Tulalip feels the Bern


Photo/ Nicole Willis


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News; photos courtesy Nicole Willis

Native Americans are the first Americans, yet they have for far too long been treated as third class citizens.  It is unconscionable that today, in 2016, Native Americans still do not always have the right to decide on important issues that affect their communities.  The United States must not just honor Native American treaty rights and tribal sovereignty, it must also move away from a relationship of paternalism and control and toward one of deference and support.  The United States has a duty to ensure equal opportunities and justice for all of its citizens, including the 2.5 million Native Americans that share this land.  It is no secret that this isn’t the case today.*

“Time and time again, our Native American brothers and sisters have seen the federal government break solemn promises, and huge corporations put profits ahead of the sovereign rights of Native communities.  As President, I will stand with Native Americans in the struggle to protect their treaty and sovereign rights, advance traditional ways of life, and improve the quality of life for Native communities,” states Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Sanders has repeatedly acknowledged the need to correct the U.S. history books and openly apologized for the wrongs done to Native people. It’s easy to understand why Natives from all across Indian Country are choosing to ‘feel the Bern’ and rally behind a candidate who honors us in such an honest and sincere manner.

Sanders continues to gain support and more momentum towards his bid for the White House, evident in his holding the largest political rally Seattle has seen since Obama in 2008. An estimated 18,000 people showed up at KeyArena on Sunday, March 20 to show their support for the Vermont senator.

Amongst his horde of supporters were many respected leaders and representatives of Coast Salish tribes, including Tulalip’s own Chairman Mel Sheldon and recently re-elected Board of Directors Theresa Sheldon and Bonnie Juneau.

“For the first time in my life a U.S. Presidential candidate spoke on Native American issues during his national platform. Elevating tribes to the national platform is a big deal,” says Theresa Sheldon. “It’s so important for tribes to be engaged and visible during this Presidential election. Our relationship is with the federal government, therefore we need to be present and participate in the civic process.”


Photo/Nicole Willis

Photo/Nicole Willis


During the rally, five Tulalip tribal members (Theresa, Bonnie, Deborah Parker, Monie Ordania and Justice Napeahi) took center stage to perform the Women’s Warrior song.

“We are thankful the creator gave us an opportunity to sing the Women’s Warrior song from our First Nations relatives at the Bernie Sanders rally,” adds Theresa. “The Women’s Warrior song honors and acknowledges the missing and murdered indigenous women who have been taken from us way before their time.”

In a more private setting, Sanders met with a tribal delegation including NCAI President Brian Cladoosby, VAWA champion Deborah Parker and Yakama leaders including Asa Washines.

It was during this setting that the Coast Salish leaders honored Bernie Sanders with a Lushootseed name.

“Native American leaders named Bernie Sanders ‘δΞσηυδιϖυp’ (pronounced dooh-s-who-dee-choop),” Deborah wrote on Facebook. “This name is now bestowed upon Bernie Sanders and will be known among the Coast Salish people and beyond. The Lushootseed language meaning is ‘the one lighting the fires for change and unity.’ Thanking our Tulalip language teacher Natosha Gobin for helping us with Bernie Sanders Lushootseed name.”




According to Theresa, Sanders’ rally was historical for many reasons. Sanders has not only been a huge supporter of native issues, but he continues to stand shoulder to shoulder with tribes on such important issues as Violence Against Women and Oak Flats. He is an absolute protector of Mother Earth and he gives tribes total credit for the conservation and protection of the Earth that we do. If push comes to shove and the U.S. President has to make the call to either support treaty rights or to support corporate America and Army Corp of Engineers in the permit to build the coal terminal at Cherry Point, then you can guarantee that Sanders will go with treaty rights and support the tribes.

This is a huge shift that is happening nationally. Tribes are finally elevating themselves to the appropriate level, forcing mainstream media and corporate America to pay attention to us. When we are seen and heard by candidates, we can and will make a difference.


*source: https://berniesanders.com/issues/empower-tribal-nations/

Teaching the next generation of Lushootseed speakers


By Chris Winters, The Herald


TULALIP — Last Thursday, the children in Sarah Poyner Wallis’ kindergarten class at Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary School filtered in after the morning assembly.

Maria Martin and Nik-Ko-Te St. Onge, teacher assistants with the Tulalip Tribes’ Lushootseed department, wish the kids good morning.

“haʔɬ dadatut,” they said. The children said it back to them.

The kids sat in a circle for their first lesson: a song, simply called “Hello Friend,” and sung in Lushootseed to the tune of “Frère Jacques.”


Andy Bronson / The HeraldWith the help of flash cards, kindergartners at Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary School speak the Lushootseed language with instructor Nik-Ko-Te St. Onge. From left: Jaycee Williams, Jesse Lozano,Tyler Hills and Joscelynn Jones-Lloyd.

Andy Bronson / The Herald
With the help of flash cards, kindergartners at Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary School speak the Lushootseed language with instructor Nik-Ko-Te St. Onge. From left: Jaycee Williams, Jesse Lozano,Tyler Hills and Joscelynn Jones-Lloyd.



For years Tulalip children have received lessons in their ancestral tongue at the Tulalip Montessori School and the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy on the reservation. The written form of the language includes characters found in the International Phonetic Alphabet.

