Pole dedication marks new year

 - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

LITTLE BOSTON — As each line is etched further into the cedar, Port Gamble S’Klallam carvers Jake and Floyd Jones draw a new connection between the students of Wolfle Elementary School and the tribe. A large symbol of that bond will soon be raised in front of the school in the form of a story pole the brothers have been working on since last spring.

Its dedication — a traditional pole raising ceremony and celebration of the pole — will be held Sept. 26, and all students who participated or attended the school while the story pole was being created are invited. In the meantime, Jake and Floyd Jones are putting the finishing touches on the carvings before the pole’s big debut.

“We’ve got sealer on and one wing on (the eagle) and it’s looking pretty good,” Floyd Jones said. “It’ll probably be a couple of weeks before it’s finished.”

That couple of weeks will be perfect timing for the celebration, which will feature speeches from tribal elders, singing, drumming and dancing and stories from Master Carver Jake Jones about each of the pole’s elements.

Wolfle students and first grade teacher Linda Middlebrook, who has been one of the driving forces behind the project, chose the three figures that were carved into the story pole. A watchman holding the Wolfle Elementary School crest on the bottom will watch over all of the school; an orca whale in the middle represents the Port Gamble S’Klallam students; and the eagle at the top illustrates the strength of the teachers and staff at the school. There are a few slight differences in this pole and others, the main one being the eagle’s wings don’t stretch out at a 90-degree angle, but rather tilt upwards in a V-shape.

While school was in session last year, students from different classes made the trek to the Port Gamble S’Klallam carving shed to see the work in progress. Middlebrook said that ceased this summer, but students were enraptured during the process and can’t wait to see the final product.

“I know when the kids went to see the pole, they would touch it and take wood chips away from the site to keep,” she said. “They really got a sense of pride in the pole, and I know seeing it up will give the school a sense of pride. I’m just so excited, I can’t wait to have it put up and raised here.”

Middlebrook has wanted to see some form of local tribal artwork at the school for about 11 years. This will cement the bond between the school, the students and the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, she said.

“It’s beautiful,” said tribal associate director Laurie Mattson. “It’s sure something the tribe and the community will be really proud of to have at the school.”

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