Strengthening our community: Red Curtain Arts Center hosts Tulalip culture night

 

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by Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

On Friday, October 23, the Red Curtain Foundation for the Arts, in partnership with the Tulalip Tribes’ Lushootseed Language Department, hosted a free cultural event from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Tulalip tribal member and Lushootseed teacher, Maria Martin, shared the legend of “Her First Basket” in Lushootseed and English, accompanied by tribal illustrations and artwork.

Scott Randall, president of the Red Curtain Foundation for the Arts in Marysville, first approached Maria at the annual Raising Hands event in 2014 with his idea for bringing the Marysville and Tulalip communities together with a culture night.

“We, Scott and I, thought it would be beneficial to everyone in the Marysville and Tulalip communities. There is a separation between the two and we wanted to break down that wall,” stated Maria. “We know we can be a strong community, but there is so much unknown about one another. This event is just one way for our communities to come together and grow.

“We plan on having a story and activity once a month. It is a free event, with donations if you feel up to it. We just want to break down those walls of curiosity. I’m sure that there are many Natives/ Tulalip community members that have encountered some sort of silly question about Native Americans and how we live. This is a way to educate outsiders, to understand one another.”

Maria chose to share her favorite Lushootseed story “Her First Basket”, a core story in the Lushootseed Department’s values book, and pass along the significant meaning it holds to both her and her people.

 

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“It’s a story about not giving up and there is a bit of community unity within it as well,” explains Maria. “A Cedar tree helps this little girl to see her potential and she gains friends for it. Bringing people together and seeing their potential, it’s something every teacher strives for.”

Marysville and Tulalip community members were invited to partake in the evening of culture. Each table within the auditorium had at its center a “Her First Basket” picture book, so that children and adults could follow along as Maria first told the story in her traditional language, Lushootseed.

Following the storytelling sessions, the audience members were taught some basic weaving skills, using paper and yarn as substitutes for traditional cedar strips, to create their own basket and memento from the evening.

“After telling the story in Lushootseed and in English, we worked on making paper and yarn baskets. For many it was their first basket. It was a fun experience, and people’s talents are so amazing,” says Maria. “I hope to see more community members from both the Marysville and Tulalip communities at future events. We are all related, we live right next to one another, and our care for our neighbors is so important. It was so nice to see the people that showed up; the outcome of their basket making was beautiful. Accomplishing something you haven’t done before is such a great feeling, and meeting new people with the new experience is a beautiful thing too. There are so many people out there that we can all learn something from.”

 

 Contact Micheal Rios,  mrios@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

Tobacco-Free Together

Attendees at theTobacco-Free Together Day not receive help to quit smoking, they also learned weaving and beading as a way to use cultural activities to cope with and get through nicotine cravings. Photo/Micheal Rios

Attendees at the Tobacco-Free Together Day not only received help to quit smoking, they also learned weaving and beading as a way to use cultural activities to cope with and get through nicotine cravings. Photo/Micheal Rios

 

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Smoke Salmon, Not Cigarettes. That was the theme at this year’s first ever Tobacco-Free Together Day, held on Wednesday, October 28 at Greg Williams Court from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Planned by the Adult and Youth Smoking Cessation programs, the event brought members of the Tulalip community together with the goal of getting as many people as possible to quit smoking for the day, begin thinking about quitting, and celebrating a journey to becoming smoke-free together.

Some quick, sobering facts. Although Native Americans make up approximately 1% of the United States population, we have the highest smoking rates of any racial/ethnic group in the United States. Two out of every five Native Americans will die from tobacco-related diseases if the current smoking rate of 40.8% persist. Currently, there is no proven, effective culturally-tailored smoking cessation program designed specifically for the Native American population.

Fortunately, there are dedicated folks within Tulalip’s Smoking Cessation programs who are committed to creating culturally-tailored stop-smoking events and strategies to help combat cigarette smoking, the number one cause of preventable death among Native Americans.

