‘The Story of T’Kope Kwiskwis Lodge’

Camp Parsons, which opened in 1919, was for many years the center of long-term camping in the Seattle Area Council.  Like most Scout Camps it had an honor society.  This first took the form of merely rating each camper as “honor” or, “distinguished camper.”  The rating was done by the Camp Staff.

In the late 1920’s the Order of the Silver Marmot was established as an Olympic Mountain hiking fraternity, based on trail and camp experience both at Camp Parsons and in the Olympics.  In the early 1940’s, the Order of the Silver Marmot evolved into a full dress honor society, complete with insignia, ceremonies, and officers.  The basis for selection into the order was Scouting skills, character, and leadership. Insignia of membership consisted of a Silver Marmot pin mounted in the center of a leather square which was suspended from a leather thong hung around the neck. Various degrees of advancement were earned by the senior campers and veteran members of the camp staff.  This advancement was shown by various colors of lacing around the edges of the leather square.

The purpose of the Order of the Silver Marmot was to recognize good campers and loyal staffers.  A reunion banquet was held once a year during Christmas break.

In October of 1953, the Chief Seattle Camping Committee officially adopted the Order of the Arrow as the highest camping honor in the Council.  Charter members were those members of the Order of the Silver Marmot who wished to transfer to the Order of the Arrow.  The first Ordeal Ceremony was held at Camp Long in West Seattle on March 2, 1954.  Since the tests of the Order of the arrow were similar to those of the Order of the Silver Marmot, charter members were required to participate only in the ceremony of the ordeal.  All charter members were those that transferred during 1954.  Chartered members were awarded a Silver Marmot pin to be worn on the OA pocket flap.  Any other Silver Marmot’s were given until 1955 to transfer without taking the full Ordeal.

At the first Lodge Banquet in December of 1954, the membership decided to call the Lodge the Silver Marmot Lodge, which translates to “T’Kope Kwiskwis” in Chinook Jargon.  They also decided that the neckerchief would be light blue with an embroidered Silver Marmot on the back.  Sam Eng designed both the neckerchief and the pocket flap design.  They were approved in 1956.

The first Brotherhood Ceremony took place at the Black Mountain Camp of the Mount Baker Council on March 25, 1955.  The first Vigil Ceremony was conducted by the members of the Quilshan Lodge on October 5, 1957 at Camp Omache.

At the 1958 Potlatch, the Lodge approved the construction of a ceremonial long house to be built at Camp Omache.  Our Lodge has printed a “Where to go Camping Book” since 1959, and the “Marmot’s Whistle” since March 1956.

Since our Lodge was formed, we have participated in countless Section Conclaves and National events.  Our Lodge has held Ordeals, Brotherhood Ceremonies, Banquets, Potlatches, Fellowships, and Fall Rallies since the mid 1950’s.  Our Lodge is also spoken of nationwide because of our long house and our pioneers in Northwest Coast dances and regalia.

‘The Story of the Longhouse’

Late in 1957, the idea of a Ceremonial Longhouse to provide an all weather area for Order of the Arrow Ceremonies, was born in the minds of some of the Lodge Leaders. Del Loder, former Lodge Advisor and National Committee Member, ascribes the inspiration to a particularly wet and nasty OA event in the fall of that year. The idea was presented to the lodge at the 1958 Potlatch and was approved by the membership. The Lodge Lay Adviser, Mr. Edmond Packard, was one of the leaders in the development of this program.

Following Lodge approval, Mr. Packard secured the services of Leland Hollo and his father Ben Hollo as Longhouse Chairman and Advisor. It was the efforts and inspiration of these men that caused the idea of a longhouse to become a reality. A primary concern for the lodge at that time was to build the building as authentic as possible using native materials. The design was of a Coast Salish style house used by the Quinault and other tribes of Western Washington. The 4 massive beams ran perpendicular to the length of the building and were supported by huge poles sunk directly into the ground. The Western Red Cedar used in the construction was taken from the surrounding forest on the Cascade Scout Reservation.In June 1959, Mr. Packard passed away. His widow requested that a memorial fund be established and then authorized it to help defray the longhouse construction costs. Since that time it has been known as the S. Edmund Packard Memorial Longhouse in honor of that Vigil Honor Arrowman, Lodge Lay Adviser and outstanding Scouter of this Council.