This year Lushootseed, or dxʷləšucid, the language of Coast Salish Indians around Puget Sound, was reintroduced to the Marysville School District for the first time since 2011. That’s when the old Tulalip Elementary in the heart of the reservation was closed.

About 50 kindergartners and first-graders — five total classrooms — are getting daily language lessons from Martin and St. Onge this fall.

The simple explanation for the reintroduction is that the Tulalip Tribes were able to hire more teachers.

“Our problem is we were short-staffed. We’ve never had a full crew,” said Michele Balagot, the tribes’ Lushootseed department manager.

Newly hired teachers start out by teaching pre-school kids, and ideally would remain with the same the class of students as they get older, she said.

That’s not very easy in practice, however.

“Some people we hired found out they didn’t like to teach, or weren’t teacher material, or found out they didn’t like working with little kids,” Balagot said.

Add to that the fact that most of the teachers hired have had to learn Lushootseed at the same time they taught it to the children, one of the aftereffects of the boarding school era in which the language was suppressed almost to the point of extinction.

Maria Martin, who is 25, represents a new generation of speakers. She started learning the language as a child in the Montessori school, but throughout her school years only learned the language in the Tulalip summer language camps.

The Lushootseed program sends new hires to Northwest Indian College in Bellingham for formal instruction before they are put in front of a class.

Martin said she feels reasonably fluent when in front of the class, although still consults with her superiors in the language program when she needs specialized vocabulary.

Still, she’s become fluent enough that she’s often delivered invocations and greetings in Lushootseed at official tribal functions.

In Poyner Wallis’ class, she gave instructions to the kindergartners in Lushootseed first, and only English if the kids didn’t appear to understand them.

In one exercise, she held up a flash card with a picture of a brown bear. “stəbtabəl̕,” the kids chimed together.

She held up a picture of a frog. “waq̓waq̓!”

Then she held up an orca, but the kids are unsure and need reminding. “qal̕qaləx̌ič,” Martin said, and the kids shape out the unfamiliar glottal consonants.

A picture of a salmon also stopped them cold, and Martin prompted then with the answer: “sʔuladxʷ.”

“That’s a hard one because it looks like qal̕qaləx̌ič,” one boy piped up. “I almost said ‘salmon’.”

The student body at Quil Ceda Tulalip is about 60 percent Native American, although the actual figure is likely higher once children of mixed marriages or parents who aren’t enrolled in a tribe are taken into account, said Chelsea Craig, a cultural specialist at the school.

All the schoolchildren have been getting a dose of native culture in the morning assembly, which includes singing and a drum circle. The school is also leading the charge in incorporating native history into its regular curriculum.

Craig said she hopes that by getting the kids into Lushootseed while still young, they will learn their ancestral language and come to associate it with a supportive and healing environment.

“My great-grandmother was beaten for speaking Lushootseed,” she said, referring to the boarding school era, which began in 1860 and didn’t truly end until the 1978 passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act.

When Craig was growing up, some tribal elders could still speak the language, she said.

“The elders spoke it but didn’t share it, because it was too traumatic,” she said. “My great-grandmother didn’t want me to go through what she went through.”

Some Lushootseed words are introduced at the morning assembly, but it’s the lessons in class that are moving toward making the language thrive again.

In Poyner Wallis’ classroom, the kids were split into groups. Nik-Ko-Te St. Onge used the children’s book “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” to help reinforce the vocabulary, and then moved on to flash cars with numbers.

St. Onge held up a card with the number six on it. Jordan Bontempo counted out loud on his fingers.

“č̓uʔ, saliʔ, ɬixʷ, buus, cəlac … yəlaʔc!” he said triumphantly.

Meanwhile, Maria Martin gave the kids pictures of a bear to color that also had a connect-the-dots tracery of the Lushootseed word “stəbtabəl̕.” Two kids colored the bear brown and one black, but others went for green, purple, rainbow stripes and one outside-the-lines expressionist squiggle.

When they were done with the bear, they moved on to a picture of a frog.

Carlee James-Jimicum waved her completed bear at Martin. “I’m ready for my waq̓waq̓,” she said.

Balagot said that there are about 40 people on the Tulalip reservation who can speak Lushootseed with some degree of conversational skill.

“We probably couldn’t hold a full conversation, but we could get the gist of what we’re saying,” she said.

The hope is the 50 kindergartners and first-graders will grow into older kids and teens who can add to that number.

Like Martin, perhaps some of them will return to teaching the next generation.

After finishing up in Poyner Wallis’ class, St. Onge and Martin split up. Martin walked down the hall into Lisa Sablan’s kindergarten class, where the kids were eagerly waiting for their lesson.

When she stepped into the room, they all called out together, welcoming their teacher and friend “haʔɬ dadatut syaʔyaʔ!”

State Considers Name Change For Squaw Bay

Library of Congress“Squaw” is not a Coast Salish word, and that renaming the bay “Sq’emenen” would recognize the island’s Coast Salish history.

Library of Congress
“Squaw” is not a Coast Salish word, and that renaming the bay “Sq’emenen” would recognize the island’s Coast Salish history.


Richard Walker, Indian Country Today


The Washington State Committee on Geographic Names was petitioned on August 23 to change the name of Squaw Bay – on Shaw Island in the San Juan Islands – to Sq’emenen Bay.