“Attendees shared a salmon lunch, learned some interesting facts about nicotine, and received a goodie bag including smoked salmon, facts about tobacco, and shirts sporting our motto for the event, ‘smoke salmon, not cigarettes’,” said Ashley Tiedman, Tobacco Cessation Program Coordinator. “It was a very positive day full of good vibes!  On top of the delicious lunch, we had the Rediscovery Program from Hibulb Cultural Center on hand teaching attendees cedar weaving. Also, Taylor Henry taught beading as a way to use cultural activities to cope with and get through nicotine cravings.

 

Photo/Micheal Rios

Photo/Micheal Rios

 

“It was a great start for an event we plan to have annually. A total of 120 people attended. Of those, about 30 people were thinking about quitting smoking, currently quitting, or committed to quit for the day.

“I really look forward to how this event will grow,” continued Ashley. “Tobacco-Free Together Day is a day for the whole community, whether you smoke or not, to come together and celebrate being smoke-free. The goal of this event was to help raise awareness on the dangers of smoking while also being a fun and relaxing environment where people wouldn’t feel pressured to quit, but be able to walk away with valuable resources rooted in culture, so when they’re ready to quit they’ll know what is available to help them on their journey to becoming smoke-free.”

Ready to quit smoking? Tulalip Tribes Stop Smoking Program can be reached at (360) 716-5719. Please call for supplies and support in your journey to become smoke-free.

 

Contact Micheal Rios at mrios@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

Mountain Camp 2015: Walking in the footsteps of our ancestors

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By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News; Photos courtesy of Libby Nelson, Tulalip Environmental Policy Analyst

Wilderness. The wild. Whether intentional or not, using the world “wild” to designate landscape and environment sets the land apart from us. Americans are civilized, Natives are savages, and the land is wild. Sound familiar? Because of American formal education and informal borrowing of traits from other cultures, Americans believe they can visit the wild, but can never live in it. Americans are trained to think that those who do choose to live in the wilderness are either Natives (read savages) or half-crazed tree huggers.

But the concept of wilderness was obsolete the minute it was born. We, as a Native society and Tulalip people, know every inch of this land used to be Indian Country. Every inch. There is not now, nor has there ever been, a “wild” or a “wilderness” on this continent. All things are related. This notion of connectedness to all things was so central to our ancestors, to the very essence of Native culture, but has dissipated as generation after generation of Native peoples have found themselves urbanized; slowly transformed by the contemporary world of independence, big cities, and a relentless dependence on technology.

So then how can we reasonably begin to understand our ancestors, their actions, thoughts, and values? If we live in a modern time that is inherently different in nearly every respect than the time of our ancestors, how can we truly grasp the culture we stem from? The culture we fight to hold onto, both externally and internally, every single day, while the world around us constantly tells us to give it up, get with modern times, and stop looking backward, look forward.

There is no simple solution, yet as we look around we can clearly see a persistence and resurgence of Tulalip culture that we refuse to let die. There is the plan for Lushootseed immersion classrooms, the stead-fast work of our Rediscovery Program, the restoration of the Qwuloolt Estuary, and, most recently, the reintroduction of our ancestral mountainous areas to a new wave of Tulalip citizens, known as Mountain Camp 2015.

 

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The idea behind Mountain Camp helps us begin to answer the critical questions about how we keep in touch with our ancestors in modern times. Instead of bringing traditional teachings to an untraditional space, we learn our ancestral teachings in an ancestral space, to walk as they walked. The pristine swədaʔx̌ali co-stewardship area, located 5,000 feet up in the Skykomish Watershed, was a space where our ancestors once resided. It was a place where they hunted, gathered, and lived only off the sustenance the land offered them. Most importantly, after all these years, the swədaʔx̌ali remains a land our ancestors would recognize today, unhampered by urban cities and deconstruction.

