Students preparing for their freshman year at Seattle University are tasked with reading a common text, which will be discussed with faculty and staff during Welcome Week and incorporated in programs throughout the year. The Common Text not only provides students the opportunity to practice active reading and exploring challenging and conflicting ideas, but introduces students to the Ignatian-inspired process of inquiry. This process emphasizes meaning-making, risk-taking and asking deep questions.
The Common Texts for the next two years were chosen by a committee of fifteen faculty, staff, and students selected from a list of finalists. The 2018-19 Common Text is Tulalip from My Heart: An Autobiographical Account of a Reservation Community.
Presented in the author’s own voice, this memoir is immediately engaging as an act of storytelling. It is accessible and varied and offers distinct, specific history of the lives of native peoples here in the greater Seattle area.
As publisher University of Washington Press explains, “Written by a member of the Tulalip tribe and edited posthumously by the local community college writing instructor who collaborated on the project, Tulalip, from My Heart is . . . written in rich, voice-driven text and the traditional Tulalip storyteller narrative style, recounts the myriad problems that such tribes faced after resettlement. Born in 1904, Dover grew up hearing the elders of her tribe tell of the hardships involved in moving from their villages to the reservation on Tulalip Bay: inadequate supplies of food and water, harsh economic conditions, and religious persecution outlawing potlatch houses and other ceremonial practices.”
Members of our committee were excited about this text as a local oral history, as it is likely to engage a broad array of members of our community, as well as a range of ethical complexities related to ethnography, local history, issues of translation, etc. This book is an immersive experience in storytelling, and it is a beautiful example of qualitative research, an important example to incoming SU students. Moreover, it is well-timed to coincide with the opening of Vi Hilbert Hall in 2018, named for a Washington State National Treasure, Vi Hilbert, who devoted much of her life to preserving Native American Lushootseed (Puget Sound Salish) language, traditions and stories.