Sitting on the new honoring circle built near the towering images of Chief Seattle, Chief Joseph, Geronimo and Sitting Bull, the Native American artist has a good reason to rejoice.

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Sketched July 11, 2017

Local artist Andrew Morrison says it’s been a long journey to get to this point. In 2013, the murals he painted on the walls of the old Indian Heritage School site in North Seattle over a 12-year span were slated to be demolished during construction of a new school. Two years later, after Seattle Public Schools were persuaded to keep them intact, vandals struck. Then, a massive preservation effort involved cutting the painted walls one by one and storing them away while the new school campus was built.

Now, sitting on the new honoring circle built near the towering images of Chief Seattle, Chief Joseph, Geronimo and Sitting Bull, the Native American artist has a good reason to rejoice.

What could have been an immense loss if the murals had been destroyed – for him as the creator and for Seattle as a whole – has turned into a great success story.

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Not only did Morrison convince Seattle Public Schools to preserve the murals intact and integrate them into the new school campus, the larger-than-life works now stand more visible and meaningful than ever.

Morrison, a Haida/Apache Native American who grew up in Mountlake Terrace, said the preservation of the art and the new honoring circle restore what was an important gathering space for Seattle Native American students under the leadership of the late Robert Eagle Staff, who was principal of the Indian Heritage School.

“This is a place where teachers and students can come together,” said Morrison. “If two kids have a disagreement, they can come here … it can be a healing place.”

An official unveiling and dedication of the murals will take place at the new Robert Eagle Staff Middle School, Cascadia Elementary School and Licton Springs K-8 campus from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday. Morrison said he is looking forward to giving a walking tour and sharing the story behind each of the eight “Great Walls of Indian Heritage.”