Seattle Aquarium naturalists at Blake Island

When the weather in the Puget Sound starts to warm up and the tides go w-a-a-a-a-a-y out, the Seattle Aquarium Beach Naturalists start to appear on local beaches!

A low tied on Blake Island in May.

A low tide on Blake Island in May.

On selected Tillicum Village trips in June and July, beach naturalists from the Seattle Aquarium will be available on the beaches closest the Blake Island marina to answer questions about the Puget Sound marine life at your feet.

Blake Island dates: 

Saturday, June 6: 12:30–2:30 p.m. (-1’9” tide at 2:15 p.m.)

Friday, July 3: 12:30–2:30 p.m. (-2’7″ tide at 12:27 p.m.)
Saturday, July 4: 12:30–2:30 p.m. (-2’3′ tide at 1:12 p.m.)
Sunday, July 5: 12:30–2:30 p.m. (1’7′ tide at 1:57 p.m.)

You can book a trip to Tillicum Village with us right here. And you’ll get the full lowdown on the low tide because the naturalists ride our boat out there with you!

If you’re not able to make the trek out to Tillicum Village with us on the Blake Island dates, Beach Naturalists will also be at the north end of the Seattle Waterfront in the Olympic Sculpture Park pocket beach on these dates:

Olympic Sculpture Park pocket beach dates:

Saturday, June 6: 12:30–3:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 7: 1:45–4:15 p.m.

Wednesday, July 1: 9:45 a.m.–1 p.m.
Thursday, July 2: 10 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
Friday, July 3: 10:45 a.m.–2:15 p.m.
Saturday, July 4: 11:45 a.m.–3 p.m.
Sunday, July 5: 12:45–3:15 p.m.
Tuesday, July 14: 9:30 a.m.–noon
Wednesday, July 15: 10 a.m.–12:45 p.m.
Thursday, July 30: 9:45 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
Friday, July 31: 10 a.m.–1:15 p.m.

Saturday, August 1: 10:45 a.m.–1:45 p.m.
Sunday, August 2: 11:45 a.m.–2:15 p.m.

You can download the full schedule of Beach Naturalist dates here (288 KB PDF).

Seattle’s Tillicum Village Set to Open March 1

“Tillicum Village: A Seattle Must-Do” USA Today

Saturday, March 1 marks the opening of Tillicum Village for the 2014 season. A trip to Tillicum Village on Blake Island gives you the opportunity to experience Northwest Native American culture through authentic cuisine, music and storytelling in a beautiful setting.

Our Tillicum Village excursions include a narrated boat ride on Puget Sound, a salmon-bake buffet and an entertaining program of traditional dance and stories. After the performance, you can chat with the dancers and get an up close look at their 60-pound masks. You will also have a chance to explore the island’s forested trails and five miles of beaches during your visit. Argosy Cruises’ Tillicum Village appeals to both children and adults, and there are afternoon and evening trips available. Schedule and reservation information is available online.

You can also check out USA Today’s review and slide show of Tillicum Village here.

Tillicum Village’s Native Art and Gift Shop

Real or Faux?  The Native Made Products in the Gift Shop, and the Coast Salish Artists who Carved the Some of the Art Seen at the Longhouse at Tillicum Village.

With the hundreds of guests who visit Tillicum Village every season, a few comments get back to us and we’re taking the opportunity to answer them. One is why so many of our items sold in the Tillicum Village gift shop are from Canada and not from Washington State.  We’d like to share a brief history of the relationship with our Northern neighbors.

DSC00214-300x225The area’s Coast Salish people who are the embodiment of the Native presence here in the Pacific Northwest have resided along the coastal strip from northern Oregon to southern Alaska obviously including the coastline of the Canadian territories. They were for lack of a better word, ‘borderless’.  When they travelled the lands they didn’t cross a modern-day division or border.

One of the early artists of Tillicum Village is acclaimed master carver and member of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth tribe, George David. George originally hailed from the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, in the village of Clayoquot. The preferred mediums George used were both wood and hide, but also created unique jewelry pieces in silver and gold.AR2_0001-199x300

Another misconception about another prominent feature out at Tillicum Village is that of the beautiful totem poles displayed on the grounds. It has been debated exactly how the intricately designed poles figure into the habitat of Blake Island. The answer is they don’t. The totem poles that are a popular and much visited part of the island are actually not native to Washington State at all, but of those north of the border. They were not found among the Coast Salish people because they did not adhere to the social system the totems were created for. The Poles were distinguished as a necessity of clan recognition as well a social system amongst the northern and central tribes.

George David along with his father and brother created many magnificent totem poles that are proudly displayed out on the island. We continue to display them because they offer a tangible connection to the land and people who came before. The totems are of such invaluable Craftsmanship; they’ve been requested to be an exhibit at a premier Seattle museum.IMGP0529-300x225

The Tillicum Village season begins March 2nd and will again offer many interesting items in the gift shop, and showcase many authentic artifacts we are proud to have entrusted to us. Guests will enjoy the famously delicious salmon baked buffet as well as be entertained with the live and interactive dance and storytelling presentation show. All this set amongst the scenic background of Blake Island that offers the unique beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

By PJ Mohn

Tillicum Village’s 50th Anniversary Party

We had a milestone this summer.  Tillicum Village is 50!  Here’s a little back story:

Tillicum Village was created 50 years ago by Bill Hewitt for the World’s Fair.  Bill wanted to build an attraction to celebrate the culture of Northwest Coast Native Americans — from their salmon to their art to their legends. He chose the name “Tillicum,” a word from Chinook jargon meaning friend or friendly.

