Tribal member immortalized in new coffee table book

By Molly Bryant, Puyallup Tribal News

Denise Reed, a cultural coordinator for the Culture Department, was recently featured in a new book, titled Project 562: Changing the Way We See Native America. The coffee table photo book is a project created by Matika Wilbur, who is from the Swinomish and Tulalip Tribes in Washington. 

Wilbur set out with an ambitious goal to travel across the United States to document every federally recognized Native American Tribe. At the time that she began the project, there were 562 federally recognized Tribes. Now there are 574. 

She spent 10 years on the road, documenting not only federally recognized Tribes but also “urban Native communities, Tribes fighting for federal recognition and Indigenous role models” according to her website.

Reed met Wilbur in 2018 when the Puyallup Tribe hosted the Power Paddle to Puyallup Canoe Journey. She reflected on being chosen to represent the Puyallup Tribe. “Out of the 562 Tribes, I think it was just awesome that she chose me to represent our Tribe,” Reed said. “I thought she chose me because I was a positive role model, and then my story of getting clean and how I used the traditional ways to get clean and stay clean.”

Reed is the daughter of Sharron Nelson, who has a twin sister, Karen Reed. Her mother and aunt are master basket weavers. Their baskets have been featured in many museums. She first became interested in weaving at the age of 7. “Every time she (her mother) would sit down and make a basket, I would go sit with her and start weaving,” she said.

Working for the Culture Department at the Tribe, she is able to do what she loves. “Teaching the culture is what’s rewarding to me because I just love passing on that tradition to our Tribe,” said Reed.

Learn more about Project 562 or purchase a copy here: Project 562: Changing the Way We See Native America: Wilbur, Matika: 9781984859525: Books