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21 January 2005
Healing ceremony at ancient burial site

Tribal leaders held a healing ceremony last week at the site of an ancient Indian village in Washington State, USA.
    Construction work begun in August 2003 uncovered around 315 intact burials and thousands of bone fragments at the ancient Klallam village of Tse-whit-zen, parts of which have been dated at 2,700 years old.
    The Department of Transportation (DOT) were building pontoons for the replacement of the east half of the Hood Canal Bridge near Port Angeles when the burials were disturbed. Work stopped while archaeologists worked alongside the Lower Elwha Klallam to recover the human remains. Some construction workers attended the ceremony which was led by Tribal Chairwoman Frances Charles.
    Dan Starks said "I wanted to offer respect for the Natives I work with; they mean a lot to me, we grew up in the same town, went to the same schools, worked here at the same job. I could see this was hard on them; it would be hard on me."
    Dennis Sullivan, vice chairman of the Lower Elwha Tribal Council, said "How much this means, to have this support, to see the different nationalities and races standing there in support, this is great medicine for the Klallam people; we have suffered and been in such pain."
    Tse-whit-zen is the largest pre-European-contact village site ever found in Washington State, according to Larson Anthropological Archaeological Services who are analyzing the site for the DOT. Other finds include bone and antler artefacts, cooking pits, drying racks, areas where sacred red ochre was processed for ceremonial use, tools, points, fishhooks, ornamental objects and hundreds of stones etched with sacred teachings.
    Currently the future of the site is undecided.

Source: Seattle Times (16 January 2005)

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