Home construction unearths artifacts

County halts home building project next to Old Man House.

“SUQUAMISH – Pages have been torn from their history book, Suquamish Tribal members said after construction near Old Man House disturbed shell midden and artifacts belonging to the site earlier this week. The historic artifacts were unearthed on privately-owned property adjacent to the Old Man House State Park. The Tuesday afternoon discovery halted Suquamish resident Pat Osler’s construction of an 1,800 square-foot house at the property site where he already has built another house. Workers were digging a trench about eight-feet wide, 20-feet long and 12-feet deep when shell midden – containing shellfish fragments, food bones, ash and Indian stone tools – was uncovered. Scientists and members of the tribe were immediately called to the scene. Kitsap County code enforcement officials have ordered that all work on the project be stopped until archeologists are able to further examine the contents of the site. The discovery of the artifacts also has Kitsap County officials and Suquamish Tribal members wondering how a construction permit for a home so near a historic site was approved in the first place That’s what we are trying to figure out, Suquamish Tribal member Charlie Sigo said. The exact boundaries of the archaeology of the site have never been precisely determined, but have long been known to extend off of the Old Man House State Park parcel, he explained. Sigo also said the shell midden was pretty much destroyed by the construction. Old Man House was the largest long house in the Northwest and former home to Chief Seattle, the Suquamish Tribe’s most celebrated leader. The untimely excavation comes just days before the 89th annual Chief Seattle Days celebration. Rick Kimball of the Kitsap County Department of Community Development could offer no good excuse for the mistake. The department regrets that this happened. This slipped through but it is not the standard, he said. County Commissioner Chris Endresen also expressed also her concern about the incident. If an apology is in order that is something I would like to extend, Endresen said. Osler said he will make the design changes necessary so as not to disturb more shell midden while building the home. “