By Jackleen De La Harpe
Salish Bounty: Traditional Native American Foods of Puget Sound opened November 3 at the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center in Marysville, Washington. The traveling exhibit, which will run through January 2013, is elegant in its brevity and positive approach to the serious issues of food and health in Indian country—soaring rates of diabetes, hypertension and obesity. Salish Bounty focuses briefly on three periods through the lens of food—traditional tribal hunting and gathering prior to the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855; the confinement of Indian people to reservations, assimilation and the lack of access to traditional hunting and gathering places; and a future of blended new and old food traditions.
Historic photographs, maps, media, dried plants and shellfish of the Pacific Northwest tell the rich story of food in the local, indigenous foods. Even in mid-November, raised garden beds, a greenhouse, and organic gardens continue to produce vegetables. The tribe offers gardening classes, and a newsletter “The Greens of the Earth,” as well as other programs that emphasize the positive aspects of growing and cooking food as a pathway to good health. And, in the spring 2013, the Natural History Preserve will open with more than 40 acres of walking trails.
Salish Bounty is part of an international exhibit, Hungry Planet: What the World Eats, that demonstrates how the food we eat has changed over time from the perspectives of families around the world. Elizabeth Swanaset, Nooksack/Cowichan/Laq’amel Tribes, and Warren King George, Muckleshoot/Upper Skagit Indian Tribe, co-curated the exhibit in partnership with the Tulalip Tribes and the Burke Museum in Seattle.
Below: "Salish Bounty Co-curator Elizabeth Swanaset holds clams collected on a Puget Sound beach last summer. The clams were then smoked and preserved for winter use." (Courtesy Warren King George)