(Keith Thorpe /Peninsula Daily News)

(Keith Thorpe /Peninsula Daily News)

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe seeks to rename clamming beach

BLYN — The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe is seeking to rename a beach at the mouth of Dean Creek near Blyn.

The tribe filed paperwork with the state Department of Natural Resources to rename the beach to Littleneck Beach, a name it said honors the generations of S’Klallam ancestors who have gathered clams at that location.

The beach is one of very few that naturally sustains colonies of native littleneck clams, according to the tribe.

“Formerly common in Washington waters, the littleneck was an important traditional food for the S’Klallam people that was harvest, dried, and smoked prior to storing for winter, or trading to inland tribes for items like mountain goat wool,” according to the tribe’s application.

The state Committee on Geographic Names received the proposal Nov. 1, 2017, and gave it an initial consideration June 20.

The tribe will address the state’s Committee on Geographic Names at 11 a.m. Friday as the committee makes its final consideration. The committee would then make a recommendation to the Board of Natural Resources.

The beach is 1,600 feet long, extending 800 feet in either direction from the mouth of Dean Creek, 0.25 miles northwest of Blyn.

Vickie Carroll, the tribe’s cultural coordinator, wrote to the Washington State Board on Geographic Names urging it to recommend the name change.

“I use Littleneck Beach for clamming and at times just to be on the beach of our ancestors,” she wrote. “I believe changing the name to Littleneck Beach is important to the S’Klallam people because this is part of our past and will continue to be a part of our future.”

Marlin Holden, a tribal elder and fisherman, also urged the board to accept the name change.

He said in his letter to the board that he has been clam digging at Littleneck Beach for more than 10 years, ever since the completion of the tribe’s restoration of Jimmycomelately Creek in 2004.

“I’ve watched it come to life,” he wrote. “I have witnessed the healing of the beach and the life that now thrives there.”

Holden convinced the tribal council to officially change the name of the beach in 2016. The tribe held a Q’wen Seyu tribal picnic to rename the log yard to Littleneck Beach.

The area had been known as the “log yard” to locals in the 1990s. Dunlop Towing was the formal name prior to the restoration of Jimmycomelately Creek.

Holden has seen horse clams and cockles, huge butter clams, Olympia oysters and geoducks.

He said he has always wondered why when he records his catches there he has to write “log yard” on his fishing card.

“ ‘Log Yard’ isn’t the S’Klallam name for this place,” he wrote. “And now that this place is ours again, we need to take back our history by renaming it.”

Kurt Grinnell, tribal council member, fisherman and aquaculture farmer, wrote that he uses Littleneck Beach for aquaculture farming of geoduck and oysters, as well as harvesting of Malila and littleneck clams.

“I believe changing the name to Littleneck Beach is important to the S’Klallam people because of the significance of shellfish to native peoples,” he wrote.

“Naming this beach for one of our food mainstays will not only be culturally meaningful, but also identify a harvest area for an indigenous species.”

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

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