Location: Suquamish, Kitsap County Length: Access to several miles of beach. Level of difficulty: Level-to-moderately steep grassy terraces...
Location: Suquamish, Kitsap County
Length: Access to several miles of beach.
Level of difficulty: Level-to-moderately steep grassy terraces slope down to gentle sandy beach.
Setting: This tiny (one-acre) park was returned in 2004 to the Suquamish tribe by the Washington State Parks system. It’s a remnant of a principal Suquamish Indian site that was used by the tribe for at least 2,000 years for fishing, shellfish collecting, hunting and as a winter village. During the early 1800s, the largest known longhouse on Puget Sound, about 600 feet long, was constructed at this location, and Chief Sealth, for whom Seattle is named, lived and died here.
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The Suquamish name for the site was D’Suq’Wub, or “place of clear salt water,” which translated into Chinook jargon as O-le-man, meaning “strong man,” and it became known as Old Man House. Due to attempts by whites to anglicize the tribe, the longhouse, a tribal dwelling and gathering place, was dismantled and burned around 1870.
Highlights: An interpretive sign at the park describes the construction of plank houses. This former winter-village site is only partially protected from the elements (dress warmly if you plan to walk the beach in winter), but offered good visibility for spotting Native raiding parties coming from the north (Haida, Tsimshian and Cowichan) to capture slaves from Puget Sound tribes. Suburban homes surround the park, reflecting the area’s conflicted landownership history detailed by exhibits in the Suquamish Museum (to be profiled next week in Northwest Weekend).
Facilities: Vault toilet (restrooms under construction and soon to be completed).
Restrictions: Leash and scoop laws in effect.
Directions: From the Bainbridge Island ferry landing in Winslow, take Highway 305 north. After crossing the Agate Passage bridge, at the Clearwater Casino, turn right on Suquamish Way Northeast. In 1.2 miles, turn right on Division Avenue Northeast, and in .3 mile, park in the small parking lot. To pay respects at Chief Sealth’s grave, follow Division Avenue Northeast back to (and then across) Suquamish Way Northeast, and follow the signs.
For more information: 360-394-8400 or 360-394-8496 (museum) or www.soneighbors.org.
— Cathy McDonald, Special to The Seattle Times
Renton-based freelancer Cathy McDonald, a former geologist, has written about science and nature travel for 20 years. She’s currently a travel guidebook editor at Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door.