Victoria – S’abadeb, The Gifts

An exhibition of Native American Coastal Salish tribal art has just opened November 20, 2009 at the Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria, British Columbia. “S’abadeb – The Gifts” will be available for viewing until March 8, 2010. Previously, the exhibition was shown in Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, BC.

For those coming to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, you will still have the chance to see this ground-breaking art exhibition. Why do I say “ground-breaking”?

The Interior Coast Salish tribes, who live around Puget Sound and its river system, have made their art quietly, in comparison to the more obvious art of other better known Northwestern tribes like the Haida and Kwagiutl, to whom they are not related.

The Coastal Salish are the indigenous People whose lands encompass all of Vancouver, BC, Victoria, BC and Seattle, Washington! The Canadian tribes, like the Musqueam, never ceded their lands.

The Duwamish and other Puget Sound tribes peacefully ceded their lands in Treaty, through the guidance of wise Chief Si’adl (Chief “Seattle”), but the American Government never honored the Treaty AT ALL. The American government left the People destitute — never providing any of their own land for them or providing anything else that was promised.

All the tribes are presently in litigation with their respective governments, for Justice.

Learning this, and seeing the few historic, tribal cultural objects left (after massive destruction of the 90 longhouse tribal homes and their contents by ungrateful, greedy and discriminatory Anglo-European immigrants to Seattle), underscores these peaceful People’s current plight, for Justice, recognition, understanding and support in their Quest to resurrect their artistic heritage. So, how to go about that? Just start!

And, that’s just what the enlightened curator at the Seattle Art Museum did. For years, the Interior Salish Native American communities were included in the process of choosing objects for their exhibition, by a long, thoughtful process through the Seattle Art Museum. This is unprecedented, and is a new-found hope for the future.

Now, you will get an unusual peek into their lives and culture. The Interior Salish, residents of what is now known as the Salish Sea, made Art a personal, daily activity based in the desire for beauty of everyday objects and of service to each other with their skills.

There’s a great deal we can learn from their life perspective.

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