Vintage film still from the documentary "Bernie Whitebear: A Modern Warrior."

The Emerald Roundup of Native American Heritage Month Events in the Seattle Area

by Jas Keimig

November is Native American Heritage Month and a time to celebrate and uplift the diverse Indigenous communities both here, and across the continent. In Washington State, there are over 30 tribes, including Colville Confederated Tribes, The Confederated Tribes Of The Chehalis Reservation, Confederated Tribes Of The Yakama Nation, Duwamish, Jamestown S’Klallam, Hoh, Cowlitz, Lower Elwha Klallam, Kalispel, Lummi, Nisqually, Makah Nation, Muckleshoot, Puyallup, Nooksack, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Quileute, Quinault Nation, Samish Nation, Sauk-Suiattle, Skokomish, Shoalwater Bay, Spokane, Squaxin Island, Snoqualmie, Stillaguamish, Swinomish, Suquamish, Tulalip, and Upper Skagit.

As we work to tear down the colonial narratives and structures around Thanksgiving, November is also an opportunity to give back, learn from, and listen to Native peoples in the Seattle area. With Native American Heritage Day falling on Nov. 24, there are lots of opportunities throughout the entire month to eat Indigenous foods, buy gifts from Indigenous craft markets, and watch Indigenous films. We assembled a list of events in the Seattle area to mark down on your (rapidly filling!) November calendar.

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Community Kitchen Meals: Indigenous Takeover With Natoncks Metsu

Nov. 12, 1–3 p.m.
Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands
5513 S. Cloverdale St.

Jason Vickers (Nipmuc) of Natoncks Metsu will be feeding people at Tilth Alliance’s last Community Kitchen event at Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands. At the event, Vickers will serve food and tell the stories of both Seattle-area Indigenous tribes as well as those from eastern Massachusetts, where Thanksgiving was first celebrated. The event is sold out; however, after the event, a recipe book will be published along with a resource packet so you can follow along at home. Also, keep your eyes peeled for a story next week from me about Vickers!

‘Navajo Star Wars’

Nov. 13, 7:30 p.m.
Grand Illusion Cinema
1403 NE 50th St.

I’m sure you’ve seen George Lucas’ Star Wars, but have you seen the iconic space epic in Navajo? In collaboration with Mother Nation, Grand Illusion Cinema is screening Navajo Star Wars, which features Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope completely dubbed in Navajo by nearly six dozen Navajo voice actors. The idea came from Navajo Nation Museum Director Manuelito Wheeler, who reached out to Lucasfilm for years until he finally got permission in 2012 to redub the film in Navajo. It’s the first major film to ever be dubbed in an Indigenous language — and you have the opportunity to watch it for free at Grand Illusion. They ask that you donate your money to Mother Nation in honor of Native American Heritage Month. Terri Sulaiman of the Navajo Nation will introduce the film in Navajo — both the intro and the film itself will have an English translation and subtitles for all to enjoy!

P.S. Grand Illusion is screening two more incredible Indigenous films this month: War Pony and Clearcut. Don’t miss!

Elder Appreciation Luncheon

Nov. 15 and 22, 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m.
Labateyah Youth Home
9010 13th Ave. NW

Every other week, Labateyah Youth Home hosts an Elder Appreciation Luncheon for Native youth and elders to eat, connect, and be in community with one another. Each lunch features a different topic of discussion, and November’s topics are both winter and home safety. There will be food and resources as well as door prizes at every event.

Community Gathering by Headwater People Consulting

Nov. 17, 6:30–8 p.m.
Bethaday Community Learning Space
605 SWt 108th St.

Headwater People Consulting is inviting Native people in the Seattle area to attend a community gathering session to develop a shared vision and give feedback on an Urban Native Community Center in Seattle. There will be food as well as gas cards provided for those who attend.

Cedar Purse Making With Jamie Arnold (Tulalip)

Nov. 18, 1-4 p.m.
Hibulb Cultural Center
6410 23rd Ave. NE, Tulalip

Head over to the Hibulb Cultural Center in Tulalip to take a class on cedar purse making with Tulalip tribal member Jamie Arnold. In a two-part class, you will learn the art of cedar weaving from Jamie and make a purse you can take home yourself. You must register beforehand by calling the cultural center’s number, and there’s a $150 kit fee to the artist. Go forth and learn from this talented craftsperson!

