The Elwah Klallam Heritage Center

Elwah 3

One of our local Klallam Native American tribes is the Elwah, a group that lived for centuries in the Port Angeles area. This is their Port Angeles heritage center, a center for local tribal and community events. Since last summer it has also been home to a small collection of artifacts from an ancient Klallam village called Tse-whit-zen.

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The artifacts were discovered in 2003 during construction in the Port Angeles Harbor area. In addition to remains of over 300 people, archaeologists and tribal members exhumed 80,000 artifacts, including items with fine carvings and functional pieces such as bone hooks, harpoon points, and a spindle whorl. Fourteen of these items are on display in the Heritage Center in six display cases on each side of the main gallery. The public is welcome to view the displays although the tribe respectfully requests they not be photographed.

Elwah 1

The community center space is very attractive and now enhanced by the return of ancestral items from a village that was occupied for at least 2,700 years. The Tse-whit-zen site has been called one of the largest and most important archaeological sites in Washington state.

7 thoughts on “The Elwah Klallam Heritage Center”

  1. Being an historian, I would like this very much. As a child, I remember my grandmother – who lived in northern Minnesota – had a number of books about the adventures of the Native Americans and I read them avidly. Not only so, but every summer, tribal members of I think the Chippewa, camped in the woods on her land. I wanted to go meet them but was too fearful. 🙂

  2. How wonderful that the artifacts are held in such reverence that they are displayed so carefully. Perhaps my DNA contains some Native American since I have had enormous fascination for these indigenous people since childhood, people who have endured such hardships over the years and indignities perpetrated by our government. As a child I had the great fortune of baby-sitting for a family who had relatives on the small Oneida Reservation near Green Bay, WI; I had the good luck to view a way of life that was special but laced with poverty. I loved our visits there to see the people and play with their children. I know that I would enjoy the center you describe

  3. I meant to tell you that your trip to BC sounded wonderful. I’ve never been in those parts. But from what I’ve seen it’s all quite magnificent! I’ve been to Seattle once in 1980 and we drove up into the Cascades, but that’s the sum total of my experience in the PNW.

    My mother’s mother had a number of relatives that headed west from Minnesota – to Wyoming, Oregon and Washington. I have no idea who they are, though!

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