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Vi Hilbert

Vi Hilbert is an Upper Skagit elder who's dedicated most of her life to preserving Lushootseed language and culture.

Jimi Lott / The Seattle Times
Hilbert, who will turn 83 this summer, was named a Washington Living Treasure in 1989. For 15 years, she taught Lushootseed language and literature to hundreds of University of Washington students and was instrumental in publishing the first Lushootseed dictionary.

"There's no Lushootseed word for 'love' and no word for 'can't'," said Hilbert, seated at the dining room table in her South Seattle home. Meaning in the language of the Coast Salish people, she says, centers around "the beauty of the land and honor our people felt for all things beautiful."

In July, Hilbert will release her latest book on Seattle-area place names that she co-authored with an anthropologist and a number of her students.

Audio Clips

Lady Louse Cleans House

Told by Elizabeth Krise to Thomas Hess. Tulalip, 1962

Lady Louse lived there in that great big house!
All alone.
She had no friends or relatives.
Then she took it.
And she swept it.
That great big house.
There was lots of dirt!
When she got to the very middle of the house,
she got lost!
That was the end of Lady Louse!
That is the end.

Listen to the story in English and Lushootseed, as spoken by Vi Hilbert: WAV format
MP3 format


"To the first people - this land is sacred. This land is sacred to the first people!"

Listen to the phrase in English and Lushootseed, as spoken by Vi Hilbert:
WAV format
MP3 format

"Seeahth was an honorable leader - he was Duwamish and Suquamish. The town of Seattle has been named for him. His name has been misspelled and mispronounced to be something other than Seeahth."

Listen to the phrase in English and Lushootseed, as spoken by Vi Hilbert:
WAV format
MP3 format

Technical notes

PC users must have Microsoft Windows Media Player or Real Player to listen to these audio clips. Mac users will need QuickTime. Newer computers will already have this software installed. All players can be downloaded for free on the Internet. For more download information go to our upgrades and downloads page

Note to Mac users: If the MP3s don't automatically download or play in your MP3 player, try control-clicking on the link and select "download link to disk" in order to download the file to your computer.

Related links
Museum of History & Industry
The Washington State Historical Society
National Register of Historic Places
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