“Sq’emenen” is the Lummi name for Shaw Island, according to Lummi hereditary chief Bill (Tsilixw) James. The committee will give the proposal initial consideration October 23 in Olympia. The committee, which meets twice a year, will decide in May whether to recommend the change to the state Board on Geographic Names.

The petition is signed by 30 people, among them citizens of several Coast Salish nations with ties to the San Juan Islands.

Noting the controversial nature of the word “squaw,” the petition states that over time the word came to be used “as a term of condescension, as a racialized epithet, and in a way that implies Native American women are second-class citizens or exotic objects.”

It also notes that the word “squaw” is not a Coast Salish word, and that renaming the bay “Sq’emenen” would recognize the island’s Coast Salish history. The Lummi, Samish and other Northern Straits Salish peoples originated in the San Juan Islands, and for thousands of years maintained and harvested resources on all of the islands, including Shaw. The Lummi Nation, Samish Nation and Tulalip Tribes still own land on the islands and have treaty rights and obligations within their historical territory.

Among those writing letters of support for the name change: Washington State Rep. Jeff Morris, Tsimshian, who had a Samish grandfather and grew up on nearby Guemes Island. “The name Sq’emenen is a more authentic and appropriate name and honors the Lummi Tribe and the history of Shaw Island and the surrounding San Juan archipelago,” he wrote.

Residents of Shaw Island met on September 19 to discuss the name-change proposal; residents prefer renaming the bay “Reefnet Bay (Sxwo’le),” because reefnet fishing – which was developed by the Lummi people – is still done there. “Sxwo’le “ (pronounced “shwalla”), is the Lummi word for reefnet. “Using both names teaches the language by seeing the two words together,” a representative said. “We also want to change the road name, Squaw Bay Road [on the island].”

Other governments in the United States have changed place names that contain the word “squaw,” among them the states of Idaho, Maine and Montana; and the city of Buffalo, New York.

In 2003, Squaw Peak in Phoenix, Arizona, was renamed Piestewa Peak to honor Pfc. Lori Piestewa, the first Native American woman to die in combat for the U.S. In 2011, the California Office of Historic Preservation changed the name of a state historical landmark, “Squaw Rock,” in the Russian River canyon, to “Frog Woman Rock,” to honor and respect the cultural heritage of the Pomo peoples of the region.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/09/25/state-considers-name-change-squaw-bay-161862

Indigenous Futures: keeping the past alive

Four-side drum.Photo courtesy of Joe Seymour

Four-side drum.
Photo courtesy of Joe Seymour


By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News Photo courtesy of Joe Seymour

Recently, the Seattle Art Museum presented PechaKucha Seattle volume 63, titled “Indigenous Futures.” PechaKuchas are informal and fun gatherings where creative people get together and present their ideas, works, thoughts – just about anything, really – in fun, relaxed spaces that foster an environment of learning and understanding. It would be easy to think PechaKuchas are all about the presenters and their presentation, but there is something deeper and a more important subtext to each of these events. They are all about togetherness, about coming together as a community to reveal and celebrate the richness and dimension contained within each one of us. They are about fostering a community through encouragement, friendship and celebration.

The origins of PechaKucha Nights stem from Tokyo, Japan and have since gone global; they are now happening in over 700 cities around the world. What made PechaKucha Night Seattle volume 63 so special was that it was comprised of all Native artists, writers, producers, performers, and activists presenting on their areas of expertise and exploring the realm of Native ingenuity in all its forms, hence the name Indigenous Futures.

Joe Seymour, a member of the Squaxin Island Tribe, is geoduck harvester and a leader of his canoe family, but most importantly he is a Coast Salish artist who works with a vast array of mediums. He has demonstrated his artistic touch with blown glass, etched glass, prints, wood, Salish wool weaving, canvas and traditional rawhide drums. His ancestral name, wahalatsu?, was given to him by his family in 2003. Wahalatsu? was the name of his great-grandfather William Bagley.


Faith, Wisdom and Strength. Photo courtesy of Joe Seymour

Faith, Wisdom and Strength.
Photo courtesy of Joe Seymour


Seymour started his artistic career by carving his first paddle for the 2003 Tribal Journey to Tulalip. Also, in 2003, he carved his first bentwood box. After the Tulalip journey, he really began to focus on his artistic abilities he found were coming so natural him. After learning how to stretch and make traditional rawhide drums, Seymour pushed his creative limits even further by learning how to pull a four-sided drum. The inspiration for learning the four-sided drum method came from his uncle Phil and the late Makah hereditary chief, Lester Hamilton Greene.

“One of the reasons I wanted to work with so many mediums is that all of them together encompass what Coast Salish culture is to me,” explains Seymour of his diversity of art mediums. “We talk about indigenous futures and right now I’m focused on taking the Coast Salish culture into the future by keeping its past alive. I do this by bringing it into the modern world by my weaving, by my drawing, by my painting…I do that with the paddles that I carve.

There aren’t many people who can pull a four-sided drum. I’ve only seen maybe three other people who can do it. If you ever want to learn or know someone who wants to learn, please let me know as I’m more than willing to share our cultural knowledge. Artistic methods are a critical part of our culture and I believe they should be shared willingly, not just held hostage by any single individual.”


