Jessica Elofson, a member of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, with help from her daughter, Gillian, is part of an effort to have the name of West End Park on the Port Angeles waterfront changed to Pebble Beach Park in English and Klallam languages. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Jessica Elofson, a member of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, with help from her daughter, Gillian, is part of an effort to have the name of West End Park on the Port Angeles waterfront changed to Pebble Beach Park in English and Klallam languages. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Proposal seeks Klallam language in Port Angeles park name

West End Park on waterfront would become Pebble Beach Park in both languages

PORT ANGELES — sŋaʔŋáʔant cáwŋən ʔəssaqɬúŋt.

That’s the Klallam translation for Pebble Beach Park and part of a new name being proposed for West End Park on the Port Angeles waterfront.

The city parks commission voted 7-0 Thursday to recommend the City Council approve Jessica and Gillian Elofson’s application to rename the downtown esplanade Pebble Beach Park in both English and Klallam languages.

The City Council is expected to consider changing West End Park to Pebble Beach Park: sŋaʔŋáʔant cáwŋən ʔəssaqɬúŋt on March 19.

The Elofsons, who are members of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, received more than 150 letters of support in a campaign spearheaded by Carolyn Wilcox.

All 15 speakers who testified at last week’s Parks, Recreation and Beautification Commission meeting endorsed the idea.

“It is really heartwarming to hear the positive in regards to what we’re discussing because of the history that we have,” Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Chairwoman Frances Charles said near the end of the public testimony.

“There’s so much to talk about. There is so much to share.”

Parks and Recreation Director Corey Delikat said the current name has been a “placeholder” since the $2.5 million facility opened on the waterfront west of Oak Street in 2015.

The park was designed to celebrate Lower Elwha Klallam history and culture, with numerous tribal elements on the paths and green lawns.

The two pocket beaches at the park have Klallam names translating to “a place to land a canoe” and “a place to walk the beach.”

“You can see there’s a lot of Klallam history,” Delikat said of the park’s theme. “The thing that was never taken care of was the naming of the park.”

Mayor Sissi Bruch said she would “absolutely” support the new name when it lands on the council’s dais.

“It honors the history of this place, and in traditional Klallam,” said Bruch, a former senior planner for the tribe.

Bruch added that it was “wonderful” that the proposal gained widespread support.

“I was pretty overwhelmed at the amount of the community support,” said Jessica Elofson, Native American intervention specialist for the Port Angeles School District.

Elofson said she was approached by Wilcox with an idea to give the park a descriptive Klallam name.

She visited the park with her 18-year-old daughter, Gillian. They chose Pebble Beach Park from a platform overlooking the rocky shore.

“It felt right,” Jessica Elofson said.

“The beach is covered in small rocks, and it’s kind of what ties the park together.”

Jessica and Gillian Elofson filed an application with the city to change West End Park to Pebble Beach Park in both languages Jan. 24.

Gillian Elofson is a 2018 Port Angeles High School graduate and a freshman at Western Washington University.

Armed with the support of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Council, Wilcox worked with Wendy Sampson and the tribe’s language department to fine-tune the Klallam translation of Pebble Beach Park.

“The Elofsons and the Klallam people have been very kind to allow me to be involved in this process,” Wilcox told the parks commission.

Wilcox sought advice from parks commissioner Iris Winslow, who said the best applications for park renamings offer documentation of the importance of the name and the rationale behind it, along with letters of support.

“I have to say you guys really delivered,” Winslow told supporters.

“I spent the entire afternoon reading all of your letters, and there were moments where I was moved to tears seeing how everybody was behind this proposal and wanting to see the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe language represented more widely in our community.”

Wilcox referenced a scattered “resistance” to the Klallam name in a Thursday email to supporters.

Jessica Elofson said she had encountered no such opposition.

“That was a worry, to be honest,” Elofson said in a Friday interview.

“What I was met with was all-encompassing support and that people are excited to see this partnership, or relationship, between the city of Port Angeles and the Klallam people.”

Parks commissioner Tim Tucker said he would like to see more Klallam influences around the city.

“This does my heart so good to see this happen,” Tucker said.

“I hope that it’s just a beginning.”

Peninsula Trails Coalition President Jeff Bohman said the tribe has been a “wonderful partner” on Olympic Discovery Trail projects and promotes an awareness and respect for the landscape.

“I deeply appreciate what they bring to the community,” Bohman told the parks commission.

“I heartily endorse the proposal.

“I hope they don’t mind that I’m probably going to stick with calling it Pebble Beach Park,” Bohman said of the Klallam variation.

“I’ll never figure out how to say it.”

Jessica Elofson thanked all who spoke in favor of the proposal or drafted a letter of support.

“The Klallam people are really import to me,” Elofson said.

“Little by little, we are letting the world know that we are still here.”

________

Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

Gillian and Jessica Elofson

Gillian and Jessica Elofson

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