In June 1962, after countless Arrowman-hours of dedicated work through Chapter and Lodge work parties, the Longhouse was formally dedicated.

The Hillaire Entrance Pole

The main totem pole was designed by UW professor and curator of the Burke Museum, William Holm, a nationally known authority on Northwest Coast First Peoples. He made the design at the request of the Sahaptin Chapter who had won the privilege in a Potlatch attendance contest. The design is symbolic of the original five chapters of the Lodge. The top figures are Watchmen of the Sahaptin Chapter, the second figure down is a wolf of the Klahanie Chapter, the Eagle symbolizes the KwinKwinKuleg Chapter, the fourth is the Sun of the Sunyakwa Chapter and the Beaver is of the Hyas Eena Chapter. The lodge commissioned Joe Hillaire a master carver and activist of the Lummi Tribe to carve the pole in the Coast Salish style. The proud pole was erected and dedicated along with the longhouse in 1962.

1990’s Reconstruction

For many years the Longhouse performed its duty admirably. However, the limitations of the original design began to reveal themselves. The Longhouse was designed to be as authentic as possible using a pole and beam structure. Poles sunk directly into the ground, even if they are the hardy Western Red Cedar, began to rot and weaken the structure. In the winter of 1989-1990 accumulated snow buckled and destroyed one of the main support beams, and the roof suffered a partial collapse. The Lodge quickly mustered support and began to ask for donations to re-raise the roof. The project was quickly completed and two rededication ceremonies honoring the effort and the memory of Ed Packard were held at the Section W1-b Conclave and the Spring Ordeal of 1992. Even though reinforced, the challenges for the original design remained. Over the next decade the rot would become a safety hazard.

The End of an Era

The T’Kope Kwiskwis lodge has had a great blessing over the years: A traditionally built Longhouse for our ceremonies on the outskirts of Camp Omache. The Ed Packard Memorial Longhouse, built as an “all weather place for ceremonies”, has been a point of pride in our lodge in our lodge’s activities for many years. Unfortunately, over the last many decades, nature has taken its toll. The Longhouse could no longer stand by its self, and was held up by supports and cables. There was no question that the Longhouse, at this point, had to come down before something fell and destroyed the remaining structure.

Over the weekend of October 12th 2002, an opportunity arose. The logging company, currently working on the Camp Brinkley improvements, agreed to volunteer their equipment, experience and time to help us dismantle the Longhouse, with one catch: the workers were on schedule to complete work at Camp Brinkley within ten days, and they would have to the work before they left. This left the Lodge with a terrible burden: an opportunity to safely and at no cost dismantle the Longhouse but with little time to do so.

Bobby Pepka, the Lodge Chief at the time, found out about this opportunity late Monday night and agreed that yes it must be done. He immediately set out to put together a retirement ceremony for the Longhouse. By the end of the next day, the details had been finalized and the chapter chiefs were contacted.

On Saturday morning, the ceremony commenced. Pauline Hillaire and two other Elders from the Lummi tribe preformed the first half of the ceremony. All members in attendance walked from Brinkley to the Longhouse, followed shortly by two more Elders. When they reached the Longhouse they said a prayer and then sang a Lummi song. One of the participants preformed a special, traditional blessing to thank the Longhouse and everyone that contributed to it. After the ceremony all of the participants received a special bead dangle. This bead dangle represents several things: the four seasons, the four elements and the four stages of life. The center bead represents both a beginning and an end and each is over forty years old and hand carved, like the Longhouse. It also symbolizes a seed, ready to grow, much like the Lodge is dedicated to rebuild the Longhouse.