“I think for our youth to be up in the mountains it is critical for them to get a strong, firm understanding of who they really are as Tulalip people,” says Patti Gobin, Tulalip Foundation Board of Trustee. “It’s been a long time since our people, our children in particular, have been allowed into these areas. After the signing of the treaty, we were confined to the reservation at Tulalip, and many of us grew up thinking that’s all we were, Tulalips from a reservation. But we are far more than that. From white cap to white cap, as Coast Salish people, this was our ancestral land and it means everything to have our children up here to allow the spirits of our ancestors to commune with them and talk to them, and for them to experience what it is to be out in the wilderness, the way we have always lived.

“If they are given the gifts of what the woods have to offer them and they have ears to listen, then those gifts will strengthen them as young men and women. They’ll never forget this experience and they’ll always come back here and they’ll always fight for the right to come back here, which is critical for future generations.”

 

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For the inaugural Mountain Camp 2015 (held in mid-August), three camp leaders led eight Tulalip tribal members, all 7th and 8th graders, in the experience of a lifetime. They spent five days and four nights in the swədaʔx̌ali and surrounding areas living as our ancestors lived; setting up and taking down camp as they moved locations, singing, storytelling, making traditional cedar baskets, foraging, berry picking, preparing meals, building fires, using the crystal clear lake to cleanse their bodies and spirits, learning traditional values in the sacred land, and coming together as a supportive family.

In order to give the Tulalip youth the most impactful experience possible, the Natural Resources Department teamed with Cultural Resources and Youth Services to develop two main themes for the camp: reconnecting to the mountains and x̌əʔaʔxʷaʔšəd (stepping lightly).  Both themes aspire to reunite the children with teachings and values central to our ancestors; recognizing the connectedness of all things while respecting the Earth.

“Mountain Camp is all about having a space for kids to come up and just enjoy the outdoors, connect with their mountain culture, learn how to camp, learn how to be out here and be safe,” says camp leader Kelly Finley, Natural Resources Outreach and Education Coordinator. “I grew up in the mountains hunting, fishing, and playing in the trees. It was a vital part of my youth and to this day I love being out there. It is an honor to provide an opportunity for young people to love the outdoors as I do. I hope through this experience there will be a better understanding of our natural world and how we all connect to our environment. I look forward to continue this work next year with new and returning students.”

In keeping with their traditional teachings the youth introduced themselves to the mountains and forest that make up the swədaʔx̌ali region. They took turns stating their names, their parents’ names, and the names of their grandparents. The mountains took notice and later that night swədaʔx̌ali formally introduced itself to the kids in the form of a glorious show of thunder and lightning.

“Thunder is medicine to our people, it was the mountain’s way of welcoming our people back to the place we’ve been absent far too long,” says Inez Bill, Rediscovery Program Coordinator. “The children were in an area where the spirits of our ancestors could see them. We, the elders who volunteered and visited the youth on their camp, did our best to impart the meaning and importance of what they were doing. They were experiencing a place, a spirit of our ancestors that most people will never be able to experience. We hope that experience helps lead those youth to live a good life. As younger people they are in their most formative years. We used to have rites of passage, and for these youth,  Mountain Camp represented a rite of passage for them.”

Indeed, the Tulalip elders and volunteers added to the overall experience of the youth; helping to explain how their ancestors were one with their environment and lived a fulfilled and spiritual life, all without the uses of cellphones, computers, T.V., and the internet. A true highlight was the elders teaching the youngsters how to make their very own cedar baskets so that they could go huckleberry picking during their brief stay in the mountains. The messages of finding strength and beauty in all experiences with nature were taken in by the youth and each did his and her best to internalize those values.

“The elders have been telling us stories about what they used to do when they used to go berry picking, and how it was tradition that they make it look like they weren’t even there. They just picked a little bit and moved along,” explains camp participant Jacynta Myles. “They made cedar bark baskets and used them for berry picking baskets. You can go from blackberries to huckleberries and store practically anything in it.

