Northwest Tribes History and Art in Sequim

Tribe Thunderbird Totem PoleThe native tribes of what is now known as the Olympic Peninsula have a huge influence on the history, culture and identity of this region. While the people of these nations are still part of the community today, they lived and prospered here over ten thousand years ago. Around Sequim the S’Klallam and other tribes depict folklore and tribal history with magnificent totem poles. Visit Sequim and see our coastline, forests and mountains through the beautiful stories of the local tribes.

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe History

The S’Klallam community resides near Sequim and their name means “Strong People.” Long ago the nation had a rich culture of art, spirituality, and a strong social structure. That tradition continues to this day. The tribe’s strength maintained the community through the history of white settlers, treaties, and forced relocations. In fact in 1874 the S’Klallams with their leader Lord James Balch raised the money to purchase 210 acres in Dungeness. And this was the beginning of the current Jamestown S’Klallam community.

The tribe continued to grow and support itself by gardening, fishing and working in the nearby pulp mills. During the Indian Reorganization Act period (1930’s) the tribe again faced relocation. To stay they had to choose to be unrecognized by the federal government. Always a progressive community, the S’Klallam continued to build their own economy and find educational opportunities for their members. From the 1970’s until 1981 the tribe won federal recognition after a long struggle. The tribe purchased more land and were able to set up community programs, services and activities. The tradition of these strong people continues today with a tribe that supports and inspires their people.

Northwest Tribe Totem Poles found in Sequim

The wonderful history and stories of the S’Klallam people and other tribes are found in several totem poles around Sequim. The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe gifted the city of Sequim with the totem pole that tells a beautiful folktale. While the 7 Cedar Casino has many impressive poles on its grounds. Be sure to seek these magnificent wooden monuments when visiting Sequim.

In front of Sequim’s Civic Center on the Community Plaza, there’s an impressive 30 foot totem pole. Master carver Dale Faulstich transformed the 900 year old cedar log into a totem that tells the story of Tribe Dream CatcherWhy the Sun Always Shines in Sequim.” This depicts the story of a time before Sequim was the sunny place we know now and how two brothers defeated the greedy “Chief of the Land Above.” The triumphant brothers release the warmth and light from the chief’s home to their grateful people. The brothers carry this light across the sky as the Sun and Moon.

The 7 Cedars Casino has many marvelous totem poles at their location. Some recount stories of the S’Klallam tribe, including greeting early white settlers. Historical figure Lord James Balch is represented and also the powerful guardian the Thunderbird. Look for other familiar animals on all the poles such as salmon, eagles, bears, ravens and orca. Colorful stories of “The Fog Woman” and “Elements for Success” are told through the amazing carvings.

S’Klallam Tribe Art Gallery in Sequim

The S’Klallam Tribe has a diverse art gallery and gift shop in Sequim that carries beautiful items in the iconic tribal style. Visit the Northwest Native Expressions Art Gallery  for a huge selection of Northwest Native American art, crafts and artifacts. They carry a mix of traditional and contemporary art pieces made with the highest quality of craftsmanship. Choose from limited edition prints, jewelry, or carvings. They also have a choice of clothing, textiles, baskets and dream catchers. Learn more about the tribe’s culture and history by picking up a book or music recording.

The City of Sequim is honored to be part of the history of the S’Klallam Tribe. The art and stories from their culture illustrate the rare beauty of this corner in the Olympic Peninsula. The sense of community is a strength everyone looks for an values in a home town. Come out a see why the sun always shines in Sequim. Contact our great team of agents at Schwab Realty. We would love to show you the sights in Sequim and find your perfect home.