S’Klallam pole honors education advocate

LITTLE BOSTON — Geneva Ives was the first Port Gamble S’Klallam person to graduate from a public high school. But that was only the start of her journey as an advocate for education.

Even as the mother of seven children, she worked to raise her family and assist any S’Klallam child who wanted to attend school.

“Her goal was to see that kids were going to finish their schooling and graduate,” her son, Joe, said. “If a family was having a hard time and the kids needed a place, she would take them in just to keep them in school.”

According to information from the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, Ives worked diligently to improve the Tribal educational system and related programs, while making sure that every S’Klallam youth had the same opportunities she had to achieve educational success.

A 16-foot memorial pole, carved by her son Joe and three apprentices, will be raised today at noon to honor Ives.

The pole will be raised next to the S’Klallam Career and Education Center in Little Boston. The ceremony is only open to Tribal members, but the public is welcome to view the pole afterward.

The pole is 16 feet tall and 4 feet wide, carved of old-growth cedar that is estimated to be at least 750 years old.

According to Joe Ives, he and others stopped counting the rings at 500 and weren’t even close to the edge.

The pole features the many faces of the youth that his mother supported throughout her life, and is topped by a majestic owl that symbolizes her.

Joe will tell the story of the pole at the ceremony. He and members of his family will raise the 1000-pound pole by hand. For the ceremony, Joe has written an honor song, which has been translated into S’Klallam and will be sung by the carving apprentices who worked on the pole.

Joe Ives has been carving for 35 years. “She is the one I get all my talent from,” he said of his mother. “I’ve perfected my Tribal art through her, through her precision and inspiration.”

The pole is something he’s always wanted to do and to see it finally raised will be the completion of a longtime dream, Joe said.

Geneva Vivian Ives passed away Feb. 3, 2009 at the age of 85.

According to an obituary on the Cook Family Funeral Home website, she was born on April 18, 1923 to Clara and Foster Jones and was the eldest of 13 children. She graduated from North Kitsap High School in 1941 and married Joseph C. Ives on June 17, 1944.

“Geneva dedicated her entire life to the Lord,” the family wrote in the obituary. “[S]he was a faithful member of S’Klallam Worship Center. She was very talented and a teacher of many things: S’Klallam culture, language and song, beadwork, traditional foods and medicine, and the worship of God."

She also played accordion, guitar, harmonica and piano.


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