PORT TOWNSEND — Fundraising will begin in September for a Chetzemoka Interpretative Trail, which will highlight 15 areas in Port Townsend.
The project is expected to be started next June.
Port of Port Townsend commissioners praised the plans on Wednesday as they voted unanimously to allow interpretative signage and a telescope be placed on three port properties. Port property stopping points include Point Hudson, The Old Quincy Street Ferry Dock and Union Wharf.
The project also has received endorsements from the city of Port Townsend and the Jefferson County Historical Society, which will be the project’s fiscal sponsor. The Historic Preservation Commission will be a co-sponsor.
Lyz Burden of the Native Connections Action Group and Celeste Dybeck, a Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal elder, presented plans for the trail to the port commissioners.
The plans include 15 locations of tribal, geographic and historical significance throughout Port Townsend. All approvals have been received, they said.
Each sign will cost $1,500 and can be underwritten by an individual or group who will receive recognition for the donation on the sign and in the booklet. Funds also will go into a maintenance fund to be administered by the historical society.
The trail highlights the 19th-century S’Klallam Tribe chief, Chetzemoka, the last Klallam chief.
At the Northwest Maritime Center at Point Hudson, a totem pole, a dugout canoe and and seven small interpretative panels describing the Coast Salish Canoe Culture and Chetzemoka are already in progress.
The Old Quincy Street Ferry Dock is the site where Chetzemoka’s longhouse residence was located and where the Oatay Village was burned as the native people had to canoe away to the Skokomish Reservation.
The Union Wharf, at the end of Taylor Street, is where Chetzemoka lived after he returned from the Skokomish Reservation. This site is where the tribe portaged canoes between Indian Island and Port Hadlock. The group plans to install a telescope on the wharf and the interpretative panel will tell the story of Indian Island.
“This project involves a federal building, a private building, a county park, a city park, a state park, and port property,” Burden said.
Stops along the route include the main entrance to Chetzemoka Park, the Jefferson County Courthouse, the Port Townsend Post Office that was the Federal Building and Customs House, Kah Tai Lagoon and Point Wilson.
The trail will be 3 miles or 6 miles for walkers or a 12-mile bike ride and be located on existing back roads, sidewalks and trails. A car route is being planned as well. A special wayfinding mark is being designed to help walkers and bikers locate the sites.
“The Jamestown S’Kallam tribe has embraced this project,” Dybeck said. “They are doing the cultural research, creative design work and writing the stories that will appear on the signs and in the booklet. They are paying for the permit processing through the city.”
“The project is meant to recognize the heritage of the S’Kallam people and to tell the stories of Chetzemoka,” Burden said. “The signs will educate local residents, tribal citizens and visitors as to the rich culture and long history of the S’Klallam people in Port Townsend and on the North Olympic Peninsula. These points of interest are a first-hand experience of the land and environments where our indigenous first people lived.”
The next part of the project is to meet with the Historic Preservation Advisory Board to approve signage plans.
“We’ve cleared the planning department’s requirements, but have to get a variance from the approved color scheme for the historic district,” Burden said.
For more information about the project, contact Jo Blair, Native Connections Action Group chairman and Chinook tribal member, at 360-385-5999 or 425-417-2164.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected]