Hibulb Cultural Center (Photo Diary)

The Treaty of Point Elliot was signed near present-day Everett in Western Washington in 1855. Eighty-two chiefs attend the treaty conference. Fifteen tribes sign over to the United States 10,000 square miles of their ancestral lands. Each of the tribes is to receive $150,000 in annuities to be delivered over a twenty year period.

The Point Elliot Treaty is signed by nine Snohomish chiefs. The Snohomish Reservation (later called the Tulalip Reservation) is intended for occupation by the Snohomish, the Skykomish, the Snoqualme, and the Stillaguamish.

Today the Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve has the mission to revive, restore, protect, interpret, collect, and enhance the history, traditional cultural values and spiritual beliefs of the Tulalip Tribes who are the successors of the tribes which signed the Treaty of Point Elliott.  Shown below are photographs of some of the displays in the cultural center.

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The Tulalip tribes–Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Skykomish, and others-have lived along the Salish Sea (Puget Sound) for thousands of years.

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Two traditional Salish welcoming figures (shown above) greet visitors to the Cultural Center. The female figure shows an elder woman carrying a clam basket. The male figure is dressed in regalia holding a paddle, symbolizing the fact that that the Tulalip people are historically saltwater and river people.

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Cedar:

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One of the displays shows the importance of cedar to the Tulalip tribes.

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The three baskets shown above have two design motifs that make them distinctly Tulalip: the whale and the duck.

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The Tulalip tribes made clothing, such as the shirt shown above, out of cedar. This type of clothing provided protection from the rain. Shredded cedar bark was woven into blankets, aprons, and hats as well as shirts. Cedar barks strips were pounded into soft, workable piece. Natural oils, such as bear fat, deer tallow, duckoil, and dogfish oil, would then be added to the shredded bark to make it softer. To make their clothing and blankets extra warm, the weavers used a variety of fur, such as the hair of an extinct breed of wooly dog and mountain sheep wool, which was woven into the garment.

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The drawing shown above shows how the bark was removed from the tree.

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Fishing:

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According to the display:

“We only too what we needed”

“Our ingenious ancestors crafted ideal fishing and hunting methods suited to the type of catch and environment.”

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During the spring and summer, families would leave their winter longhouses and camp along the shorelines, rivers, islands, and creeks. During this time, they would often build mat houses such as the one shown above.

Salmon were harvested using weirs-fences made from small cedar, maple, or hemlock poles lashed together. The weir would be stretched either part way or all the way across the river. As the salmon swam upstream they would be forced to swim along the weir to the only opening which led into a fish trap. According to the display:

“Weirs were only as good as the leaders in charge of their construction. Our ancestors ensured a good catch by setting weirs according to the environment and the migratory patterns of the salmon.”

The display also indicated:

“Even though they could harvest a large quantity of salmon, history taught our ancestors the need to share the wealth and conserve for future harvests. They were careful to take only what they needed to allow the remaining salmon to swim to the spawning ground.”

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The harvested salmon would be preserved by air drying and smoking (shown above).

Foods would often be prepared by boiling and steaming. Watertight baskets would be filled with water, then hot rocks added to bring the water to a boil. Salmon, shellfish, and other meats would be prepared this way. Steamer clams and mussels would be cooked on hot rocks and covered with seaweed to trap the steam.

The Tulalip people gathered shellfish, speared fish, and caught ducks at night using torches which they would set on the beach or in the bow of the canoe.

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Shown above is an open basket which was used for gathering clams and small fish.

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Shown above is a stone anchor.

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The paddle on the left (shown above) is a woman’s paddle; the center paddle is a steersman’s paddle; and the paddle on the right is a hunting paddle.

Stone Tools:

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Shown above are some stone mauls.

Sacred items:

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Shown above is a raven rattle.

The Tulalip and Europeans

The Tulalip tribes–Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Skykomish, and others-have lived along the Salish Sea (Puget Sound) for thousands of years. Dramatic changes in their cultures began 1792 with the arrival of the British ship Discovery. Several of the displays at the Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve tell the story of these changes from the Tulalip perspective.

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The initial contacts involved trade: the Europeans offered the Tulalip many different kinds of European manufactured goods in exchange for furs and food. The fur trade intensified after the Hudson’s Bay Company established For Langley in what is now British Columbia. Unfortunately, the European traders also brought with them epidemic diseases-smallpox, measles, chicken pox, influenza, tuberculosis, and alcoholism-which devastated the Native population. In a few short years, half of the population died.

The fur trade also brought over hunting which resulted in fewer animals. Then came the European and American settlers who ignored Native rights to the land and simply cleared the land they wanted for their homesteads. This culminated in the Treaty of Point Elliot in 1855. Eighty-two chiefs attended the treaty conference near present-day Everett, Washington. Fifteen tribes signed over to the United States 10,000 square miles of their ancestral lands. Each of the tribes was to receive $150,000 in annuities to be delivered over a twenty year period

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According to one display:

“Not everyone agreed that signing the treaty was a good idea. Some leaders felt they did not have a choice and that signing was the only way to preserve their traditional way of life for future generations.”

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A copy of the treaty is shown above.

Under the reservation system established by the treaty, the people were impoverished. Laws and regulations were imposed on the people as to how they were to live and where they could fish, gather, and hunt. The boarding schools were designed to destroy tribal cultures.

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Religion:

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The United States government sought to exterminate all vestiges of Native American religion and from 1884 to 1934 traditional Indian practices were illegal. The Indian Shaker Church was organized on the Tulalip Reservation in 1810 as a means to continue Native spirituality.

