Opinion

Artifact returned to rightful owner

I have often spent time on the internet, searching the records for the McKiernan name. There are several famous McKiernans, including one who is a senator in Australia. We have conversed through e-mail a few times; another is a fiction author, Dennis McKiernan. I have talked to a few who live locally as well to see if we are related in some way. With a somewhat rare name, it is easier to find people who might be related.

I also have some artifacts and letters from grandparents, passed down a few generations, usually relative to how long the McKiernans have been in this country. The point is our need to establish a link to our past in order to better understand our future.

So now I move into something that really felt good. As many of you know, the Snoqualmie Tribe has opened new offices just across the street from the Valley Record office. They had an open house with several local dignitaries present. But for me, it was an opportunity to return a piece of their history.

In 1968, I was a young first-grader attending school at Snoqualmie Falls Elementary on the hill behind the mill. That year the entire school moved to new facilities, Snoqualmie Elementary School in Meadowbrook. According to several of those who know local American Indian history, that area was the site of many a hunting camp as well as a longhouse.

As an exploring young kid, it was natural to dig around in the dirt behind the newly constructed school and see what was there. As fate would have it, I uncovered a piece of a tribal connection to the past. It was a long cylindrical rock with one flat surface. Greg Watson, former Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum director and Native American historian, confirmed it was some kind of tool, probably to sharpen arrows or axes as well as for mashing grain or berries.

So at the age of 6, I packed that rock home. From house to house as we grew up, that rock moved with us. When I had my own place, along came the rock, sometimes prominently displayed and sometimes tucked back in a cabinet. For the last 15 years it has been sitting on a shelf in my garage.

I tried several times to give it to the historical museum, but was told it would just sit on a shelf and that it should go to the Tribe.

Last week I had my chance, thinking about the fact that the Snoqualmie Tribe's ancestors likely used that rock years ago on the plains of the Valley. I gave the rock to them during their open house and felt really good about returning this link to the past.

The point is this: as you explored the Valley, generations past or now, you may have come across similar items. Sure, you might be tempted to sell it on ebay, likely making a nice profit. But maybe you can do the same thing, return it and maintain a link to the past for someone. There are many areas people have found tribal artifacts in the Valley. To the Snoqualmie Tribe, each artifact holds deep sentimental value, similar to the watch that your grandfather once wore. Return it and let the Tribe continue to celebrate itspast.

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