WWU sits on Coast Salish land. How did the land become appropriated by settler colonialists? Who lived here?
Western Reads is pleased to announce its 2017-18 selection, Tulalip, From My Heart: An Autobiographical Account of a Reservation Community, by Harriette Shelton Dover (edited and with an introduction by Darleen Fitzpatrick). Dover, the first Indian woman to serve on the Tulalip Board of Directors and the daughter of Chief William Shelton (a noted totem pole carver), recounts her life on the Tulalip Reservation in the early 20th century. Dover grew up hearing her elders talk about the problems the tribe faced after resettlement, including the cultural and geographical upheaval of moving from villages to the reservation on Tulalip Bay; the economic hardships that ensued; severe shortages of water and food; and religious persecution (in time, potlatch houses and other ceremonial practices were outlawed). Working from the Treaty of Point Elliott (1855) forward and weaving together the personal, the communal, and the political, Dover writes about her tribe’s fierce resiliency, vibrant culture, and powerful ties to the land now occupied by others, including the area around Bellingham.
Photo by Rhys Logan, Office of Communication and Marketing
What many people at Western don’t realize is that there is a direct tie between between Harriette Dover’s family and the land surrounding Western Washington University.
Conducting kinship research with the help of Lummi tribal member Gordon Charles, Kathleen Young (Anthropology) traced the lives of two Coast Salish women, Xwelas (Mary Sehome) and her niece E-yow-alth (Julia Sehome), who were both married to Edmund C. Fitzhugh, a southern slave-owner who moved west and took advantage of the Land Claims Act, claiming Sehome Hill for his association with a mining company. Xwelas and E-yow-alth lived with him on this land. Eventually, part of that original land-claim was designated for New Whatcom Normal School (later, WWU). Harriette Dover’s mother, Ruth Siastenu Sehome Shelton, was the sister of E-yow-alth (Julia Sehome) and the niece of Xwelas. And Gordon Charles, the great grandson of Xwelas, is a friend of Kathleen Young. He has recounted much of the early Coast Salish history, and with his permission, Professor Young will be giving a talk on the indigenous and settler history this fall.
Additionally, Western Reads will be commemorating the 50th Anniversary of “The Right to Be Indian” Conference, held at WWU in 1969. In that year, representatives of tribes west and east of the Cascades came to Western Washington State College to support indigenous youth culture. The entire campus was also reading a common book, in conjunction with the Conference, entitled, The Patriot Chiefs: A Chronicle of American Indian Resistance, by Alvin M. Josephy, Jr. This year, Western Reads will be programming a series of events, in collaboration with local indigenous communities. It is our hope that this book honors the Coast Salish traditions that defined, and continue to define, this region.
From the Heart: Tulalip History and Memoir Is a Walk Back in Time
by Richard Walker, June 7, 2015
“Two dozen years after her death, Harriette Shelton Dover continues to be a guide and an inspiration far beyond the Tulalip reservation.”
EVENTS & EXHIBITS
Hibulb Cultural Center & Natural History Preserve Located in Tulalip, WA “The Hibulb Cultural Center is open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 10 AM to 5 PM and Saturday and Sunday from 12 PM to 5 PM. The Center is a place of learning and a source of...
People of the Sea and Cedar Whatcom Museum, Lightcatcher Ongoing Exhibit Located in the second floor gallery of the Lightcatcher building, shares the history and art of the Northwest Coast people, blending both historical and contemporary perspectives. This exhibit...