Trail ceremony draws hundreds

Carmen Jaramillo
Posted 7/3/19

Memorial Field was packed June 29, but instead of a carnival or a contest, the draw was a ceremony to recognize the first residents of what would later be called Port Townsend.

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Trail ceremony draws hundreds


Memorial Field was packed June 29, but instead of a carnival or a contest, the draw was a ceremony to recognize the first residents of what would later be called Port Townsend.

Before Europeans arrived to build the Victorian downtown for which Port Townsend is now known, a native people were already here, living in cedar post-and-plank longhouses in a village called qatay that comprised most of what is now downtown Port Townsend. In 1871, by order of the U.S. Federal Government, that village was burned to the ground.

At Saturday’s gathering, leaders of the Jamestown S’Klallam, Lower Elwha Klallam and Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribes stood on the same ground as their ancestors for the opening ceremony of the Chetzemoka Trail.

Linking 18 sites around Port Townsend, the trail takes visitors to places with a special connection to the history of the S’Klallam people and Chief Cicmehan (Chetzemoka) who facilitated vital collaboration between the native people and white settlers. The trail also is meant to reinforce bonds of collaboration that still exist today.

“We pray that those who walk this trail will go back in history,” Marlin Holden, a descendant of Cicmehan said through tears, “and know why the S’Klallam people are successful.”

The trail is meant to not only educate people on the rich history of this area, but also honor those who came before, said Jamie Valdez, a Lower Elwha Tribal member. “This may be a new trail for some, but this is an old trail that has always existed for our ancestors,” Valdez said.

Memorial Field was packed full for the ceremony, which featured speakers from each represented tribe, including Cicmehan’s descendants Loni Grinnel-Greninger and her grandmother Elaine Grinnell.

After the ceremony, Port Townsend Mayor Deborah Stinson, Valdez, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribal member Kelly Sullivan, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal member Ron Allen and Northwest Maritime Center Executive Director Jake Beattie carried a symbolic cedar branch the two blocks to the ‘Welcome Pole’ outside of the Northwest Maritime Center.

The 26-foot totem pole was donated to the Maritime Center by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and it is meant to reflect and acknowledge a shared history in maritime trades.

The totem depicts the Supernatural Carpenter on the top, the Spirit of the Cedar Tree in the middle and Chief Cicmehan (Chetzemoka) on top of Sentinel Rock on the bottom.

At the dedication, Beattie said he hopes the totem pole and the trail can be a part of the healing process for the damage caused by white settlers to the S’Klallam people.

“I hope we can view this totem as a milepost to remember the hard truth of our history and move forward, not past it but with it.”


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Marge Samuelson

According to the Burke Museum in Seattle, totem poles were not traditional to the tribes on the Olympic Peninsula. The tradition was farther north with the Haida's, Tlingit etc. I believe these poles are a new tradition for the tribes. Although they have always been master carvers. Just trying to keep history straight.

Monday, July 15, 2019