The beginning of a New Year is always a good time to reflect on the year that has just passed and, I’m proud to say, 2015 will go down in history as one of great accomplishments for the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe.
Long before I became chairman, an effort was underway within my Tribe to restore Port Gamble Bay back to health and vitality. The bay, in many ways, is a cultural and historical heart for my Tribe, in that it is a direct connection to the ancestral village that once existed at Port Gamble. My Tribal ancestors have lived on the shores of Port Gamble Bay for at least 1,000 years.
After decades of incredibly hard work by members of Tribal staff; state and federal agencies, such as the Department of Ecology and the Department of Natural Resources; and Pope Resources, an agreement was reached and restoration work began early this fall.
For my entire life, I’ve stared out over a bay dotted with pilings on the Port Gamble side. In just a few months, that view has changed! As of the beginning of Dec., 2,112 (of over 6,000) piles have been removed and 110 tons of creosote has been trucked off-site for disposal. This is truly a new beginning for our precious Bay and I’m excited to see the progress as work continues into early 2017.
This past summer, my Tribe was finally able to announce construction of a hotel next to our casino. The Point Hotel, when it opens in late 2016, will boast 94 rooms over four stories with a 44-seat meeting space, an expansion of The Point Julia Deli, and a outdoor courtyard with a salmon and clam pit.
The Point Hotel was a long time in the planning. Ultimately, we wanted a hotel that was not only comfortable, but also reflective of our culture and values. To that end, you might have already read about the number of art installations being created: Totem poles throughout the courtyard, photographs of PGST life in each of the rooms, woven and carved pieces on display in the lobby, and a four-story, steel sculpted welcome totem greeting guests as they arrive.
In addition, Dan Hinkley, co-founder of Heronswood Garden, is consulting with us to make sure that our landscaping is unlike what you’ve seen at other hotels.
Speaking of Heronswood: In 2015, the garden raised its first totem pole (carved by PGST artist Brian Perry), expanded its quarterly Plant Sale events, and hosted a sold-out fundraising event featuring Ciscoe Morris.
When we first acquired Heronswood there were big plans to open it for weddings and events. It became clear pretty quickly though that the focus had to be on restoration of the garden first. Now, almost four years later, Heronswood has started working with Market Fresh Catering (also launched, by The Point Casino, in 2015!) to begin offering wedding and event packages.
The year that has passed also saw an archeological dig at Point Julia, the maiden voyage of the first cedar sail on a PGST canoe in more than a century, and the construction of a sewer system that will allow us to offer more, much needed housing on the reservation.
2016 holds a lot of promise, especially as we work toward goals for Tribal members, including increasing employment and educational opportunities; enhancing health and wellness; and ensuring public safety. While our Tribal Council is excited about new ventures, like The Point Hotel, we also realize the need to manage growth to ensure future generations have adequate land.
We are also, as always, focused on the preservation of our culture and the way of life that has been practiced for thousands of years.
—Jeromy Sullivan is chairman of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.