In 2009 Argosy Cruises had the opportunity to acquire Tillicum Village, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to further showcase the food, art, and history of the Coast Salish people, making it a living tribute to our region’s heritage.

At Tillicum Village, the stories are told by Roger Fernandes.  The dances and songs are used with the permission of the Native American families to whom they belong, in some cases the families of our Native American performers themselves.  And we worked closely with members of the Suquamish tribe and others to create an experience that brings native culture out of the museum and into the modern day, where it is still alive and vibrant.

50 years this summer was an excellent opportunity to celebrate keeping the culture alive with a party on Pier 55.   Here are a few pictures to include you in the festivities.

Roger Fernandes, the native storyteller featured in the Tillicum Village show, gave a cultural message. He also told a story about the Clam People, and sang a beautiful song.

The Dancers performed on the Pier

Performing on Pier 55 for the first time in Tillicum Village history

The dancers and Roger Fernandes

Anniversary cupcakes guarded by a foreboding mask from Tillicum

Win tickets to Father’s Day at Tillicum Village!

Photo Courtesy of Steve Shay Photography

Photo Courtesy of Steve Shay Photography

See more information and a full menu here.

Two ways to enter to win?

1. Follow @ArgosyCruises on Twitter.

2. Tweet Argosy why you and your family want to go to Tillicum Village on Father’s Day  OR  comment on this post why you want to go.

The winner is Pavy T!  Congratulations!  They won a family 4-pack out to Tillicum Village on Sunday.

Here’s the Fine Print: Eligible winners must be 18 years of age or older. One valid entry will be accepted per day of the contest starting 6/11/2012 and ending 6/14/2012 at 12:00pm PST. Our family 4-pack prize will include 2 adult tickets and 2 children’s tickets to the 2012 Father’s Day at Tillicum Village. Tickets valid only on Sunday June 17th, 2012. Tickets are non-transferable, non-refundable, and not redeemable for cash.

Pssst! You could win tickets to Tillicum Village on Mother’s Day

We’re running a sweepstakes for a family four-pack of tickets out to Tillicum Village on Mother’s Day.

We’ve come to love special occasions out on Blake Island.  It’s fun to step outside the ordinary and give Mom an adventure with a meal and scenery all built in.

After enjoying a cruise across Elliot Bay to the island, you go up to the long house in just enough time to see them finish cooking the salmon over the open fire pits. Then it’s time to eat the salmon dripping in butter and Juniper Berry Seasoning. Yum!  The rest is a delicious buffet including the unique experience of bison and venison stew and the always popular fresh fruit with Chef Ron’s Strawberry Sherry Honey Sauce.

We always throw in something additional on these special days, and Mother’s Day is no exception.   Mothers will all be given a gift to take home.

But you want to know the important stuff…like how to win those four tickets [Two adults and two kids (5-12yrs)].

Go to either the Tillicum Village Facebook page, or the Argosy Cruises Facebook page.  Look for the Mother’s Day Tillicum Village Sweepstakes tab.  It’s running until May 6th, and you can enter every day to increase your chances of winning.

Good luck!

Old, New and Timeless

Tillicum Village:   Celebrating 50 years of Heritage and Tradition

From any Seattle history buff, you’d know all about the much anticipated and immensely popular World’s Fair Exhibition held here back in 1962. Incredible new structures, such as the 605 foot Space Needle and still operating Monorail along with many other attractions were revealed with the hopes of showing off our fair city to the world. With a major theme being the industries of science, space and the future, the fair was a commercial success with almost 10 million in attendance.

One of the totem poles at Tillicum Village

Another aspect of Seattle that was to be showcased wasn’t something new, but something very old indeed.  That is the majestic landscape that lies just across the harbor known as Blake Island. It was on this island that for thousands of years, the Coast Salish tribes called home as their ancestral summer camp.

The Coast Salish tribes were imaginative artists ingrained with an ancient woodworking tradition. The unique and ornately carved animal figures were fixtures on (literally a part of) their large communal houses. Later, the familiar free standing totem poles made an appearance, and mostly represented the commissioning home’s wealth and prosperity.

Other expressions of their art came in the form of intricate masks, rattles, and blankets to name but a few.

“Art is a reflection of the environment in materials.”

One commonly depicted figure was the Raven, which myth holds to have been a trickster who (among his many attributes) stole the daylight, and on a skyward chase by Eagle, released pieces that become the sun, moon and stars.

Among these creative people came a great leader, Chief Seeahth (Or Sealth). Sealth was born on Blake Island, and is in fact who Seattle is named in honor of. Blake Island eventually became a State park and is where in 1962, the attraction of Tillicum Village was first opened and featured as an unforgettable island experience.