Living Voices: Native Vision

Nov. 18, 1–2 p.m. and 2–3 p.m.
Museum of History and Industry
860 Terry Ave. N.

For one day only, Living Voices will be performed at the Joshua Green Foundation Theater at the Museum of History and Industry in South Lake Union. The live performance is centered around a Navajo girl who is trying to hold on to her culture while being in a government-run boarding school. She dreams of being a healer, which actualizes as the Navajo people join the United States in fighting World War II. Living Voices is a combination of live performance and archival footage and you can peep a clip of a version of the performance, which stars none other than Lily Gladstone!

Suquamish Holiday Bazaar

Nov. 18–19 and Dec. 9–10, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
House of Awakened Culture
7235 NE Parkway, Suquamish

Get a jump-start on your holiday shopping at the Suquamish Holiday Bazaar. This free event features local Native vendors selling handmade items and gifts you can give to the special people in your life. And if you miss the bazaar this month, worry not — they are hosting another bazaar weekend in early December.

Indigenous People’s Community Day

Nov. 19, 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Seattle Aquarium
1483 Alaskan Way, Pier 59

For Native American Heritage Month, the Seattle Aquarium is welcoming Indigenous community members into the aquarium for a day of learning, exploring the space’s various habitats, and cultural events that include story sessions from Indigenous storytellers. More information on the day’s schedule will come, but in the meantime, you can register your ticket on the aquarium’s website.

Women Make Movies Present: Queer Indigenous Shorts

Nov. 22–30
Northwest Film Forum
1515 12th Ave.

Women Make Movies has teamed up with the Northwest Film Forum to present three queer Indigenous short films. Mona Smith’s (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate) Her Giveaway follows the story of Carole LaFavor (Objibwe), who comes to terms with her HIV diagnosis through both her traditional spiritual practice and Western medicine. In Honored by the Moon, director Mona Smith (two films!) interviews Native gay men and lesbians about their historical and spiritual role in their respective Indigenous communities. In Honey Moccasin, the all-Native production is set on the fictitious Grand Pine Indian Reservation and “combines elements of melodrama, performance art, cable access, and ‘whodunit’ to question conventions of ethnic and sexual identity as well as film narrative,” reads the blurb on NWFF’s website. NWFF is also showing two other excellent Indigenous films this month — the Sundance award-winning Bad Press and Ever Deadly, which follows the life of Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq.

A still from Shelley Niro’s short film “Honey Moccasin.” (Still courtesy of Women Make Movies via Northwest Film Forum)

Duwamish Native Arts & Crafts Market

Nov. 24–26, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
Duwamish Longhouse Cultural Center
4706 W. Marginal Way SW

Bus, bike, or drive down to the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center to check out its Native Arts & Crafts Market. Over Thanksgiving weekend and on Native American Heritage Day proper, you’re invited to peruse and support Native artists just in time for the holiday season. More information on vendors is forthcoming, but there will absolutely be food!

‘Moving History – Bernie Whitebear and Vi Hilbert’

Nov. 26, 4 p.m.
Northwest Film Forum
1515 12th Ave.

I know I’ve already included one Northwest Film Forum event in this list, but this screening is also really important. On Nov. 26, NWFF is screening two short films commemorating two Native legends — Vi taqʷšəblu Hilbert (Upper Skagit), who dedicated her life to the revitalization of the Lushootseed language, and Bernie Whitebear (Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation), who was crucial to the occupation of Fort Lawton in 1970 and went on to found the Seattle Indian Health Board, the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, and the Daybreak Star Cultural Center. All of the afternoon’s proceeds will be donated to the nonprofit Lushootseed Research, and NWFF has additional reading resources on its webpage.

Jas Keimig is a writer and critic based in Seattle. They previously worked on staff at The Stranger, covering visual art, film, music, and stickers. Their work has also appeared in Crosscut, South Seattle Emerald, i-D, Netflix, and The Ticket. They also co-write Unstreamable for Scarecrow Video, a column and screening series highlighting films you can’t find on streaming services. They won a game show once.

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