Awakening the Language pt. II: Lushootseed Dept introduces new words for three-phrase challenge

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“This is who we are and where we come from. Lushootseed is part of our culture, and we should be able to embrace it and share it with everyone,” expressed Lushootseed Language Warrior Michelle Myles. “It’s awakening the language. This initiative is keeping it awake, spreading it, and sharing it with everyone.”

Last September, the Tulalip Lushootseed language department embarked on an initiative that challenged the community to incorporate three words into their everyday vernacular: ʔi čəxʷ, t’igʷicid, and huyʔ, which translates to hello, thank you, and goodbye in English. 

For decades, the language department has done amazing work at both recovering the traditional sduhubš language and sharing that knowledge with the tribal community. With established partnerships with the Betty J. Early Learning Academy and the Marysville School District, the language department introduces Lushootseed to their membership at a young age, setting a strong foundation to build upon. As students progress through their academic career, Lushootseed courses are readily available, from pre-k all the way through college, for those who wish to sharpen their traditional linguistics and be a part of the language revitalization movement happening at Tulalip.

In the past, the department has come up with some impressive and innovative ideas to help spread the language community-wide. For example, the department regularly holds classes for the adults of the community and employees of the Tribe. They also host storytelling get-togethers aimed at getting the entire family unit speaking Lushootseed with each other. And on top of all of that, they developed an interactive, informative, and easy to navigate database that is jampacked with Lushootseed knowledge including the visual and audio pronunciations of hundreds of words and phrases.

What was nearly lost to assimilation efforts in the 1900’s is flourishing in 2024 thanks to the dedication and love that each Lushootseed warrior has for their ancestral language. Thanks to their hard work, it is nearly as common to hear a toddler speaking Lushootseed phrases as it is to hear a Tulalip elder speaking the same language. 

That being said, there are still numerous tribal members who are not quite as acquainted with the language as they’d like to be. There are several non-Natives, or other tribal members, throughout the reservation who would like to learn and utilize the language of the sduhubš as a sign of respect to the original inhabitants of this region. 

This initiative is the perfect place to start for newbies to the language. The idea is that by replacing three English words with their Lushootseed counterparts during your everyday conversations, you are more likely to grasp the meaning and pronunciation of the word. You’ll be all the more encouraged to use the phrases throughout your day; and every time you speak the language, you share it and inspire others to participate in the initiative. 

Known both as the Awakening the Language initiative or the three-phrase challenge, the project introduces three words and/or phrases to the community at a time. Throughout the fall and early winter season, the people became familiar with ʔi čəxʷ, t’igʷicid, and huyʔ. Many incorporated the phrases into their e-mails and professional interactions as soon as the initiative was announced. 

To keep the project fresh in everybody’s minds, the language department posted yard signs throughout the reservation, in highly visible areas, that displayed the Lushootseed words for hello, thank you, and goodbye. At the bottom of each yard sign were QR codes that the passengers of moving vehicles or those out for a walk could capture with their phone cameras. The QR code led them to the Tulalip Lushootseed website where they could learn more about the initiative and hear the pronunciation of each word. The signs did exactly what they were intended to – get the people talking. 

After the community spent close to four months with those initial phrases, the Lushootseed department introduced three new words to the people earlier this month. And if it ain’t broke, no need to fix it! The department is taking the same approach that was successful last fall. New signs are already posted all across the village in various neighborhoods and along high-traffic roadways. The new words areare ʔi (yes), xʷiʔ (no), and haʔɬ dadatu (good morning).

Brian Berry, the language department’s video producer/director, was instrumental in this getting this project started. He shared, “These are three things that everyone can say. It actually started here at the Lushootseed department. There are some signs here in the building that say, ‘English words we’re not going to use anymore’. That kind of got my brain spinning that we, as employees and tribal members, should replace these three phrases, using the Lushootseed ones instead of the English ones – just trying to get everyone to speak the language.”

This go-round we get a bonus word as red octagon signs, with the word gʷəƛ̕əlad, have been placed underneath stop signs all around Tulalip as well. Given it’s placement and shape, one could easily surmise they are Lushootseed stop signs, which is incredibly creative and entices people to learn the Lushootseed pronunciation of the word stop as soon as possible. And like the signs from the three-phrase challenge, the gʷəƛ̕əlad sign also has a QR code that people can follow to hear that pronunciation. 

As soon as the signs were posted, we shared an image of a gʷəƛ̕əlad sign to our Tulalip News Facebook which was met with great reception and many praised Tulalip for preserving their language and making it accessible to their people. 

Said Michelle, “This was something fresh we could work on to get the community speaking the language. We were looking for ways to get the language out there to share it, where it’s not in the classroom, not with a teacher, and it’s something you could use with family members and share it in that way.”

