spindle whorl carved from a single whale vertebrae that Mark Charles found during the work at the site. At the time, he said he was guided by intuition to the location.

The village site was discovered inadvertently during construction of a state Department of Transportation project, which was ultimately shut down and relocated, after the discovery of hundreds of human remains, including many intact burials.

With the end of the project, the money that was paying for the archaeological analysis of the site was shut off, too.

So while the site was one of the biggest and oldest ever uncovered in the Northwest, with portions dating back 2,700 years, most of the collection has never been analyzed, and still awaits interpretation.

The tribe has long wanted to bring the collection home, for curation at the site, which has since been covered over and secured behind a fence. Human remains disturbed during the construction project were reburied as close to their original sites as possible.

The tribe has since built a heritage center in downtown Port Angeles, and will display the artifacts there. The exhibit, which will be on permanent exhibition at the heritage center, opens Saturday with a public ceremony.

“This is something we have talked about time and time again, it’s hard to imagine it is finally happening,” Frances Charles said. “These are priceless to us, in many ways. It’s closure for us, and all the people who were involved with this. It closes the circle.”

The fish hooks, net weights and shell midden discovered at the site document the food sources that used to sustain the village — and which are hoped to boom back, with the removal, beginning in September 2011, of two dams on the Elwha River.

The hydropower dams, built without fish passage beginning in 1910, greatly diminished the river’s salmon runs, and starved the beaches at the river’s mouth for the sediment that used to be home to rich clam beds.

The recovery of the artifacts and the dam-removal project — the largest anywhere in the world — are part of the cultural renewal under way for the tribe.

In the past several years the tribe has built a language program to revive the Klallam language and teach it in the public schools. The tribe has published a tribal language and cultural curriculum, and its first dictionary.

And as the floodwaters behind the Elwha dam receded, the tribe recovered its sacred creation site, hidden underwater for a century.

A celebration of the completion of dam removal is scheduled for mid-September.

Meanwhile, Charles said she hopes the trickle of artifacts coming back to the tribe will eventually become a flood, as the tribe builds a curation facility at its village site to house the entire collection.

“This is just the beginning,” she said.

To make it happen, the tribe needs not only money, but to recover ownership of its artifacts through negotiations with the state. Charles said those conversations are beginning with Gov. Jay Inslee.

As the tribe’s song filled the building, Julie Stein, director of the Burke, came to the door. She watched, clearly pleased, as the boxes were carted to the loading dock, and carried by tribal members into a waiting van for the drive back to Lower Elwha.

“It always feels wonderful,” Stein said, “when artifacts go to the communities that love and use them, to teach people, and bring the ceremonies back to life.”

Lynda V. Mapes: 206-464-2736 or lmapes@seattletimes.com

Suquamish Delegates and Burke Museum Depart for the Philippines

Cultural Exchange between the Suquamish Tribe and El Nido, Palawan, Philippines focuses on cultural heritage, and sustainable fishing and archaeology


 "Ancient Shores, Changing Tides" participants in the Suquamish Museum. L to R: Janet Everts Smoak, Barbara Lawrence-Piecuch, Arvin Acosta, Carmelita Acosta, Robert Arevalo, Mariel Francisco, Enrico Cabiguen (2nd row), Mimi Cabral, Jun Cayron (1st row), Mary Barnes, Lace Thornberg.Photo by Wade Trenbeath.

“Ancient Shores, Changing Tides” participants in the Suquamish Museum. L to R: Janet Everts Smoak, Barbara Lawrence-Piecuch, Arvin Acosta, Carmelita Acosta, Robert Arevalo, Mariel Francisco, Enrico Cabiguen (2nd row), Mimi Cabral, Jun Cayron (1st row), Mary Barnes, Lace Thornberg.
Photo by Wade Trenbeath.

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

Seattle – This week, seven representatives of the Suquamish Tribe are in the Philippines. Over the course of eight days, they will visit communities on Palawan Island and learn about the archaeological history of the island, as well as its modern day challenges to preserve natural resources in the face of tremendous growth in both tourism and development. The visit is part of “Ancient Shores, Changing Tides,” a project that is part of the Museums Connectsm program, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs that is administered by the American Alliance of Museums.

The Suquamish delegation’s trip to the Philippines follows on the heels of a visit seven heritage enthusiasts from the Philippines made to Seattle and Suquamish this past October. During their eight-day stay in Washington, the Filipino delegates learned about museum curation and collection practices through guided tours of several museums in the region: the Burke Museum, Wing Luke Museum, Suquamish Museum, and the Makah Museum and Cultural Resource Center.

In addition to comparing their community museums, the ways in which their heritage is preserved, and local efforts to attract tourism, the Filipino and Suquamish groups are also comparing their fisheries management practices. The Filipino delegates were able to go out with Suquamish Seafoods divers to see geoducks being harvested. When they visit El Nido, the Suquamish delegates will travel through a community-managed marine protected area to see how those practices are helping fish stocks to recover in an area threatened by dynamite fishing, overfishing, and climate change.

The sustainable fishing component has led to some rather delicious opportunities. At a traditional foods feast held at the House of Awakened Culture in Suquamish, more than 200 people gathered to enjoy a feast featuring locally-harvested geoducks, salmon and Manila clams. On Palawan, the delegates will be able to taste grouper, dolphinfish, anchovy, squid, crabs and more. There, locally harvested fish, seafoods, shellfish, and seaweeds will all be prepared according to traditional Cuyonon techniques.

The travelers representing Suquamish are tribal chair Leonard Forsman and his wife Jana Rice; tribal elder Jay Mills; Suquamish Museum director Janet Smoak; the Suquamish Tribe’s youth programs director Kate Ahvakana; the Tribe’s grants coordinator Angela Flemming; and Tribal member Kah-ty-ah Lawrence. Travelers representing the Burke Museum are project manager Lace Thornberg, associate director Peter Lape and community relations director Ellen Ferguson.

With this trip coming in the wake of super typhoon Haiyan, there is certain to be a lot of discussion between the groups about recovery efforts—and how to build communities that are more resilient to the effects of climate change.

When the Filipino delegates rode the Bainbridge Island ferry back to Seattle from Suquamish, they witnessed something few Seattleites have been lucky enough to see: orcas in south Puget Sound. These majestic animals had also accompanied the ferry that was carrying Suquamish artifacts from the Burke Museum to the new Suquamish Museum the day before. Perhaps the delegates from Suquamish will be lucky enough to see a manatee – known locally as a dugong – make a rare appearance while they travel El Nido’s waters.

“Ancient Shores, Changing Tides” is one of ten Museums Connectsm programs taking place throughout the country this year. The mission of the Museums Connect program is to strengthen connections and understanding between people in the United States and abroad through innovative, museum-based exchanges that address critical needs or timely issues in museums’ local communities and help museums better serve the public.