Photo courtesy of Joe Seymour

Photo courtesy of Joe Seymour


Since discovering his inner artist by way of the 2003 Tribal Journey to Tulalip, Seymour has gone on to participate in the international gathering of Indigenous Artists, PIKO 2007, in Hawaii, and he also participated in the Te Tihi, 4th Gathering of Indigenous Visual Artists, in Rotorua, New Zealand, in 2010.

“It’s an honor to have the opportunities to travel the world and meet fellow indigenous; to see and share our cultures via artistic expression,” says Seymour. “The indigenous future of the peoples in the Pacific Northwest is very bright. We have such a wonderful array of spirit, tradition, and pride.

In my career, I’ve worked with glass, photography, Salish wool weaving, prints, wood, and rawhide drums. I’ve been very fortunate to have a community of artists that I’m able to work with and who are very supportive of my career. If it were not for their caring and sharing of ideas, I would not be the artist that I am today. I hope that as I continue in my artistic career, I can pass on the teachings and nurturing spirit that have been shown to me.”

Siblings. Photo courtesy of Joe Seymour

Photo courtesy of Joe Seymour


Shaun Peterson, Puyallup, Tapped to Make Public Art on Seattle Waterfront

The 'Welcome Figure,' spuy'elepebS near Tollefson Plaza, Tacoma, Washington, created by Shaun Peterson.

The ‘Welcome Figure,’ spuy’elepebS near Tollefson Plaza, Tacoma, Washington, created by Shaun Peterson.


Indian Country Today


Shaun Peterson, Puyallup, has been selected for a commission on the Seattle Waterfront. Peterson’s art is a showcase of Coast Salish traditions for the modern world, and he’s experienced in creating public installations. After the announcement, he took to his blog at Qwalsius.com:

I wouldn’t have foreseen this coming if you had asked me but it is here and it is now. I hope to make the most of this opportunity and showcase that Coast Salish culture is alive and well. That it is deserving of the land on which it comes from and that it will, as all art does, adapt to the world around it and will continue to thrive as long as the people exist in its region. As Chief Sealth once said long, when people believe our people have vanished we will be among you… something like that, I’m paraphrasing of course but the gist is, my art and others of Coast Salish heritage are making public works that will continue to be standing long after we have gone, and there is something to say for that. Today, I am overjoyed with the task ahead of me.

Below are a video portrait of Peterson, examples of his public art, and the full press release from the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture:

Artist biography Qwalsius – Shaun Peterson from Shaun Peterson on Vimeo.


Salmon Continuum Bus Shelter, Tacoma Washington, by Shaun Peterson
Salmon Continuum Bus Shelter, Tacoma Washington, by Shaun Peterson



Welcome Figure, spuy'elepebS near Tollefson Plaza, Tacoma, Washington, by Shaun Peterson.
Welcome Figure, spuy’elepebS near Tollefson Plaza, Tacoma, Washington, by Shaun Peterson.



Welcome Figure (night), spuy'elepebS near Tollefson Plaza, Tacoma, Washington, by Shaun Peterson.
Welcome Figure (night), spuy’elepebS near Tollefson Plaza, Tacoma, Washington, by Shaun Peterson.



Killer Whale (Aluminum), Puyallup Tribal Health Authority, Tacoma, Washington, by Shaun Peterson.
Killer Whale (Aluminum), Puyallup Tribal Health Authority, Tacoma, Washington, by Shaun Peterson.



From the Natural World, Puyallup Tribe Elders Building, Tacoma, Washingto, by Shaun Peterson.
From the Natural World, Puyallup Tribe Elders Building, Tacoma, Washingto, by Shaun Peterson.



SEATTLE (March 25, 2015) — The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture is pleased to announce that artist Shaun Peterson, of Milton, WA, has been selected for a commission on the Seattle Waterfront. Peterson is a pivotal figure in contemporary Coast Salish art traditions, and is a member of the Puyallup tribe. He has major installations throughout the Northwest, ranging from works created in wood, glass and metal.

“This is an historic opportunity to have an artwork by a Native artist on our Waterfront,” says Mayor Murray. “Peterson’s artwork will be a tribute to the cultural significance of the waterfront to the Coast Salish first peoples and our city. The waterfront will finally reflect the origins of our vibrant City and also the many peoples who made this region what it is today—one of the fastest growing in the nation.”

This commission, undertaken in partnership with the Office of the Waterfront and Seattle Department of Transportation, sought an artist to create an artwork that recognizes the tribal peoples of this regionfor Seattle’s Central Waterfront project. Peterson will work with the city and its design team to develop a site-specific artwork or artist designed space that reflects the Coast Salish tribes that have a historic connection to this territory. The budget for the project, inclusive of artist fees, is $250,000.

“Seattle is named after our Coast Salish Chief, and in honor of that I hope that my work will demonstrate that Native art is not static,” says Peterson. “Our people are part of this land and its history, but most importantly we are part of the present. The art I create will aim to communicate that, and in the process, create space for dialogue.”