For more information about the initiative, the three phrases and how you can help spread the ancestral word, please visit www.TulalipLushootseed.com

Lushootseed returns to Marysville Pilchuck High School

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

After nearly a two decade hiatus, the Lushootseed language has finally returned to the classroom as an official program taught at Marysville Pilchuck High School for the 2019-2020 school year. 

The tireless dedication of longtime Indigenous education employees and Native student supporters Matt Remle and Ricky Belmont, who made it their mission long ago to bring the Coast Salish language to the high school, has brought a swift sense of excitement to the MP campus.

“For years my co-worker Ricky Belmont and I worked to find ways to bring Native language learning opportunities to Marysville Pilchuck. Last year, the stars finally aligned when we reached out to our administration about developing a Lushootseed class on campus and they agreed,” explained Matt Remle, lead Indigenous education liaison. “When it came time to register for classes this year, Ricky and I reached out to our current students and incoming freshman and told them they better sign up after all that hustling.

“Because demand was high we now have the amazing Natosha Gobin teaching two classes on campus,” he continued. “Students are already being [heavily] influenced. Yesterday, I was speaking to a senior about her post high school plans and she said she wanted to be a Lushootseed teacher!”

A Tulalip tribal member, Natosha has spent the last 19-years learning, teaching, and helping to revitalize the traditional language of her ancestors. She has come full circle after graduating as an MP high school student 20 years ago to now reentering the MP halls as a certified teacher and Lushootseed instructor.

“Toby Langen and Tony Hatch taught Lushootseed classes at MP in the early 2000’s, which were the classes that I sat in on along with Eliza Davis when we first started in the language department,” recalled Natosha. “It is exciting to be back on the campus as the lead teacher. I hope that I can keep the students engaged and speaking, giving them tools to use the language daily both in and out of the classroom.

“The work that Michelle Myles has done the past two years at Heritage has sparked the interest for high school youth to start learning and speaking our language,” she continued. “We have high hopes that the youth taking these classes will be able to see themselves as the next group of teachers to keep the work moving forward.”

The Lushootseed course was offered to all interested students from all grade levels and quickly filled up. It comes as no surprise that the majority of her students are Tulalip tribal members who jumped at the opportunity to learn  their traditional language and history from an actual Tulalip culture bearer.

“It’s already one of my favorite classes,” shared 10th grader Shylah Zackuse (Tulalip). “After finding out Lushootseed would be offered, I planned my daily schedule perfectly in order to take it. Being taught by a tribal member, there’s a real connection because Natosha is family.” 

Currently offered during 2nd and 3rd period only, 34 out of the 52 enrolled students are either Tulalip tribal members or have lived in the Tulalip community their whole lives. The remainder of the students are a mixture of other Native and non-Native students who are eager to learn about the traditional lifeways of their neighboring Tulalip people. 

“I don’t know a lot about my Native culture, so taking Lushootseed is a new opportunity to learn about my background,” explained 9th grader Jesse Lamoureaux (Tsimshian from Metlakatla, Alaska). “This class teaches me about my past. What we are learning is thanks to our ancestors from way back who documented their teachings on audio tapes. My favorite phrase so far has to be ηαʔɬ δαδατυ (Lushootseed for ‘good morning’) because we can say it every day.”

The Lushootseed coursework will focus on relevant conversation lessons that can be used throughout the day. These include talking about daily routines, weather, describing feelings and states of mind, as well as many more topics to keep students engaged.

The course will also feature a great many references to Tulalip ancestors and elders who laid the foundation for where the Tribes are today, such as Harriet Shelton Dover, Martha Lamont and Lizzie Krise to name but a few. And best of all the MP students won’t be reading about these iconic individuals from colonial textbooks either, instead they will be hearing their powerful words spoken from a combination of archived video and audio resources.

“Some of my greatest inspirations are the speakers who had the foresight to document and record our language, enabling us to speak and teach it today,” said Natosha. “We want to ensure our community is aware of the ancestors who played key roles in preserving the language. Through passing on their stories, some of our youth are able to recognize their connection to the speakers and deepen their desire to participate.”

With both Lushootseed classes at full capacity and a waiting list with students hoping to transfer in if the opportunity arises, Marysville Pilchuck is already looking to build on the early successes of having more culturally relevant classes available for their diverse student population.

“It’s so wonderful to be able to offer Lushootseed to our students,” explained Principal Christine Bromley. “We have Native students, non-Native students and students with disabilities all taking Lushootseed. From all perspectives of this, it’s a great opportunity to build relationships.  

“Partnering with the Tulalip Tribes to bring Lushootseed here to the high school is a critical piece to build upon the relationship between the school district and the Tribes,” she added. “I can’t wait to see us grow Lushootseed into a level 2 and 3 program to get more and more students involved.”

