Many of those people were donors who had participated in fundraising efforts since the project began more than five years ago. They were key to helping the construction project progress into the complex it is now, and many were excited to see the finished product.

“It’s one thing to have a casino, it’s one thing to build one,” said Hansville resident Lou Foritano. “But it’s one thing to build a library, it sends an entirely different message about the tribe.”

North Kitsap County Commissioner Steve Bauer said the library has been a connection between Hansville and Little Boston, one that strengthened as the new building was under construction. He said when he moved to Hansville about 10 years ago, he started out using the Kingston branch, until he realized the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe was home to the best little library in America, an honor bestowed by the Public Library Association of America in 1998.

“As for beginnings, the library was located in the tiny tribal offices in the 1970s,” said Kitsap Regional Library Director Jill Jean. “It was the first public library to be built on tribal land in the United States. The next big thing we did was hire (branch manager) Sue Jones.”

Jones has overseen two moves of the library, one in 1989 from the original A-frame structure to the larger, but still tiny, building. Then, at the beginning of September, she again moved the library to its new 2,767-square foot building.

The library system itself began in Little Boston in the form of a book mobile when Charles was a boy. He said the leaps and bounds the tribe has made as far as providing resources and education to its members and residents is an exciting improvement to the area’s quality of life.

“The first thing I saw on the reservation was the old book mobile,” he said. “It was the first library services we ever saw here. Now, we’re housed in a 2,767-square foot building that’s a much nicer facility than anything I’ve seen before.”

Residents who attended the dedication and celebration were able to tour the entire House of Knowledge complex, and gain of taste of what the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe may be planning next. Though nothing has been solidified, Charles hinted an arts center could be in the future for the tribe.

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