Meet & Greet in Yakima

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Do you live in the Yakima Valley?

Are you curious what the Yakima Valley Cultural Traditions Survey is all about?

Visit the Yakima Central Library on July 19, any time between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., to meet the Center for Washington Cultural Traditions (CWCT) team working to document and support cultural traditions in the Yakima Valley.

Kristin Sullivan (Director, CWCT) and Rodrigo Rentería-Valencia (Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Central Washington University) will be on hand to share information about this exciting new project, and how you can get involved.

You can be part of this important conservation effort!

The CWCT is interested in learning about traditional food preparation, occupational traditions (fishing, agricultural and harvesting traditions, etc.), other folk and traditional arts (basketry, dance, wood carving, etc.), and much more.

Are you, or is someone you know, a tradition bearer, elder, or other culture bearer who might be willing to share their knowledge with others? Come to the Yakima Central Library to learn about interviews Rodrigo and Kristin are conducting with culture bearers, and share your ideas for events or programs about local cultural heritage that you’d like to see. Or if you’re just curious about any of this, come say hello!

In addition to the meet-and-greet, the CWCT will offer services and information about conserving your own family archive at the event. Do you have photos, letters, recipes, or anything you want to digitize, to save for your family? Kristin and Rodrigo will scan these family archival treasures, and send you home with the originals and digital files in hand! You will also have the option of adding to the CWCT’s growing archive that documents cultural traditions in Washington. Kristin and Rodrigo will also share tips and resources for bigger family and community archive projects.

For more information contact:

Or visit us and learn more:

WHERE: Yakima Central Library, 102 N 3rd St., Yakima, WA 98901

WHEN: July 19, 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

This event is FREE and ALL are welcome.

Snacks will be provided.

(Download a flyer here)


The Yakima Valley Cultural Traditions Survey is supported in part by funding from the Yakima Valley Community Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts: Art Works.


Photos above: Salvador Baldovinos, photo by Willie Smyth courtesy Washington State Arts Commission; Vineyard in Zillah, photo by Jeff Wilcox via Flickr; Yakama Treaty Days parade in Toppenish, photo by Kristin Sullivan.

Launch Party Recap

The Center for Washington Cultural Traditions Launches us Forward… #FolkForward!

by Maria Abando

On Saturday March 3, the Center for Washington Cultural Traditions made a well-received community debut with its launch celebration, #FolkForward. It was packed with performances, demonstrations, and family-friendly activities. While at first glance it could’ve looked like an international festival, most of the groups that were present live and celebrate their culture right here in Washington. It was eye-opening to see the diversity of cultural traditions that exist in our state, as well as those that are native to this place.

The idea of time was something that wove itself into all of my thoughts that afternoon. I started out thinking about time in a past tense. The party was held at the Impact Hub in the historical Pioneer Square district. Performers in traditional cultural attire sang traditional songs, played traditional instruments, and I myself even attempted to learn traditional Croatian dance.

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Maria Guadalupe H. Casey teaches amate painting to event attendees.

There were also areas separate from the main stage where folk or traditional art demonstrations were taking place from local culture bearers. You read right – folk art demonstrations. If the words “folk art” don’t throw you in a time machine and transport you a few centuries back, then you’re probably already familiar with that field, like CWCT director Kristin Sullivan, who organized and emceed the afternoon.

But the event was named #FolkForward, a name whose hashtag grabbed a hold of me and launched me back to the present, to a time where “tweeting” isn’t solely a bird’s activity. I was left sitting, in the now, contemplating why I didn’t feel discombobulated from mentally leaping from decade to decade and continent to continent. Instead, I felt full with the new things I had learned:

I learned from the Puget Sound Sumi Artists that the ink used in traditional Japanese sumi painting is made from soot.

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Sumi artist, calligrapher, and founder of the Puget Sound Sumi Artists: Fumiko Kimura. Photo by Linda Hurst

I learned from Aggie Burstein from the Olympia Timberland Library that making a zine (a self-made, self-published magazine about anything) isn’t too difficult!