Future plans also include offering a Native art class, such as an introduction to carving taught by a tribal member. The class space is currently available and only requires a willing artist to teach it. Until then, Natosha and her collection of Indigenous wisdom intend to teach and inspire the culturally oriented young minds of Marysville Pilchuck High School. 

Lushootseed Camp, week two: more youth, more culture

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News; Photos by Micheal Rios & Natosha Gobin

During week one of the 23rd Annual Lushootseed Day Camp, there were 58 youth participants. Engagement and overall involvement increased significantly during week two, as 72 Children of the Salmon contributed to the cultural sharing and commitment to Lushootseed.

“It makes my heart happy seeing so many of our young ones learning our traditional language,” boasts Michele Balagot, Lushootseed Manager. “It is amazing to witness the amount of participation and community involvement we receive each year.”

From Monday July 16 to Friday July 20, the Kenny Moses Building was home to the children learning traditional teachings, listening to storytelling by elders, and using their creative minds to create and paint an assortment of giveaway items. It’s a time that Tulalip children, families and community look forward to as it provides them an opportunity to immerse themselves in Lushootseed and the rich culture of the Coast Salish people.

Open to children age five to twelve who want to learn about their culture and the language of their ancestors, Lushootseed Camp provides invaluable traditional teachings through art, songs, technology, weaving and storytelling. Each year the Lushootseed Department teams up with Cultural Resources, along with a select number of vital community volunteers, to hold two one-week day camps in the summer. 

“So proud of my fellow Language Warriors for putting together some amazing lessons, proud of our volunteers for stepping up to help us along the way, and proud of our community who supported our efforts by allowing their kids to participate,” said Language Warrior Natosha Gobin. “Most importantly, we are so proud of our youth, about 130 total, who rised up over the past two weeks. They learned so many traditional teachings and are eager to keep them alive.”

With a high turnout in camp participation came an equally impressive turnout in community volunteers who assisted Lushootseed staff to coordinate daily camp activities. There were 15 volunteers readily available on a daily basis to help camp run smoothly.

Throughout the duration of camp, the children participated in seven different daily stations or activities. The following list is what each child accomplished throughout the week:

  • Art – Succulents, clam shell rattles, clam shell succulent holders.
  • Weaving – God’s Eye, bracelets.
  • Songs – Paddle Song, Berry Picking Song, Welcome Song, Kenny Moses’ Arrival Song, Martha Lamont’s huyəxw st’ilib 
  • Traditional Teachings – Canoes, Canoe Journey protocol
  • Language – Lushootseed alphabet, canoe terms.
  • Technology – children learned and practiced Lushootseed materials related their final performance using handheld games on Tablets created by Dave Sienko.

Every station and daily lesson incorporated various Canoe Journey teachings and protocol verbiage. With the annual tribal Canoe Journey going on now, it made for an ideal time to teach the youngsters about the tradition.

“We wanted to take this opportunity to give our young ones as much teachings as possible,” explained Language Warrior Roselle Fryberg. “It was really important to us to teach them about hosting a potlatch and coming together as a community. For our mini Canoe Journey, each child plays a role. We have fisherman, berry pickers, tribal leaders hosting Canoe Journey, and several canoes representing visiting tribes. 

“We also talked about how grateful we are that they are here to carry on these traditions of singing, dancing, and speaking their ancestral language. One day, all these teachings will be on their shoulders to carry on and pass to the next generation,” added Roselle. 

The closing ceremony for week two’s camp took place on Friday, July 20 at the Kenny Moses Building. The joyous, young play-performers made their theatrical debut to a large community attendance, as family and friends came out in droves to show their support.

Most of the children beamed with joy as they performed their roles in the closing ceremony, while some caught the shy bug being in front of such a large audience. There were several Lushootseed songs everyone was able to sing along together, giving family and friends plenty of opportunities to capture such precious moments on photos or video. 

“We would like to thank the children for all of their hard work and efforts,” proclaimed Natosha Gobin during the play’s opening. “They attended camp for just one week and learned so much about their culture, traditions, language, and more. They do not hesitate to step up and share their teachings. 

“We thank you, the parents, for joining us to celebrate the work the children have accomplished this week. Your presence here for the children will encourage their learning of their culture and traditional language.”

Lushootseed Camp Language Warriors.

After the youth performed their rendition of “Mini Canoe Journey” and the ceremonial witnesses had shared a few words, there was a giveaway. The camp participants gave their handmade crafts created during the past week to each and every audience member; sharing in a final act of memory making with their peers, before filling their bellies with a salmon lunch. 

Learning Lushootseed while exploring Canoe Journey tradition

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The week of July 9-13 was full of pleasantly warm and sunny summer days in the Pacific Northwest. Inside the Kenny Moses Building, even more beams of sunshine could be found radiating from the energetic faces of 58 children participating in the 23rd Annual Lushootseed Day Camp, week one.

