My good friend and former Amazon Music colleague Thomas May — a freelance arts and theatre writer and proprietor of Memeteria.com — was in Port Angeles, Washington, the other day. Knowing, of course, of my address nerdery, he sent me these photos he took of street signs at the corner of W Front Street and N Oak Street:
I was delighted and asked if I could use his photos on Writes of Way. He agreed, and this is the resulting post.
It seems that these Klallam-language signs were installed in 2016 at the N Oak Street/W Front Street and N Oak Street/W Railroad Avenue intersections as part of the redevelopment of the Port Angeles waterfront and as a way to honor the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, whose traditional land this is. (The village of č̕ixʷícən was located where downtown Port Angeles is now.) There are similar street signs on the Lower Elwha and Port Gamble S’Klallam reservations, but these are the only ones I am aware of in the middle of a city.
I would love to see something like this in Seattle, whether that be bilingual street signs or signs giving the Lushootseed names of various locations around town — or both. Perhaps someday.
Born and raised in Seattle, Benjamin Donguk Lukoff had his interest in local history kindled at the age of six, when his father bought him settler granddaughter Sophie Frye Bass’s Pig-Tail Days in Old Seattle at the gift shop of the Museum of History and Industry. He studied English, Russian, and linguistics at the University of Washington, and went on to earn his master’s in English linguistics from University College London. His book of rephotography, Seattle Then and Now, was published in 2010. An updated version came out in 2015.