Olympia City Council is set to confirm plans to rename Priest Point Park to Squaxin Park during its regular session next Monday, April 25.
Proposed by the city’s Parks, Art, & Recreation Department and the Parks, Recreation & Arts Advisory Committee (PRAC), the resolution renaming the park acknowledges the original Native Americans who lived in the area, particularly the Steh-Chass people, who lived in this area before European settlers arrived.
“A Native name for the park will reflect its deeper history and enduring cultural significance, and appropriately acknowledge the Tribe’s continued and valued presence in our community,” said the city in a statement on its website.
The name “Squaxin Park” is a placeholder recommended by the Squaxin Tribe, but is not the final name that may be chosen by the council if they chose to pass the resolution.
PRAC held a public hearing March 17 to solicit public feedback on the proposal, inviting Charlene Krise, director of the Squaxin Island Museum, Library & Research Center, to share the park’s history and give a statement on behalf of the Tribe..
“We still carry the stories, the legends, the history that's associated to the area,” said Krise, also Squaxin Island Tribal Council’s Vice-Chairperson
Several community members voiced their support of the renaming, saying that it was a step towards reparation towards the native people.
“Renaming isn't reparation by a longshot for land taken, but is a commitment in truth-telling,” said Olympia resident Kathy Baros Friedt during the public hearing.
Other attendees pushed not only for renaming the park, but returning the land to the Squaxin tribe entirely.
“Please begin the process of exploring returning stewardship of Squaxin Park back to the Squaxin tribe,” pleaded Rev. Corey Parsons. “And may the renaming of this park be both a celebration and a reminder of the unfinished work of reparation.”
Olympia community members can now physically attend the council meeting at City Hall Tuesday next week, 7 p.m. or online as soon as the link is announced on the city’s online calendar.
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