There have been many changes over the years as Tillicum Village has undergone new management, now being owned and operated by Argosy Cruises.   From the still traditionally prepared salmon bake to the energetic and updated dance show, it is obvious the rich and creative spirit of the Coast Salish people is proudly celebrated.

While exploring the grounds, you’ll see amongst the natural beauty of the island, many totems carved by various artists who share in the unique vision that continues to define the tradition and heritage of the Northwest.

Tillicum Village longhouse at dusk

For a limited time to commemorate this 50th anniversary, the Tillicum Village salmon bake adventure is now just $50.00 (regularly almost $80). Come enjoy the delicious food and show, and see if you just might find the totem of a certain Raven spreading the light.  This special rate ends the end of April, so call now for details and booking.

By: Pamela Mohn

A Perfect Seattle Easter

Easter in Seattle this year was everything we love about holidays and our city.  The weather was perfect and Mt Rainier even came out of the clouds!

The winner of our sweepstakes for Easter at Tillicum Village took a friend and enjoyed her day!  She has wanted to go out to Tillicum Village for years.  But, as we can all agree, every minute and every dollar have so many claims on it.   She finally got the chance to grab the camera and come share the water with us!

Here’s Alita and friend about to board the boat.







With the Easter bunny on the sunny cruise back to Seattle!!




Speaking of the Easter Bunny, kids loved hunting for Easter eggs on the lawn in front of the longhouse.







After having so much fun all weekend, we can’t wait for the next big events, like Mother’s Day and Father’s day.  We’re already planning!  Check them out here.

Win a Family Easter Adventure at Tillicum Village!

Easter EggsArgosy Cruises Twitter Sweepstakes for a family 4-pack of tickets to celebrate Easter Sunday at Tillicum Village

Our annual Easter Adventure and salmon bake on Blake Island’s Tillicum Village is one of the theme cruises that we look forward to all year! The Easter Adventure Cruise combines our regular Tillicum Village experience and traditional salmon bake buffet meal with the added fun of an easter egg hunt on the island!

Just for fun this year, we decided that we’d like to give away 4 tickets to one lucky family to join us this Easter Sunday, April 8th!

Since a traditional native salmon bake might not be everyone’s usual Easter meal, we want to hear what you look forward to eating most on Easter! Whether it’s a honey glazed ham or overdosing on Cadbury Eggs, we want to know!

This is a Twitter contest. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: In order to win, entrants must Follow Argosy Cruises on Twitter.

Step 2: Tweet @ArgosyCruises with your favorite Easter food

Example: @ArgosyCruises I LOVE PEEPS!

You can enter the contest up to one time per day between now and Monday April 2nd at noon. We will select a random winner from our list of entrants and announce the lucky family on Tuesday, April 3rd on Twitter.

It’s easy! So hop on over to Twitter and enter today! (And every day til the 2nd)


Here’s the Fine Print: Eligible winners must be 18 years of age or older and must Follow @ArgosyCruises on Twitter through the duration of the contest and until the winner is announced. One valid entry will be accepted per day of the contest starting 3/29/2012 and ending 4/2/2012 at 12:00pm PST. Our family 4-pack prize will include 2 adult tickets and 2 children’s tickets to the 2012 Easter Adventure at Tillicum Village. Tickets valid only on Sunday April 8th, 2012. Tickets are non-transferable, non-refundable, and not redeemable for cash.

The Terrible Beast

It’s Bigfoot! No, it’s Sasquatch!

No, it’s the Terrible Beast!

Do you believe in Bigfoot? You know… the big, mysterious fur covered ape-man?

Well, he’s considered a Cryptid, which is a creature who rides the fence between fact and myth.  While some firmly believe in his existence, others laugh at the very thought of some large strange entity stomping about the forest.   He is widely considered to firmly live only in the occasional footprint hoax or over- embellished campfire tale.

 The legend about him though is undeniable. His stories have lived remarkably long embedded in the folklore of our beautiful Pacific Northwest. 

A myth by any other name………

There are many ancient Native legends about this great creature living undetected in the woods. What‘s also interesting, is that many other cultures in other parts of the world have this same myth.

In parts of Asia, he’s called the Yeti, and in Africa he’s Kikomba.  This big footed creature here in the Northwest has also been given the famous moniker, Sasquatch.  His scientific name is Gigantopithecus!

Among the Coast Salish in this area, he was known primarily as the Terrible Beast (other names included Slappu and Zunaqua).   Dances were performed in honor of his prowess, as he was fast, clever and always hungry.  He was definitely the mothers’ threat that kept young children from the dangers of the forest.

The path into the woods on Blake Island looks harmless enough. But...

It is said that he never lets down his guard.  Hunters may even sneak up and surround him, but their thrown spears find only air.  He goes on relentlessly ravaging the forest in a constant search of food.


At Tillicum Village, part of the show is the rich history and energetic dance of The Terrible Beast.  So when you’re on the island, be on the lookout!!


by Pamela Mohn