11.17.14: District renames meeting rooms in honor of Puyallup Tribe
11.17.14: District renames meeting rooms in honor of Puyallup Tribe
Posted on 11/17/2014

About two dozen school district employees and several members of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians attended the October 10 renaming ceremony and blessing at the Education Service Center. The administrative office is on the corner of Meridian Street and Pioneer Avenue.


The event featured the unveiling of the new names, Native American drumming, and a blessing by Connie McCloud, a Puyallup elder and cultural director with the Puyallup Tribe of Indians administration.


Chief Leschi Schools Acting Superintendent Al Zantua also attended and drummed during the ceremony, as well as the schools’ culture teacher Teresa Harvey.


McCloud and Harvey have been meeting with district leadership in recent months to help rename the meeting rooms, which are used for both district-related and public meetings.


The newly-named rooms include:


  • Mt. Tahoma Room, formerly Pioneer Room (Mt. Tahoma is the original Native name for Mt. Rainier)
  • Cedar Room, formerly Evergreen Room
  • Salmon Room, formerly Heritage Room
  • Salish Room, formerly Parkview Room


Plaques will be hung outside of each of the rooms to show the names in English and in Twulshootseed, the official language

of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. The plaques will also include a brief description of the symbolism or meaning of each name.


Brian Fox, executive director of communications, information, and arts education, welcomed guests at the renaming

ceremony to a conference room formerly known as the Pioneer Room.


Fox explained the room was named years ago “in recognition of those who came to the Puyallup valley, settled on the

land, and formed a place called Puyallup —a place named after the first peoples of this land, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians.”


He continued, “This valley is a good place, and we like living and working here in Puyallup. We are many different people

now, but this land originally was inhabited by the Native Americans we honor today.”


Names have special significance, McCloud said.


“When you give a place a name, it becomes alive,” she said. “There is a spirit in each of these symbols.”


The cedar tree, for example, can live to be more than 1,200 years old and occupies a large presence in the forest, she said.


“It is a symbol of wisdom — the teacher, the caretaker,” McCloud said.


It is difficult, McCloud said, for a storm to topple a full-grown cedar tree. Once it does fall, it takes many years to decay.


“It becomes a mother for new growth until it is returned to the earth,” she said. “The role of the tree is to teach us how to be caretakers around us.”


Mt. Tahoma, which stands for Mt. Rainier, represents the fall and winter seasons. During this time people prepare their homes for winter and finish gathering and hunting. They also weave, carve, and make tools and utensils, honor the mountains, prairies, and saltwater for what they provide, and tell stories.


Salmon represents spring, which is a time for growth, for frogs to sing, and for canoes to awake.


Cedar represents summer — a time to gather materials, salmon, and food, as well as travel, pull cedar bark, and visit families and friends.


The term Salish refers to the waters of the Puget Sound, the Salish Sea. The Coast Salish-speaking people are the first Native American groups in the coastal regions of the Pacific Northwest.


Artwork by Chief Leschi students will be displayed in the administrative office building, including a drum and a yellow cedar canoe paddle. Both art pieces displayed during the renaming ceremony are works in progress, and photos of the student work will be shared on the Puyallup School District website when they are completed.


A frog design on the front of the student-made drum is a symbol of good luck and good health, Zantua said.


Zantua’s partnership with the school district extends back many years. Among other things, he carved a canoe and welcome figure that are prominently displayed at the Karshner Museum and Center for Culture & Arts.


“I’m really happy that our students are in partnership with your schools,” he added.


 Superintendent Tim Yeomans thanked the Puyallup Tribe of Indians for the ongoing partnership with the school district      and for its assistance with renaming the rooms.


The district is also partnering with the Puyallup Tribe of Indians for other cultural exchanges, including music programs and cultural groups. A Puyallup Tribe exhibit will also be featured inside the entry to the newly renovated Karshner Museum and Center for Culture & Arts.


The museum will also be home to a Coast Salish exhibit, which is integral to a new third-grade Native American curriculum. House Bill 1495, signed into Washington state law in 2005, requires schools to teach about Washington’s Indian tribal history.


Harvey praised the school district for its work with Indian Education.


“You are ahead of people in honoring Indian Education,” she said. “I feel really honored to be a part of that.”


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