July 15, 2022
By Toyan Copeland, Whidbey, Class of 2022
SWS field trip to the Hibulb Cultural Center was an important reminder of the original stewards of our local marine environment. Today, we talk about our concerns for salmon, streams, beach creatures and nearby forests – all on lands and shorelines we call our own. But, for centuries before any white people arrived in these parts, local native people lived throughout this region, respecting it, cultivating camas, picking berries, fishing for salmon, and making it their home.
Hibulb brings us closer to the history and culture of the Tulalip Tribes in a rather spectacular building (nearly 23,000 square feet) with a 50-acre natural history preserve. Our SWS visit took us down the Canoe Hall, lined with historic canoes. We sat in the longhouse and we visited the Center’s exhibits.
We learned about the contributions many indigenous people have made to our armed services, listened to stories told in Lushootseed as well as English, and saw maps and information about the traditional territories of these peoples. We learned how, like other such boarding schools, the Tulalip Missionary – and later “Indian Schools” nearly erased tribal language, history, culture, values, and spirituality.
The Tulalip Tribes of Washington is comprised of the tribes and bands who signed the Treaty of Point Elliott in 1855, establishing the Tulalip Indian Reservation. These people include the successors in interest to the Duwamish, Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Skagit, Suiattle, Samish and Stillaguamish tribes.
The creators of Hibulb have dedicated it “to those who have gone home before us and to those who have remained to keep the fires burning.” In like manner, this SWS field trip feels like a way to honor the contributions the indigenous people have made – and are making – to the stewardship of these vast lands that were their original home.