Vi Hilbert

Vi Hilbert, taqʷšəblu, a member of the Upper Skagit tribe, had as her life's work to preserve the Lushootseed (Puget Salish) language and culture. Vi learned Lushootseed (the language of Chief Seattle) as a child, listening to her parents. This recollected knowledge allowed her to help the linguist Thomas Hess transcribe and translate early Lushootseed recordings of elders, including Vi’s folks. With delight, Vi quickly learned to read and write this oral language.

She went on to teach the Lushootseed language and literature (traditional stories) at the University of Washington. She co-wrote Lushootseed grammars and dictionaries, and published books of stories, teachings, and place names. Vi taught hundreds of students, inspiring a few to become Lushootseed teachers and others to support and further her work.

The above is excerpted from an essay by Janet Yoder available from

For more about Vi Hilbert, please visit the Lushootseed Research website.

Vi Hilbert with Johnny Moses
Vi Hilbert with Johnny
Vi Hilbert
Vi Hilbert (photo by Paul Eubanks)
Johnny Moses at the opening of Seattle University's Vi Hilbert Hall
Johnny Moses at the opening of Seattle University's Vi Hilbert Hall

Pauline Hillaire

Pauline Hillaire, Scälla, was a traditionally trained culture bearer, cultural conservator, oral historian, genealogist, storyteller, teacher of song and dance, recording artist, and author.

As a child, Pauline was sent to stay with various elders of her community to learn tribal arts, traditions, stories, songs and dances that reflected the philosophy and value system of her family and her Coast Salish community: the Lummi or Lhaq'temish: "People ­of the Sea.” The ancestral homelands of the Lummi encompass part of Washington State’s northwest coast around Bellingham, along with portions of the adjacent San Juan Islands. The present-day Lummi Reservation, with an area of approximately 20 square miles, is just west of Bellingham.

Pauline was dedicated to the preservation Lummi history, traditions, stories, songs and dances, and she worked hard to pass them on to the next generations.

Pauline documented her father's career as a carver of totem poles in her book and media collection A Totem Pole History (University of Nebraska Press, 2013). (Also available from Amazon).

Her research and reflections on American Indian history and policy are available in her book Rights Remembered (University of Nebraska Press, 2016). (Also available from Amazon).

Pauline Hillaire with Vi Hilbert
Pauline Hillaire (right) with Vi Hilbert (left)

Grandma Ivy & Grandpa Barney Guss

Also known as “Mom and Dad” by many of their family.

They Were very supportive of Johnny and his work as a storyteller and a spiritual leader. Johnny always remembers how when he was learning a certain story from Grandpa Barney that they use to have to go sit in the old Chevy truck because there were too many people in the house and Grandpa only wanted to share the story with Johnny.

Grandma Ivy was born in 1913 and Grandpa Barney was born 1909. They were both born on the same day Jan 22nd.

Ivy was from Tulalip and Barney was from Tulalip and Snoqualmie. They were married in the little red church on The Tulalip reservation in 1947 and lived their tell the day they left us.

Grandpa Barney was a member of the 1910 shaker Church in Tulalip. He and Grandma Ivy would travel from Canada all throughout Northwest and in to California for the Shaker Church.

Grandma Ivy and Grandpa Barney traveled throughout Washington and to many other states to support their Grandson Johnny, even when they were up there in age they always wanted to be there. They had so much love in there hearts and are greatly missed.

Grandma Ivy with Johnny Moses
Grandma Ivy with Johnny
Grandpa Barney with Johnny
Grandpa Barney with Johnny

Arnold Troeh

Our Beloved Arnold Troeh was Johnny’s cousin on his Father side. He was very Close to Johnny and Vi Hilbert and loved by many.

He was from the Tsinook tribe and spoke many languages including Chinese, French, Northern and southern Lushootseed and Tsinook.

Arnold was a Captain in the Vietnam War and Had earned many degrees as well.

He loved to drive the elders including Eddy Davis to the shaker church and many other events. Arnold had such an open loving heart he was always trying to help how ever he could.

He believed in the Star Nation people and was always ready to share his knowledge to anyone who would listen. He also believed in the importance of preserving the Native American Baskets as seen in the picture with Vi Hilbert and Johnny Moses.

Arnold had an amazing voice ,Vi Hilbert loved it when he sang the song Edelweiss. Arnold will be missed by many.

Arnold Troeh with Johnny and Vi Hilbert
Arnold Troeh with Johnny (center) and Vi Hilbert (left)