The 13th Annual Lushootseed Language Conference was hosted by Seattle University April 29, 2023. This year’s theme was “Weaving Song and Language ʔukʷalad tiʔə st̓ilib ʔi tiʔə xʷgʷadədgʷəd”. Attendees gathered in the LeMieux Library for presentations focused on Lushootseed songs and singing in both contemporary and historical contexts. There were more than 52 participants representing 12 tribes, 4 colleges/universities, 2 school districts and several additional organizations.
Following a welcome by Jill tsisqʷux̌ʷał La Pointe and opening prayer by Father Patrick Twohy, Archie Cantrell (Puyallup) spoke on “Lushootseed in Song,” describing the use of songs in his work with the Puyallup Tribal Language Program and as the Puyallup School District Native American Education Liaison.
Laurel Sercombe’s presentation “Listening to the Songs in Lushootseed Stories” explored historical recordings of the songs in the stories of “Dirty Face or spicx” and “Basket Ogress,” focusing on recordings of Annie Daniels (Duwamish/Muckleshoot), Martha Lamont (Snohomish), Charles Anderson, (Skagit) and Vi Hilbert (Skagit).
Warren KingGeorge (Muckleshoot/Upper Skagit) and Betty KingGeorge (Nooksack/Leqemel) then presented “Lushootseed Songs and the Inadequacies of the English Language.” They described the insufficiency of English to translate sentiments expressed in traditional Lushootseed songs and the loss of overall meaning in songs due to the effects of colonialization and the suppression of language and cultural values.
Following lunch, an online guide to Lushootseed Resources in the University of Washington Libraries, prepared by UW Archivist John Vallier, was introduced by Laurel Sercombe. The guide may be accessed at – guides.lib.uw.edu/Lushootseed.
Lois Landgrebe (Duwamish/Nez Perce) presented “Strength in Our Singing,” based on her work as a teacher in the Tulalip Tribes Language Department. She described the year-round curriculum they have created for 0- to 6-year-olds, which includes songs and daily singing. She presented and talked about songs in the curriculum and in the summer camps.
The final presentation was by Irene McCloud (Puyallup) – “st̓ilib txʷəl bək̓ʷ gʷat”, based on her work as a Lushootseed Language Teacher for the Puyallup Tribal Language Department and Grandview Early Learning Center.
The conference closed with the distribution of evaluation forms and closing words by Jill La Pointe. A screening of the “Healing Heart of Lushootseed” followed the conference. Seattle University President, Eduardo Peñalver, stopped by to catch the film and briefly addressed the group. It was a full and successful day.