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Where the Suquamish once lived

April 4th, 2004 · No Comments


Where the Suquamish once lived, there are boats in a marina. There’s a swan boat to rent by the hour: painted wooden curves. There are ferry boats run by the government: green and white stripes. There are sailboats and yachts cruising through the harbor on a sunny afternoon.

Where the Suquamish once spent summers eating shellfish on the shore, there are rocks on the beach someone set up in a spiral. Shells are few. Looking at the dock posts, I see barnacles and tube worms with a crab marching on top of them. I don’t see many clams. My daughter gathers bits of broken glass and gives them to me: a handful of sharp shards in brown, green and clear.

Where the Suquamish once camped on the coast to gather clams, there is a park with grass-covered slopes. There are young men playing basketball and talking on cell phones. There are women and children playing on a playground. There are homeless men with sleeping bag sacks sitting at picnic tables.

Where the Suquamish once gathered clams, shucking the shells in piles, there are white shells in stacks beside yellow oars inside chain link fence. There are Sanican restrooms in a row. There are tennis courts and trails. You can walk right past the cliffside. Right past the clamshell campsite. By the bits of white buried in dirt. And not see it.

You can walk into the park. You can put your face into the picture. Stick it there in the hole decorated with paint. You can stand there and pretend you were there. You can stand there and say I’m an Indian!


Tags: island