Open to children age five to twelve who want to learn about their culture and the language of their ancestors, Lushootseed Camp provides invaluable traditional teachings through art, songs, technology, weaving and storytelling. Each year the Lushootseed Department teams up with Cultural Resources, along with a select number of vital community volunteers, to hold two one-week day camps in the summer. 

“It makes my heart happy seeing so many of our young ones learning our traditional language,” boasts Michele Balagot, Lushootseed Manager. “It is amazing to witness the amount of participation and community involvement we receive each year.”

With a high turnout in camp participation came an equally impressive turnout in community volunteers who assisted Lushootseed staff to coordinate daily camp activities. There were 15 volunteers readily available on a daily basis to help camp run smoothly.

Throughout the duration of camp, the children participated in seven different daily stations or activities. The following list is what each child accomplished throughout the week:

  • Art – Succulents, clam shell rattles, clam shell succulent holders.
  • Weaving – God’s Eye, bracelets.
  • Songs – Paddle Song, Berry Picking Song, Welcome Song, Kenny Moses’ Arrival Song, Martha Lamont’s huyəxw st’ilib
  • Traditional Teachings – Canoes, Canoe Journey protocol
  • Language – Lushootseed alphabet, canoe terms.
  • Technology – children learned and practiced Lushootseed materials related their final performance using handheld games on Tablets created by Dave Sienko.

Every station and daily lesson incorporated various Canoe Journey teachings and protocol verbiage. With the annual tribal Canoe Journey going on now, it made for an ideal time to teach the youngsters about the tradition.

The closing ceremony for week one’s camp took place on Friday, July 13 at the Kenny Moses Building. The joyous, young play-performers made their theatrical debut to a large community attendance, as family and friends came out in droves to show their support.

“We would like to thank the children for all of their hard work and efforts,” proclaimed Language Warrior Natosha Gobin during the play’s opening. “They attended camp for just one week and learned so much about their culture, traditions, language, and more. They do not hesitate to step up and share their teachings. 

“We thank you, the parents, for joining us to celebrate the work the children have accomplished this week,” added Natosha. “Your presence here for the children will encourage their learning of their ancestral language.”

After the youth performed their rendition of “Mini Canoe Journey” and the ceremonial witnesses had shared a few words, there was a giveaway. The camp participants gave handmade crafts to each and every audience member, which preceded a buffet-style lunch featuring salmon.

Lushootseed Family Night

Quality time to empower one another, keeping culture thriving

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Today, quality family time often takes a back seat to all the other directions that people are pulled, whether it be work, school, manufactured drama, or personal entertainment. One way to bring back that sense of quality time is to start a dedicated family night, which is exactly what Lushootseed Family Night intends to achieve.

In coordination with the Hibulb Rediscovery Program, the Lushootseed Language Department has brought back its Family Night on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the month of March. Meeting from 5:00pm – 7:00pm at the Lushootseed building (the gymnasium of the old Tulalip Elementary), the evenings are a dedicated time for Tulalip families and members of the community to share in keeping a language and culture thriving. Its two-hours of undivided attention given by the Language Warriors to any and all who wish to learn Lushootseed words and phrases, whether it be children, adults, or elders; all are welcome.

The community’s response has been very positive thus far, with near 70 participants joining in on March 8th’s Family Night.

“Any participation in our Family Night is appreciated. When we have a large number of participants, like our second night, we are excited to see so many people who want to be exposed to Lushootseed or want to become Language Warriors and speak with us,” said Natosha Gobin, Lushootseed Teacher and co-coordinator of Family Night. “For those who don’t feel comfortable since they don’t know the language, or think they will have a hard time learning it, these classes are intended to be fun and laid back. Just being exposed to the language being spoken will help in eventually speaking it.”

This particular series of Family Night classes in March are focused on canoe terms in order to prepare families that intend on participating in this year’s Canoe Journey, but the dialogue is not limited to canoes only. Language Warriors are also working to assist participants to learn their own introductions and speeches, while getting accustomed to traditional prayers, stories and songs. The Lushootseed Department aims to support the teachings that are important for canoe journey participants, while passing on lessons that are relevant for daily use.

Each Family Night begins with the sharing of a hot meal, a significant activity shared by any family, while the next generation of Lushootseed speakers read aloud from a collection of traditional stories. Then, children and adults learn together select Lushootseed words and phrases by a variety of activities.

Among those activities is the hearing of traditional songs. Andrew Gobin, of the Tulalip Rediscovery Program and former Lushootseed Teacher, provides his resonant voice and drum in order to pass along the teachings and well-intending meanings with each song.

