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Shelton Mason County Journal
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December 11, 2014     Shelton Mason County Journal
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December 11, 2014
 

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Page A-4 - Mason County Journal - Thursday, Dec. 11,2014 KOMEN COMMENT Writer of 1857 book recounts Washington Territory's early days Meet James Gilchrist Swan. In December 1852, Swan arrived in Shoal- water Bay, and this area we now call home was never the same. A meaningful introduction would be to pick up a copy of a book he wrote in 1857 -- "The firearms among Indians during times of peace is more likely to provoke hostility than anything I know," he wrote. He was with Isaac I. Stevens when, as governor of Washington Territory, he made treaties with the coastal Indian tribes. Northwest Coast, or, Three Years' Residence in Washing- ton Territory." Therein, you will taste life as it was for adventurers, set- tiers and vagabonds who came here and disturbed the natural order of things. Exploitation was the order of the day. Take, for example, Shoalwater By JOHN Bay (now called Willapa KOMEN Bay). It was "one vast He submitted his "Haida Indi- ans of Queen Charlotte's Island" to the Smithson- ian Institute. Artifacts he gathered became the basis of the National Museum's Northwest Indian collection. Swan knew and wrote about the Clallam Indi- ans and was acquainted with other Northern In- dian tribes. He recorded accounts of wars among bed of oysters exposed twice daily by low tide." Within a generation, the oysters were gone, the beds stripped to depletion. The tiny, tasty bivalves were shipped by the ton to meet demands of the unquenchable markets in Califor- nia. But Swan was not among the exploiters. He was a scholar, writ- er, collector of Indian artifacts, guardian of Indian culture and historian. He was also a dreamer. "He speculated that Shoal- water Bay would some day be of great importance as a world harbor," wrote one of Swan's biographer-admirers. Swan once served as a private agent for a railroad, banking on the proposi: tion that Port Townsend would be its terminus. Swan never struck it rich. But his legacy is priceless. He left us with troves of data and memorable images of West Coast Indian tribes. For four years, from 1862 to 1866, he was in charge of the Makah Indian Agency at Neah Bay. As a result, he wrote "The Indians of Cape Flattery," including a chapter on the Makah vocabulary. "I knew the Makahs well enough to believe myself safe," he wrote. "I had been careful never to lie to them." And he was careful never to threaten them. "I carried no weapon when I went among the Indians," Swan wrote. "I have al- ways found that a civil tongue is the best weapon I can use." He excoriated those who would go heavily armed among the tribes. "The promiscuous wearing of Indian tribes. He especially fo- cused on the customs and life of Indians he knew in and around the Port Townsend area. Port Townsend became his home in his latter years. He was elected justice of the peace and began practicing law. He later won the office of judge of the Pro- bate Court of Jefferson County and for the rest of his life was known as Judge Swan. He never lost his zest for col- lecting. A famous photograph of Judge Swan shows him seated in his "studio" surrounded by Indian art and artifacts. The Depression of 1893 dev- astated Port Townsend and, in turn, impoverished Swan. He was forced to sell everything just to survive, and finally, broken in health and devoid of resources, Judge James Gilchrist Swan died destitute May 18, 1900. He was 82. Northwest historian Lucille McDonald wrote of Swan: "Today every bit of memorabilia about him is zealously guarded in li- braries and museums of the Pa- cific Northwest. He bequeathed a legacy of knowledge." Most important to all of us, he left his wonderful book of our region's past -- "The Northwest Coast." John Komen, who lives on Ma- son Lake, was for 40 years a re- porter and editor, TV anchorman, national television correspondent, producer, columnist, editorial writer, and commentator. His col- umn, Komen Comment, appears each week in the Mason County Journal. County JOURNAL EDITORIAL e Two high-profile cases pleased to hear about new praise education. His par- involving police of- Shelton Police Chief Dar- ents were both teachers. ricers in New York rin Moody's first directives He's pursuing a master's and Ferguson, Missouri, to city officers, degree in homeland securi- have sparked a national "Got out of your car. ty from American Military conversation about race That's what I tell them," University. He wants to and law enforcement. Moody told the Journal establish a program where Protesters across the during a recent interview, officers read to students country -- including Se- "The reality is if you get or help with after-school attle -- have marched out of the car, you learn a programs. through city streets, orga- lot more." That's