Between July 2013 and July 2014, heritage committees in both Sibaltan and Suquamish will learn from one another as they work to create an exhibit that explain important aspects of their respective cultures.

Traveling Delegates from the Philippines

Carmelita Acosta headshot


Carmelita is the “barangay captain” of Sibaltan, El Nido, Palawan, which is the equivalent of the mayor. As such, she is responsible for all community betterment projects, including the “Balay Cuyonon” and the other cultural heritage projects in Sibaltan. She’s also Arvin’s mother, and, generally speaking, the community’s matriarch figure.


Arvin is the tourism director for El Nido. Both personally and professionally, he is leading cultural tourism development projects in Sibaltan. He will convene the video conference calls and lead the tourism management workshops.


Enrico is the president of the Sibaltan Heritage Council and a local community college instructor. He will ensure that the heritage council is involved in the logistics of setting up the heritage workshops and also attending them and journaling about the experience.  As president, he will head up the council’s work creating the exhibits.


Mimi is a longtime employee of the Palawan Island Paleohistoric Research Project and the local champion for the archaeology project in New Ibajay, Palawan. She is the unofficial/official Cuyonon tribal chief. She will provide a personal historical perspective on the Cuyonon settlement on Palawan Island.


Robert is the secretary of the Sibaltan Heritage Council and a Filipino teacher at Sibaltan High School. He will be in charge of developing the exchange boxes that are sent to Suquamish.


Marelie is a college student at Palawan Sate University. She will serve as a project assistant for the Non-US Project Coordinator. Including her on the team helps us to fulfill our goal of exposing young students to the concepts of heritage management. She will assist with our social media and promotion on the PSU campus.

Traveling Delegates from Suquamish, Washington


Luther, who also goes by Jay, has served as a Suquamish Tribal Council member for the past 15 years. He has worked for the Suquamish Tribe for 35 years; his current role is Director of Kiana Lodge, an award-winning event venue. He is a member of the Suquamish Seafoods board. He is a commercial fisherman who harvests seafood products including slamon, Dungeness crab, spotted prawns, clams, and oysters, and also smokes and preserves these seafoods in a manner taught to him by his elders.

Luther’s mother is Suquamish and Filipino and his father is Irish and Cherokee. On this trip to the Philippines, he hopes to trace some family history of his Grandfather Francisco DeMain who is Filipino from Leyte, an incredible cook who served as a chef in the Navy.

Luther has been married 35 years, and is the father of five with 14 grandchildren.


Leonard Forsman has served as Tribal Chairman of the Suquamish Tribe since 2005. His passions include tribal education, cultural preservation, gaming policy, and habitat protection. He has served on Tribal Council for a total of 22 years and formally was the director of the Suquamish Museum. Forsman is a graduate of the University of Washington (B.A. Anthropology) and Goucher College (M.A. Historic Preservation). Forsman grew up in Suquamish on the Port Madison Indian Reservation and continues to live there with his wife Jana Rice. He regularly participates in cultural activities including Suquamish Song & Dance and the annual Canoe Journey.

In 2012 President Obama appointed Leonard to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. He also serves on the board of the Washington State Historical Society, the Suquamish Museum, the Suquamish Foundation, the Washington Indian Gaming Association, the Washington State Committee of Geographic Names, and the Tribal Leaders Congress on Education.


Janet Smoak is the Director of the Suquamish Museum. She brings a long history of collections management expertise, through previous appointments as the Executive Director of the Besser Museum in Michigan, Curator for the Utah State Historical Society, and Registrar for Marriot Library Special Collections at the University of Utah.


Angela Flemming is the Grants Program Manager and Compliance Officer at the Suquamish Tribe. She manages fundraising for Tribal Programs, enabling departments to find the funding needed to provide services for youth, promote elder’s health and help victims of violence. Angela is Filipina-American. Her mother’s family hails primarily from Leyte, with members in Olongapo and other areas of Zambales as well. This trip will be her first chance to visit the Philippines; her mother Rosenda will be joining her and they will extend their trip to visit family. It is important to her to bring her culture and history to America in order to pass down the language, history and practices to the future generations of Filipino Americans.

KATE AHVAKANAKate-Ahvakana-1

A Suquamish Tribal Member and Manager for the Tribe’s Sports and Recreation Department, Kate is charged with coordinating programs that bridge culture, education and art in the Suquamish Community. In addition to working directly with Tribal Members, Kate serves on education and cultural boards for the Tribe. She has also held previous positions facilitating with the Healing of the Canoe Project (HOC), and the Suquamish Museum. An artist by trade, Kate holds a bachelor’s degree in art from UNLV and spends her free time practicing and teaching her skills to others. As a Suquamish delegate, Kate hopes to gain a better understanding of Philippine culture and share the Suquamish Tribe’s holistic approach to revitalizing cultural practices on the Port Madison Indian Reservation.


Kah-Ty-Ah is a community/cultural activist, promoting health and healing. She has been active in reclaiming Chief Seattle Park from Washington State Parks Commission and has represented the Suquamish Nation as a cultural diversity speaker at the National Guard, Islandwood and other institutions.



Mary is pursuing a Master of Arts in Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Washington where she is also enrolled in the Museology Graduate Certificate Program. Her research has focused on the relationship between Indonesian source communities and American museums and collectors. She is using her experiences as an intern with Ancient Shores, Changing Tides as the basis for her thesis project which considers the importance of community-based museums in Southeast Asia.


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