“I love the area. How we woke up to thunder this morning, I’ve never heard it that loud. I think every area in the woods is pretty special, but being here in this area, all together, makes it even more special. And we’re having fun.”

 

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“It’s all about going into the wilderness, no electronics or nothing like that,” says youth participant Sunny Killebrew. “We’re just like on our own, no parents, just depending on ourselves and making new friends. We’ve been learning that this is the land where are ancestors were raised, grew up, and lived. They hunted, they ate, they slept, they did everything on this land right here. It feels good, like I’m doing something they would want me to do.”

For the tribal elders and everyone involved who contributed to making Mountain Camp a reality, it was a dream come true to witness the camp youth as they one-by-one grasped the importance of walking in their ancestor’s footsteps. The entire project had been in the works over the last few years, allowing Natural Resources the necessary time to find funding and the resources to build a Mountain Camp program for our youth.

“This, as the first year, was a big learning experience for all of us. While there are things we might tweak for next year, overall we believe this first year was a big success and deeply worthwhile, as measured by the experience these eight kids received and all that we, as program leaders, learned as it unfolded,” said Libby Nelson, Tulalip Environmental Policy Analyst. “Success this year can be attributed to the collaboration with our Cultural Resources, Language and Youth Services staff; and a very successful and helpful partnership with the YMCA Outdoor Leadership Program in Seattle, the US Forest Service, and our own Rediscovery Program in Tulalip’s Cultural Resources division.

“This Mountain Camp experience presented an opportunity to reconnect tribal youth to these inland, mountain ancestral territories where their ancestors lived, while also explicitly reserving rights to continue using these areas for hunting, fishing and gathering.”

 

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From practically being inside a thunder and lightning storm at an elevation of 5,000 feet, to storytelling in their Lushootseed language as they witnessed a meteor shower, to creating their own cedar bark baskets for huckleberry picking, the Tulalip youth created many memories that will last a lifetime. As they grow and mature into adults, their sense of appreciation for what they were able to be a part of and experience will undoubtedly grow immensely. It’s a difficult task for anyone to be expected to live as their ancestors lived, let alone asking that of a 7th or 8th grade student. In honor of their efforts and achievements while participating in Mountain Camp 2015 the youth were honored with a blanket ceremony when they got back home to Tulalip.

“The ceremony was to acknowledge what the kids went through. It was an accomplishment for them to go through everything that they did while up in the mountains, living in nature,” continues Inez Bill. “They didn’t have their cell phones or any of the other electronic gadgets they would have back home. They experienced something together, they grew together, and they had a rite of passage together. I covered the kids with blankets as a remembrance of what they went through. The ceremony recognized that rite of passage, of how we want them to be as young people.

“In our ancestral way, they were brought out to nature to find their spiritual strength. I think later in their lives, that spiritual strength will give them direction and confidence when they need it most. And for the parents and grandparents who were at the ceremony, I think they were happy and truly touched.”

Following the ceremony the camp participants mingled a while longer, still wrapped in their blankets, and talking about their favorite moments from Mountain Camp. Going to their ancestral lands, being immersed in their cultural teachings, a rite of passage, experiencing nature as it was meant to be experienced. There are so many possible takeaways, but none bigger than that of camp participant Kaiser Moses who says, “I feel empowered. I feel I can do anything!”

 

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Plans are already underway for Mountain Camp 2016. Stay on the lookout for more details and registration information in future syəcəb and online on our Tulalip News Facebook page.

Keeping Lushootseed Language Alive In the Voices of Youth

Maria Martin teaches Lushootseed to preschoolers at the Tulalip Montessori School.KUOW PHOTO/BEN GAULD

Maria Martin teaches Lushootseed to preschoolers at the Tulalip Montessori School.
KUOW PHOTO/BEN GAULD

By Ben Gauld, KUOW

 

In Maria Martin’s preschool classroom at the Tulalip Montessori School, the children were learning to count to ten.

