Seattle University's Vi Hilbert Ethnobotanical is named for Upper Skagit elder taqwsheblu Vi Hilbert, who generously contributed two phrases in the Lushootseed language that capture local Native views of the non-human world: "The Earth is Our First Teacher," and "Gifts of the Creator". The Lushootseed language plant names on the Garden's signage are intended to honor the garden's namesake, Vi Hilbert, and her efforts to "reawaken" and sustain the Lushootseed language and culture of the Puget Sound region.
Ethnobotany is the study of relationships between people and plants as important foods and medicines and employed as materials for a wide range of uses including building, carving, weaving, fishing, and ritual activities. indigenous oral traditions and teachings reflect and preserve a detailed knowledge of these native plants. In the harvesting and use of native plants, this sophisticated knowledge has been guided by an ethic of reverence and restraint that balances the needs of humans and the needs of the plants. Western Red Cedar, a native tree that has provided materials for a variety of products, from clothing to housing, canoes to cordage, bentwood boxes to intricately woven baskets and is honored in appreciation in stories and teachings as a model of generosity, and it is harvested with expressions of gratitude and respect.
The garden is roughly divided into four eco-regions representative of ecological areas of the Pacific Northwest: alpine, lowland forest, wetland and prairie. Begin your visit to the Garden at its northwest entrance, across the concrete walkway from the Arrupe Jesuit Residence. This entrance is marked by a large river boulder inset with a sign bearing commemorative signage honoring the Lushootseed. The garden invites you to learn more about this intimate, sustainable relationship and encourages you to cultivate your own caring relationship with our native plants.
Four Eco Regions: Native plants in the garden represent a small portion of those throughout the Pacific Northwest that the Coast Salish cultivated and harvested for food, medicine or materials.
If we learn, we will care. If we care, we can preserve.
The garden cooperative project included Facilities, Grounds, University Faculty and King County Urban Forestry Spring of 2005.
Partners; Seattle University students and facilities staff, Washington Native Plant Society