Suquamish artists join Vikings at festival village | Viking Fest 2013

Meet noted Suquamish weaver Betty Pasco, her artist husband Duane, and other artists and artisans at Viking Fest, Saturday and Sunday.  - Richard Walker
Meet noted Suquamish weaver Betty Pasco, her artist husband Duane, and other artists and artisans at Viking Fest, Saturday and Sunday.
— image credit: Richard Walker

POULSBO — Two groups were crucial to the founding of Poulsbo — the Norwegian settlers who immigrated, and the ancestral people of the Suquamish Tribe, according to Viking Fest organizer Ron Krell.

Krell said he wants to celebrate the two heritages side-by-side at Viking Fest, beginning Friday afternoon.

Krell said the friendly reception from the Suquamish people “made a tremendous difference in the successful founding of [Poulsbo]."

This is the first year there will be a formal Suquamish presence at Viking Fest, something Krell and Janet Smoak hope to build on. Smoak is director of the Suquamish Museum, and sent out the message to Native crafts- and tradesmen to come down to Waterfront Park.

“We’re all excited,” Smoak said. “People are glad we’re doing this … They’re excited to know we’re trying to find a foothold and be a part of the fest every year.”

Smoak said several artists expressed interest in setting up shop to demonstrate and sell their work.

Artists such as Betty and Duane Pasco will be present. Betty Pasco is a well-known Suquamish elder and wool and basketweaver. Duane Pasco has been carving in Northwest Coast Native-style art since the 1960s, including canoes used by Suquamish Tribe members in the annual Canoe Journey.

Duane Pasco said he and Betty haven’t had time to set up art demos, but will be at the festival to promote their nonprofit, the JayHawk Institute, founded in fall 2011. The organization’s mission is to learn, conserve, and share the enduring legacy of Pacific Northwest indigenous cultures. Betty Pasco said they will sell some of Duane’s artwork, his new book “Duane Pasco, Life as Art,” and other items to raise funds for the institute.

This will also be the first Viking Fest for Duane Pasco, who recently turned 81.

“I think it’ll be great,” he said. “Since it’s my first experience, it’s going to be interesting.”

Smoak said she and Joey Holmes, the museum’s education facilitator, will be at the festival every day to represent the museum and Suquamish history.

“From our perspective, success will be [that] we are able to have that presence there,” she said. “Viking culture died out a long time ago, but Suquamish [culture] still lives to this day.”

She said there have been a lot of opportunities to partner with Poulsbo lately, and she wants to continue on that journey to engage more “with the peninsula.”


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