The Quileute Tribe held a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the new tribal school on the morning of July 2. Due to limited parking, limited space at the site, and coronavirus restrictions, it was a small ceremony with approximately 50 people in attendance. All attendees were required to wear a mask.
Quileute elder and Shaker Church Minister, Tommy Jackson, opened the ceremony with a song and prayer.
Tribal Council Chairman Doug Woodruff welcomed tribal members and staff and spoke on the significance of this groundbreaking. Two architectural renderings of the new school were positioned to the Chairman’s right-hand side.
“Today is a good day,” stated Woodruff. “Today our dream becomes a reality. After almost a decade in the making, next week we start the construction of our brand-new school.”
In 2012, President Barack Obama signed legislation returning hundreds of acres of Olympic National Park back to the Tribe, which is located out of the tsunami and flood zone. The groundbreaking marks the beginning of the long-term Move To Higher Ground Project, which will see the relocation of not only the school, but the senior center, administrative buildings, and homes in the lower village.
“Relocating the tribal school to higher ground is truly a matter of life and death to the Quileute people,” Woodruff said. “I want to thank School Boards, past and present, and Tribal Councils, past and present.
Thank you to our elders, our community, and our staff for all their input on this school.” Chairman Woodruff then invited community members in attendance to say a few words.
Charlotte Penn, Quileute Tribal School Board Vice Chairwoman, expressed the board’s excitement. “We can’t wait to see the construction coming along. For our students that are here, I think there are a couple, this is what it’s for. It’s for our students. We’re so excited.”
Roger Jackson, Sr., an elder and former School Board Member, spoke of his involvement in the planning of the first Quileute school and stressed the importance of education for the Quileute people.
After tribal members had the opportunity to share their remarks, members of the La Push Shaker Church sang a blessing song. Woodruff and Penn, on behalf of the Quileute Tribal Council and School Board, each donned a hard hat
and broke ground.
This ceremony celebrates the Quileute Tribe’s perseverance to preserve their culture and secure their future for generations to come. Construction of the school officially began on July 6 and expected completion of the project is May 2022.