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Mural paints new link between tribal members

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

LITTLE BOSTON — As always, master carver Joe Ives Sr. was more than happy to share his stories — though Friday morning they were special tales of a 10-foot wide by 8-foot high mural and its creation. The mural was dedicated to the elders of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe.

“Telling Stories and Sharing a Meal” made its debut during the ceremony, and is located on the administration building facing the elders’ center within the tribe’s House of Knowledge complex. It features an eagle and a raven sharing a salmon. The eagle is telling the raven a story. The two are bordered by children’s faces, each one bearing the name of a carver who helped on the project.

“I want to dedicate this mural to all the carvers who have done work on it during the last three months,” Ives said. “It’s dedicated to the elders, us elders. It’s a real nice project to work on.”

The project started in early April after he applied for a $6,500 grant from the Smithsonian Museum’s National Museum of the American Indian, which has approved numerous grants around the nation for similar programs, said NMAI community and constituent coordinator Keevin Lewis.

“This has been a remarkable experience to be able to be here and see the kids, the carvers and the elders,” he said. “I’m just very grateful to be here on your land and see where your people come from. I look forward to telling stories and sharing a meal with you later.”

The tribe’s song and dance group performed during the dedication ceremony, filling the tribal center with the welcoming song, the paddle song and the love song, in honor of the work applied to the carving. Ives and Lewis each presented gifts to others who had been involved, honoring their support of the project. Each carver received a certificate from Lewis, and stories and advice from Ives during the project. Ives also presented the youngest participant, Rayna Ives, 11, with her first carving knife.

“When she would talk, she would ask, ‘Is it break yet?’ or, ‘Is it time to go home?’” Ives said with a laugh. “But (carver Jimmy Price) tells me she would go home and carve in the evenings.”

“He’s a real talented guy,” said Tribal Chairman Ron Charles of Ives. “In addition to being a master carver, he’s a talented musician, too. I’m not surprised... The thing that sets Joe apart is his willingness to share with others.”

The carvers he shared his experience with during the project were Jimmy Price, Rayna Ives, Angel Ives, Paul Hebert, Kevin Jones, Danny Repada, Daniel Swift, Ray Ives, Laura Price and Charles. Each carved their own name near a face on the border of the mural.

“The eagle and the raven represent our elders and the stories they passed on to us,” Ives said. “Our mural, ‘Telling Stories and Sharing a Meal,’ it shows how we keep our history.”

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