By Ernest A. Jasmin, Puyallup Tribal News
The Puyallup Tribe invited locals to Tacoma’s Center for Urban Waters to Learn the Puyallup Way on Saturday, Nov. 11. The free educational event showcased Puyallup traditions as a companion piece to Tacoma Sister Cities’ International Indigenous Film Festival, which brought three evenings of Native-themed films to Tacoma’s Grand Cinema last week.
“We were asked to put together a Puyallup day,” Puyallup Tribe Heritage Division Manager Connie McCloud said. “So, we did some storytelling, taught beading, weaving and our traditional plants and medicines.”
About 150 participants took part in this cultural exchange throughout the afternoon. Grandview Director Roberta Basch offered an opening prayer followed by members of Heritage Division performing “The Warrior Song,” “The Salmon Song” and “The Paddle Song.” Then Language Teacher Chris Briden told a traditional story, “The Little Silver Salmon,” speaking in Lushootseed and English as he described its scaly hero navigating a gauntlet of nets and spears in route to his spawning grounds.
Afterward, attendees broke down into smaller groups for some hands-on activities. Tribal member Teresa Harvey taught the finer points of beadwork. Master weaver and recently retired educator Peggy McCloud taught the basics of weaving with cedar, and Marsha Pluff demonstrated traditional medicine, providing attendees with a recipe for devil’s cottonwood salve. Between stations, participants could also help themselves to a hearty lunch of stew and fry bread provided by Heritage Division.
The Puyallup Tribe has partnered with Tacoma Sister Cities to create cultural events since the mid-90s, and Connie McCloud envisioned this newest one growing into something lasting.
“People would like to see more education and these types of classes in the community,” she said. “We just hired our own curriculum developer so that we’re writing our stories and sharing our stories accurately. We’re beginning to put together information that we can share with the schools.”