Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe celebrates library opening

Chairman/CEO: New facility is ‘second to none’

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe council leaders celebrate the opening of the tribe’s new library at its Blyn campus on Saturday. Pictured, from left, are treasurer Theresa Lehman, vice chair Loni Grinnell-Greninger, chair/CEO Ron Allen and secretary Rochelle Blankenship. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe council leaders celebrate the opening of the tribe’s new library at its Blyn campus on Saturday. Pictured, from left, are treasurer Theresa Lehman, vice chair Loni Grinnell-Greninger, chair/CEO Ron Allen and secretary Rochelle Blankenship. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

BLYN — The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s remodeled and expanded library owes much to grants and effort from the tribe citizens and partners in recent years, but Chairman/CEO W. Ron Allen said it really dates back more than 40 years.

Around the time the tribe gained federal recognition in 1981, its leaders and citizens began gathering pieces of its history — packed away in boxes and in attics and even in trunks of cars.

“Back in the day, we didn’t have a library; we had to figure out where we could share with our community,” Allen said, welcoming community members to the grand opening of Heron Hall on Saturday.

“There’s just lots here to share … that we’re quite proud about.”

Allen and other tribal leaders and citizens hosted a pair of opening receptions Saturday — the first, for Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe elders, citizens and descendants of families, and the second for the community at large.

Allen and Luke Strong-Cvetic, the tribe’s director of planning, detailed a bit of the history of the library’s founding and funding, and spent time thanking the myriad partners and staff who helped shape the 4,000-square-foot library that has been under construction at 10170 Old Blyn Road since January 2022.

They also honored soon-to-be-retired Bonnie Roos and introduced incoming librarian Cheryl Martin.

Books, exhibits, movies

The revamped library, Allen said, is not just about Jamestown people but about all Northwest indigenous people.

It features books for the “old school” learners, he said, and some higher technology for others.

The library has expanded to include museum-style exhibits and also features a theater with more than a dozen seats that show films about Tribal history and its projects.

“This library is about learning, what was and what will be,” Allen said.

He detailed a series of grants from 2001 that helped fund the original library, also called Heron Hall, as well as a number of national honors, including it being one of 10 recipients (and the only tribal library) to receive a 2019 National Medal for Museum and Library Service — the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries making “significant and exceptional contributions to their communities,” according to the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

When it came to developing exhibits for the new library, Strong-Cvetic said the tribe turned to Andrew Whiteman, a Seattle-based exhibit designer who had worked with a number of tribes, including the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe in Port Angeles.

“Telling the tribe’s story in exhibits is difficult,” Strong-Cvetic said, but added that Whiteman was able to complete his work despite a number of COVID-related delays.

“We get lots of international guests [on the Peninsula],” Allen said. “This is another destination where people can come to … where we can share our history.”

Allen said in his travels across Indian Country to see other tribal libraries, the Heron Hall is among the best.

“Now we have a facility that’s second to none,” he said. “I think we did it right.”

For more about the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, visit jamestowntribe.org.

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Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at editor@sequimgazette.com.

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