Lushootseed Traditional Narratives are a foundation of our culture. These narratives give us insight into the world of our ancestors. They explain lessons, teachings and they guide us through our lives. The narratives give us our creation stories, and help to explain how things came to be in existence today.
Traditional Narratives were shared throughout Lushootseed country and told by all Tribes and families in our area. These stories are shared in Lushootseed so our children will know how to walk tall with an honorable mind; so they will not be lost in this world.
If we lose our languages, we lose our teachings. If we lose our teachings, our children are lost.
- Indigenous Proverb
We understand that not everyone shares the same teachings. However, we are following the teachings of our Elders who taught us that these stories were shared with everyone, because no one was denied the teachings of the Traditional Narratives. Furthermore, the stories that we are sharing have already been made public by books, recordings and videos. We are not revealing anything that has not already been shared. The Traditional Narratives that we are sharing on this website are used for teaching purposes and to keep our Traditional Narratives alive for future generations.
In the Puyallup Tribal Language Program, we use several different Lushootseed speaking Elders’ stories from different Tribes in Lushootseed country. These Elders were recorded sharing our Traditional Narratives so we could learn from them today. Some of these Southern Lushootseed Elders include:
When we share a Lushootseed Traditional Narrative, we follow a set of teachings. Here is an example of one way that we share our sx̌ʷiʔab.
t’ilibəxʷ čəɫ – First, we open with a song.
cəlac dxʷgʷəlčšid – Then we prepare our bodies – we pay attention, we sit still, we use our 5 teachers: our eyes, ears, nose, mouth and our body.
ƛ’əlusəb – We do not share these stories when people are not paying attention.
habu – When listening to a Traditional Narrative, we say “habu” to let the storyteller know we’re paying attention and want them to continue.
ʔux̌ʷiʔabəb čəɫ ʔə kʷi sbuusaɫil, ʔə kʷi scəlacaɫil – We tell these stories 4-5 times so we can absorb the traditional teachings. This can be during one setting or over a period of time.
gʷədᶻadad – Then we process what we heard and we think about the gʷədᶻadad – traditional teachings – that we can take away from the story. The gʷədᶻadad is different for everyone. The traditional teachings can also change each time the person hears a traditional narrative. We don’t tell other people what the gʷədᶻadad is for them.
One very important part of language revitalization is Lushootseed Traditional Storytelling. To revitalize this foundational part of our culture, the Puyallup Tribal Language Program held monthly Storytelling Nights in the Puyallup community. This event brought our Traditional Narratives to life and allowed our community to connect to our ancestral teachings.
Listen in as the Puyallup Tribal Language Program staff reads Traditional Narratives in txʷəlšucid and in English. Don’t forget to say “habu” when you’re listening! If you have young ones listening, have them draw or color what they are hearing as you share the story 4-5 times. Follow up by asking, “What gʷədᶻadad did you hear?”WATCH THIS FIRST
In order to assist in the language revitalization of the txʷəlšucid language, the Puyallup Tribal Language Program has created txʷəlšucid literacy books for the Lushootseed community. The audio and video for the literacy books and book keys with English translations are available for community use. The goal is to get txʷəlšucid books in the homes of our community members to be read with their families, for teachers to read with their children and to promote txʷəlšucid literacy.
Upper Skagit Northern Lushootseed speaking Elder, Vi Hilbert dedicated her life to keeping the Lushootseed language alive for future generations. She was an honorable Lushootseed speaker and storyteller, and she preserved some of these Traditional Narratives through video and audio recordings.
Tulalip Tribal Elder, Harriette Shelton Dover, also talked about our Traditional Narratives and their importance.
The Tulalip Tribal Language Program has provided resources of Northern Lushootseed speaking Elders and Traditional Narrative materials for children. Their extensive site includes biographies and audio of Lushootseed First Language Speakers.
Some of these Northern Lushootseed Elders include: