s'gʷi gʷi ʔ altxʷ: House of Welcome

House of Welcome and Cultural Center - a gathering place for people of all cultures.

The First of its Kind

The "House of Welcome" Longhouse Education and Cultural Center opened on Evergreen's Olympia Campus in 1995. As a public service center of the college, the House of Welcome's mission is to promote Indigenous arts and cultures through education, cultural preservation, creative expression and economic development. 

The History of the House of Welcome

The “House of Welcome” Cultural Arts Center is a public service center at The Evergreen State College. Built in collaboration with Northwest Tribes, it is the first building of its kind on a public campus in the United States. The House of Welcome is a multi-purpose facility, able to serve a variety of educational, cultural and community functions. Founded upon a vision of hospitality and service, it is a gathering place for people of all cultural backgrounds to teach and learn with each other.

Construction of the House of Welcome
Construction of the House of Welcome

Foundation and Construction

Evergreen's Native programs began in 1972 when faculty member Mary Ellen Hillaire of the Lummi Tribe founded the Native American Studies program. Hillaire is also credited with having first articulated the need to have a culturally appropriate facility—such as a longhouse—on campus so that people from different cultural backgrounds could teach and learn with each other. Her vision for a public gathering space influenced students in the Master of Public Administration Program to write their thesis exploring issues relating to the creation of a longhouse at Evergreen. Colleen Jollie, longhouse project coordinator, oversaw the project to its completion.

Many people and Tribes contributed to the construction of the House of Welcome, which was completed in 1995. Past graduating classes of Evergreen students designated a portion of their fees to go toward the creation of the welcome figures for the entrance to the House of Welcome. The Quinault Indian Nation donated much of the timber used in the building; the Burke Museum donated cedar shakes and posts from the Sea Monster House (a model longhouse that was part of the 1962 World's Fair in Seattle); the Squaxin Island Tribe held fundraising dinners; the Makah and Skokomish Tribes provided cultural and spiritual leadership; and the Washington State Legislature allocated $2.2 million for the construction of the building.

The buidling opened with over 1,000 people in attendance, including Governor Mike Lowry, and many Tribal dignitaries. The inaugural year of the Longhouse coincided with the first year of the Daniel J. Evans Scholar program, which brought five Native American scholars to campus: Hazel Pete of Chehalis, John Hottowe of Makah, Billy Frank Jr. of Nisqually, and Buffy St. Marie of Cree. In 1997, it received its name "s'gʷi gʷi ʔ altxʷ, which means House of Welcome, from Vi Hilbert of Upper Skagit, Bruce Miller of Skokomish, Pauline Hillaire of Lummi, John and Edie Hottowe of Makah, Hazel Pete of Chehalis and David Whitener of Squaxin Island.

Student and faculty member, Susan Pavel, process wool as part of the weaving course being taught at the Indigenous Arts Campus.

The Indigenous Arts Campus

These studios have allowed the House of Welcome to greatly expand its ability to offer a wide variety of classes and workshops that include fiber arts, carving and relief printmaking. Many Tribes, individuals and foundations made the studios possible through generous donations. 

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Longhouse Merchandise Store

Honoring Friendships Wool Blanket

The Evergreen Longhouse and Louie Gong of Nooksack partnered again to create this “Honoring Friendships” wool blanket designed to celebrate the House of Welcome’s 25th anniversary. Corresponding with Eighth Generation’s inaugural wool blanket, Thunderbird Arrives, this new blanket design honors the connections of the Native and Indigenous peoples of the mainland and Pacific Rim.

Honoring Friendships Wool Blanket

Rich in meaning, the elements in the blanket represent Indigenous peoples gathering in strength and friendship. The designs recall artworks found around the Indigenous Arts Campus and The Evergreen State College.

The multi-cultural artworks found around Evergreen that served as inspiration for the blanket design include: 

  • Elements from the Welcome Woman by Greg Colfax of Makah and Bunni Peterson Haitwas of Skokomish.
  • The Toroa (albatross) by Henare Tahuri of Tūhoe/Ngāti Kaungunu ki Wairoa and Tāwera Tahuri of Ngā Ariki Kaipūtahi, Whakatōhea, Ngāti Uenuku, Tūwharetoa.
  • Salish Fingers pattern by Bunni Peterson Haitwas of Skokomish.
  • Double wall basket by Karen Reed of Puyallup and Chinook.

On the border of the blanket, the X's represents the stitches found in both Northwest and South Pacific designs that hold us together. The floral pattern represents renewal and growth in many cultures and is found in beadwork designs from the Plateau and Great Lakes regions. 

The design also incorporates a Salish weaving pattern known as Salish fingers to represent the Salish territory where the Longhouse is located. Finally, the albatross bird at the center—also known as Toroa or the Guardian—served as a nautical guide to Māori Ancestors.

Whether you use this blanket for yourself or to show your gratitude for a dear friend or loved one, we hope the Honoring Friendships wool blanket brings you serenity.

  • 2-sided design
  • Covers top of queen sized bed (59 in x 78 in/ 200 cm x 150 cm)
  • Colors include purple, tan and Aegean blue
  • Microsuede Edge Band
  • 100% New Zealand Wool
  • Designed by Louie Gong of Nooksack
  • Imported
  • Dry clean only

On sale now through online store

s'gʷi gʷi ʔ altxʷ (House of Welcome)



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