“Shaun’s work embraces new interpretations of traditional designs, and his facility in blending both the traditional tribal art forms along with contemporary elements and materials makes him the ideal artist to envision the Coast Salish presence on the waterfront,” says Ruri Yampolsky, Public Art Program Director. “We are incredibly excited to have Peterson create a permanent artwork that will be reflective of the Coast Salish peoples and the region.”

Waterfront Seattle is the large-scale project to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with 26 acres of new public space, streets, parks, and buildings. The public piers will be rebuilt as part of the Seawall Bond passed by voters in 2012. Peterson’s first major public installation was a 37 foot story pole for Chief Leschi School in 1996; it was quickly followed by commissions in Tacoma and Seattle, Washington.  He continues to explore the future possibilities of indigenous art traditions.

Peterson joins artists Cedric Bomford, Ann Hamilton, Norie Sato, Buster Simpson, Oscar Tuazon and Stephen Vitiello in creating a permanent artwork which will transform the waterfront. This roster of diverse artists will help to create a sense of place on the renewed waterfront that will act as an invitation to residents and visitors alike.

About Shaun Peterson
Shaun Peterson is a pivotal figure in the revival of Coast Salish art traditions. An enrolled member of the Puyallup tribe, and also affiliated with the Tulalip tribe, Peterson carries the name Qwalsius, originally carried by his great grandfather, Lawrence Williams. The name has been translated in two possible meanings as the Lushootseed language spoken by many Western Washington tribes has become scarce. The first translation is “Painted Face” and the second is “Traveling to the face of Enlightenment.”

Peterson is a Native American artist producing work that is a continuation of the ancient art of the Northwest Coast first peoples. While knowledgeable and invested in diverse tribal styles and applications, his focus and expertise is the art of the Southern regions that encompass the many tribes of Western Washington and Southern British Columbia known as Salish territory. Shaun’s artistic career began under the guidance of key mentors in the field of Northwest Coast art including master artists Steve Brown, Greg Colfax (Makah), George David (Nuu-chah-nulth), and Loren White.

Selection panel members and advisors:

Tina Jackson, Cultural Activities Coordinator/ Kate Ahvakana, Suquamish Tribe
Barbara Brotherton, curator of Native American Art, Seattle Art Museum
Patti Gobin, Tulalip Tribes
Candice Hopkins, curator, University of New Mexico, Carcross/Tagish
Warren KingGeorge, historian, Muckleshoot Tribe
Cary Moon, urban designer
Eric Robertson, artist, Métis/Gitksan

Heather Johnson-Jock, artist and Tribal Council Secretary, S’Klallam Tribe
Guy Michaelson, Berger Partnership
Steve Pearce, Office of the Waterfront
Tracy Rector, Seattle Art Commission
Denise Stiffarm, Urban Indians, Gros Ventre (A’aninin/White Clay)
Ken Workman, Duwamish Tribe
Nicole Willis, Tribal Relations Director, Office of Intergovernmental Relations

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Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/04/03/shaun-peterson-puyallup-tapped-make-public-art-seattle-waterfront-159871

Whale of a good story: Humpback comeback and new orca


Photo courtesy of Mike Malleson.

Photo courtesy of Mike Malleson.





ANACORTES, Wash. — In a sea of bad news, some good news regarding whales on two fronts came out of the Pacific Whale Watch Association conference Monday in Anacortes.

Government researchers said the four recent newborn orca could be the beginning of a trend, anticipated because the number of female Southern Resident Killer Whales at calf-bearing age is at its highest known levels.

Additionally, the number of humpback whales in the Salish Sea has reached its highest documented level: 90 different humpbacks were photo identified in 2015, according to data unveiled Monday by photo ID expert Mark Malleson of Prince of Whales whale watch cruises.

The Salish Sea includes Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the San Juan Islands as well as British Columbia’s Gulf Islands and the Strait of Georgia. The name recognizes and pays tribute to the first inhabitants of the region, the Coast Salish.

“The newborns are definitely an optimistic point that I’m really excited about,” said orca researcher Eric Ward of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

While some researchers believe southern resident Killer Whale females generally require a family structure to bear a surviving calf, Ward believes viable females are the most important factor.

“We think now that based on the kind of age structure of the southern resident population there is more potential to produce calves than there ever has been in the past,” he said.

After whalers nearly pushed humpback whales to extinction and killed roughly 1,000 in the Salish Sea, according to historical accounts discussed at the PWWA conference, they’ve made a dramatic rediscovery of Salish Sea habitat in recent years. New data from Malleson says humpbacks identified last year were three times more than were spotted just three years ago. Humpbacks were first spotted regularly returning to the Salish Sea about a decade ago.

The good news doesn’t stop with whales.

Andrew Trites of the University of British Columbia said all of the 11 marine mammals found in the Salish Sea are generally increasing in population. Seal populations are increasing at exponential rates so much so that they have been competing with killer whales for salmon, concerning some researchers. But others believe Harbor Seal populations are leveling off because they are a favorite food of meat-eating transient killer whales, whose numbers are also increasing.

Trites and others are about to roll out a test attachment to about 20 seals that will measure whenever they eat salmon smolt, or young salmon. Researchers want to better understand just how many salmon smolt are being eaten each year by seals.

Trites called it a “new natural balance.”

“One reason we find that numbers oversell are doing so well is because maybe we have not done such a bad job after all of stewardship of the coastline and rivers that are spilling into the Salish Seal,” he said.

