Lower Elwha to host healing ceremony at former graving yard site on Saturday

PORT ANGELES — Anyone with “an open mind and an open heart”‘ is invited to the Tse-whit-zen village site on Saturday for a four-hour healing ceremony with the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe.

The four-hour ceremony, which starts at noon regardless of weather, will be at the Marine Drive site of the former village unearthed during construction of the state graving yard.

There, the tribe is planning the ceremony to heal the grounds, the workers and the Port Angeles community, Tribal Chairwoman Frances Charles said this week.

The event is not for political statements for or against the graving yard, she said.

Food follows ceremony

The ceremony at the site, 1501 Marine Drive, will last until 4 p.m., after which food will be provided at the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Center, 2851 Lower Elwha Road, Port Angeles.

Food donations are welcome, Charles said.

An invitation asks Native and non-Native people who want to participate “in a positive and heartfelt way” in the healing of the ancient village to bring drums, prayers and good spirits and participate in the spiritual ceremony.

There is no dress code for the ceremony, other than to dress warmly. Access to and from the ceremony will be limited once it begins.

Tse-whit-zen, the ancient Klallam village, is at least 1,700 years old, according to archeological evidence compiled from the site, and was occupied until 1920, when those who lived there were removed and taken outside of town, according to elders.

The village was demolished for a mill.

Graving yard halted

Most recently, it served as the location for an onshore dry dock in which the state planned to build huge pontoons, concrete anchors and decks for a new east end of the Hood Canal Bridge.

Much of the project was suspended since August 2003 when workers found evidence of the ancient village.

After months of archeological excavation, the tribe on Dec. 10 asked the state Department of Transportation to cease its work there, and the state ended the project 11 days later.

Saturday’s ceremony also marks the 150th year since the signing of the Point No Point Treaty, through which the Klallam and other Olympic Peninsula tribes ceded their land to the United States.

For more information on the healing ceremony, contact the Elwha Tribal Center at 360-452-8471, Exts. 100, 102 or 106.

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