Museum exhibit explores revitalization of local Native food traditions

Fossilized clam shells are among the items now on display at the Edmonds Museum.
Salish Bounty co-curator Elizabeth Swanaset holds clams collected on a Puget Sound beach last summer. The clams were then smoked and preserved for winter use. (Photo courtesy of Warren King George.)

Now through July 3, the Edmonds Historical Museum presents a traveling exhibit from the Burke Museum, “Salish Bounty: Traditional Native American Foods of Puget Sound.” Focusing on the revival of traditional Native foods, Salish Bounty is co-curated by Burke Museum archaeologists and Coast Salish advisors.

Salish Bounty—comprised of historic images including photographs and maps, and informative text printed on free-standing banners—reminds us that food isn’t solitary; cooking and eating are things we do with other people and express our cultural history and values. The exhibit also includes a four-minute DVD, offering archaeological insight into Coast Salish food resources spanning thousands of years along the Duwamish River.

Knowledge of Coast Salish cuisine has been passed down from the elders and supplemented by archaeological and historical research. More than 280 kinds of plants and animals have been identified as ingredients in this cuisine. Contemporary Coast Salish cooks incorporate both traditional and newly introduced ingredients, sharing traditions to create healthy alternatives for families and communities still struggling with loss of lands and waters, drastically changed lifestyles, and imposed industrial foods. Salish Bounty provides a local perspective on myriad 21st century food issues and how, as in many places around the world, the revival of Coast Salish food traditions embodies the reestablishment of more healthful and sustainable practices that honor land and community.

The Edmonds Historical Museum has supplemented this exhibit using artifacts from its own collection, along with items on loan from the Hibulb Cultural Center at Tulalip including fossilized clam shells dating from 50 B.C. and a clam basket ca. 1900.The Museum is located in Edmonds’ historic 1910 Carnegie Library at 118 Fifth Avenue North. It is open year-round between 1 and 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, but opens early on market days. Suggested donation in lieu of an admission fee is $5 for adults, and $2 for students.

“Salish Bounty: Traditional Native American Foods of Puget Sound” has been organized by the Burke Museum, University of Washington, with co-curators Warren King George (Muckleshoot/Upper Skagit Indian Tribe) and Elizabeth Swanaset (Nooksack/Cowichan/Laq’amel Tribes).

The Edmonds Mseum is located in the historic 1910 Carnegie Library at 118 5th Ave. N. It is open year-round between 1 and 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, but opens early on Edmonds market days. Suggested donation in lieu of an admission fee is $5 for adults, and $2 for students.

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