“Language belongs to all of us. Culture belongs to all of us. Getting involved is the first step,” stated Andrew. “At these language and culture nights, the people come to share with one another. Those that may know more than others are helping those that are just beginning to engage with who they are. It’s always exciting to have people come to gather together and share in what our culture has to offer.

With an increase in technology and a dwindling attention span, family time will still often get set aside because of other demands and duties. Despite busy schedules and long workdays, for families and individuals looking to build strong bonds through culture and create lifelong memories for children, Lushootseed Family Night is a welcome site.

“This language belongs to us all,” explained Natosha. “We pray that when our days come to an end, that we can hear it being used daily in our community by everyone. These are the same prayers of our ancestors. They didn’t want the language to die with them, and we don’t want the language to die with us. We hope that through these Family Nights and the other language learning opportunities that we are working on, we will continue to grow our Language Warriors, empowering speakers to rise up and help keep our language, culture and teachings alive.”

The current Lushootseed Family Night series will continue each Tuesday and Thursday during March, from 5:00pm – 7:00pm. Dinner will be provide and all ages are welcome to attend.

For more information, questions or request contact

Michelle Balagot, Lushootseed Department Manager by phone at 360-716-4495 or email mbalagot@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

Natosha Gobin, Lushootseed Teacher by phone at 360-716-4499 or email ngobin@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

Lushootseed Family Nights, March 2018

Lushootseed Family Nights are Tuesdays and Thursdays during the month of March.

This 8 class series will focus on canoe terms, dialogue, introductions, speeches and prayers. All ages are welcome, please be sure to RSVP so we can have enough food and materials for all participants.

Family Nights will be held in the Lushootseed Building, located at 7736 36th Ave NW (Old Tulalip Elementary Offices), meeting in the Library.

Learning from the past, looking to the future

22nd Annual Lushootseed Day Camp

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

The week of July 24-28 was nothing but pleasantly warm and sunny summer days in the Pacific Northwest. Inside the old Tulalip Elementary gymnasium even more radiating beams of sunshine could be found, created by the record turnout 92-kids participating in week two of the 22nd Annual Lushootseed Day Camp.

Open to children age five to twelve who want to learn about their culture and the language of their ancestors, Lushootseed Camp provides invaluable traditional teachings through art, songs, technology, weaving and storytelling. Each year the Lushootseed Department teams up with Cultural Resources, along with a select number of vital community volunteers, to hold two one-week day camps in the summer. Each camp is intended to have openings for up to 50 participants, but this year the demand was so high that 70-kids participated in week one and a stunning 92-kids comprised week two.

“It seems like every year we get more and more kids participating in our language camp, which is great!” boasts Michele Balagot, Lushootseed Manager. “We broke our record for total attendance that we set last year. It is amazing to witness the amount of participation and community involvement we received this year. It makes my heart happy seeing so many of our young ones learning our traditional language.”

With the extraordinary high turnout in camp participation came an equally impressive turnout in community volunteers who assisted Lushootseed staff coordinate daily camp activities. There were 25+ volunteers on a near daily basis on hand to help camp run smoothly.

“The role of the summer youth and volunteers was to be the group leaders, working alongside the youth, mentoring them and encouraging them at each station,” says Natosha Gobin, Lushootseed Teacher who has been involved with every Lushootseed Camp either as a participant or teacher for the past twenty years. “We met with the group leaders almost daily to go over their role and encourage them to be as involved with each of the kids as possible. There were three to four group leaders per group, which helped us ensure that the kids were staying on task at each station.”

Throughout the duration of camp, the children participated in seven different daily stations or activities. The following list is what each child accomplished throughout the week:

  • Art – Votive candle holders, cedar photo frame.
  • Weaving – Cedar medallions, paddle necklaces.
  • Songs and Dances – Killer Whale Song, Berry Picking Song, Welcome Song, Kenny Moses Arrival Song.
  • Traditional Teachings – Message from Wayne Williams, Killer Whale facts, story comparisons.
  • Games – Various outdoor games incorporating Lushootseed.
  • Language – Lushootseed alphabet, Killer Whale and the Two Boys key words.
  • Technology – children learned and practiced Lushootseed materials related their final performance using handheld games on Tablets created by Dave Sienko.

For this 22nd Annual Lushootseed Camp, Wayne Williams was honored for his leadership and the teachings he has passed on to our community. His story “Killer Whale and the Two Boys” was selected as the final performance to be put on at week’s end.

“This year we honored Wayne Williams for his countless years of leadership for our people,” states Michele. “Wayne knew the importance of upholding the teachings that were instilled within him and many others. He has led our community as Assistant Manager and Manager of TTT, while also having served as a Board of Director, including time as Chairman. Wayne passed on his family’s traditional artifacts and documents to the Hibulb Cultural Center, and we are grateful to have such rich teachings within reach for us to continue to learn from.”