“Two!” they shouted.

But this lesson wasn’t in English. “In Lushootseed!” Martin instructed her class.

Saliʔ!” their tiny voices rang out.

Linguists estimate that by the end of the century, 80% of all world languages will fall out of use. Maria Martin is trying to prevent her language from vanishing.

Lushootseed is the language of many tribes in the Puget Sound region, including the Muckleshoot, Puyallup, and Duwamish. It’s been around for hundreds of years, but is  in danger of going extinct.

Only a few tribal leaders are fluent in Lushootseed. “You hear people saying how amazing it is that you can speak it, how they wish they could, but they don’t have time,” Martin explained.

One of Martin’s “worst fears” is that her language “dies out and nobody speaks it anymore. Because that’s a big part of who we are.” If the language is lost, according to Martin, “it just seems that much easier to lose everything else.”

“It’s Something To Be Celebrated”

When a language dies, more than just words stop being spoken. Stories stop being told. Songs stop being sung. Preserving cultural values and history is much harder without a way to share them.

“How are you going to sing songs you don’t know the meanings to?” Martin asked. “How are you going to provide any traditional connections without the language? I feel you need to know the language, if only some of it, to really understand the whole culture.”

If Lushootseed is going to survive, Martin believes it must carry on in the voices of youth. The Tulalip Montessori School offers classes in Lushootseed to children ages three though five. They learn to count, sing songs, and tell stories in the language. The lessons in Lushootseed provide a way for the kids to experience their cultural heritage, which they couldn’t find in most preschools.

Martin said the community’s response has been overwhelmingly positive. She sees parents post Facebook videos of their kids singing Lushootsheed songs, or saying Lushootseed words. “You see that pride in the parents. ‘Hey, my child knows this.’ It’s something to be celebrated.”

When Martin was a child, she attended the same school where she now teaches.  She hopes to be the inspiration that some of her teachers were to her.

“I was lucky enough to start out in Montessori and learn some Lushootseed, but after I left I didn’t get much exposure. It wasn’t offered in school anymore,” she explained. She said that much more work needs to be done.

An Evolving Language

The Tulalip tribes are working to train more teachers, and get language programs into higher levels of school.

But for Lushootseed to remain relevant, it must also adapt to the changing lifestyles of its speakers.

David Sienko is not a Native tribe member, but he’s been working with the Tulalip Tribes for the past decade. He’s a media developer in charge of all the technological aspects of the Tribes: managing the website, creating weather forecasts in Lushootseed, and anything that helps to reconcile the language with the technology of today.

“Technology has changed,” said Sienko. “So we have to create new words for modern life, and in doing so that’s going to help preserve the language.”

For example, tqad ti səxʷč̓əɬab means “turn off the TV.” And  x̌alalikʷ čəd ʔal ti səxʷʔayilali means “I am typing on the computer.”

Sienko is confident that Lushootseed won’t go extinct any time soon. “All the Lushootseed-speaking tribes are really putting in a concerted effort, and they are starting to work together more readily,” he explained.

Ultimately, it is up to the next generation to keep Lushootseed alive. That’s why Maria Martin does her work.

“The kids inspire me to get up every day and come into work,” she said. “Next year they might go onto kindergarten and forget all about me. But for that little bit there was something there. Maybe they’ll have the chance to take away what I took away.”

 

RadioActive is KUOW’s program for high school students. This story was produced in RadioActive’s Spring Workshop. Listen to RadioActive stories, subscribe to the RadioActive podcast and stay in touch on Facebook and Twitter.

Local tribe’s planned whale hunt draws criticism, support

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KOMO News

 

SEATTLE — The Makah Indian tribe has the legal right to hunt gray whales, but some say the practice is cruel and outdated and should no longer be allowed.

It’s been a decade since the Makah tribe in Neah Bay last killed any gray whales, but tribal leaders have announced plans to hunt 20 whales over the next five years.

