On the Occasion of “Celebration of Peace” Ceremony
New Squaxin Island Cemetery
March 13, 2009
LLyn De Danaan
Many years ago people met on the shores of South Puget Sound under extreme circumstances. Some had lived here 100s if not 1000s of years and understood the land and the animals and the habits and cycles of the fish and shell fish. They made a gentle livelihood, and it was a good one, from the land and sea. The others had come recently. Though perhaps individually innocent and guileless, they were nevertheless riding the crest of the wave of conquest and an ideology of possession and development called manifest destiny. The wave broke over the lives and cultures of the first group, submerging them but not destroying them– ever. The second group brought its own ideas of how to make do… western ideas of management… of fencing and planting…ideas that put iron and wheels between themselves, their skin, their souls, and the land and what they reaped. There was a meanness in this. An unkindness. A willingness to destroy, to burn, to lay waste to the lives of those who had been here in silent partnership with the abundance for generations. Even though no individual intended, perhaps, to be mean or unkind, these newcomers had not thought through what their actions meant to the lives of those whom they displaced and the land which they had overtaken.
Still, for some brief period, in this land upon which we stand today and on nearby shores, on Oakland Bay, Little Skookum, Big Skookum, and Oyster Bay, these very different people met and found common ground. They sang greetings to one another. They danced til dawn and married. They bore children. They helped each other split cedar and make buildings and exchanged recipes and medicines. People like Louisa Tobin and Jennie Krise helped babies to be born. People like Ann Kennedy witnessed marriages and adopted orphaned children, no matter what their parentage, and gave support to widows. The Slocums were engaged with the growing, changing community in which they found themselves at every level. They all helped each other do together what they could not do alone. And in this place, and for a time, they were truly friends. They were truly witnesses to each others lives. And this is why, for a time, they came, at the end, to lie together, bodies side by side sometimes, in small family plots and little graveyards. Often these were just clearings in the woods marked by stones and rocks and simple monuments. And in these plots and in the earth, they became a community in death as much as they were in life.
Today we stand upon truly sanctified ground that carries this will to be community together forward another generation.