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Suquamish rings in its own new year

SUQUAMISH — The Kaya’s Girls Mentoring Group is reviving Suquamish’s Native New Year Celebration with hopes that its attendees take part recognizing the changing of the seasons and learn more about the Suquamish culture as well.

The girls will host the event from 4-8:30 p.m. March 6 at the Suquamish Tribal Center on Sandy Hook Road off Highway 305.

A salmon dinner will be served from 4-5:30 p.m. and a celebration program takes place from 5:45-8:30 p.m. The latter will feature native singers and dancers, traditional teas, a prize lottery and native storyteller Tina Jackson, who is also the Kaya’s Girls organizer. “Kaya” means “Grandma” in Lushootseed, the tribe’s native language. The symbol of the group is a butterfly, which is “yu?yu?bac” in Lushootseed.

The group was established by Suquamish tribal elders and sisters Betty Pasco and Delores Mills in September 2001 and is educated in traditional Salish culture, history and protocols, as well as modern politics of tribal government and society.

Pasco and Mills teach about 13-15 girls various traditional skills, such as basket weaving, crocheting, quilting and cooking. The girls were also part of the only all-female crew out of 43 canoes during last year’s annual tribal canoe journey. Currently, they are learning how to do Salish loom weaving, virtually a lost weaving art, Pasco said.

Girls ages 11-18, most of whom are on the honor roll and participate in other school-related extracurricular activities, meet once a week to work on a Kaya Girls’ project.

At the last meeting, neither Jackson nor Pasco were able to attend, so the girls ran the session themselves, taking extensive notes and carefully planning out next weekend’s event — efforts that impressed both women.

Besides celebrating the new native year, the group will be raising funds that will pay some of the girls’ travel expenses to the largest powwow in the country, the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, N.M. in April.

“The girls want to represent Suquamish in traditional Suquamish regalia,” Jackson said.

This will be the first major fund-raiser for the group. However, the girls did have success with a booth at the 2003 Chief Seattle Days, raising $1,000 by selling handmade Native American items and baked goods. Jackson and Pasco said they were thrilled with how the girls took on the Native New Year project and fund-raising for the New Mexico trip.

“They are (hardly) asking for help from us,” Jackson said, noting the girls were assigned specific jobs and immediately took responsibility. “They are planning on going to the different communities to invite them.”

“Every time we have shown them (a new project), they have just taken off and done them,” Pasco added. “They amaze me.”

For more information or to make a reservation for the event, call Jackson at (360) 394-8418, Pasco at (360) 779-5584 or Virginia Adams at (360) 394-8419.

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