Dennis Jones of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe holds a speaker’s staff as he shares some information during a Canoe Journey skippers’ meeting during the 2011 Canoe Journey/Paddle to Swinomish. The Central Kitsap Community Council is considering using the staff, also known as a talking stick, as a community symbol of collaboration. (Richard Walker/Kitsap News Group 2011)

Talking stick considered as possible symbol in Central Kitsap

Used for centuries to denote each individual’s authority to speak and enabling all voices to be heard

SILVERDALE — Many cultures, including Northwest indigenous cultures, have used talking sticks as a way for one to speak in a group setting and have their perspectives heard, Kitsap County senior policy analyst Angie Silva said.

The Central Kitsap Community Council is surveying residents — — on the idea of creating talking sticks to symbolize “a sense of community and facilitate communication between the many organizations, businesses, agencies, associations and residents in Central Kitsap and Kitsap County programs and services,” Silva said.

“Since the beginning of 2017, the CK Community Council has embarked on an effort to reach out to groups and many others who live and serve in their own unique way the communities found in Central Kitsap,” she said. Those discussions led to a shared desire for a unifying brand or logo that “unites Silverdale and Central Kitsap as a whole.”

The plan is for the symbol to be placed in public spaces, such as the community campus, parks and businesses, as well as in homes of residents desiring to participate.

The community council recently hosted a presentation on Northwest Native American talking sticks by local artist Lisa Stirrett, who is of North Carolina Cherokee ancestry. Intricately carved speaker’s staffs have been used for centuries, symbolizing each individual’s authority to speak and enabling all voices to be heard, she said.

Silva said the idea was first brought up at the Sept. 6 community council meeting, and that members received “generally supportive” feedback. They have also received preliminary interest in this concept from Harrison Medical Center, Kitsap Bank, the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce, the Silverdale Rotary Club, and the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners.

But the community council wants to hear what the community has to say. In addition to the survey, the community council’s next meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Oct. 4, at the Best Western Silverdale Beach Hotel, 3073 NW Bucklin Hill Road.

“The survey is intended to get more feedback on how this idea can showcase our unique contributions in what makes a community, but also unifying us as well,” Silva said. “[As of Sept. 19], we received 68 responses to the survey. It’s too early to determine common themes, as we want to ensure opportunity for everyone to respond.”

Among the survey questions:

“How appealing is the cross-cultural talking stick as a symbol for connecting Central Kitsap businesses and community groups?”

“A unifying feature is needed to help identify and connect the CK community. Which feature(s) do you prefer?” (Options include a CK symbol or logo included in either the glass or metal portion of the stick, specific colors used, or a plaque.)

“If you are part of a local business, community organization, or neighborhood group, how interested do you think your group would be in designing a talking stick?”

There is also a section for ideas or comments.

“This idea is far from a done deal, so there’s plenty of opportunity to consider other ideas,” Silva said.

For more information, contact Silva at 360-337-7080 or

— Michelle Beahm is online editor for Kitsap News Group. She can be reached at

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