For the youthful camp participants, learning Wayne’s story “Killer Whale and the Two Boys” serves two purposes – learning and practicing the Lushootseed words it requires, and gaining knowledge of the lesson hidden within the story.

“The moral of this story is to watch who you hang around,” explains Natosha. “If you find the people you associate with tend to get in trouble, you will realize that you will end up getting in trouble right alongside them, and there are things that may happen to you along that path that will mark you for life and be a reminder of those hard times. Messages like this from our ancestors is so important for our kids to hear, understand and to respect in their early years as they develop into young adults. We can look at many situations in our lives and connect them to traditional stories.”

The closing ceremony for week two’s camp was held on Friday, July 28 in the old Tulalip Elementary gymnasium. The joyous, young play-performers made their theatrical debut to a large community attendance, as family and friends came out in droves to show their support.

“I am honored to be here today to witness the young children sharing in the Lushootseed language. The language is the very heart of our culture as Tulalip people,” proclaimed ceremonial witness Ray Fryberg, Executive Director of Natural Resources. “I thank the parents and families who gave their kids the opportunity to participate in our language camp. Also, I thank our Language Warriors for ensuring that this portion of our culture moves forward and stays alive. Our words are life, reflecting our ancestors and passing on their teachings.”

After the youth performed their rendition of “Killer Whale and the Two Boys” and the ceremonial witnesses had shared a few words, there was a giveaway. The camp participants gave handmade crafts to each and every audience member, which preceded a buffet-style lunch that everyone thoroughly enjoyed.

Reflecting on the conclusion of this year’s 22nd Lushootseed Camp, Language Warrior Natosha Gobin beamed with pride, “We continue to give thanks to those who had the vision to bring this camp to life, and we are grateful to be a part of keeping it going. These two weeks out of the year are really a blessing for us to give back to our community, build relationships with our youth and their families, and remind ourselves of our roles in the community. We are Language Warriors, we are Culture Warriors, and we will battle every day to ensure our traditional teachings live on for the next generation of warriors.”

 

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Honoring Wayne Williams

Submitted by Natosha Gobin

This year we honored Wayne Williams.  His messages to our people, his leadership, his passion, it has touched so many lives and continues to do so. A couple of our staff members stepped away from camp on Monday, July 24th to visit Wayne and gift him with a paddle created by the Art & Design department, a blanket that was on behalf of the Hibulb Cultural Center staff and Lushootseed Staff, and a t-shirt from this year’s camp.

We felt it was important to gift him with these things and let him know how many youth were learning about his amazing work. It was an honor to speak to him and share that his work is still continuing with the teachings our youth are learning these two weeks.

One of Wayne’s famous quotes is “It’s important for us to know who we are and where we come from.” We are hoping to make more visits just to share with him how much he continues to inspire our people and allow each one of our staff members the chance to meet with Wayne.

Lushootseed Language Camp, Week One

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Over sixty future Tulalip leaders participated in the first week of the 22nd Annual Lushootseed Language Camp. The kids learned the traditional Coast Salish language and Tulalip culture during the week of July 17-21. Hosted by the Tulalip Lushootseed Language Department, the summertime camp is held twice during the month of July and is open to Tulalip youth age five to twelve.

The kids are treated to five fun days of culture in which they learn the traditional language, teachings and stories of Tulalip. The camp utilizes several interactive activity stations to teach about Tulalip’s traditional way of life. Campers become familiar with the words while playing games and using modern technology. In addition to studying Lushootseed, campers also learn traditional Tulalip dances and songs.

“One of the songs we sang was the Welcome Song and it was Harriet Shelton Dover’s song,” stated Language Camp Instructor, Cary Michael Williams. “We also sang the Killer Whale Song, which was Ray Fryberg and Tony Hatch’s song they put together and brought forward to the Lushootseed Department.”

Each year, the Lushootseed Department honors a Tulalip member by teaching the youth about their work within the Tulalip culture. Last year the camp was dedicated to Harriett Shelton-Dover, this year the camp is dedicated to her son and Tulalip Elder, Wayne Williams.

“We always think of somebody to honor and dedicate the camp to and this year Wayne Williams came to mind,” explains Lushootseed Language Teacher, Natosha Gobin. “We know that he’s done so much for our community with preserving our teachings as well as everything he’s donated to the Hibulb Cultural Center. We felt it’s very important to acknowledge him while he’s here because a lot of times people don’t get acknowledged until they’re gone, and he’s still here with us so we want to honor him.”

Throughout the week, the youth rehearse a play based on a traditional Tulalip story. The play is performed for the community during the closing ceremony on the last day of camp. In honor of Wayne Williams, the Language Campers reenacted Wayne’s story Killer Whale and Two Boys.

Language Camp continues to grow; previously the department would anticipate about fifty participants each summer. However, due to increasing interest, the camp has seen an increase of fourteen participants each week in the past two years.