The tribe says the killing is for cultural reasons, and for 2,000 years it has been a central part of who they are. But many people who attended a Monday public hearing on the matter say the world has lots of examples of cultural traditions that are plain wrong.

Now the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration must make their decision on the law and the numbers.

European and Russian hunters nearly wiped out the gray wale population, dropping it from 20,000 to 2,000. Gray whales were then placed on the endangered species list, and the population has since returned to 20,000.

Federal regulators have yet to take a position on the Makah plan, but officials listened to both sides during an emotionally charged public hearing on Monday.

“We did not pick a preferred recommendation because we knew people feel very strongly about that. And we didn’t want to pre-judge it,” NOAA’s Michael Milstein said.

While some turned out Monday to voice support for the tribe, most of the speakers steadfastly oppose the hunt.

“They should perhaps consider what some of the other tribes have done, and honor them in a different way,” said Katherine Pruitt.

Others, including members of the Chippewa tribe, voiced support for the Makah plan.

“It’s in their treaty rights. You know, that’s the big thing. We need to honor it,” said Jeff Powell.

No members of the Makah tribe attended Monday’s meetings. The second and final public hearing will be held Wednesday evening in Port Angeles.

Michelle Obama Just Made Groundbreaking Remarks On Native American Struggles

AUTHOR: RYAN DENSON, addictinginfo.org

Get ready for right-wing heads to explode like you’ve never seen before: First Lady Michelle Obama just stood up for Native Americans and their plight in American history, and told every citizen far and wide that they are being stripped of their culture.

Speaking to Generation Indigenous, Michelle Obama touched on Native American history and today’s youth and how the United States government has ultimately stripped them of their heritage due to systemic discrimination, abuse and racism:

“You see, we need to be very clear about where the challenges in this community first started. Folks in Indian Country didn’t just wake up one day with addiction problems. Poverty and violence didn’t just randomly happen to this community. These issues are the result of a long history of systematic discrimination and abuse.”

“Let me offer just a few examples from our past, starting with how, back in 1830, we passed a law removing Native Americans from their homes and forcibly re-locating them to barren lands out west. The Trail of Tears was part of this process. Then we began separating children from their families and sending them to boarding schools designed to strip them of all traces of their culture, language and history. And then our government started issuing what were known as ‘Civilization Regulations’ – regulations that outlawed Indian religions, ceremonies and practices – so we literally made their culture illegal.”

These comments are truly groundbreaking coming from the First Lady. They speak volumes of the Obama Administration’s strive to be inclusive to all and remember our history’s stains. While Republicans, from state laws in Michigan and Wisconsin to acts of Congress, continue to throw Native Americans under the bus, the First Lady shares in their plight. I am sure Republicans will cry reverse racism and throw their hands in the air accusing her of pandering to anti-white “causes.”

But can you blame conservatives, who hold Ayn Rand in such high regard (cough cough Rand Paul and Paul Ryan)? Given the fact that Ayn Rand is on record saying:

“[The Native Americans] didn’t have any rights to the land and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using…. What was it they were fighting for, if they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their “right” to keep part of the earth untouched, unused and not even as property, just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal, or maybe a few caves above it. Any white person who brought the element of civilization had the right to take over this continent.”

The difference in ideology is striking.

“So given this history, we shouldn’t be surprised at the challenges that kids in Indian Country are facing today.  And we should never forget that we played a role in this.  Make no mistake about it – we own this,” Michelle Obama continued.

We are so lucky to have a First Lady like Michelle Obama. She speaks the truth, and she’s a realist. We must confront our past actions, realize the have long, lasting effects, and work to fix our mistakes. Burying our heads in the sand and saying “it’s in the past” is not going to work. Bravo, Madame First Lady.