exactly what our nized "die-ins" and staged Once upon a time, beat community needs -- some- events to voice their con- cops were the standard body who's willing to ne- cern over the deaths of two on city streets across the gate the stigma associated black men. Both deaths country. We support see-with law enforcement and came at the hands of white ing policing that can break build strong relationships police officers. Grand ju- down barriers and an "us- among residents and their ries tasked with determin- versus-them" mentality, police officers. ing whether to indict the Whether it is foot pa- We hope Moody follows officers found that there trols or partnering withthrough with his lofty was no reasonable cause local nonprofit organiza- goals, as we believe the to do so, sparking outrage, tions, Moody said working first step in establishing sadness and confusion, with community members trust between community Regardless of your feel- through education is a members -- rich, poor ings on the decision, we big focus as he takes over and everybody else -- is can all agree that public his new position. He wasthrough open communica- safety is important in com- sworn in last month, tion and community in- munities. That's why we're Moody doesn't just volvement. LETTER TO THE EDITOR Stand up for what's right The Journal encourages original letters to the editor of local interest. Diverse and varied opinions are Editor, the Journal welcomed. We will not publish letters that are deemed I am writing this today libelous or scurrilous in nature. All letters must be signed because the last time I and include the writer's name, address and daytime wrote my opinion on some- phone number, which will be used for verification thing, I was scolded by a family member, purposes only. All letters are subject to editing for Well, I am here to tell length, grammar and clarity. To submit a letter, email you that it is not only my letters@masoncounty.com, drop it off at 227 W. Cota God-given right to do so, but St., or mail it to P.O. Box 430, Shelton, WA 98584. isn't this what our men and women fight for every day? cording to the laws of the your permission? The only We live in a country safe constitution, but nobodyreason they get away with from tyranny and oppres- cares. The reason nobodythis is because the police sion, which offers freedom cares is because it is not department, CPS, judges of speech and the right to happening to them. It was or even some doctors work have an opinion. If you don't sure a surprise to us. together. I have proof of like it, don't read it. Also, we no longer have this from the research I I'd also like to know a system in which you are have had to do. People, we what has happened to the innocent until proven guilty, have to start working to- constitution of the United You are guilty of the crime gether if this is ever going States of America. When is because the detectives won't to change. Please join me it OK for law enforcement detect anything past their and become a soldier for or any judicial entity to noses. Even when other peo- what is good and right. break the Fourth Amend- ple are involved, they turn I believe in God and feel ment, the First Amend- the other cheek because they that this is part of my mis- ment or whatever else are good buddies with some- sion. I will no longer let they want to do? We've one in the Child Protective these people bully me or experienced this in our Services (CPS) system, scare me into submission. lives recently and still are. By the way, do you Remember, this is only We are being followed, our know that it is against the my opinion. phones have been tapped, law for CPS to enter your and we have been treated house or remove your chil- Penny Tibbits unfairly and unjustly ac- dren without a warrant or Union Journal Letter Policy USPS 492-800 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Mason County Journal, RO. Box 430, Shelton, WA 98584. Published weekly by the Mason County Journal at 227 W. Cota St., Shelton, Washington. Mailing address: RO. Box 430, Shelton, WA 98584 Telephone: (360) 426-4412 Web,site: www.masoncounty.com Periodicals postage paid in Shelton, Washington. The Mason County Joumal is a member of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association. SUBSCRIPTION RATES: $37 per year for Mason County addresses, $51 per year in the state of Washington but outside Mason County and $61 per year out of state. Owned and published by Advertising: Composing room: Shelton-Mason County Joumal, Inc. Dave Pierik, sr. acct. executive William Adams, graphics TomHyde, publisher Kathy Brooks, ad representative Linda Frizzell, graphics Lloyd" Mullen, ad representative Newsroom: Adam Rudnick, editor Natalie Johnson, reporter Gordon Weeks, reporter Emily Hanson, sports reporter Dawn Geluso, proofreader Front office: Donna Kinnaird, bookkeeper Amanda Strand, cimulation All editorial, advertising and legal deadlines are 5 p.m. the Monday prior to publication. To submit a letter to the editor, email letters@masoncounty.com.