Suquamish, in north Kitsap County, is where Chief Seattle wintered and where he is buried. The Suquamish people have lived in the “place of clear saltwater” on Agate Pass for some 10,000 years.
The new Suquamish Museum, which opened Sept. 15, captures the tribe’s history and its current pride of place. The previous museum was located a couple of miles down the road off Highway 305. Now, the new museum marks the entrance into town, completing a series of recent projects that makes Suquamish’s Native American points of interest all within walking distance of each other.
The chief who gave Seattle its name — “Seattle” is the Anglicization of his real name, the Lushootseed pronunciation of which is “Chief Si’ahl” — is buried in St. Peter’s churchyard on a knoll just above town, a site sacred to the Suquamish people and a place of reflection and respect for non-Natives.
It’s best to visit the museum to get your historical and cultural bearings before taking the short stroll to the gravesite.
The museum’s approach is more experiential than the old one, which had won all kinds of awards. The new incarnation is brightly lit and features audio and video elements that engage the senses and deliver you into another dimension. Displays feature artifacts, clam baskets, blankets, tools and old photographs and explain the organic connections afoot in a shape-shifting world — bone into knife, deer into rock — totems of the culture’s magic realism.
One room, Suquamish Art, displays work by contemporary tribal artists: wood carvings, weavings, water colors and jewelry, including the baskets of Ed Carriere, a master weaver who carries on the old ways by gathering his materials from the local shores and woods.
The museum offers a free map of other points of interest in town, including the new House of Awakened Culture and the nearby Veteran’s Memorial.
Old Man House Park on Agate Pass, site of the huge longhouse burned down by the U. S. government in 1870, is a longer walk or short drive away.
A visit to Suquamish — from where you can see the steel-and-glass towers of Seattle rising above Magnolia to the southeast — speaks volumes about local history, as do the museum and Chief Seattle’s grave.
If you go: Take the Winslow ferry to Bainbridge Island and head north toward Poulsbo on Highway 305. Take the first right at the stoplight, just over the Agate Pass Bridge, for the short drive into town. The Suquamish Museum is situated in the trees on your left as you descend into town.
Information: www.suquamish. nsn. us To comment on this story, write to