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House of Knowledge gets national attention

LITTLE BOSTON — The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe’s efforts to raise money for its House of Knowledge is starting to pay off in many, many ways.

A 2,000-mile bike ride this summer by two North End residents brought in $1,600. A politician’s tour of the reservation garnered a pledge of $25,000 to the project. This is in addition to the endless time and energy put toward writing numerous grant proposals, bringing in countless thousands.

And that’s just been in the past three months, totalling in nearly $600,000 pledged toward the campaign.

The tribe is halfway toward its nearly $5 million goal to construct the four-building campus on the Port Gamble Indian Reservation. Once complete, the site will include a longhouse, a new library, a career and education center and an elders center.

Volunteers involved in the effort held their quarterly meeting Oct. 23 at the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribal Center, discussing the latest fund-raising and upcoming events.

The tribe honored Kingston Junior High School teacher John Goar and student Leo Keliher, who both raised money for the project during a West Coast bicycling trip from Vancouver, B.C. to Mexico this summer. The duo traveled 2,000 miles in 20 days and raised more than $1,600.

Tribal members provided them with black and red jerseys with the S’Klallam logo and gave them both eagle feathers before their journey.

Later in the trip, the cycling duo came across another good sign on their trek while setting up camp at Deception Pass.

“Finding a golden feather in the camp site was a great omen,” Goar said. “I knew we were blessed.”

HOK project coordinator Laurie Mattson updated the volunteers on the latest fund-raising numbers.

Since the last update in June, groups and companies have given, pledged or are obligated to provide more than $590,000 to the project.

Businesses including Coca-Cola, Point No Point Casino and the Gates Foundation have all contributed or proposed a challenge grant.

The tribe has also received a grant for $200,000 from Washington State’s Building for the Arts grant in addition to a $1.173 million loan from United States Department of Agriculture.

Besides the flurry of paperwork for fund-raising, several tribal buildings on the government campus were demolished this summer and the library was moved to a new location within the campus.

This was done so construction could start for the longhouse, which was slated to begin Oct. 23, Mattson said.

Another big event for the campaign is tribe’s second annual “Winter Traditions,” an evening of Northwest coastal art, dance and dinner 6-9:30 p.m. Nov. 8 at the Burke Museum in Seattle.

Native American art will be displayed through a live and silent auction and the David Boxley Dancers will be performing.

Last year’s event raised nearly $40,000, Mattson said, and the tribe hopes to raise even more this year.

The event is open to the public and tickets are still available. Those interested can call Mattson at (360) 297-2646 for more information.

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