Yvonne Peterson | Chehalis


Too Nee Mu Sh

They Send a Person

Tribal Nation


People of the Sands

Yvonne Peterson

Yvonne Annette Toon Nee Mu Sh Dupuis Peterson, (Chehalis), invites us all to “sit beside” each other and learn—the way her mother showed her to live a caring life. Growing up rich in salmon, berries, and much natural bounty, Yvonne was taught to work hard for family, community, and self in the prairie and river lands of her people. Her ancestors are woven into her consciousness and actions, she breathes their same breath and walks the paths they created for her generations ago. It is weaving, in fact, that founds the basis of her cultural understandings. Weaving baskets connects her to the Chehalis’s cultured natural world, strands of plants and memories coming together in a beautifully contained wholeness to carry into the next generation. Expressing her prayers as poems, Yvonne seeks to “transform the past into the future through a prism of caring.” Yvonne is a political scientist, educator, and intergenerational cultural awakener who weaves together traditional and academic methods at home and at the Evergreen State University. She is excited to sit beside her sister Legacy Leaders and learn about their diverse contributions. As Yvonne says, “You don’t teach everyone the same weave because then they won’t need each other.” Yvonne assures those around her to trust their own thinking, persevere, and show their faces to the ancestors.


Audio / Video

Yvonne Peterson Interview

You don’t teach everyone the same weave because then they won’t need each other.

Chehalis elder, Yvonne Peterson, walks us through the generational journey of her family as they negotiated the impact of Federal Indian Policy with frankness and insight. Both of her parents were “boarding school survivors.” She recounts different strengths and lessons from her mother and father in shaping her character and strong sense of identity. Yvonne’s mother, Hazel Pete, passed on the ancestral knowledge and weaving technique to her that she now shares with her family and community, building a new generation of master weavers. Yvonne tells us to “hold tight to identity,” but not so tight that you can’t share with those outside your cultural circle.