Honoring tradition, Tulalip
hunter shares meat from first kill
Condensed by Native Village
Bagging his first deer was a
rite of passage for 13-year-old Josh
Hamilton. After bringing home the
three-point buck, Josh had another
tradition to honor.
The young Tulalip
tribal member gave his butchered deer to
the Chief Seattle Club. CSC
provides support to about 200 low-income
and homeless urban American Indians and
Alaska Natives. Josh's deer will help feed the people
at the club's day shelter.
“Our tradition is that when a boy gets
his first deer, he must give it away to
those who would appreciate the help,”
said Josh's mother Andrea Hamilton. “Josh knows his
grandpa brings fish to the Chief Seattle
Club, so he wanted to give his deer to
our people here on the streets.”
Following another tradition, Chief
Seattle's executive director Jenine
Grey, a young Tlingit woman, pinned a
blanket around Josh as an elder sang and kept
a beat on his deer-skin drum.
“We are humbled and honored by your
gift,” Grey said. “It will nourish the
bodies and spirits of people who don't
often have the chance to eat traditional
foods. In this urban world where we
live, a gift like this will bring tears
to their eyes.”
Josh's grandfather, Don Hatch, hoped the deer meat,
fish, and smoked salmon he brought along would
be received as medicine by people at the
club. He also praised the Tulalip Tribe
and those who helped prepare the
food for delivery.
“And thank you for taking our gift,”
Hatch told the group. “I hope this is a
day Josh will remember forever.”
The brief ceremony concluded with prayer
and a round of thank-yous in several
Josh raised his hands in thanks and
“It's good to be able to help out our
Indian family in Seattle, people who
don't have a place to stay,” Josh said.
“And it's an honor to get the blanket
from the elders here.”
At 6 feet tall and more than 200 pounds,
Josh Hamilton has a tribal name, KweKwaWeChud,
that doesn't seem to fit. It means
“Little Elk. His dream is to be a
professional baseball, basketball
or football player.
For now, though, Josh is a hunter.
Steve Hamilton had taken his son Josh
hunting many times. Hamilton, a
Muckleshoot, hunts early in the season
to stock up for the large meals
following funerals and special
ceremonies on the
“You have to give to get,” he told Josh.
Hamilton taught Josh that animals
sacrifice their lives to feed the
people, and that every bit of the animal
must have a purpose. A craftsman, he
uses the hooves for ceremonial regalia
and the hides for drums.
“The deer lives on as long as the drum
beats,” Hamilton said.
In the high hills east of Arlington last
Friday, Josh asked for his dad's
permission to shoot his first deer while
out during the tribal hunting season.
The kill was quick, with a shot right to
“I was excited and very happy for the
gift,” Josh said.
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