Hibulb’s native gardening class a success

Working with nettles in the Hibulb’s gardening class. photo courtesy Virginia Jones, Hibulb Culture Center

Working with nettles in the Hibulb’s gardening class.
photo courtesy Virginia Jones, Hibulb Culture Center

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

On Sunday, March 15, 2015 the Hibulb Rediscovery Program held a native gardening plant class to give Tulalip tribal members the opportunity to connect with their ancestral roots. This class was coordinated by Rediscovery Program staff members Inez Bill, Joy Lacy and Virginia Jones.

“We were very glad to see the large volume of interest. The class filled up very quickly,” says Virginia Jones. “We are thankful for the interest and wish we could offer it to more people. We are glad that people understand why we need to offer this class to our tribal members. We were anxious to see what kind of turn out we were going to have considering it was pouring down rain, but, despite the terrible weather, we were grateful to have a full class.

“The people got to hear advice about working with plants that has been picked up over the years from different teachers. The group went out and endured the rain. They learned how to harvest, clean, and process stinging nettles. They got to learn some of the uses for stinging nettles and what type of areas to look for them in. It was exciting to see. The class really came together and did the work. After the work was done they shared a light lunch.

“One of the important messages I hope everyone was able to take home is that it’s our responsibility to take care of these plants and the world they live in. It is just like fishing, hunting, clam digging, and berry picking. If we don’t protect their environments then there won’t be any places for us to harvest them from. If we overharvest, then there won’t be enough to sustain themselves. This is something that our people did for thousands of years. Now it is all being threatened by pollutants, new development areas, and people. I think a lot of the older generation can agree that the ‘woods’ just aren’t what they use to be. If we are going to go out and take these living things, then it is also our responsibility to protect them.

“Again, we thank everyone for their interest in the class. We are glad that there are so many people willing to reintroduce these plants back into their lives. These plants are able to provide their body and spirit with so much more than store bought foods.”

For more information about Hibulb Cultural Center events visit www.hibulbculturalcenter.org

Our Plants Are Our Medicine

 Hibulb’s Rediscovery Program offers new gardening class to connect Tulalip’s ancestors

 

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By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve’s Rediscovery Program is offering Tulalip tribal members an exciting new class to reconnect with their traditional culture. The class is part of a series of classes entitled ‘Native Plants and Medicinal Herbs’ that will be ongoing during the traditional harvesting season, early spring to late fall. The series of classes will focus on teaching tribal members how to collect, garden, harvest, and process native plants and herbs that are indigenous to the Tulalip region. The first of a full series of native plant gardening classes will take place Sunday, March 15, starting promptly at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 4:00 p.m., at the Center’s facility classroom.

“Our plants are our medicine. They nourish our bodies and feed our spirit,” says Inez Bill, Rediscovery Coordinator. “We want to see our people gardening and harvesting the plants and herbs that our people have used historically. So we are starting this brand new series of classes that will help pass on the values and teachings of our ancestors. Hopefully, by taking the classes, our people will begin to use these plants at their homes and grow them in their gardens for their own use.”

Over the past four years, the Rediscovery Program has hosted its ‘Gardening Together as Families’ classes that emphasized teaching our tribal membership how to grow their own organic vegetable gardens. The Rediscovery Program staff think that the time is right to shift from a general theme of organic vegetables to one that specifically tailors to the traditional gardening customs of our Tulalip ancestors. By reintroducing the Tulalip people to native plants and herbs that were once used by our ancestors for generations.

“We’ve been doing the ‘Gardening Together as Families’ classes for four years now. That was an opportunity for people to come get hands-on experience growing their own organic vegetables. Now, we are able to shift the theme of our gardening classes to accommodate the needs of our people,” explains Rediscovery staff member Virginia Jones. “We want to give the people an opportunity to learn about the uses of Tulalip native plants and to grow them at their own homes.”

