Bill aims to stop Transportation from selling Port Angeles graving yard without legislative OK
Peninsula Daily News

OLYMPIA -- A bill introduced Friday in the state House of Representatives would prohibit the Department of Transportation from selling or otherwise disposing of its abandoned graving yard property without legislative approval.

HB 2283 was co-sponsored by 13 lawmakers, including 24th District Reps. Jim Buck, R-Joyce, and Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam, as well as Rep. Bev Woods, R-Poulsbo, the ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee.

The 24th District includes Clallam and Jefferson counties and part of Grays Harbor County.

The last day for bills to get out of committee was Tuesday, but parliamentary procedures can rescue bills that a large number of legislators -- or influential ones -- want considered.

Old archaeological reports

The bill was prompted in part by the discovery of three archaeological reports written in 1991 and 1992 by Larson Anthropological and Archaeological Services of Seattle for construction projects at the former Daishowa America paper mill -- now Nippon Paper Industries USA -- west of the unfinished graving yard on Marine Drive.

The reports refer to the location of an ancient Klallam village site named Tse-whit-zen ``west of the present (1920) city of Port Angeles, just at the base of the spit.''

Larson is the archaeological contractor which studied the site around the time of an agreement last April between the state and Lower Elwha Klallam tribe.

It led digs on the 22.5 acres of state-owned properties over the summer, and the magnitude of the findings -- including about 300 intact skeletons as well as nearly 10,000 artifacts from the 2,700-year-old Tse-whit-zen -- surprised both professional scientists and tribal members.

That magnitude led the tribe to declare ``enough is enough'' to the Transportation Department last Dec. 10, and the agency canceled the graving yard project Dec. 21, at a cost of at least $58.8 million.

`Intriguing' 1991 study

``It's intriguing that Larson did a 1991 study that showed the approximate location of the cemetery,'' Buck said.

``So more than ever, we need to put the brakes on the disposition of the graving yard property.

``It's pretty intriguing that this information didn't turn up during the initial survey.''

In an interview Saturday night, Buck said that since the bill was introduced Friday after the deadline for bills to get out of committee, he didn't know how far it will proceed.

But exceptions to parliamentary rules are made every session if something important comes up, he said.

``We just dropped the bill to have a tool in case we need it,'' Buck said.

``[The $58.8 million] is a sizable amount of money, and the Legislature has not been consulted about what happened.

``It is the responsible thing for the Legislature to get an answer to this question before any further action is taken.''

Talks fail, Kessler said

Kessler said House Transportation Committee Chairman Ed Murray, D-Seattle, asked her to talk with Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald rather than introduce the bill.

But talking to MacDonald hasn't worked, Kessler said she told Murray.

She wouldn't elaborate.

Kessler said she doesn't know if Transportation intends to sell the property, which the agency purchased from the Port of Port Angeles for $4.8 million in 2003 -- while the project was idle between the discovery of remains in August 2003 and agreement with the tribe to restart last April.


Early 1990s archaeology reports tell of presence of Tse-whit-zen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES -- Three archaeological reports written in the early 1990s for construction projects at the Port Angeles paper mill concluded that the site was within the immediate area of the ancient Klallam village of Tse-whit-zen.

The construction areas -- at what is now the mill operated by Nippon Paper Industries USA -- were west of the state Department of Transportation's abandoned Marine Drive graving yard site.

Transportation shut down the graving yard project Dec. 21 after workers discovered hundreds of remains and thousands of artifacts from Tse-whit-zen and, in particular, remains from the village's cemetery.

But the reports in the early 1990s also concluded that no significant archaeological discoveries were made during construction of the mill's recycled-paper plant, electrical modernization project and chemical plant in 1991, and the mill warehouse building addition and sludge press building addition in 1992.

And a 1991 report says that the precise location of the Tse-whit-zen cemetery was unknown.

Larson Anthropological and Archaeological Services of Seattle wrote the reports in March 1991, June 1991 and February 1992.

Larson, under contract with Transportation last year, also retrieved remains and artifacts at the graving yard site until Transportation abandoned it at the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe's request because of those discoveries.

Archaeological description

The description of the archaeological investigations in the 1990s Larson reports echo those described by Bainbridge Island-based Western Shore Heritage Services.

Western archaeologists also investigated the site in 2003 -- before work on the graving yard began -- and found no remains or artifacts, it told Transportation.

