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Story Pole Dedication Ceremony

Story Pole Dedication Ceremony

By Barbara Mizoguchi & Karin Zaugg Black
NAP Contributor

Readers may recall a dedication ceremony in Kobe, Japan last month. It was attended by several Seattle, Washington delegates from the City of Seattle, Port of Seattle, Seattle-Kobe Sister City Association, Washington Secretary of State office, members of the Puyallup Tribe and Lummi Nation, and even the NAP Japan trip participants. The ceremony was dedicated to a new Coast Salish Story Pole replacing one that stood outside the Kobe City Hall for 54 years. Qwalsius – Shaun Peterson, artist of the Puyallup Tribe was commissioned in 2017 to create a new gift. It represents Washington’s relationship with Kobe, both as a sister city and a sister port. Shaun also took inspiration from the former story pole carved by Lummi Nation artist kwul-kwul’tw Joseph Hillaire.

Left to right David Bean Tib Stubs Teeb Stobsh and Former Chairman of the Puyallup Tribe and Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell Dan Friday cull cull t kwul kwul tu and Lummi Nation Council Member Nickolaus Lewis Juts Kadim
1961 decaying pole laying in the Kobe Municipal Arboretum near the Seattle Forest to let it go back to nature Both photos by Brian Chu Photography

As a result, we are able to share portion of the emcee’s script:
“Good afternoon. Welcome, distinguished guests, Seattle, Washington delegation and Kobe, Japan friends, I am Karin Zaugg Black, past president of the Seattle-Kobe Sister City Association, International Relations Liaison at the Port of Seattle, and proud past staff member of Kobe City Hall. I am honored to be your emcee for this special event.

Let me start by acknowledging our dignitaries. From Kobe, Kobe Mayor Kizo Hisamoto, Kobe City Assembly Chairman Yasunaga Bo, and U.S. Consul General of Osaka-Kobe, Consul General Jason Cubas. From Seattle: Secretary of State Steve Hobbs and his wife Pam Hobbs, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and his wife Joanne Harrell, Port of Seattle Commissioner Sam Cho, Port of Seattle Executive Director Steve Metruck, Seattle Deputy Mayor Adiam Emery, Lummi Nation Council Member Nickolaus Lewis.

I want to point out the logos of our organizers and supporters, and thank each of them: the City of Kobe, City of Seattle, Port of Seattle, Seattle-Kobe Sister City Association and key staff members who have worked on this for the last seven years; the Lummi Nation and Puyallup Tribe for embarking on this cross-cultural exchange project with us; and Delta Air Lines for its support.

As we prepare to start our dedication ceremony for the new Story Pole, let us first welcome all of you and identify those who are called today to be witnesses for this historic event.

Per tribal custom, at the dedication and blessing of a new Story Pole, witnesses are called to observe today’s proceedings, and then commit to share their experience with their families and communities when they return home. This is an important part of the tradition of oral history story telling of the Coast Salish people. We will call up the five witnesses to the stage one by one, where they will have a blanket wrapped around them and a token of gratitude will be pinned on their blankets by Maile (Mai Leh) Reynon, Native Hawaiian and a member of the Puyallup Tribal community, and Roxanne Murphy, Senior Manager, Tribal Relations for the Port of Seattle, and member of the Nooksack Tribe.

It is my pleasure to invite Puyallup tribal elder David Bean (Tib Stubs Teeb’ Stobsh), former Chairman of the Puyallup Tribe to offer an opening prayer.

I would like to explain a bit about the history of the original Friendship Pole. Carved by Lummi Nation Joseph Hillaire in 1961 as a gift from the people of Seattle to the people of Kobe. Seattle Mayor Gordon Clinton, who established the Seattle-Kobe sister city relationship with Kobe Mayor Haraguchi in 1957, commissioned Joseph Hillaire to carve the Friendship Pole. Joseph Hillaire carved some of the pole in Seattle and then finished the carving here in Kobe at its location next to the Flower Clock by Kobe City Hall buildings. Numerous school groups took excursions to come and watch him carve, and he participated in the Kobe Matsuri parade as our delegation did yesterday. His Friendship Pole stood as a symbol of our sister city ties and a gateway to learn about Coast Salish tribal culture and the Seattle region from 1961-2015 – over 54 years.

The reciprocal gift from Kobe to Seattle is the well-known Kobe Bell which was given in 1962 in honor of Seattle hosting the World’s Fair. It sits in a prominent location at the Seattle Center.

Just as Hillaire’s pole has been a symbol of our sister city ties in Kobe, the Kobe Bell is a symbol for us in Seattle. Its location has been a gathering place for the Seattle people over the years, most notably after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in 1995, where Seattle people gathered and rang the Kobe Bell, and prayed for the over 6,300 people who lost their lives.

In 2015, the City of Kobe consulted with City of Seattle and the Seattle-Kobe Sister City Association to explain that the Hillaire-carved pole had been damaged by weather and age. We determined to lay it in the forest, in the Kobe Municipal Arboretum, near the Seattle Forest to let it go back to nature.

We then started discussions about creating a new Story Pole gift to symbolize our continued ties. In 2017 for the 60th sister city / 55th sister port anniversary, Seattle City Council president Bruce Harrell (now Mayor) announced the commissioning of Shaun Peterson of the Puyallup Tribe to create a new gift.

Seven years later, we are very excited to be dedicating this new Story Pole, “Honoring our Connection.”

May I please have the Puyallup Tribal members come to share a celebration song with us.

Now for the blessing of the Story Pole. May I please have Lummi Nation tribal elder Lawrence Solomon (See – ah – tah – luck), former chairman, and great grand nephew of Joseph Hillaire) to the stage.

Here I will explain that Roxanne Murphy will be placing eagle down over the cedar branch at the base of the Story Pole as a form of protection and to honor the cedar tree that has become this Story Pole. On the count of three, Mayor Harrell and tribal leaders will pull on the rope.

I would like to call our Lummi Nation and Puyallup Tribal representatives to come together and offer us a closing song.

As we close, I would like to let you know, that our tribal members will be handing out commemorative gits to each of you as a thank you. We would like to thank Ms. Connie McCloud, Puyallup Tribe Heritage Division Director, and her team at the Puyallup Tribe Cultural Program for hand carving these commemorative paddles. The paddle represents the Puyallup tribal culture, a canoe family culture, and the generosity as a generous and welcoming people of the Puyallup Tribe. We also want to thank Debbie Peterson, mother of Qwalsius-Shawn Peterson, for donating the beads for the paddle necklaces, and Maile (MAI LEH) Reynon for beading all the necklaces.