Western Reads celebrates 2017 book choice ‘Tulalip from my Heart’
Young girls and boys from the Lummi nation sang, danced and played the drums around the audience in Fraser Hall to commence the 2017 Western Reads event on Wednesday, Oct. 11.
Co-host, Michael Vendiola, of the Swinomish tribe said the event was designed to bring attention to the connection between tribal and non-tribal communities that are greatly desired.
On Wednesday night, Western Reads inaugurated the new book for the year, “Tulalip, from my Heart: An Autobiographical Account of a Reservation Community,” by Harriette Shelton Dover, and edited by Darleen Fitzpatrick. The event also celebrated Coast Salish Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Western Reads director and co-host Dawn Dietrich said, “over 5,000 campus members are reading ‘Tulalip, from my Heart.’”
The book recounts the story of how Dover, born in 1904, spent her youth in a Native American boarding school and described the conditions she faced. Also included is the retelling of the Treaty of Point Elliott in 1855 from her elders. She also wrote about the hardships her tribe faced throughout her life.
Speakers included members of the Tulalip tribe and Lummi nation, including the granddaughter of the author, Patti Gobin of the Tulalip tribe, who passionately recounted her grandmother’s personality and life.
“She helped raise me and called me her granddaughter from the time I was 10,” Gobin said. Gobin became her adoptive granddaughter when Dover asked her to come listen to her stories on the weekends, as Dover had no grandchildren herself.
“She began to teach me how to believe in myself,” Gobin said.
She sang her grandmother’s song to the beat of a drum, and the audience was asked to stand for respect. Gobin said, “It’s not about me, it’s about my people.”
Western President Sabah Randhawa said he has hired a full-time tribal liaison, calling it a “valuable step in this direction.”
“It is clear that higher education has a responsibility to better serve the native peoples in this area,” he said.
Gobin, among other panelists, had a lot of respect for Dover. “I want to honor my grandmother. She is here with us and it’s the legacy that she left and that she always envisioned.”
Mary Jane Topash was a fellow guest speaker and is a Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center tours specialist.
“There’s a history and we are living right in it. Our people are still here,” She said.
Other guest speakers included Bernie Thomas of the Lummi tribe, and Marjorie James of the Tulalip tribe. Senator John McCoy was scheduled to be at the event but was unable to attend.