Celeste Dybeck named AAUW PT’s Woman of Excellence for 2020

Posted 12/24/19

A Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Elder who spearheaded the číčməhán (Chetzemoka) Trail development has been named the 2020 Woman of Excellence by the American Association of …

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Celeste Dybeck named AAUW PT’s Woman of Excellence for 2020

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A Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Elder who spearheaded the číčməhán (Chetzemoka) Trail development has been named the 2020 Woman of Excellence by the American Association of University Women’s Port Townsend branch.

As the trail’s project director, Celeste Dybeck led a project team of half a dozen members for two years to get the trail underway, as well as bring it to completion, under the auspices of the Native Connections Action Group of the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, with permissions from the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.

The trail team was present at the annual AAUW PT holiday luncheon at the Old Alcohol Plant in Port Hadlock on Saturday, Dec. 14, where Dybeck introduced each member, praising their individual and collective efforts, including:

• Lys Burden, whom Dybeck credited with “route-planning and way-finding.”

• Luzi Pfenniger.

• Jo Blair, the outreach worker who searched for grant money.

• Maria Mendes, who as treasurer, “tracked every penny.”

• Connie Ross, who wore the hats of proofreader, thank-you note writer and grant writer.

• Terry DuBois, the grand opening event planner.

Dybeck also thanked her husband, Don, for lending his editing skills.

Michael Kubek outlined for the audience how the AAUW Board had selected Dybeck out of seven nominees, “the most we have ever had,” based on her demonstrated accomplishments as a role model, change agent, teacher/mentor and community activist.

By contrast, Dybeck herself chose to focus on her work for the Chetzemoka Trail, which she emphasized represents a partnership with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.

She explained that the trail tells the story of the hereditary chief of the S’Klallam, and its purpose is to educate the public on the relationship between the S’Klallam people and the European settlers.

“The trail project became much bigger than we expected,” Dybeck said. “We immediately realized how eager the local citizens were to learn the Native history.”

Dybeck deemed the Point No Point Treaty of Jan. 26, 1855 a turning point.

“The Natives’ lives and culture, as they had known them for centuries, were coming to a close,” Dybeck said. “After the signing of the treaty, the Indians were made to move south to the Skokomish Reservation, but the two tribes did not even speak the same language.”

Although the S’Klallam moved back to the local area in what Dybeck described as “short order,” she cited the city of Port Townsend’s Ordinance No. 3 in 1867, which stated that any Native person coming into town could be fined up to $20, unless accompanied by a white person.

“I’m happy to announce this ordinance was finally rescinded on June 29, 2019, at the Chetzemoka Trail grand opening,” Dybeck said. “Chief Chetzemoka brought peace between the Indians and the white settlers, and he was honored by the whites.”

Kubek prefaced Dybeck’s remarks by noting that Dybeck has spent two decades working to improve the quality of life for her fellow Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe members as an Elder and member of its Higher Education Committee and its Board of Directors for Economic Development, in addition to serving on the Board of Directors for the Olympic Peninsula Chapter of the American Red Cross, and as a department head in charge of all the nursing staff at the Urgent Care Clinic at Group Health.

Kubek noted that Dybeck has been an active volunteer in key positions within AAUW, even as she added that membership is not required for to be nominated for the Woman of Excellence award.

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