Gray Whales are expected to arrive in the Salish Sea as early as next week. Humpbacks are due in July. And all three pods of Southern Resident Killer Whales should be in the Salish Sea by May.

More information is available online.

Bringing the tree back to life

"Coast Salish Canoes," opened at the Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve on June 27, with over 80 guests in attendance.

“Coast Salish Canoes,” opened at the Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve on June 27, with over 80 guests in attendance.

New Hibulb exhibit gives an in-depth look at Tulalip’s canoe culture

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

TULALIP- “Imagine you are at the shore of the Salish Sea where a grand ocean-going family canoe floats patiently, waiting for you and others to begin your journey. The rivers, lakes and seas are our earth’s arteries, carrying its life force of water. For thousands of years they functioned as our ancestors’ highways, connecting our people together,” reads the opening display panel in the new interactive temporary Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve’s exhibit, “A Journey with our Ancestors: Coast Salish Canoes.”

The new exhibit, on display through June 2015, explores canoe culture in Tulalip and in Coast Salish tribes. A soft opening for the exhibit was held on Friday, June 27, with over 80 guests in attendance. This interactive exhibit features over 70 items that guests can explore canoe culture through, such as videos on carving canoes, maps, display panels, paddles and tools used to carve canoes with, and a large canoe that guests can sit in.

Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

“We hope guests learn the importance of canoes and how they were tied to all aspects of our life,” explains Mary Jane Topash the center’s tour specialist, about what guests can expect from the new exhibit. “We hope to educate people on the types of canoes, anatomy, tools, what it takes to build one, and how they are still used to this day. This exhibit will encompass all aspects of the teachings, history, lifestyle, and how their importance hasn’t changed a whole lot over the years.”

Coast Salish Canoes highlights the roots of the Canoe Journey and the important role that canoes played in its revitalization during the 1989 Paddle to Seattle.

“It was a big learning process for us. It didn’t just happen in 1989,” explained Tulalip carver Joe Gobin, about the preparation involved in the Paddle to Seattle. “Frank Brown and Ray Fryberg Sr. got our [Tulalip] Board involved and the Board saw how this was something missing in our culture. They sent us to different reservations to learn, to Lummi and Makah, because none of us knew how to carve a canoe. We all talked about it and the tools we needed, and how when we were making the canoe we were bringing the tree back to life. And it did come back to life on the reservations, and it brought back so many things in our culture that were forgotten. I am glad to see this exhibit here.”

Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Lena Jones, the center’s curator of education, says guests will leave knowing the importance of canoes in Coast Salish culture. “Our ancestors helped keep a rich environment with superb art. We hope the exhibit will help people appreciate the social gatherings of the Coast Salish people and help our young people recognize their community’s role in revitalizing important Coast Salish traditions that can, and do, help the region.”

For more information on “Coast Salish Canoes,” please visit the Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve’s website at www.hibulbculturalcenter.org.



Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402: bmontreuil@tulalipnews.com

Set up camp for the day in Mukilteo


Genna Martin / The HeraldShaylene Jefferson, 16, of Suquamish, waits in the boat for her uncle, in Mukilteo, after a day of crabbing in Puget Sound on June 11.

Genna Martin / The Herald
Shaylene Jefferson, 16, of Suquamish, waits in the boat for her uncle, in Mukilteo, after a day of crabbing in Puget Sound on June 11.


By Gale Fiege, The Herald

It was a summertime spot.

The Coast Salish people gave it a name that sounds much like Mukilteo.

It means “good camping ground,” said Michelle Myles of the Tulalip Tribes Lushootseed language department.

Mukilteo was the gathering place where in 1855 territorial Gov. Isaac Stevens signed the Point Elliott treaty with representatives of 22 tribes and bands of native people from the greater Puget Sound region, now called the Salish Sea.

History is big in Mukilteo, which was the first non-Indian settlement in Snohomish County. It was established about 1860 with a trading post. A fish cannery and sawmill followed later.

Mukilteo is still all about summer.

A walk-on ferry ride to Whidbey Island, beachcombing and picnic, a tour of the lighthouse, a beer at Diamond Knot, fish and chips at Ivar’s and produce from the Wednesday afternoon farmers market in Lighthouse Park off Front Street.

It’s all there in old Mukilteo. You can easily spend a full day enjoying it, so plan accordingly.

Any tour of Mukilteo has to start with its lighthouse, which opened in 1906 to guide ships in and out of Puget Sound and continues to be the city’s most enduring icon.

The Mukilteo Light Station, surrounded by native Nootka roses, is on the National Register of Historic Places. From noon to 5 p.m. on weekends you can climb the 38-foot tall lighthouse tower to see the now-automated carved-glass Fresnel lens and take a look around.

The 17-acre park along the beach has improved greatly since the city took it over from the state in 2003. Be sure to check out the park’s Coast Salish artwork created by Joe Gobin and James Madison of the Tulalip Tribes.

Kids have plenty to do, on the beach or on the playground. Educational signs help people understand what’s in the water and how to help keep it clean.

Even on a rainy day at the park, you can picnic under a shelter and enjoy the calming water-island-mountain view that seems incongruous with the fact that just a few miles away is a huge regional metropolitan area.

