Mary Hillaire

“When I was in the third grade, they told me that I had an IQ of 72 and would not be capable of doing any further education, and after, I started working in various unskilled and semi-skilled areas.

Me- I could accept, was dumb. But her, and all the other kids that I knew, I couldn’t accept that they were all dumb. And yet, it just seems, they were just being felled, right and left- failures.

Pow Wow and Family 8mm Transfer

At one time, I decided that somebody had to go and find out about it. And the only way that we could do that is to get into the higher education system.

It took me about ten years, you know, with help of attrition and death, to get to a sympathetic white. And uh, finally got into school, started my college education.

And it was really great. It was fun!  


It was more funner than picking strawberries or raspberries or hoe-ing hops and trimming hops. And it just sort of made me drunk.

And I wanted to go on and on and on.”  

Mary Hillaire,
August 14,1973
Recruitment Meeting at the Colville Reservation


A full audio version of this exhibit can be listened to below. 

Mary Hillaire and the Lummi Nation: Self Determination, Audio Exhibit.