Snoqualmie Tribe unveils two new trails
June 19, 2013
By Michele Mihalovich
After five years in the making, the Snoqualmie Tribe unveiled the Traditional Knowledge Trail and Rain Garden Landscape path June 8.
The Star attended the guided tour held at the Knowledge Trail, on the corner of North Bend Way and 372nd Avenue Southeast, near the casino, and was greeted, along with about 15 other attendees, with a table set up at the trailhead of traditional Pacific Northwest Native American fare of fresh and dried berries, hazelnuts, smoked salmon and elderflower tea.
Before the tour began, Angela Wymer, Snoqualmie’s tribal language director, who was flanked by former tribal Council Chairwoman Shelley Burch and habitat monitoring and restoration technician Jason Mullen, said a prayer in the traditional Lushootseed language in a Snoqualmie dialect.
A giant 200-year-old Douglas fir is the first plant to welcome visitors on the trail, which is about one-third of a mile long.
Plant specialist and cultural adviser Heidi Bohan led the guided tour clutching a large basket filled with items she used to demonstrate how tribes used to utilize flora in forests.
The longest stop was at a Western red cedar tree, which she referred to as the Tree of Life.
“It provided everything except food,” Bohan said.
She brought out traditional carvings and ax handles that the Snoqualmie would have created from cedar trees. Plank houses were built with cedar, as were canoes. The thick outer bark was used for berry baskets, while the inner bark, once soaked, was used to create baskets, clothing, hats, cradle liners, blankets and even diapers, Bohan said.
Tokul, Bohan said, means “the soaking place,” and Tokul Creek might have been where the Sno-qualmie went to soak the cedar fibers.
Cedar was also used to clean the skin, and for medicinal purposes.
Bohan led the group though the winding path in the woods, explaining the uses for everything from salal to wild Lily of the Valley, Cascara bark and stinging nettle.
A couple of the stops even included hot cups of horsetail and Devils Club teas, dried cakes of salal berries and yarn she dyed using Oregon grape bark.
The trail, funded by the King County Conservation District and the tribe, is not only for the general public to learn about how tribes used the forest plants in their daily lives, but it’s also for Snoqualmie tribal members.
Wymer explained to the group that the tribe is at high risk of losing its language.
That is why there are 24 trail signs along the path that include photos of the plants, along with their common names and drawings of how tribes used them, but also the traditional tribal names.
She worked with the elders to find the names, and get the proper pronunciation. All along the trail, Wymer would say the Lushootseed name for plants, and said that one day soon she hoped to include a recorded pronunciation of the names on the tribe’s website, so tribal members could hear and learn it.
The second trail, the Rain Garden, is to educate people on a different level, Bohan said.
That path is designed to show people how to landscape, using 100 percent native plants.
“It’s designed to catch storm water runoff and it’s an example of how to landscape beautifully with lots of plant diversity,” she said. “There are some artifacts, but it is more about the plants. The fact that it’s all native plants makes the Rain Garden very unique, a real standout.”
If you go: Rain Garden Landscape path guided tour, 9-10 a.m. June 22, 9416 384th Ave. S.E., Snoqualmie. (On the Snoqualmie Tribe Environmental and Natural Resources Department building property)
Michele Mihalovich: 392-6434, ext. 246, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.snovalleystar.com.