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culture shock photoA BOAT TO YESTERDAY
By Katie Vincent

Imagine you could board a boat and travel back in time to a Puget Sound before skyscrapers, cars and modern technology.

Well, no need to fantasize; just a boat ride away from downtown Seattle lies an island retreat themed to re-create our region's Native American culture—salmon feast and all.

Built for the World's Fair in 1962, Tillicum Village has welcomed locals and tourists alike for more than 50 years to partake in a special cultural experience on Blakeley Island—a state park just across the sound from West Seattle.

Hop on a small Argosy cruise ship at Pier 55 to begin your journey across Elliott Bay and the open sound, and enjoy entertaining live narration along the way. Listen closely for facts about our native waterways, the tribes that once inhabited the shores and Blake Island, all while keeping an eye out for the sweeping views of Mount Rainier.

culture shock photoUpon arrival, the village hosts welcome you with a cup of broth and steamed clams, whose shells you are encouraged to ceremonially crush on the ground with your feet. Shoes encouraged.

From there, you are invited to peek back into history.

Witness the tradition of cooking salmon before a massive alder wood fire. Watch an artist carve totem poles and ceremonial masks. Behold an all-new, choreographed Native American dance ritual, full of folk stories, symbolism and handmade tribal masks and costumes.

Most notably, dine on our region's bounty with Tillicum's authentic and memorable buffet of alder-baked salmon, featuring other signature dishes, such as the Northwest bison, venison and beef stew with warm, whole-grain "Tillicum" bread.

End your outing with unscheduled time to peruse the gift shop, explore the island's woods and beaches, look for otters and seals and simply soak in the unobstructed views of Mount Rainier and downtown Seattle.

After you've finished your cultural immersion, catch the boat and sail back into the 21st century.

Argosy Cruises offers daily four-hour trips to Tillicum Village throughout the summer, scheduled for the lunch and dinner hours. Tickets range from $30 for kids ages 4-12 to $79.95 for adults, although Argosy offers an $8 discount per ticket for early bookers and a 10 percent discount for AAA members.

For more information, visit the Tillicum Village website at or call 206.623.1445.

For a real escape from the city pulse this summer, Tillicum Village offers an idyllic, fun and uniquely educational way for the entire family to decompress and revel in our region's fascinating history. That, and salmon.


Katie Vincent
Katie Vincent is a Seattle-based freelance writer specializing in outdoor living, wellness, travel and sustainable gardening.

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