Revitalization:

The exhibits at the Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve also tell a story of cultural revitalization: reviving Tulalip culture in the twenty-first century.

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Honoring Tulalip Veterans (Photo Diary)

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As with other American Indian nations, people from the Tulalip tribes in western Washington–Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Skykomish, and others-have served in the American military during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. One room in the Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve honors the Tulalip veterans and tells many of their stories.  

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The drum shown above belongs to Raymond Moses who served in the Army during the Korean War from 1950-53. The drum depicts images of his guardian spirits; grizzly bears from his father’s side and wolf from his mother’s side. He had visions of his guardian spirits right before he stepped on a grenade that fortunately did not detonate.

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While in the past, Indian veterans were denied the use of their traditional religions in dealing with post traumatic stress disorder, today this is not the case.

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The Tulalip Longhouse (Photo Diary)

The people of the Tulalip tribes would traditionally spend the winter in their longhouses situated in permanent villages. During the winter months, a great deal of teaching would take place around the longhouse fires. During this time, the elders would pass on the family stories, songs, lineages, and moral teachings. According to the display:

“Our songs, dances, stories, basket designs and carvings are owned by certain families and are used only with their permission. Ownership of this knowledge may be given by families to particular family members, other selected people, or the whole tribe. We have a strict process of granting rights and permission to use this type of knowledge.”

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Shown above is the entrance to the longhouse in the Hibulb Culture Center.  

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The poles shown above were carved about 1914 by William Shelton. As a young boy in the 1870s, he had been to the great potlatch house at Skagit Bay Head. In 1912, he advocated for a longhouse to be built on the Tulalip Bay. These posts were carved for this longhouse according to his childhood memories of the posts at the great potlatch house. The television screen provides visitors with the stories of the Tulalip peoples.

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Shown above is the outside of the longhouse showing the shed roof configuration.  

Tulalip Canoes (Photo Diary)

For the Salish-speaking tribes of the Washington coast, canoes were traditionally not only their most important form of transportation, they were also cultural icons. The Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve honors the Tulalip (Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Skykomish, and others) cultures.

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The importance of canoes to the Tulalip peoples is evident in the Hibulb Culture Center. The canoe theme shown in the windows above is repeated throughout the Center.  

Canoes were made by hollowing out a single log with fire and adzes. By filling the hollowed out log with hot water, the canoe makers could then widen the canoe by forcing stout cross-pieces between the gunwales.

Carving a canoe begins with spiritual preparation: the carvers must prepare themselves with fasting, prayers, and the sweatlodge. It is not uncommon for the task of carving a large canoe to take two years. Once the log is chosen, a prayer is said for the cedar and an offering is given to thank it for its sacrifice.

The final stage in carving the canoe involves the use of hot rocks and water to steam-bend the sides outwards. This steaming also draws the bow and stern upwards as well as adding strength to the vessel. For the large ocean-going canoes, the prow and stern pieces are added last, the thwarts and seats are installed, and the exterior is finished. Then the canoe is given a name and is ready to begin its life on the water.

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Three canoes are displayed in the Center.

River Canoe:

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The river canoe shown above was carved about 1880 by William Shelton. It was restored by the Tulalip Tribes Carving and Arts Department.

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The bow of the canoe is shown above.

Small Canoe:

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This small canoe was carved about 1930 from a single log by William Shelton.

Ocean-Going Canoe:

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This canoe was made about 1880 as part of a wedding dowry. The canoe was built by the bride’s family from the Quinault Nation and given to the Tulalip groom is a wedding present.

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Shown above is a detail of where the mast would have been placed. Sails, prior to the arrival of the Europeans, were made from woven mats.

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The canoe was made from hollowing out a single large cedar log. The sides were then spread apart and the bow and stern pieces were then added.

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The bow is shown above.

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The stern of the canoe is shown above. The stern piece was added to the dugout form.

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The photograph above shows the additional piece which was added to the gunnels.

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The photograph above shows how the thwarts (i.e. seats) were attached.

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Ancient America: Tulalip Archaeology

The Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve has several displays of artifacts found during the archaeological excavation of sites occupied by their ancestors. While it is not a part of the Tulalip cultural beliefs to uncover ancestral remains or ancient village sites, the Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve was gifted these artifacts and is now charged with the responsibility to care for them in perpetuity for the ancestors who once owned them. The artifacts were gifted by archaeologist John L. Mattson.  

Hibulb Site:

The Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve is named in honor of the great village of Hibulb which was the largest village of the Snohomish Tribe. The village was built within a large palisade of upright cedar poles approximately 18 feet high. The village was positioned so that the people could defend themselves against hostile tribe and communicate by messengers with the smaller villages along the shoreline.

Hibulb had the largest longhouse in Snohomish territory: 115 feet and 43 feet. In addition to the big longhouse, the village contained four smaller longhouses (100 feet by 40 feet) and other structures.

Some of the archaeological artifacts from this site are shown below.

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Biderbost Site:

The Biderbost Site (45/SN/100) was the first significant wet site excavated in Washington. Archaeological wet sites exist when waterlogged artifacts like wood weirs, nets, and basketry are preserved in an oxygen-free environment. The site was uncovered during a flood on the lower Snoqualmie River in 1959. The site was occupied about 2,000 years ago.

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Peterson Site:

While Dr. Mattson estimates that this site is probably not more than 3,000 years old, tribal elders feel that it goes back to time immemorial. This was a large fishing and hunting village.

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