‘Tulalip Day’ offers taste of traditional culture

TULALIP — The third annual “Tulalip Day” drew close to 30 entries for its parade, from members of the Tulalip Tribes to representatives of the surrounding communities, but the morning’s bustling procession marked only the start of the day’s activities.

“We’re so proud that so many people are participating,” Tulalip Tribal Chair Mel Sheldon Jr. said, as the parade entrants turned off Totem Beach Road into the parking lot for the Tribes’ old gym and longhouse where several activities educated Tribal members and visitors alike on traditional aspects of Tribal culture.

Tammy and Jason Ketner are part of the Muckleshoot Canoe Family and the Blackfoot Tribe, but they nonetheless joined Tulalip Tribal members such as Rose Iukes in stretching fresh deerskins to tie their own drums.

“The only other time I’ve been here was as part of the canoe journey earlier this year,” said Jason Ketner, who estimated he’d made half a dozen drums before. “You have to make sure you’re respectful when you’re doing this. An animal gave its life so that you could eat and use its hide for your drum.”

Iukes had made only one other drum a decade ago, so she was also mindful of the practical aspects of drum-making in the bright, hot sun.

“You have to stretch your hide out before it can dry out and get tough,” Iukes said. “Once I finish this, though, it’ll be mine, because I made it.”

Ada Garza, a coordinator of the Latin Minority Achievers Program for the Marysville YMCA, brought several MAP kids from the Y to take part in the Tulalip Day parade, after which they stuck around to check out the day’s other events.

“It’s a lot of fun to see all these different traditions,” Garza said. “I appreciate that the Tribes enjoy sharing their cultural background with us through the parade and these activities. The drum-making is time-consuming but very informative.”

Tulalip wood carver Kelly Moses demonstrated his art as he made a bowl to commemorate his friend’s wedding anniversary, which he explained would include engravings of “Raven and Eagle, the Indian lovebirds.” Moses has carved totems for the Tulalip Resort and the campus that became Totem Middle School, and he’s been learning the art from his family since he was 9 years old.

“Education is important,” Moses said. “We need to work with our youth so they can find out what they need to do with their lives, to help their families and their people.”

Moses expressed pride in having carved masks for Tulalip Tribal elder Stan Jones Sr., Washington state Gov. Chris Gregoire and Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Next to Moses, brothers Lucas and Thomas Williams performed the drumming and singing they’d learned from their grandfather, Tribal elder Herman Williams Sr.

“He taught us everything,” Lucas Williams said. “It’s been passed down from generation to generation. Whether they’re Indian or not, everyone has a song to share.”

Greg Hinrichs and his son Alex aren’t Tulalip Tribal members, but as they made their own paddle necklaces by sanding down the wooden segments, they considered themselves fortunate to have been allowed to partake in the Tribes’ history through such activities.

“A lot of us have never made our own drums or shawls before,” said Frieda Williams, a longtime organizer of Tulalip Day. “It’s quite an education for our own people as well.”


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