Vi Hilbert (1918-2008) was an extraordinary woman in Seattle’s history who devoted much of her life to preserving Native American Lushootseed (Puget Sound Salish) language, traditions and stories. Rather than letting these primarily verbal aspects of her culture fade away over time, Vi worked to immortalize an entire way of life in writing—and by sharing it with others.
Renowned for her lifelong academic and cultural achievements, Vi was named a Washington State National Treasure in 1989 and received a National Heritage Fellowship lifetime honor (as part of the National Endowment for the Arts) in 1994. Seattle University presented her with an honorary Doctor of Humanities Degree and named the campus’s ethnobotanical garden in her honor in recognition of her passion for cultivating the connections between people, plants, the earth and all living creation.
Vi’s life story is truly one of dedication, making a difference and creating a meaningful legacy for generations to come.