Pronounced "wah-sheb-altuh", the Luhshootseed name wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ or Intellectual House is located across the street from the University of Washington's Art building surrounded by native plants from Washington state. It is a space for American Indian and Alaskan Natives to gather, as well as other community members, to share knowledge.
The Intellectual House is named after Julian Argel who was The University of Washington's Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity long-time Educational Talent Search (ETS) Director for 18 years before he passed away. Julian was a member of the Tsimshian/Haida tribes. He was recognized for helping over 600 low-income, first-generation and native students at the university,
As a guest, you will be warmly greeted by UW's Native students, and offered a tour of the beautiful space that consist of a large gathering room, meeting room, kitchen, and offices. My new friend took me through the space and explained to me that it took 45 years to legislate for the space to be built. They shared how exciting it was when it first opened up, and that she was still in high school at the time. She also didn't think college was a good fit for her. She called a friend to see if she wanted to go to the opening because there was going to be salmon there. She did get the salmon, but also found a community and folks who were asking and encouraging her to apply to the University of Washington where less than 10 percent of the students come from Native communities. The Intellectual House inspired her to apply to the school, where she is now a leader in her community and you can find her there most days.
The space was designed by Jones and Jones. The angle of the community room is based off a traditional log house, but not completely. There are large doors that allow canoes to be brought into the space for gatherings like a log house. There is racks on the side which are used to hold the canoes or to store other items like food. To the front of the room there is two welcome images, which have their hands open to welcome people into the space. Then there are a few differences, which are the big fans in place of where a fire would be built in a traditional log house. The floor consist of mostly maple and cedar, but in a log house it would be made of dirt. You can also find a large window in the shape of an upside "U" in the space, and traditionally there are no windows. In the space there is Mother Cedar, which is located in the back of the room, and is a main element which holds the architecture together.
This is the first phase for this building. Community members are currently raising money to build a section addition, that will consist of student programming, meeting spaces, art spaces, and rooms for Elders where the community can go to seek words from.