Metro Parks Tacoma announcement.
Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, located in Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park, is known for recreating life in the 1850s. Ask museum-goers about their visit and you will hear about historic re-enactors, wooden palisades, iconic bastions, or blacksmithing demonstrations. You will likely not hear the word “podcast.”
That is until now. The museum, in partnership with the Muckleshoot, Nisqually, Puyallup, Steilacoom and Squaxin Island Tribes as well as HistoryLink.org, has released a podcast that advances Native voices in the telling of Puget Sound History. Indigenous Voices is an extension of last year’s award-winning virtual panel program on the Puget Sound Treaty War (1855—1856).
Fort Nisqually was established by the British Hudson’s Bay Company in the South Sound in 1833. Native Americans were an integral part of Fort Nisqually operations, working and living at the Fort, purchasing goods and trading while raising families and preserving traditions of their own. While Fort Nisqually was not a scene of conflict during the War, the museum wanted to tell this story.
“The Fort doesn’t have a history without the history of the tribes,” says Event Coordinator, Elizabeth Rudrud. “This project has been an important experience for the museum to step out of the way and to create an opportunity for listeners to do just that – listen,” said Rudrud.
The project has evolved from what was a single scheduled panel discussion in March of 2021, to a virtual panel series and now a podcast.
“I think what was meaningful for us was the opportunity to finally, for the first time in the history of the state, have the story of the Treaty War told from the perspective from the tribes,” said Brandon Reynon, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer at the Puyallup Tribe. “Having that opportunity to speak on our ancestors’ behalf, but also be able to speak from a tribal perspective for once, was huge.”
Several of the tribal participants are descendants of Treaty War warriors and tribal leaders of the era. In the first podcast episode, “Walking Two Trails,” Reynon recounts visiting an archaeology site where projectiles were being prepared for war. As a descendant of Hi-Nuk, a Treaty War warrior, he knew there was a strong possibility he was touching artifacts that were connected to his family.
“It brings the human aspect of the Treaty Wars,” says Nettsie Bullchild, Director of the Tribal Historic Preservation Office at the Nisqually Tribe and program participant, “and that is very different from the way this history was written and taught for so many years.”
For tribal people in the region, the Treaty War is not something that lives in the past.
“The war was fought in 1855 and 1856, but we continued the same battles through the sixties and seventies,” says Reynon, referring to the Fish Wars led by tribal activists who were reclaiming Treaty Rights to fish in the “usual and accustomed” grounds. “The war was over, but the battle continues, even today.”
The Indigenous Voices podcast, which is supported by grants from the City of Tacoma Historic Preservation Office and the Tacoma Arts Commission, is available wherever you get your podcasts and at fortnisqually.org.