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Lodge Breaks Ground on Longhouse
2010fallordeal001Almost eight years after the old longhouse was lovingly deconstructed, Saturday September 11th marked a huge step forward in building its replacement. Following the Ordeal ceremony hundreds of lodge members, friends and family watched as ground was broken in the construction of the new larger structure.

The morning saw candidates and current arrowmen working together to clear the longhouse site in preparations for that evening's festivities. It was a day of ceremony as all persons in camp gathered and paused at 8:46 am at the longhouse site in a moving flag ceremony to remember those who had perished on September 11th 2001. Work then continued until early afternoon.

The groundbreaking was officially started at 5:30 by Master of Ceremonies Chris Z calling the group together and thanking the special guests in attendance. After an invocation from Inductions Vice Chief Logan C, Lodge Chief Brian S gave a history of the project and spoke of the importance of the longhouse to the 1st Peoples of the Northwest Coast.

Brian then performed the Chief's Welcome Dance with help from the lodge's ceremonies team. This special dance is historically the welcoming dance of the northern First Peoples such as the Tlingit, Tsimshian, Heiltsuk and Haida. It is performed by the Chief to honor the guests at a gathering. The dancer wears an elaborate headdress featuring a carved frontlet that displays the crest of his clan inlaid with abalone. Flicker feathers may also adorn the head. A crown of walrus whiskers, sea lion whiskers, or whale baleen tops the frontlet. Eagle down is then nestled inside the crown. During the dance, the chief's head bobs up and down to the steady rhythm of the drums, causing the down feathers to spill from the crown and float to the ground at the guests' feet. This action symbolizes peace and tranquility and is a welcoming gesture to honor the guests. The headdress is finished with a long train of ermine skins in their winter color of white. The T'Kope Kwiskwis lodge received the privilege to perform this dance in 1961 from the Chilkat Dancers of Haines, Alaska. Reintroduced to the lodge in 1990, it has been performed annually by the lodge chief since. This was by far the most important performance of the dance since the longhouse was taken down.

Bruce Anderson the Chief Architect for the project explained the look and makeup of the new building; how the new trusses will run the length of the longhouse, similar to those found in Canada and Alaska. This design provides a more open feel, and will not limit views of the audience. Then Sharon Moulds, the Scout executive for Chief Seattle Council and the Supreme Chief of the Fire spoke to the audience about service and helpi2010fallordeal002ng others.

The highlight of the ceremony was the blessing of the site and dedication of the Hillaire Entrance pole. Joe Hillaire was a master Lummi carver and a friend of the lodge. His daughter, Lummi Elder and author Pauline Hillaire, who conducted a ceremony of blessing and thanks at the de-construction of the old longhouse, was scheduled to be at the groundbreaking but regrettably could not make it due to health reasons. Pauline's daughter Debbie Covington Paul and Master Carver Felix Solomon represented the Hillaire family and conducted the blessing of the site and of the newly named Hillaire entrance pole.

The event culminated in the actual ground breaking, where members of the lodge and special guests, including the youngest member, who had just gone through his ordeal, turned the loam to signify the start of next phase of the project.

We would like to thank the Longhouse Committee especially the Chairman Peter H and Lodge Chief Brian S., members of the Lodge Ceremonies team, Steve Lum for providing the sound system, Mike Gaylord and Mike Kelly for providing the flag pole at the site for the 9/11 observance, our good friends Felix Solomon, Debbie Covington Paul and Pauline Hillaire for their essential contributions to the event, Randy Guzzardo who oversaw the tasty prime rib feast, our distinguished guests from the Chief Seattle Council including Sharron Moulds, Joyce Johnson for creating the unique memento of the day and the new Ordeal members and Ordeal Staff who worked hard all day to make this ceremony a reality.