Puyallup Tribe honors Native American Heritage Month at local school

Dancers in ribbon skirts perform a paddle song. Photo by Lauren Gallup.
Dancers in ribbon skirts perform a paddle song during an assembly Tuesday at Aylen Junior High School. Credit: Lauren Gallup / NWPB



As Native American Heritage Month comes to a close, members  of the Puyallup Tribe celebrated and acknowledged their heritage on Tuesday with a visit to Puyallup Schools. 

Sounds of drumming and singing filled the gymnasium at Aylen Junior High School, as members of the Puyallup Tribe’s Culture and Language Department and students from Chief Leschi Schools shared songs and dances with the junior high students.

Archie Cantrell, the Native American education liaison for the Puyallup School District, led the assembly in honor of Native American Heritage Month.

A man in a black sweatshirt stands in the middle of a gymnasium with a microphone. A row of people stand against the wall behind him.

Archie Cantrell, Native American Education liaison for the district, led the assembly on Tuesday. Credit: Lauren Gallup

“You now know that the city of Puyallup is named after the tribe – the first people that lived and stewarded these lands, hunted and fished on these lands, and lived in communities and villages on these lands since the beginning of time,” Cantrell told the students at the assembly.

Throughout the assembly, dancers in ribbon skirts sang along as others stood singing and drumming to traditional songs. The songs included paddle songs that pay homage to the importance of canoeing for the tribe.

“Canoeing was a big part of life for our people,” Cantrell said. “That’s how we got to places to visit our relatives, to trade and barter. It’s important that we have paddle songs because it keeps everybody paddling together.”

Toward the end of the assembly, Cantrell invited Aylen Junior High students onto the gymnasium floor to join in a paddle song.

“Look how much family we have here. Look how rich we are,” Cantrell said. “And we’re all going to work together.”