Tasting Seattle: Argosy Cruises Tillicum Village

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A view of Seattle’s Waterfront

Every year, thousands of tourists come to Seattle, flocking to popular spots like Pike Place Market and the Space Needle. The Argosy Cruises Tillicum Village tour, however, is a lesser known tourist activity that can offer insight to the rich culture and history of Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest.

Tillicum Village on Blake Island is a sightseeing cruise offered by the tour company, Argosy Cruises, located at Seattle’s waterfront neighborhood. The island houses a replica of a traditional Native American longhouse, where you can learn about the Pacific Northwest’s Native American culture, and its role in shaping Seattle’s history. The visit also includes a traditional salmon bake dinner as well as dancing from the regional tribes.

A trip to Tillicum Village begins with a scenic boat ride, hosted by a guide from Argosy Cruises. As the boat leaves the pier, you are treated to stunning views of the city, including the Great Wheel, the downtown skyline, and even the Space Needle. During the ride, the tour guide shares interesting tidbits of the surrounding scenery, and also shares traditional Native American stories. Upon arrival at Tillicum Village, you are greeted with an offering of fresh steamed clams, as you make your way up the path to the long house.

Inside, you can watch salmon being prepared through a technique of smoking the meat around an open flame.  This traditional method takes several hours to cook, but yields meat that is both tender and flavorful. As the salmon cooks, you can browse art work created by Native American artists, and even watch them create traditional art like weaving or carving.

The highlight of the trip is the salmon dinner, accompanied by a performance of story-telling and dance. Story-telling plays an important role in Native American culture, and in this show, the story-teller’s stories are accompanied by dancers who interpret his words into movement. The show ends with a masked dance, with men donning heavy wooden masks representing birds such as eagles and crows. It is a spectacular sight watching these dancers move, mimicking the giant birds and snapping the heavy beaks open and closed.

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Traditional preparation of salmon

A trip to Tillicum Village is certainly worth putting on your list of things to do in Seattle, as it affords you a rare glimpse of the culture that is native to this region.  Once back on dry land, be sure to visit the other popular tourist sites of Seattle. Below are few additional sights that are worth visiting.

The Waterfront
Walk along the Waterfront to enjoy views of the water and the Olympic Mountains. The Waterfront stretches from Elliott Bay all the way up to Shilshole Bay. In the downtown area, you can find a variety of shops and restaurants, including Ivar’s Restaurant, Elliott’s Oyster House, the Crab Pot, and Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe. For more sight-seeing activities, visit The Great Wheel, the Seattle Aquarium, and the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Pike Place Market
Further inland from the Waterfront is Pike Place Market, which has the privilege of being named one of the oldest farmer’s markets in the United States. Created in 1907, Pike Place offers fresh produce and meats from local farmers and sellers, as well as arts and crafts from local artists. A number of restaurants, cafes, and food stores are also in the area, including Beecher’s Cheeses, the very first Starbucks store, and Lowell’s Restaurant, made famous by the movie, Sleepless in Seattle.

The Gum Wall
Just below Pike Place Market, at Post Alley, is the famed Gum Wall, a wall on the side of building plastered with colorful pieces of chewing gum. Originating from the early ’90s, when patrons of the nearby Market Theater would stick pieces of gum on the wall while waiting for a show, The Gum Wall is now one of the quirkier attractions of Seattle that still manages to attract throngs of visitors.

Looking for more attractions to check out in Seattle?  Download the leafcanoe app for more tips and tricks.

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