Canku Ota

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


June 2, 2001 - Issue 37



Schooling has Lasted Lifetime for
Lummi Cultural Teacher


by Kari Thorene Shaw, The Bellingham Herald


HANDING DOWN TRADITION: Point works with students at Lummi Tribal School, teaching them traditional weaving techniques. Jay Drowns Herald Photo

Point's long relationship with higher education began by accident.

"I hadn't planned on going to college," said Point, who teaches Lummi art, history and language at Lummi Tribal School. "It was just a thing that happened."

It was the early 1980s, and Point had just been laid off at Lummi Head Start. Her sister suggested she try for a federal Bureau of Indian Affairs scholarship. On a lark, she did. She enrolled at Western Washington University and has been a college student ever since.

"It took me a long time to get my bachelor's degree," Point said, laughing.

She had seven children when she started school, ranging in age from preschool to high school. Taking her time was her prerogative as a busy mom.

Schooling wasn't easy for Point, who started school busing from Marietta to Lummi Day School in 1951.

"There used to be a village on both sides of the river down by Marietta. There were cabins on both sides where Lummi people lived and fished right on the river," Point said. "We lived there."

Like many of her generation, Point has fond memories of Lummi Day School, but has little to recommend from her experience transferring to neighboring public schools.

"It was a hard transition," she said. "You had huge classes and there was a lot of prejudice there. The non-natives, the whites, wouldn't let the Indians in on any programs or clubs."

It was her schooling at Northwest Indian College -- and the required lessons in the Lummi dialect of the Coast Sails language -- that piqued her interest in Lummi culture. It's a passion she conveys to her students through classes in Lummi basket making, language, history and cooking.

She knew little about language about until her adult years. Her father was brought up in the strict Catholic tradition of Tulip Boarding School, a place he learned to bury his knowledge of the Lummi culture. Point would be an adult before she started to study her background.

"My grandmother was a great cedar basket maker, but I never got to learn from her," she said.

She's still an enrolled student at Western, slowly taking the credits she needs for a teacher's certification. She expects to finish late next year.

Northwest Indian College
Welcome to the Northwest Indian College . Northwest Indian College is committed to the belief that self-awareness is the foundation necessary to achieve confidence, esteem and a true sense of pride; to build a career; to create a "self-sufficient" life-style; and to promote life-long learning. It is also committed to a belief that a self-awareness program must include a study of Native American culture, values, and history.


Lummi Tribal School


Sla-Hal, Bone Game, or Stick Game
Sla-Hal, Bone Game, or Stick Game are three ways to call a very popular game played amongst Northwestern Indian Tribes. Indian people of all ages have enjoyed gathering and participating in this exciting and traditional event for generations.




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Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.



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