I learned from Abel Rocha that while the lute (Mexican vihuela) was popularized by Mariachi bands, which I associate with fast-paced rhythms, it is beautiful in heart wrenching, sentimental ballads.

I was even taken on a journey – a Tribal Canoe Journey that is – through a video presented by Hweqwidi Hanford McCloud of the Nisqually Indian Tribe, showing the revival and significance of that tradition.

All this new knowledge of old traditions swam around in my mind until they fused together into a realization that understanding each other is timeless. Gaining perspective is timeless. Hearing another persons’ story is timeless.

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Alisa Lahti showing intricately, hand-cut Polish paper craft (wycinanki). Photo by Linda Hurst.

This idea of timelessness was solidified as I watched young children participate in making a vibrant and fragrant flower mandala (pookolam) with Annie Penta. They crafted their own colorful Nahuas, amate images with Maria Guadalupe H. Casey. They also took delight in Madhubani art activities.

Additionally, the centerpieces on the tables throughout the main room were flourished with colorful decorations that included conversation starters: “What is your favorite traditional food?” “What do you wish people knew about your culture?” “What is your favorite holiday and how do you celebrate it?”

“The things that make us all different are things that, in actuality, make us all similar.”

As I answered these quietly to myself I imagined the diversity of responses people might have, and that while time and location have huge influence on these responses, they are relevant right here, right now, as we had all come together to celebrate and learn from each other. Each response would tell a story that is unique to each individual and their culture. But the fact that we can all answer the same questions highlighted the commonalities that connect us as humans. Regardless of where we come from, we all have food, songs, dances, or art that are meaningful to us in some way. The things that make us all different are things that, in actuality, make us all similar. They make us all human, which is an idea that is timeless.

It is now my belief that together, we need to actively take the legacies of traditional and folk arts, and continue to bring them forward.

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(Header image of Kalalaya Academy Bharatanatyam dancers by Linda Hurst,

Research & Development

Beginning in 2016 two major projects laid the groundwork for the new Center for Washington Cultural Traditions: A Landscape Analysis of Cultural Traditions of Washington State, and a statewide Community Meeting Series.

The stories, concerns, and ideas gathered from conversations with people in these projects have informed every step of the CWCT’s development since. You can read about these experiences below:

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Snohomish Valley Festival of Pumpkins participant, fall 2016

Landscape Analysis Report

The Landscape Analysis report serves as documentation and analysis of a statewide survey of cultural traditions in Washington State conducted from September 22, 2016 through February 2017. Over the course of four months we engaged, interacted with, or visited 61 relevant organizations in Washington State, visited 30 towns or cities, and attended 14 cultural events (e.g., festivals). This allowed for the opportunity to conduct ethnographic research, which provided a picture of cultural traditions and activities taking place throughout Washington State, and of the ways in which the CWCT might usefully support traditional culture and tradition bearers in Washington. Read the report here.

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All set up for a Community Meeting, July 21, 2017 at the Wenatchee Public Library

Community Meetings Report

Between July 12 and October 27, 2017 the CWCT held 16 public community meetings across Washington State. The purpose of the meeting series was to present on the development of the CWCT to date, and for the CWCT to learn about cultural traditions of interest to, and represented by, meeting attendees/participants; to learn about organizations whose work aligns with the CWCT in some way; and to better understand communities’ needs, concerns, and ideas related to cultural programming. In all, 163 individuals attended the meetings, and participants shared information about hundreds of needs, concerns, ideas, and cultural traditions and organizations of interest. Based on conversation about these with meeting participants, this report provides important recommendations for the CWCT’s focus and growth in its first years. Read the report here.

A huge thank you to everyone who met with us during this research, and who participated in the Community Meeting series. The CWCT will be that much richer and more effective because of your help and guidance.