Mukilteo was incorporated in 1947 with a population of 775. Land annexations and development off the Mukilteo Speedway have increased that number to about 21,000 residents.

After the lighthouse, the beach park and a round-trip ride on the ferry, take in lunch at the Diamond Knot Brewery on the west side of the ferry or at Ivar’s Mukilteo Landing restaurant on the other side. You also can walk a block or so up the hill to Arnie’s seafood restaurant.

Another option is the Red Cup, located in a delightful little shopping block at Fourth Street and Lincoln Avenue across the street from the Rosehill Community Center.

The coffee shop offers breakfast and lunch, served up with a beautiful view. And from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays throughout the summer, Red Cup Cafe hosts an open microphone that attracts an eclectic mix of performers.

It’s no wonder that Mukilteo’s Rosehill Community Center is the site of dozens of weddings throughout the summer. The views are outstanding and the grounds include wild roses and other native and drought-resistant plants.

Inside, check out the display of work by local artists, the historical photos of the former Rosehill schools and Crown Lumber’s mill.

History buffs also may want to stop by the Pioneer Cemetery at Fifth and Webster streets overlooking the beach and the Japanese Memorial at Centennial Park, located at 1126 Fifth St.

The beautiful little cemetery includes a great view and the weathered gravestones of town founders Morris Frost and J.D. Fowler, along with headstones of Japanese mill workers.

The memorial is a bronze sculpture of a Japanese origami bird that sits on a white pedestal, symbolizing peace and commemorating Mukilteo’s long history with its Japanese community.

Finish your visit with a walk on the trail at nearby Japanese Gulch, a 144-acre forested park where the families of Japanese immigrants lived.




Gathering The Stories Of Northwest People ‘Left Out’ Of History

By Tom Banse, NW News Network

It started with the discovery of long-forgotten gravestones in a thicket of bramble and alder. That set one author on the faint trail of a feisty Native American woman and oyster farmer who lived in 19th century western Washington.

Author LLyn De Danaan at home in Mason County, Washington.
Credit Mary Randlett


The biographer is using the resulting book to inspire other Northwesterners — particularly tribal members. She wants to bring out the stories of people who, in her words, have been “left out of our histories.”

The waterfront cottage that LLyn De Danaan calls home on Oyster Bay in Mason County, Washington, overlooks a cultural crossroads rich in history. So it is fortunate she is a cultural anthropologist by profession. Her eyes and ears are tuned to signs and stories of place. And at this place, waves of settlers came from the earliest times to reap shellfish.

De Danaan moved here in the early 1970s. In recent decades, she heard enough tales about one pioneer to start a file. The name was Katie Gale. This independent businesswoman owned property and tidelands in her own name in the late 1800s.

“That was all a little bit unusual from conventional wisdom and things I had heard about both people in the oyster business and Native American women,” says De Danaan.

Finding Katie Gale

The biographer was fascinated by how Gale straddled different worlds and stood up for herself and her mixed race children.

“Katie Gale: A Coast Salish Woman’s Life on Oyster Bay” was published last fall.
Credit University of Nebraska Press


“I suppose there just were too many things about that that intrigued me that I couldn’t let go of it,” she says. “I literally couldn’t let go of it for years!”

A turning point came when De Danaan and several friends from the historical society discovered an overgrown little homestead graveyard a mile from her house. One of the headstones belonged to Katie Gale.

“I was so amazed, excited, enthralled that I began beating on Stan’s shoulders as he was kneeling in front of me holding this stone.”

Her friend had to plead with her to contain her excitement and stop it.

“I literally said, ‘I know who this is,’ as if she were an acquaintance of mine. But it almost felt that way,” recalls De Danaan. “I would say that was a moment of calling. I have to tell this woman’s story. I have to know her.”

But here’s the problem: the long-dead Katie Gale left no letters, no journals. De Danaan could find no photographs of her, no living descendants. The best source material was a divorce case file. It took almost a decade to accumulate corroborating details, context and enough educated guesses to write a biography. “Katie Gale: A Coast Salish Woman’s Life on Oyster Bay” was published last fall.

“So many stories not told”

But the tale doesn’t stop there.

“There are so many stories not told,” says De Danaan. “There are so many histories and people left out of our histories. That is what my work has to be now. I feel that it is my obligation to do that.”

At a writing class at the Evergreen State College Longhouse in Olympia, De Danaan is a guest speaker.

De Danaan exhorts the seminar to bring forth stories before they’re lost, perhaps starting with family history. This is a message De Danaan returns to again and again in regular public talks and one-on-one mentoring.

“You’re able to find out a lot more than you think,” she says.

All of the students in the circle facing the author this day are Native American. It takes awhile, but eventually sensitivities come out.

Keeping tradition and culture alive

Author LLyn De Danaan (right) discussed her biography of Katie Gale with students at The Evergreen State College.
Credit Tom Banse / Northwest News Network


One student says she was hesitant about taking the class. Her grandmothers warned against exposing too much of their Spokane tribal heritage to outsiders who might twist it or exploit it.

Makah tribal member Vince Cook heard that from his elders too.

“That’s a tough one,” he says. “Because when I was younger we were told not to record, not to videotape.”

Cook says attitudes are changing now as people see tradition and culture slipping away. He feels spurred to write about his great grandmother and all the things she taught him.

