One of the reasons for traveling is to “learn things we didn’t learn in school.” Many of these lessons we learned revolved around groups who lived in this country long before Jamestown or even Columbus.
The latest lesson comes from the Jamestown S’Kallam ("the Strong People") Tribe in Blyn, WA, west of Port Townsend:
“…After 1870, white settlers in Washington Territory began to bring pressure upon the Bureau of Indian Affairs to move all treaty Indians to reservations. Many of the Indians merely squatted on the land, and without a clear title, were easily and frequently dispossessed. By 1874, a band of S'Klallams under the leadership of Lord James Balch…raised enough money to pay $500 in gold coin for a 210-acre tract near Dungeness, Washington Territory; thus began the Jamestown S'Klallam community.
“The Jamestown S'Klallams received services from the Federal government until 1953, when the government no longer "recognized" them.
“(But as) the Jamestown Tribal membership…saw that fishing and hunting rights were denied them due to the lack of federal recognition…, (t)he Tribe soon realized that only through Federal recognition would they be able to provide for basic (health and educational) needs. This effort began around 1974 and was established after a long struggle on February 10, 1981.
“With the acquisition of more land and, since 1988, their involvement in a national Self-Governance Demonstration Project…, the Tribe (has achieved) more autonomy and control over Bureau of Indian Affairs funding. The Project has resulted in the Tribe being able to provide more Tribally-specific programs, services (a social services building, a dental clinic, a family health center), and activities to better meet the needs of the membership” (jamestowntribe.org/history).
As the Tribe continues to build facilities and businesses for its community, the leaders have commissioned carvers, under the direction of Master Carver Dale Faulstich, “…to design additional totems to remind our Tribal citizens of their history and heritage and to create a memorable experience for our visitors and guests” (W. Ron Allen, Tribal Chairman in the Foreword to Totem Poles of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe).
To see how these totem poles are created, we stopped at the "House of Myths," known locally as the "carving shed," where we met Dale and his son.
He then pencils in the first broad guidelines of the shapes to be carved.