What Came Before: Discovering the Hibulb Cultural Center
Author: Richard Porter | Photographer: Jake Campbell
The Hibulb Cultural Center inhabits the space where the past informs the present. 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.
You can read the history of the native peoples or buy textiles and jewelry directly from native artisans at the center’s Art Mart.
The center’s gift shop sells authentic Pendleton blankets and cups, prints, and jewelry with Northwest Native American pattern language.
Visit the Hibulb Cultural Center to see, taste, and touch remnants of a culture that still lives on and draws inspiration from the past. The Hibulb reminds us that the past is never far from us.
Hibulb Cultural Center
6410 23rd Ave NE, Tulalip, WA 98271