“I think it is important to continue on not only for myself, but for my family and for others to know about the Makah culture and to keep it alive,” says Cook.

Another person who says author De Danaan encouraged him is amateur folklorist Si Matta of rural Pe Ell, Washington. Matta’s focus is on gathering the stories of his ancestors from the Cascade (Watala) Indian tribe who once lived and fished in the Columbia River Gorge.

He’s approaching the task in a thoroughly modern way by soliciting and sharing material and old photographs via a website and Facebook page.

‘It becomes new’: Port Gamble S’Klallam skatepark is a work of art

The skatepark may help bolster relationships with people from outside the reservation.

The skatepark may help bolster relationships with people from outside the reservation.


By Kipp Roberston, North Kitsap Herald

Editor’s note: This version expands a comment in the 20th paragraph to clarify how the skatepark and the art will be a mechanism for sharing S’Klallam culture.

LITTLE BOSTON — It was almost midday at the Port Gamble S’Klallam skatepark, and Louie Gong and Josh Wisniewski were preparing to put some final touches on the art sprayed onto the cement.

The two were discussing the collaboration that resulted in a skatepark that was more than a place for people to skateboard. Then, the sound of wings overhead as an eagle flew above, almost directly over a Coast Salish painting of an eagle.

Maybe the eagle was a sign. “Or not, maybe. Maybe [it] just is,” said Wisniewski, the Tribe’s archeologist and cultural anthropologist.

The Tribe will celebrate the official opening of the skatepark in April. It’s a project that started in 2012, after the project was chosen as the best skatepark project — from hundreds of submissions — via social media through the Sheckler Foundation.

The foundation, founded by professional skateboarder Ryan Sheckler, assists projects that benefit and enrich the lives of children and injured athletes. It was the foundation’s first project.

The Tribe provided the site for the project, near the Teekalet neighborhood. The site was selected by the S’Klallams Working and Giving (SWAG) youth group.

After the site was selected, Angelique Zaki of the foundation visited Little Boston to help plan the skatepark’s development. She connected the Tribe’s planning department with Grindline Skateparks, a skatepark developer in Seattle which has built more than 120 parks — from Okinawa, Japan, to Orcas Island to Oxford, Miss. Grindline donated its design services, Zaki said.

Other project partners: Map Ltd., construction and civil engineers of Silverdale, surveying services; Krazan & Associates of Poulsbo, soils testing; and Coho Concrete of Kingston, concrete laying.

Gong said he received a grant through the Evergreen Longhouse to help with costs, mainly travel between his home and the Port Gamble S’Klallam reservation.

The skatepark has become more than just another place to skate. It reflects the Tribe’s youth and culture.

“The artwork here in the park is really meant to reflect the people and interest of who the park belongs to,” Gong said.

Gong, an artist of Nooksack and Chinese ancestry, was one of the driving forces behind the skatepark art. Gong produces Coast Salish art in various forms — among them shoes, skateboard decks and home decor — for his company, Eighth Generation. He was contacted by Wisniewski and invited to participate.

Gong worked with SWAG on what art they would like to see at the park. He took that info back to his office in Seattle and made mockups of the designs and potential color templates on his computer.

Gong and S’Klallam youth then used high-end spray paint, with stencils and masking tape at times, to piece together the art.

The art project was mostly completed within March. The result is a colorful and cultural skating experience.

Breaking barriers

When a non-tribal member steps onto the skatepark they will see an eagle, orca, canoe, and two phrases written in S’Klallam: “It becomes new,” and “We are Noo-Kayet S’Klallam.” “It becomes new” is the closest language equivalent to “Be the Change,” the Sheckler Foundation’s campaign.

It’s almost like a stamp. “You walk into that park, and the first thing you see is ‘Port Gamble S’Klallam,’ ”  Wisniewski said.

The artwork was a way to reflect the youth — not only as S’Klallam, but as the people who brought the skatepark into the community, he said. And that’s not being done in an exclusionary way, but as a way to show respect for the youths’ hard work.

“People have perceptions of Native people and communities,” Wisniewski said. “This park is something that kids who are Tribal members can invite their off-reservation friends to come visit. In doing so and sharing the park and the art, they will be able to share their community, culture and language. That is how the park and skateboarding will break down barriers.”

Already a lot of interest in park

The skatepark is technically open to the S’Klallam community and guests. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t growing interest in the park from outside of the community.

As boxes of spray paint cans and stencils were being pulled out of a supply shed so a few more artistic features could be added to the park, two men pulled into the adjacent parking lot. They wanted to know when the park would be open. Because painting was going on, they were turned away.

Apparently, interested skaters have become common at the park, which hasn’t officially opened.

Wisniewski said skateboarding is growing in popularity within Native American communities. A “cultural event,” he called it.

The skatepark will also give S’Klallam youth another recreational opportunity. Other than the skatepark, there is a playground, gym and basketball court. There is not a lot of recreation for older kids in Little Boston, Wisniewski said.

“If you don’t have a place for kids to do stuff, they won’t do it,” he said.

When finished, the S’Klallam skatepark will be one of four skateparks in the area. Other skateparks are located in Kingston, at Raab Park in Poulsbo, and at Clear Creek Park in Silverdale.