Category Archives: EVENTS

Lummi Nation hosts truth panel

By Lincoln Wallace

Tribal leaders and scholars from across the country came to the Northwest Indian College on the Lummi Nation as part of an event to discuss reconciliation for indigenous people in Washington State.

The panel, which was held on Oct. 18 and co-hosted by Whiteswan Environmental, Northwest Indian College, Community Engagement Fellows, and Generation Forward, began with a documentary screening.

The film “Dawnland” follows the people of the Wabanaki Confederacy who inhabit Maine and various Canadian provinces. For much of the 20th century, Wabanaki children were removed from their families and placed into white boarding schools and foster care to forcibly assimilate them into “white society”.

These efforts were not limited to Maine and were widespread in the United States, including here in Washington State, and the experiences are a painful shared memory for many Lummi.

The forum was modeled on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission formed in South Africa in 1995 in the wake of apartheid. Structured like a court, the TRC allowed victims of human rights violations to give statements and hearings about their experiences. Similar commissions have formed in many countries with histories of human rights violations, including the United States.

After the documentary, the panel discussion began with a guiding question: “What does reconciliation mean to indigenous leaders?”

Each of the panelists was invited to share their stories and experiences with government intervention in their lives, especially regarding tribal boarding schools and other efforts to subdue indigenous cultures.

“I had no idea about the boarding schools when I was young,” said William “Bill” James, who is the current chief of the Lummi Nation and one of the panelists at the forum. He was born on the reservation in 1944, and he said many of his elders were sent to boarding schools at the turn of the 20th century.

In the late 1950s, the Bureau of Indian Affairs sent James to such a school after he left Ferndale High School in protest of their biased historical curriculum. When he returned to the Lummi Nation, he became a teacher at the Lummi Day School, at first teaching traditional basket weaving but then teaching the Lummi language, according to a Washington State history website,

“I interviewed 28 of our elders, I asked them ‘do you speak the language?’” James recalled during the panel. “They all shook their heads. They had all went to boarding schools.”

At tribal boarding schools, children were forbidden to speak their native languages and were punished for doing so. Although James’s initial focus was to preserve the language, his mission has since expanded to protection of Lummi culture as a whole.

Candice Wilson, an executive of the Lummi Nation Tribal Court and panelist, agreed that cultural preservation “is our sacred obligation but also our shared responsibility.”

Although the events of “Dawnland” had taken place on the other side of the country, Wilson said, “we know these stories all too well.”

Kenny Frost, a Ute tribal elder who advocates indigenous causes in the federal government, including native relief, cultural preservation, and tribal government, was at the panel via video conference from Colorado.

Lummi panel

The truth and reconciliation panel listens as Kenny Frost speaks over video conference from Colorado.

He recalled that, at a state boarding school, he once spoke to a friend in Ute and was beaten by one of the school staff. When he told his grandmother, she instructed him “never to speak Ute.”

“We cannot change who we are,” he said. “We have to remain strong and true.”

Mishy Lesser, who came from Massachusetts and is the learning director for the Upstander Project that produced “Dawnland,” has studied reconciliation efforts and said that full resolution may not come for a lifetime.

“Having this conversation is not going to be easy,” she said. “Whatcom [County] has done nothing to rightfully restore the relationship with the indigenous people. We have a long way to go.”

Although the atmosphere after the panel was optimistic, many of the organizers acknowledged it was only a first step on the road to reconciliation.

“It’s a history that has to be told,” said Frost. “Even if it hurts.”

Follow us:

Bleedingham: the PNW’s Cannes of chills

By Brock Seaman

Bellingham’s biggest horror film festival, Bleedingham, is back at the Pickford Film Center for the seventh year running.

Filmmakers from all over the world show their short horror movies at Bleedingham — however, many of the people who submitted are locals from Washington State.

Bleedingham has a diverse selection of events, including concerts, art shows, and Q&A’s with the participants.

The main event at Bleedingham, called the Official Selection Screening, showed on Oct. 27 and is limited to Washingtonian filmmakers.

Steven Chappell, a Whatcom Community College Alumni, showed his movie “Bring the Remains” at Bleedingham this year.

“It’s very exciting to have an opportunity to see [“Bring the Remains”] on a big cinema screen among a sold-out crowd of strangers,” Chappell said.

Bleedingham is a competition as well as a film festival. The awards include Scariest Film, Best Directing, and Best Picture, which fetches a cash prize of $1,000.


Among the events held during Bleedingham Night Gallery, a horror-themed art show, is one of the events held during Bleedingham. Another distinctive feature of the festival is the cosplayers, drawing them in from as far as Seattle.

The competition is judged by a panel of people well-versed in the industry.

One of the judges, Roman Stadtler, is a founder of the Whatcom Film Association and the owner Comics Place in downtown Bellingham. Other judges include special effects artists, composers, horror writers, and actors.

Chappell worked with Brian Glinski to create “Bring the Remains,” which the Bleedingham website describes as a psychological horror movie about an 1800s fur trapper in the Pacific Northwest who is sent on a futile journey to find his brother.

“We spent three full days in Leavenworth last winter, shooting long hours in the miserable snow, rain, wind, and darkness…it was absolutely worth every frozen toe,” Chappell said.

Chappell and Glinski won two awards: third place for best cinematography and third place for best story.

