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Seattle, Washington) On Friday, February 20th, U.S. Senator Patty Murray helped dedicate a new feature at the Squaxin Tribe’s museum and learning center in Shelton.

Standing with tribal leaders, educators and children, Murray helped dedicate a new media wall that will help museum visitors understand the tribe’s history and will give tribal members access to new educational opportunities.

The high tech media wall will be used to video-conference classes and seminars from the Northwest Indian College in Bellingham. Working in the Senate, Murray provided $180,000 so the tribe can use this new technology to preserve its past and improve its future.

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Senator Murray’s remarks follow:

Thank you Ray for that warm and gracious introduction. I’m honored to be here today and to have the opportunity to experience this beautiful new museum and learning center with you. I want to congratulate Chairman Lopeman, [Tribal Chairman Dave Lopeman], members of the Tribal Council, Ray Peters, [Tribal Council Executive Director], Charlene Krise, [Museum Director], and Lorna Gouin, [Museum Vice Chair] for creating this world-class facility.

I’d also like to pay a special tribute to the tribal elders, who for more than 30 years, worked tirelessly to make this dream a reality. Your efforts will ensure that the culture, traditions and language of the “People of the Water” will continue for generations.

I also want to welcome those of you who are watching this dedication live from the Northwest Indian College in Bellingham. Last week, I met with your president, Cheryl Crazy Bull, to talk about how I can continue to support college opportunities for tribal members, and I’m pleased that you’re joining us today through some of the technology available here at the museum.

I know that this digital media wall will be an important resource both for the college and for this Tribe because it will allow you to connect with each other to share ideas and to promote learning.

I understand that in your native language, Squawksin means “in between” -- signifying this land that bridges Hood Canal and Puget Sound.

I think it’s fitting that this wonderful center acts as a bridge in so many ways. It’s a bridge between the Tribe’s rich cultural history and its bright future. It is also a bridge between the youngest members of the Tribe – who can learn about their history and heritage – and the Elders – who have so much to share. And this center is a bridge between the Tribal community and the general public. It’s a place where people from outside the Tribe can come to discover, learn, and understand.

Bridge to the Past

I’m really impressed by the way the museum honors the past by using modern techniques. For centuries, the history and traditions of this Tribe have been passed down from generation to generation through oral storytelling. And that tradition continues here with the amphitheater and digital media wall. But the museum also brings the history alive with displays and rare artifacts, with seminars and lectures, and with hands-on demonstrations. You’ve found creative ways to tell the Tribe’s history and to celebrate your spirit and culture.

Bridge to Young People

This center is also a bridge for young people – opening new opportunities for them. Here they have the tools to build a stronger sense of self and to appreciate the vast array of opportunities available to them. Computer stations allow children to explore everything from their family’s history to events around globe. The technology here gives young people new opportunities to learn and explore, and that is a great addition.

Bridge to the Community

And finally, the museum also promotes education beyond the tribal community, helping to create yet another bridge between different cultures. Here, tribal and non-tribal members can come together to share their stories and educate each other about the rich history and culture of this region. In a sense, you have given a gift to the general public. Visitors can and should come to experience firsthand the traditions that are unique to your Tribe and to this part of the Northwest. Education serves as the basis for cultural understanding, and I hope this facility will be shared by people of all different backgrounds.

In addition to what is inside this center, the outdoor surroundings serve as a reminder that the culture and history of this community is closely tied to the natural environment.

The plankhouse structure of this building, accentuated by the natural landscape and majestic view of the Sound, helps to reinforce the notion that this community has long been sustained by its ties to the water.

Let me again thank you again for sharing this beautiful new center with me today. I’m so proud to have helped provide the funding necessary to complete this facility and see the dream become reality. It is so important to establish facilities like these to preserve the history and traditions unique only to the Pacific Northwest.


Before I close, I want to invite all of you to stay in touch with me. I have an electronic newsletter that focuses on tribal issues. It’s a way for me to share what’s happening with tribal leaders throughout Washington.

I want to invite you to sign up for my tribal newsletters. You can give your name and email address to my staff or you can visit my website. The address is

I hope we can stay in touch, and continue the discussion we’ve had today. So in closing, I’m proud to help celebrate this center. It finally gives recognition to a people who have for so long influenced this region.

This “Home of Sacred Belongings” holds so much more than artifacts; it holds the spirit of this community. It’s a celebration of identity, and it is a triumph for tribal members and visitors alike to be able to share in the educational experience.

I hope it will be a gathering place in which the legacies of the past will shape a strong and bright future for the People of the Water for generations to come.