MUCKLESHOOT RESERVATION - With prayers and chants, hundreds of people turned out to bid farewell to Ollie Moses Wilbur, a member of the Tulalip Tribes who may have been 110.
At services attended by about 250 people Saturday, her casket was draped with a multicolored American Indian print blanket and adorned with pink and yellow carnations and purple daisies.
Mrs. Wilbur, who died Wednesday, celebrated her 106th birthday last May 10. But grandson Manuel Purcell said there are documents from the Bureau of Indian Affairs showing she was 110.
If she was born in 1889, as Purcell and others believe, her birth coincided with Washington's admission to the union as the 42nd state.
"She has witnessed so much over the years - cars, airplanes, computers," said Herman Williams Jr., chairman of the Tulalip Tribes board of directors. "She lived a full life."
Mrs. Wilbur was "probably one of the oldest ladies to live on this coast, maybe the United States," said Merle Hayes, vice chairman of the Suquamish tribe on the Kitsap Peninsula.
Her funeral ceremony was marked by the ringing of brass bells, a tradition of the Shaker religion practiced by many tribal members, said Gene Jones, a Shaker tribal minister.
The bells "open the portals to heaven," he explained. Chants - "healing songs," Jones said - filled the Muckleshoot Tribal School gymnasium.
"Your presence here is good medicine for our family," Jones told those who gathered to pay final respects to Mrs. Wilbur.
Muckleshoot elder Toots Baker placed a woven basket, knitting needles and yarn in Mrs. Wilbur's casket - work left unfinished.
Mrs. Wilbur was hospitalized for two weeks before her death after suffering a broken hip. She watched the fireworks at the Space Needle on TV.
"Grandma let out a big smile," Purcell said. "She knew. She was here to see three centuries."
The family decided Wednesday to take her home, Purcell said. She didn't want to die in a hospital room, he said. "She was happy," he said. "She was home and she was going home."
Mrs. Wilbur attributed her longevity to not smoking or drinking and to making her own meals from scratch, said Lena Chavez, Wilbur's caretaker for eight years.
Mrs. Wilbur spent much of her life near Snoqualmie Falls, but had lived on the Muckleshoot Reservation near Tacoma since the 1960s.
Mrs. Wilbur buried two husbands and had six children. She is survived by one son and scores of grandchildren. She was buried at White Lake Native American Cemetery in Auburn.