Blessing for continued strength in the New Burke

December 5, 2018
Cathy Morris
A woman stands with hands up and out as she is brushed with a cedar branch

Polly Olsen (Yakama), Burke Museum tribal liaison, is brushed with cedar during the cedar brushing ceremony, the Blessing of the Hands. 
Photo: Cathy Morris/Burke Museum

The majority of objects in the Burke Museum collection are now in the new facility—representing a monumental effort of the Burke team.

Prior to the move beginning, the museum’s Native American Advisory Board recommended holding a ceremony to bless and protect the people involved in building and moving the New Burke.

Last week, tribal leaders returned to the Burke—this time in the new facility—to offer a second cedar brushing ceremony acknowledging the commitment of the Burke community as we near the end of the move.

A woman holds cedar branch while a large group of Burke staff listen

Marilyn Wandry (Suquamish) explains the significance of cedar to Burke Museum staff and volunteers. 
Photo: Cathy Morris/Burke Museum

A large group stands in a circle as Native Elders explain the significance of the blessing

More than 80 Burke Museum staff and volunteers attended the Blessing of the Hands ceremony. 
Photo: Cathy Morris/Burke Museum

Cedar holds significant importance for many regional tribal communities—it is unbreakable, water-resistant, bends with the winds and is believed to provide strength.

A woman holds a bin filled with cedar branches

Polly Olsen, Burke Museum tribal liaison, holds a bin containing cedar braches and water for the blessing.
Photo: Cathy Morris/Burke Museum

More than 80 Burke staff, volunteers, and tribal leaders came together for the ceremony. Each person was brushed with cedar collected from trees at the University of Washington, dipped in water from Clark Creek near Puyallup.

A young woman is brushed with cedar branches on her head by an Elder

Marilyn Wandry (Suquamish) brushes a Burke Museum staff member with cedar during the ceremony.
Photo: Cathy Morris/Burke Museum

Cedar branches are brushed down to the feet of a staff member

Cedar holds significant importance for many regional tribal communities.
Photo: Cathy Morris/Burke Museum

Connie McCloud (Puyallup Tribe of Indians) during cedar brushing ceremony.
Photo: Cathy Morris/Burke Museum

A woman brushes a man with cedar branches as other burke staff look on.

Connie McCloud (Puyallup Tribe of Indians) brushes Burke Museum Curator of North American Anthropology, Sven Haakanson (Sugpiaq), with cedar during the ceremony.
Photo: Cathy Morris/Burke Museum

The Burke is sincerely grateful to Rex Buck (Wanapum), Angela Buck (Wanapum), Connie McCloud (Puyallup Tribe of Indians), and Marilyn Wandry (Suquamish) for their generosity of time and spirit in offering this blessing.

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