Young Tulalip tribal members and siblings, Natalie and Carsten Nordahl, travel from Boston every summer to attend Language Camp. According to their father, Natalie excitedly awaited the year her younger brother was old enough to enroll, in order to experience the cultural camp together.  The kids have returned each summer, making this their third trip to Tulalip.

“I love that we get to learn about our culture and the language of our Tribe. My favorite part is learning the language and just being a part of this experience,” Natalie expressed. Carsten added, “My favorite part about camp was playing the games!”

Parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles gathered at the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy Gym on July 21, for the 22nd Annual Lushootseed Language Camp closing ceremony. The youth showcased their teachings to the community by performing the songs and the play in Lushootseed.

“As a parent it’s important for my son to attend language camp because it was something I was able to do as a child and it’s important to carry on the songs and the teachings from our ancestors,” states Lushootseed Camp parent and Tulalip tribal member Samantha Chavez.

After performing Killer Whale and Two Boys, the youth gave handmade gifts, such as weavings and necklaces, to every guest in attendance.  Over the span of twenty-two years, the camp has inspired numerous Tulalip youth to learn more about their culture. Many current Lushootseed Language Instructors, attended Language Camp when they were younger, including Tulalip tribal member Shelbi Hatch.

“Language Camp started before I was born actually, it was in ‘93 I think,” Shelbi recalls. “It’s a place for the kids to learn their culture and for everybody to get a view of what Tulalip is and how intact our culture and language still is. This gives them the utilities and the tools they need for later on in life. I feel more of a generational importance, I don’t feel like it’s me receiving the teachings, I feel like I’m giving it and these kids will be the ones to speak fluently.”

The Lushootseed department and the language campers displayed two paddles, with traditional artwork depicting the Killer Whale and Two Boys story that will be gifted to Wayne Williams and his sons.

“We keep trying to follow the teachings that Shelly Lacy and Auntie Joy [Lacy] laid out because this was part of their vision twenty-two years ago,” states Natosha while reflecting on a successful first week. “This is always the best time of the year for us. The kids have so much fun, the families are so grateful and it’s just a good time. We’re happy we’re able to keep this alive and keep it going.”

For more information about the Annual Lushootseed Language Camp please contact the Lushootseed Language Department at (360) 716-4499 or visit their website wwww.TulalipLushootseed.com

Tulalip students learn traditional language

 

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

In the late 1800s, the U.S. Government deemed it necessary to forcibly remove Native American children from their families and send them to boarding schools. Among the many atrocities that occurred in the boarding schools, Native children were punished whenever they spoke their language. This practice resulted in many tribal nations losing their language completely. After the horrific boarding school practice ended many tribes immediately began to restore and preserve their language.

Lushootseed is the Coast Salish language of the Native Peoples in the Northwest. Primarily spoken in the greater Seattle area of Washington, Lushootseed is the language of the peoples of Puyallup, Swinomish, and of course Snohomish.

In Tulalip, Lushootseed is taught to children early between the ages of three and five at the Tulaip Early Learning Academy. The children learn songs, stories, numbers and animals in Lushootseed. Tulalip also offers their employees and community members Lushootseed classes, showing how important the language is to the tribe.

The Northwest Indian College (NWIC) offers Lushootseed classes to college students in which the student receives five college credits towards a foreign language. In collaboration with NWIC and Heritage High School, the Tulalip Tribes is now offering Lushootseed 101 to the students at Heritage.

In the Lushootseed class students revisit vocabulary learned at a young age and use that as a starting point. Lushootseed 101 has ten enrolled students who have been learning phrases and introductions. After three months into the curriculum students are able to state their name, where they are from, and who their families are. In solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, students even created a Water Is Life video in Lushootseed.

“It is a great way to get back to our traditions and it makes me feel connected to my ancestors.”

– Myrna Red Leaf, Heritage H.S. student

 

Lushootseed Language Instructor, Michelle Myles states, “They are learning the 101 college level so this will be one of their fulfillments for college. They’re learning right alongside the Northwest Indian College [students]. Our goal this quarter is to have the college students come and speak with the high schoolers, and have our students greet them, so they can see that others are learning as well, and it’s not isolated to the classrooms.”

Tulalip’s effort in preserving their language is outstanding and it is reflected through the fun, respect, and appreciation the students show during class. During an entire class period, the only English spoken was when students needed assistance with a Lushootseed word. And as student Myrna Red Leaf states, “It is a great way to get back to our traditions and it makes me feel connected to my ancestors.”

Honoring the past, Impacting the future

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21st Annual Lushootseed Day Camp

 

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

 

During the sizzling, summer days of July 25-28, the old Tulalip Elementary gymnasium was glowing with rays of joy as it was home to the 21st Annual Lushootseed Day Camp, week 2. The camp was open to children age five to twelve who wanted to learn about their culture and Lushootseed language through art, songs, games, weaving and storytelling.

