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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Colors of the Salish Sea: Coast Salish Hybrid Headdress

Photo: Scott Leen

Colors of the Salish Sea: Coast Salish Hybrid Headdress


Danielle Morsette

American (Shxwhá:y Village), born 1987

Imagine standing in your canoe on the shoreline of the host tribe. You’ve changed from the clothes worn during the sea journey to the regalia that identifies and honors your family and community. You respectfully ask to come ashore. Heartfelt words and melodic song wash over you, welcoming you to this friendly territory.

Long before the colonial practice of creating borders to limit the movement of Native peoples, the first inhabitants of the Pacific coast moved freely, connected by trade and marriage. With the advent of Tribal Journey in 1989, canoe carving, regalia making, and ceremony marked the waters of the Salish Sea once again. Every two years brings another time of gathering: pulling oars together, strengthening body and spirit, wearing regalia, singing, and dancing.

Morsette has created more than fifty ensembles for ceremony. She reaches back in time for inspiration—Coast Salish women were master weavers—yet she also honors her people today by creating contemporary designs. “I came up with putting cedar bark and wool together in this dress,” says Morsette, ”because these were the materials of my ancestors—the deep red of the cedar tree against the blue of the sea inspired me.”
Glass beads, shell, thread
61 x 3 in. (154.9 x 7.6 cm)
Ancient and Native American Art Acquisition Fund
Provenance: The artist; purchased from artist by Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, 2021
Photo: Scott Leen
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Our Blue Planet: Global Visions of Water, Mar. 18 - May 30, 2022.

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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