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October 24, 2013

Old Man House Collections Come Home

Burke Museum delivers centuries-old artifacts to the Suquamish Museum
Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

Seattle – On Tuesday, October 29, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture will deliver hundreds of centuries-old artifacts to the Suquamish people.

The artifacts come from the Old Man House village site, where archaeological evidence indicates people have been living for thousands of years. Located on the shores of Agate Passage, Old Man House is the largest known longhouse in the Salish Sea. An historic winter village of the Suquamish Tribe and ancestral home to Chief Sealth (Seattle), the longhouse was burned down by the U.S. government in the late 1800s.

The artifacts were collected from the Old Man House village site and surrounding areas during a University of Washington archaeological investigation in the 1950s. The collection includes hundreds of artifacts, including harpoon points, gun flint stones, smoking pipes, adze blades, glass, and a bone pendant. For decades the Burke Museum curated the collections for the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission (WSPRC), the agency that owned the property at the time of the excavation. In 2004, the WSPRC transferred ownership of The Old Man House State Park, along with the collection, to the Suquamish Tribe. For the past nine years, the Burke Museum has been caring for the Old Man House village site artifacts on behalf of the Suquamish Tribe while they were in the midst of building a new museum.

“The Burke Museum is honored to have cared for the collections during the building of the new Suquamish Museum,” Dr. Peter Lape, Burke Museum curator of archaeology, said. “We are excited to return the collection to them.”

“I am grateful to the excellent staff and dedicated leadership team at the Burke who partnered with us to care for this collection during our period of expansion,” Janet Smoak, Director of the Suquamish Museum, said. “We look forward to a continued partnership with the Burke Museum in sharing Suquamish history and culture.”

The objects returning home to Suquamish is cause for great celebration. The vision over the past decade that resulted in the new Suquamish Museum facility included the desire for a storage area capable of storing and caring for Suquamish objects entrusted to the care of other institutions. The Museum facility, just over a year old, features a state of the art climate controlled environment for storage and exhibition. The objects representing activity at the Old Man House Village site over the past two thousand years will be featured to help illustrate Suquamish Culture in the premier exhibit, Ancient Shores Changing Tides. Over time, individual pieces will also help share individual aspects of Suquamish life and work throughout time in the gallery designed for rotating exhibits.

Please visit the Suquamish Museum website for more information about the museum, www.SuquamishMuseum.org

For high resolution photos or interviews, please contact burkepr@uw.edu.


Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

The Burke Museum is the premiere museum of natural history and cultural heritage in the Pacific Northwest. The museum is responsible for Washington State collections of natural and cultural heritage and sharing the knowledge that makes these objects meaningful. Located on the University of Washington campus, the Burke serves its community with collections, research, exhibitions, and educational programs in three scientific divisions: anthropology, biology, and geology. The Burke holds nationally ranked collections in each of these divisions and is particularly well known for Northwest Coast and Alaskan Native art, holding the country’s fifth largest such collection. The Burke is a leader in developing collaborative exhibits and programs with partner communities throughout the Pacific.

Suquamish Museum
A new museum facility, completed in 2012, houses the Suquamish Museum and Cultural Center just up the hill from the Old-Man-House village site. Set in a natural landscape of native plants, the space reflects the traditional Big House architecture of the Coast Salish. This Silver LEED building houses the Suquamish Tribe’s collections of artifacts, photographs, and manuscripts. The public areas offer permanent and temporary exhibition spaces, research space, education rooms, and a museum store.

(206) 543-9762; FAX (206) 616-1274

A bone pendant collected from the Old Man House village site. This is one of many artifacts going to the Suquamish Museum on October 29.
Photo courtesy of the Burke Museum Archaeology Division.