Submissions closed on Oct. 1 and nominees are decided in mid-October. The films must be 10-15 minutes long and must be made in the last two years.

All 18 films will be shown again at the Pickford on Nov. 4.

Follow us:

Art show highlights environmental issues

By Brock Seamen

The Whatcom Art Museum is currently holding the “Endangered Species: Artists on the Front Line of Biodiversity” art show.

The exhibit features sculptures of wolves and dodo birds, paintings, photography, and such from the 1700 and 1800s through today. A diverse array of species is represented in an equally diverse array of art styles.

Barbara Matilsky, curator of art, said the exhibit, five years in the making, is her passion project.

David Miller, a local artist who also works preparing pieces for exhibit, said about Matilsky’s efforts that, “She moved ahead with the research not knowing if she could fund it, and along the way she got an NEA grant and many contributions.”

David MillerLocal artist David Miller shows two of his paintings featured in the exhibition.

The point of the exhibit, Miller said, is to “raise some alarms, but to inspire a little bit of hope.”

The exhibit also includes a painting from Miller of a pterosaur called Quetzalcoatlus, 2002, that was featured in a book.

The docent who led a recent tour of the exhibit described two paintings by Madeline von Foerster. The first painting was of plants from South Carolina.

“Her hands are holding this carnivorous plant but she’s saying, hold on, let’s keep everything alive. Let’s enjoy these plants that are endangered and let’s not let that pass through our hands,” said the docent.

Von Foerster, who attended the opening night of the show, confirmed the hands in the painting were hers.

The next painting by von Foerster shows a frog called “Ecnomiohyla rabborum” that is nearly extinct. According to the docent, “This poor frog, who died in Atlanta in a cage, was the last one that was ever known.”

Another work of art, a recreation of a dodo bird by Harri Kallio, is one part of his piece, the second part is photos of the birds in the wild.

“He [Kallio] went to an island off of Madagascar. He planted his sculptures where they used to live and photographed them,” the docent said.

The exhibit continues through Jan. 6 at Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building at 250 Flora St. open Wednesday through Sunday, noon-5 p.m.

Follow us:

Pickford hosts Doctober film festival

By Kaila Cove

The Pickford Film Center’s annual Doctober film festival runs this year from Sept. 28 through Nov. 1 and features documentaries about subjects as diverse as rodents and ballerinas.

“[Doctober is] Pickford’s month-long documentary film festival,” said Cole Wilder, who works at the theater. “This year, we’re playing 57 documentaries over the course of about 30 days.”

The month-long festival includes community events, panel discussions, Q&As, and a Doc-ED program, which Wilder said, “brings middle schools in from around Whatcom County to watch documentaries for free.”

“Doctober is great,” said member Josh Cerretti. “It’s exciting to have the whole month filled with all these movies.”

Jed Bailey, a Pickford member for 20 years, said, “People should come to Doctober because it’s always a good chance to expand your wisdom and awareness of things. It’s both entertaining and life affirming.”

During the film festival, the theater also hosts the Doctober Challenge where patrons attend as many documentaries as possible to fill punch cards. Participants can either choose to cash in their punch card for a prize or save them up for a drawing.

Raffle prizes range from Pickford merchandise to the grand prize, which allows participants the chance to win a “Goldfinger Card.” The Pickford only gives one of these memberships out each year. It means a year of free movies for the recipient and a friend at the Pickford.

Over opening weekend, Bailey said he went to five documentaries.

“I think I got about 52 last year.”

This year, Bailey said he plans to see all 57 documentaries.

The Pickford Film Center, located in downtown Bellingham on Bay Street, is a non-profit organization founded in 1998 that specializes in independent cinema. It’s mostly run by volunteers and relies on memberships as well as ticket sales to support its mission.

“It is important that people are a bit more open to movies that aren’t all the big blockbusters,” Wilder said.

Cerretti sees most of his movies at the Pickford because he likes the types of movies that they show.

“I like the small feel of it and the downtown location that the other theaters can’t provide,” he said.

Pickford is unique because they play films that people don’t usually see, said Bailey.

That’s the point of Doctober.

For example, one of the documentaries called “Pick of the Litter” is about five puppies that become guide dogs is showing at the Limelight, the Pickford’s second location for films.

Sierra Games, who works at Brigadoon Service Dogs, attended the movie and talked about her first Doctober and brought her service dog, Siena.

“It was very realistic, unlike other service dog documentaries I have seen,” Games said.

Though “Rodents of Unusual Size” and “A Ballerina’s Tale” have already played, there are plenty more documentaries and events throughout the month. Visit the Pickford website at for a complete schedule with show times.

Follow us:

Bellingham Bells play ball this summer

By Justin Busby

The Bellingham Bells welcomed the 2017 summer baseball season with a series win against the Gresham GreyWolves.
The Bells kicked off the new season of baseball with two wins in their opening three game home stand of the year.
The Bells are coming out swinging, attempting to reach the West Coast League final again after they were defeated last year by the Corvallis Knights, losing the playoff two games to one.
The WCL is a collegiate summertime baseball league created in 2005 for eligible student athletes to develop their skills for the next level like minor or major league baseball.
The Bellingham Bells have players representing universities from all around the country like Gonzaga, University of Maine, and Tulane University.

Continue reading Bellingham Bells play ball this summer

Follow us: