Sustaining our Traditions and Culture
Sustaining our Traditions and Culture
Tulalip Natural Resources Department image of near Tulalip estuary and uplands with urban development encroachment
Whale
Sustaining our Traditions and Culture

swədaʔx̌ali Co-Stewardship Area

Sustaining our Culture

swədaʔx̌ali "Place of Mountain Huckleberry" Co-Stewardship Area is a sacred area to our people. It is a remote and high mountain area in the Skykomish River Watershed – a wide open area with views of təq̓ʷuʔbəd (Glacier Peak) and other surrounding peaks and areas of lush meadows and fields of huckleberries. In this area, and across the Cascades, our ancestral home, where we have always lived, and hunted, fished and gathered, our leaders reserved our rights on these lands in perpetuity.

Our people are fortunate to have a special partnership and agreement with the Forest Service on our ancestral lands and ceded territories where our ancestors lived. The swədax̌ali Co-Stewardship area is a place that has been designated as an important mountain area where our people can go and gather huckleberries, where our youth can learn about how to be in these special places, and where our tribal Natural Resources Department can work as stewards of these ancestral lands to sustain the berries and other resources. We want this area to remain beautiful and pristine and continue to give our people the foods, medicines and strength we need from the high mountains. It is our hope and vision that we can nurture these lands in the ways of our ancestors to ensure these resources and these lands continue to be available and used by our peoples for many, many years to come.

The Tulalip Tribes, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, has conducted activities to restore the fragile landscape of swədaʔx̌ali, and to enhance cultural resources in the area, like huckleberry.

Mountain Meadow Restoration In 2011, Tulalip Tribes Natural and Cultural Resources staff, joined by staff from the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and the University of Washington worked together to develop a strategy for restoration of a mountain meadow in the swədaʔx̌ali area, badly-damaged by illegal off-road vehicle use. Tulalip Tribes were able to secure grant funding and staff contributions that allowed us to repair and replant the meadow with native plants from the local area, and with the participation of Tulalip tribal youth.

Mountain Huckleberry Enhancement One of primary purposes of the establishment of the swədaʔx̌ali Co-Stewardship Area was to provide increased opportunities for tribal harvest of key cultural resources, including mountain huckleberry. In addition to harvest, Tulalip believes that is equally important to have a meaningful role on the ground, in the stewardship of resources so important to us, as we had for many thousands of years.

x̌əʔaʔxʷaʔšəd “Step Lightly”

Tribal Elders and Cultural Resources staff have shared their perspectives and traditional teachings as they address taking care of special areas and resources in places like swədaʔx̌ali

x̌əʔaʔxʷaʔšəd

Our ancestors have always taught us that that by learning and following our traditional teachings, nature will continue to regenerate her gifts for our people. Our elders are hoping that our people will honor this special place, swədaʔx̌ali Co-Stewardship Area, by conducting themselves in the way of our ancestors:

  • Give thanks to the mountain before you gather its resources.
  • When picking huckleberries, treat them with respect; our elders always told us that if we don’t respect them, they “will go to sleep” and not be there for us in the future.
  • Don’t pick all the berries off of one bush; leave some and move on.
  • As you move through the brush, step lightly – don’t break the branches, or wear in noticeable trails; one elder reminds us “Don’t be a bear in the huckleberry bushes! After you leave, no one should even know that you have been there”. Bring your own food and water, and pack all your trash out with you. Please do not leave anything behind.
  • If you have to smoke, please do so responsibly—pick up your cigarette butts and take them home!
  • Keep the area free of contamination; use the portable toilets when they are provided.
  • Teach your children how to behave in these sacred areas.
  • Gather berries for your family to uses them over the winter; share them with elders who can’t pick berries anymore.

Contact

Tulalip Natural Resources Department line art image of forest or wetland area