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"(Jon and I) have to find some common ground for anything to work out in a positive way," Sullivan says. "Otherwise, we're going to go back to beating our heads against a wall. We are the reason this is going to be successful or fail. We both have a lot of people counting on us."
In June 1853, William C. Talbot sailed the 50-ton schooner Julius Pringle out of San Francisco toward Puget Sound. Talbot and his partners, including his brother-in-law Andrew Jackson Pope — both sons of Maine timber families — were searching for a prime spot to log and mill trees for the California Gold Rush.
They found a small, protected bay off the Hood Canal, a narrow fjord along the western edge of the Kitsap, where ships could easily load logs. Thick forests of colossal Douglas firs, 12 feet across at the base and 150 feet tall, stretched miles inland from the wide beach. By the end of the year, a steam-powered sawmill was humming away.
As the story goes, company agents encountered a band of S'Klallam Indians (sometimes called Clallam or Klallam) at the mill site and eventually persuaded them to move 1,900 feet directly across the water, to a spot named Point Julia. The company promised that, in exchange, "We will build you homes from this mill and you will have jobs. (The S'Klallam) were camped on shore; there were no structures there that we can tell," says Rose, during a one-on-one interview. "It was not, 'We're sending you out at knifepoint or gunpoint.' "
Port Gamble S'Klallam leaders remember things differently, arguing that the site was an ancestral village used for centuries. Both the mill and company town were originally called "Teekalet," a S'Klallam name meaning "brightness of the noonday sun," a reference to the way the water mirrored the big trees near shoreline. One oral history claims that the encamped band of Indians agreed to move only after being promised Christmas and gifts. An elder told a historian that they "didn't know what Christmas was, but it sounded good."
"I can't understand how it went down," says Sullivan, "but, in the end, there's a mill there, and our ancestral village was moved across the bay to Point Julia."
Whatever happened, the Pope & Talbot company founded a land empire centered at Port Gamble. The "lumber kings of the Pacific Coast," as the partners were called, acquired tens of thousands of acres — typically 160 or 320 at a time — through federal land grants, soldier allowances and laws meant to speed settlement and fend off British claims to the Pacific Northwest. The cost was never more than $2.50 per acre — equivalent to about $70 today.
By 1909, Pope & Talbot owned over 42,000 acres in Kitsap County alone, including much of the upland forests and shorelines around Port Gamble Bay. Next to the mill, they built a company town of quaint wood-frame buildings that so closely resembled the founders' Maine hometown, it looked as if it had been transported across the continent.
Indian rights were an afterthought, and their land claims were addressed retroactively by treaty — a process stacked against the tribes, who had no concept of private property. Through the 1855 Point No Point Treaty, the S'Klallam, Skokomish and Chemakum ceded rights to over 750,000 acres for $60,000 in government services, and agreed to move to a shared 3,800-acre reservation. Most of the S'Klallam eventually returned to old village sites, including Point Julia, which the federal government finally bought from Pope & Talbot in 1938 to create what is now the Port Gamble S'Klallam Reservation. (Today, there are three recognized bands of S'Klallam –– at Port Gamble, Jamestown and Elwha, spread around Hood Canal and the Olympic Peninsula.)
Such treaties did, however, guarantee Indians' rights to fish at "usual and accustomed grounds … in common with all citizens of the United States." But population growth, the advent of industrial fishing and canning, dams, and other development soon depleted fisheries and shellfish stocks and destroyed habitat.
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