Celebrating tribal heritage

For years the sign stood at the corner of Marine Drive and 23rd Avenue NE in Tulalip. As season after season passed, the roadside message, “The dream is still alive,” remained steadfast.

Last weekend, this long-held dream became reality as the doors to the Hibulb Center and Natural History Preserve swung open to the steady beat of native drums and song.

It was well worth the wait as this beautiful tribute to the history and heritage of the Tulalip Tribes has been brought to life, with words and artifacts designed to celebrate their culture while preserving and protecting their history for future generations.

Two enormous cedar carvings welcome visitors to the 10,000-square-foot collections wing, which offers tributes to the tangible and intangible items valued by this community.

Visitors should set aside plenty of time to explore the numerous displays devoted to cedar and salmon, as well as community, family and service to country.

Let your senses take over as you walk through the exhibits. Learn how these regional Native Americans marked time by observing their environment from the first butterfly in the spring to the blooming of dogwood trees in summer, signifying the arrival of the revered Grandfather King Salmon.

Pick up the phone in an interactive display and you can listen to native stories including “Lifting up the Sky” or the legend of “How Daylight Was Stolen.” Choose to hear the tales in English, or the native language Lashootseed. Note the sound of rushing water in the tribute to salmon and the chirping of birds in the wing honoring the beloved cedar tree.

Discover the significance of religion to this community and learn about the near devastation they experienced when their children were sent to boarding school in the early 1900s and punished for using their native tongue.

Feel the pride in service to culture and country evident in the wing devoted to the sacrifices and accomplishments of their warriors and veterans.

Pause to breathe deeply in the longhouse and note the heavy scent of warm cedar that permeates the room.

At a time when the future is bright and the tribe looks forward to continued economic prosperity, the new Hibulb Center and Natural History Preserve offers an important opportunity to celebrate the past and honor the historical journey that has lead the tribe to this significant moment in time.

We raise our hands to the tribal elders and leadership for the roles they played in making this long-standing dream a reality.

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