Clallam County letter supports Tse-whit-sen effort

Port of Port Angeles, tribe working on restoring property

PORT ANGELES — The Port of Port Angeles and the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe are seeking $3.5 million in federal funding to restore 6 acres around the tribe’s ancestral Tse-whit-zen village on the waterfront at the base of Ediz Hook.

Clallam County commissioners unanimously approved a letter of support for the effort at their Monday work session.

“This is a joint request to the Community Project Funding program from Congressman (Derek) Kilmer’s office,” said Katharine Frazier, grants and contracts manager for the Port of Port Angeles, which is pursuing the funding jointly with the tribe.

“We’d love the county’s support to move this project forward and get some good activity going down there to get this project going.”

The project’s aim is to restore the site to pre-industrial conditions so it is essentially in “turn-key condition” for when that property is transferred to the tribe, she said.

“Then they can move forward with historical and cultural preservation without the burden of removing the existing industrial infrastructure and derelict equipment that remains on that site,” Frazier said.

The project scope includes things such as removing truck scales and relocating them; removing old concrete foundations and derelict asphalt; and other things on site that actively right now would prevent historical and cultural preservation activities, she said.

“It includes the chip loading area, which hasn’t been used for a couple of decades, I believe,” Frazier said.

Commissioner Mike French said, “Well, it’s good to see the port and the tribe work together productively. It’s a win.”

Tse-whit-zen, a Klallam village dating back some 2,700 years, was discovered in 2003 at a Marine Drive site earmarked for a $100 million state graving yard connected with work planned on the Hood Canal Bridge.

After artifacts and human remains were discovered, construction was halted and many artifacts were stored at the Burke Museum in Seattle.

According to the letter of support, a 20-acre parcel of the village site was transferred to the tribe for “reinternment of Klallam ancestors and other cultural and historical preservation purposes.”

However, Tse-whit-zen extends beyond those 20 acres into 6-plus acres of port-owned land currently operated as a log yard, according to the letter. The two sides are developing a transfer agreement for the property.

Work will include fencing the restoration area to better separate it from the port’s intermodal handling and transfer facility, the letter states. Signage also will identify the Tse-whit-zen site in both English and Klallam languages.

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Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at brian.gawley@peninsuladailynews.com.

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