Tacoma Transformer Boxes Project

Three Puyallup Tribal artists/brothers: Daniel Duenas Jr., Anthony Duenas & Chris Duenas worked with the City of Tacoma to vinyl wrap transformer boxes on the Puyallup Reservation and around the city. They produced 3 designs, all of which come from the story of dukʷibəɫ ‘The Changer/Transformer’, our people’s creation story.

sc’ulsxʷayəʔ - Bull Frog Lady

tulabyutəb ʔə tsiiɫ sc’ulsxʷayəʔ ti ʔibəcs
'The Bull Frog Lady babysat her Grandchild.'

This design represents the Bull Frog Lady, sc’ulsʷayəʔ. Bull Frog Lady was a blind old grandmother who babysat the child who would become the Changer. While the Bull Frog Lady was watching the child, the child was kidnapped by the Dog Salmon People.

ƛ’əxʷayʔ - Dog Salmon People

diɫ ti dᶻixʷ syayus ʔə tiiɫ dukʷibəɫ
'This is the first work of the Changer.'

The Dog Salmon people kidnapped the baby boy who would be Changer while Bull Frog Lady was watching him. They took him to the Dog Salmon world which was far, far away. When he got big, he was married to one of the Dog Salmon women.

After the child became the Changer, he returned to the Dog Salmon world and changed the Dog Salmon people into salmon. This was the first work done by the Changer. Once the Dog Salmon were changed, the Changer went on, changing all the things throughout the world.

sbəq’ʷəʔ - Blue Heron

kʷaxʷətab ʔə tiiɫ dukʷibəɫ ti sbəq’ʷəʔ
'The Changer helped Blue Heron.'

Blue Heron was fishing with his salmon spear when the Changer found him. The Changer took his spear and slapped it on his face. The Changer said to him, “you will use this to catch salmon,” and that is why the Blue Heron has a long beak.

Blue Heron was carving a canoe when the Changer found him. He was using his hands and his head to split the wood. The Changer asked him why he wasn’t using sticks and rocks as tools to which Blue Heron replied that they just hit him. This is when the Changer killed the sticks and the rocks so they would not hit the people when they used them as tools for carving.

The Sides and Top

hiwiləxʷ tiiɫ dukʷibəɫ
'The Changer went on.'

The sides of each box represent the Changer (also known as the Transformer) who changed everything into the way things are today. This includes the mountains, rivers, the people and all the animals. The Changer narratives are considered to be the history of this land. They are not just stories. These are our creation stories.

The top of each box says hiwiləxʷ tiiɫ dukʷibəɫ because as the Changer was doing his work, he went on after each thing he changed.