Coast Salish Totem Pole dedicated at English Camp

On the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service, a permanent exhibit acknowledging the history of the Coast Salish people was dedicated near the site of a Coast Salish village at English Camp on San Juan Island. Referring to the San Juan Islands, one of the speakers said, "We never sold it. We never gave it away."

A totem pole illustrating traditional reef net fishing, two Salmon storyboards and two cedar-strip canoes were dedicated by members of the Lummi Nation and the Saanich Nation at the August 25, 2016 ceremony.  After the totem pole and storyboards were unveiled, Master Carver Temosen Charles Elliott, a member of the T'sartlip First Nation on Vancouver Island, explained the meaning of the different figures on his Reef Net Captain Pole.

The eagle at the top of the totem pole represents the unity of all things, strength, wisdom and brotherhood, he said.

Elliott said that the stories about reef netting should never be forgotten. He was pleased that it was coming back as was the native languages. "It's a wonderful thing," he said.

Master canoe builder and Lummi Nation member Dean Washington  dedicated two Coast Salish canoes, master carver Jewell Praying Wolf James  dedicated two Salmon Story Boards. 

A large crowd, sitting in the shade provided by several large tents on the exceptionally hot day, listened to witnessing by tribe members, community members, state Senator Kevin Ranker and National Historical Park Superintendent Elixis Fredy.  The Park Service is not focusing on the past 100 years, she said. "It's about the work of the next seven generations," she said.    

The afternoon included dancing by the Lummi Nation Blackhawk Dancers.




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