It’s where an ancient and sustainable way of life is celebrated and preserved. The center is on the Tulalip Reservation north of Seattle, and offers a window in the region’s history.
The Tulalip tribes inhabited the coast of Seattle NorthCountry for thousands of years before European-Americans came to the Salish Sea region, thriving thanks to wise stewardship of abundant natural resources.
The narrative of the museum is one familiar to many indigenous populations in North America, one full of one-sided treaties, destruction of natural resources, and tragedy. At times the museum’s stories and artifacts feel emotionally heavy, but to freshly countenance the past is understand the present cultural context of the Tulalip peoples.
Much of the old way of life has passed into history, but a lot has been preserved for posterity. Visitors to the center can see basketry, tools, clothes, hats, totem poles, and full-sized canoes on display. I was impressed at how many practical items can can be made from the bark of Western Red Cedar— a material that the Tulalip peoples knew to be weavable, breathable, naturally waterproof and lightweight.