Each year the Lushootseed Department teams up with the Cultural Resources Department, along with a select number of very vital community volunteers, to hold two one-week camps. Each camp has openings for up to 50 participants, but this year the demand was so high that 64 kids participated in week one, while a whopping 80 kids comprised Language Camp week 2.The two-week total of 140+ Tulalip youth involved in Language Camp smashed the record for youth participation and attendance.

 

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“We are dedicating the 21st Annual Lushootseed Language Camp to Morris Dan and Harriette Shelton-Dover, for their guidance and teachings bringing back the Salmon Ceremony, as well as honoring Stan Jones Sr. “Scho-Hallem” for his decades of leadership and determination to keep the ceremony going,” said Lushootseed language teacher and co-coordinator of the camp, Natosha Gobin. “This year we are recreating the Salmon Ceremony to pass on the teachings to our youth. Vests and drums will be the regalia made for the boys, while the girls’ regalia will be shawls and clappers.”

Using the 1979 Salmon Ceremony video to help pass on the earliest teaching of what is still practiced today, the young campers learned a selection of highlighted songs and dances.  The lessons learned each day during Language Camp were based on the teachings of the Salmon Ceremony by way of songs and dances, traditional teachings, language, art, weaving, and technology. The goal this year was to provide our youth with some basic regalia along with the knowledge and ability to sing and dance. Staffers hope the youth that have participated have the teachings and experience needed so they will stand up and sing at every opportunity.

 

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Throughout the duration of camp, the children participated in seven different daily activities. The following list is what each child accomplished throughout the week:

  • Art – Salmon bracelets, Salmon hands, paddle necklaces.
  • Weaving – Pony Bead loom beading, small raffia baskets.
  • Songs and Dances – Welcome Song, Eagle Owl BlueJay Song, Snohomish Warrior Song.
  • Traditional Teachings – Salmon Ceremony videos, traditional stories, realia experience in traditional story and science face of how Salmon migrate.
  • Games – Various games and playground time.
  • Language – letter sounds, Salmon Ceremony key words, Lushootseed workbook.
  • Technology – children learned and practiced Lushootseed materials related to Salmon Ceremony using the Nintendo DSi handheld games created by Dave Sienko.

The closing ceremony for week two’s camp was held on Friday, July 30 in the Kenny Moses Building. The joyous, young play-performers made their debut to a large community attendance, as family and friends came out in droves to show their support.

“I want the kids to know that I love each and every one of you. When teachers are new to our community and they hear their Principal telling kids ‘I love you’ it’s foreign to them, but it’s one of our most important traditional teachings,” stated ceremonial witness Dr. Anthony Craig, former Principal of Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary. “We have to make sure we are expressing love every single day, otherwise people forget that it’s a traditional teaching. I love that they are here today and I love that they practicing their culture because culture is not something that just exists in a building or during a season. Culture is every day; every day we have to figure out ways to strengthen our culture and here they are doing that.”

 

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Also in attendance to witness the youth Salmon Ceremony were two very special guests. The 21st Annual Lushootseed Language Camp was dedicated to the late Morris Dan, our Swinomish relative, and the late Harriette Shelton-Dover, our Snohomish relative. Together Morris and Harriette brought back the teachings, songs and dances to the Salmon Ceremony that is still held yearly in Tulalip. Neah Martin, daughter of Morris Dan, and her daughter Merla Martin, oldest granddaughter of Morris Dan traveled to Tulalip to witness the teachings of their father and grandfather being honored by Tulalip’s next generation.

“I’m glad that all you children honored these beloved elders here today,” said Merla Martin, who was one of the lead dancers in the 1979 Salmon Ceremony video that the children learned from. “I’m very happy the teachings are still being passed on. Thank you for honoring my grandfather.”

 

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After the youth performed their rendition of Salmon Ceremony and the ceremonial witnesses had shared a few words, there was a giveaway. The camp participants gave handmade crafts to the audience members, which preceded a salmon lunch that everyone thoroughly enjoyed.

Reflecting on the conclusion of this year’s 21st Annual Language Camp, Natosha Gobin beamed with pride, “My spirit is so happy. My heart is full. I raise my hands to each of the 140-plus kids who spent time with us to learn the teachings, rising up to sing, dance and carry these lessons on for the next generations. I’m grateful to the volunteers for giving their all to our youth while mentoring them daily during camp. You have created lifelong bonds with them and they will continue to look to you for guidance. My co-workers busted their buns planning, prepping, working, making sure every detail was taken care of.  To all the parents we say ‘thank you’ from the bottom of our hearts for sharing your kids with us and showing them their language, culture and teachings are relevant!”

 

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