Mary Lou Slaughter

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Mary Lou Salughter

qi’qay’seblu wi’weq (“ki’ki’sòblu”), also known as Princess Angeline, photographed by Edward Curtis about 1895 (left) and her great-great-great-grandaughter, Mary Lou Slaughter, photographed by John Graybill for the Descendants Project (right)

Descendants photo © Curtis Legacy Foundation 2019

Mary Lou Slaughter

Shla’dal’ (Lady)

Duwamish of Pacific Northwest

When I was about 8 years old, my classmates found out that I was Native American. They chased and spit at me all the way home, calling me a dirty old Indian. Crying my eyes out, I stuck my Native American roots in the back of my head, as far as I was concerned, forever.

At about 50 years old, my son started carving story poles, and I decided I needed to validate his heritage. So I took my great-grandmother’s Indian name, Shla’dal’, which means lady in Lushootseed. At that point, things really changed for me.

I took lessons and became a master basket weaver using my tribal patterns. I also make hats, vests, and shawls all from red cedar that I gather myself in the woods. I love what I’m doing now, teaching and trying to carry on traditions that were important to our people.

Your donation for this project will go to the Curtis Legacy Foundation.