Throughout this new series of native plant gardening classes, there will be a primary focus of working with and getting familiar with the many uses of five major native plants; the stinging nettle, fireweed, giant horsetail, the Nootka Rose, and mountain huckleberry. There will be other native plants worked with as well, to supplement the uses and knowledge that come from working with the five major native plants.

“These plants we will be working with are all traditional food sources. They are something that are ancestors would have had, and so we are really fortunate to have them still available to us,” says Jones. “Today these foods are no longer a part of our everyday diets. We are trying to reintroduce these native plants back into the diets of our people. We want to reach our people on that level because these plants were used as foods that healed us and kept our bodies full of all different types of nutrients that our bodies needed.”

To participate in the first class in this new series, to be held March 15, the Rediscovery Program staff ask that you please RSVP ahead of time by calling Virginia Jones at (360) 716-2635 and leave a brief message with your name and how many family members will be attending with you. The initial class will be accepting 20 tribal member participants, so RSVP your spot as soon as possible.

Also, all those who will be participating in the native plant gardening class should remember to bring garden gloves and paper bags.

“Working with native plants is our culture,” says Bill. “It’s a delicate balance of going out and being with nature, gathering plants in prayer and working with them in a respectful way. We are one with nature at this time.”

 

Contact: Micheal Rios, mrios@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

An Indian Education for All

By Matt Remle

 

Matt Remle (blue shirt) with Denny Hurtado and Michael Vendiola from the Office of Native Education providing testimony to the Marysville School Board to adopt the STI curriculum. Photo by: Tulalip News/ Brandi N. Montreuil

Matt Remle (blue shirt) with Denny Hurtado and Michael Vendiola from the Office of Native Education providing testimony to the Marysville School Board to adopt the STI curriculum. Photo by: Tulalip News/ Brandi N. Montreuil

 

The Washington State legislature has introduced a bill requiring Northwest tribal history, culture, and government to be taught in the common schools.

Washington SB 5433 is an amendment to the 2005 House Bill 1495.  H.B. 1495 “encouraged” Washington State school districts to teach Northwest tribal history, culture, and government.  The Since Time Immemorial tribalsovereignty curriculum (STI) grew out of H.B. 1495 and was developed in partnership with the 29 tribes in WA State and the State’s Office of Native Education.

Since its passage, only two school districts in the state have adopted STI as core, or mandated, curriculum.  The Marysville school district located just north of Seattle and whose school boundaries include the Tulalip tribes became the most recent to do so.

State law makers are now seeking to have the curriculum required in the State’s schools with the introduction of S.B. 5433.

S.B. 5433 states:

The legislature recognizes the need to reaffirm the state’s commitment to educating the citizens of our state, particularly the youth who are our future leaders, about tribal history, culture, treaty rights, contemporary tribal and state government institutions and relations and the contribution of Indian nations to the state of Washington. The legislature recognizes that this goal has yet to be achieved in most of our state’s schools and districts. As a result, Indian students may not find the school curriculum, especially Washington state history curriculum, relevant to their lives or experiences. In addition, many students may remain uninformed about the experiences, contributions, and perspectives of their tribal neighbors, fellow citizens, and classmates. The legislature finds that more widespread use of the Since Time Immemorial curriculum developed by the office of the superintendent of public instruction and available free of charge to schools would contribute greatly towards helping improve school’s history curriculum and improve the experiences Indian students have in our schools. Accordingly, the legislature finds that merely encouraging education regarding Washington’s tribal history, culture, and government is not sufficient, and hereby declares its intent that such education be mandatory in Washington’s common schools.”

If passed, Washington State would become the second state to mandate the teaching of tribal sovereignty curriculum. Montana is currently the only state to mandate Indian education for all state schools when it passed House Bill 528— the Indian Education for All Act, in 1999.

Matt Remle (Lakota) works for the Office of Indian Education in the Marysville/Tulalip school district and was on the curriculum committee that helped pass the districts requirement to teach the Since Time Immemorial tribal sovereignty curriculum in the Marysville schools.