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Neah Bay Village Longhouse Commons

Here in Neah Bay, WA. we are building a Village Longhouse Commons along the planned Waterfront Trail on the Makah Indian Reservation in downtown Neah Bay. The Commons will include an open-air Longhouse with cedar plank roof and by an outdoor “gathering place” commons. The site is located on the beach, at the site where, since time immemorial, we have welcomed canoes arriving to our shores. By building a covered Longhouse we will create a year-round meeting center, a spot where people come together to drum, sing, and dance. It will include a performance space where traditional Makah dances and cultural activities can occur throughout the year. Makah artists will demonstrate traditional art forms, interact with visitors, and sell their art. We envision a destination that brings residents and visitors together to learn and to share; a place people go just to see what is happening, and a place to sit and enjoy the incredible view.

The Longhouse design will reflect our traditional architecture. It will be built mostly of cedar. Tradition guides the design and materials that we will use for the Longhouse and gathering space; a cedar roof, cedar woven mats, and cedar benches will provide protection from the elements and seating, as it did for our ancestors. We will work with the Makah Research & Cultural Center to lead intergenerational workshops that teach our youth how to harvest, carve, and weave cedar with ceremony and enhancing our deep connection with culture and place. Bone and other natural elements will embellish the Longhouse. With four carved cedar poles representing the four seasons and the cycle of life, the Longhouse will tell the story of Makah culture and values.

As of this month we got our press release out! The Peninsula Daily News ran the article in the edition printed on Sunday, June 9 and is available for view on their website www.peninsuladailynews.com. We are also informing and updating our Tribal Facebook and Tribal website www.makah.com to the community about our exciting news. Pomegranate is scheduled to come out on June 18th to meet with our Tribal Council members and team. We will also be meeting up again and going over our timeline we created for the Village Longhouse Commons.

The Longhouse Commons Team is excited to bring the community into this project as they will be able to join in by taking work shop classes and then being able to use those skills to help build the Village Longhouse Commons. The Village Longhouse Commons Team is also eager to bring the community into the decision process in addition to the build out to create the feeling of ownership when one owns an item, one tends to take pride in the care and upkeep on the item. The Village Longhouse Commons will be a place for our Makah people, tourist and guest to come and interact with each other by watching traditional dancing, singing, demonstrating or selling of art. Any event taking place around Longhouse to use during each season, regardless of the weather!

Designing the Village Longhouse Commons with the ability to function year round benefits our Village both economically and culturally, we have so many activities and events will happen within the Longhouse. Our Village is growing and to have the Longhouse Commons in the hear t of the Village is perfect everyone will be able to see what is taking place and feel invited in to experience it.

We hope to create community rhythm involvement momentums that will driver further projects.

Our project was recently highlighted in the Sunday edition of the Peninsula Daily News (6/9/13) for the entire story, click here.