Indigenous Beauty in Washington State

Dive into the lasting legacy of the state’s first peoples.

The cultural story of Washington’s Native tribes unfurls in many ways, from totems and cedar longhouses to modern-day museums and more.

In Neah Bay at the Makah Museum (makahmuseum.com), find artifacts from a tribal village buried by a 1750 landslide. You can also spot ancient petroglyphs on a 9.4-mile round-trip hike at Ozette Loop’s Wedding Rock in Olympic National Park.  More museums and tribal history abound in Suquamish at the spectacular Suquamish Museum. Immerse yourself in hand-hewn canoes and interactive exhibits, like the recorded oral histories from tribe members. A two-minute stroll downhill leads to the grave of Sealth, the chief who gave his name to Seattle.

Seattle’s Burke Museum features stone spears, Coast Salish art, grass baskets, and masks like the Kwakwaka’wakw, which inspired the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks logo. More modern sightings in the area include Washington’s 32 tribal-run casinos, such as Snoqualmie Casino and Tulalip Resort Casino. Tulalip is also home to Hibulb Cultural Center, a 50-acre natural history preserve with historic canoes and exhibits labeled in the Coast Salish language Lushootseed.

Spokane joins in with 10,000 photographs of Plateau Indian life at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (northwestmuseum.org). Fifty miles south lies Steptoe Butte State Park Heritage Site, a 3,612-foot peak, where the Palouse tribe underwent spiritual quests.

Discover more in Toppenish at the Yakama Nation Museum, featuring life-size dwellings and traditional garb of the Plateau People. Or follow the footsteps of the Shoshone woman who guided Lewis and Clark. She’s honored today with the Sacajawea Historical State Park in Pasco and the interpretive center at Cape Disappointment State Park in Ilwaco.

 

-- Amanda Castleman