Like Western Shore, Larson dug along utility lines and other previously disturbed areas -- but not underneath concrete and asphalt, where Tse-whit-zen remains and artifacts were later discovered.

Larson's early 1990s reports are on file in the Port Angeles Library's reference section and were retrieved by Peninsula Daily News on Saturday.

A distribution list for the June 1991 report includes both the Port Angeles and Seattle offices of Daishowa America (which since has been acquired by Nippon Paper Industries USA), the state Shoreline Hearings Board, Lower Elwha Klallam tribe, city of Port Angeles, the state Archaeology and Historic Preservation Office, and state Department of Ecology.

`At the base of the spit'

The reports refer to the location of an ancient Klallam village site named Tse-whit-zen ``west of the present (1920) city of Port Angeles, just at the base of the spit.''

They recommended that a professional archaeologist monitor all ``ground disturbing activities'' -- including relocation of utility lines or foundation excavation -- for the three construction projects on the Daishowa mill site.

The reports also recommend any future excavation below current fill be monitored by a professional archaeologist ``because there is such a high likelihood for hunter-gatherer occupations to have occurred on the Daishowa America Port Angeles mill property.''

The 48-page, March 1991 report states three ancient Klallam villages are recorded as being on the Port Angeles waterfront:

* Innis, at the site of the former Rayonier Inc. pulp mill.

* Tse-whit-zen, closest to the Daishowa America paper mill.

* An unnamed village at the mouth of Tumwater Creek.

The report states that the cemetery associated with Tse-whit-zen was located ``at least at some point in the history of the village, in the location of the mill complex, although the precise location is not known.''

Archaeological investigation was limited by numerous utility lines, extensive areas of fill and thick concrete foundations, the report stated.

The March 1991 report concluded that although the Daishowa site has been subject to industrial activity for 70 years, it still is an area that may contain ``significant cultural resources.''

It also states the Daishowa mill site ``overlies an area within the immediate traditional territory of the Klallam village, Tse-whit-zen, including the village cemetery.''

Construction activity around the Daishowa mill site has disturbed large areas of the property and large amounts of fill added in addition to concrete and asphalt, according to the March 1991 report.

Site of importance

The same report states that since a Klallam cemetery has been identified on the property and the site is one of the most likely for hunter-gatherer settlements, ``nearly any intact cultural resources which remain here may be significant.''

The report's conclusion ends by stating:

``We also believe that it is possible that cultural resources may be present in areas that have not been completely disturbed. Burial remains, however, whether they have been disturbed or not, must be addressed.''

Larson's 13-page, June 1991 report states: ``No potentially significant cultural resources were identified during archaeological monitoring of the recycling paper plant or electrical modernization plant project areas.''

But it also states that ``ground disturbing activities'' were primarily confined to previously excavated and filled areas.

``Although no potentially significant cultural resources were identified in the project area, we are unable to conclude that the remainder of the property maintains a comparable degree of disturbance,'' the June 1991 report concludes.

The February 1992 report's conclusion states: ``No potentially significant cultural resources were identified during archaeological monitoring of the mill warehouse addition and the sludge press addition project areas.

``None of the identified material appears to be eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.''

The 1992 report also notes the project area of the Daishowa mill warehouse addition has a long history of construction that might have destroyed evidence of earlier settlements.

But it also recommends archaeological monitoring of future construction projects on the Daishowa mill site.


1990 report accurately predicted location of Tse-whit-zen village and cemetery

Peninsula News Network


Port Angeles, WA - The community is still debating, and celebrating, the discovery of an ancient Klallam village on the Port Angeles waterfront.

But Peninsula News Network has learned that a much earlier archeological report actually previewed the “discovery” of the village and tribal cemetery. A report written by the same archeologist that helped to uncover Tse-whit-zen 15-years before the Department of Transportation wasted $60-million trying to develop the site for the Port Angeles dry dock.

The story begins in 1990, when Daishowa America was trying to firm up plans to construct a $40-million recycling plant, next to the company’s mill on Ediz Hook. The project was delayed for several months after the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe raised concerns that the expansion was happening in an area “rich in ancient Indian history and artifacts”, according to accounts in the Peninsula Daily News. Those stories included statements from tribal officials relating historical accounts of Klallams living on Ediz Hook and at the base of the spit, and even mentioned the 1940 newspaper story telling of the discovery of graves unearthed when the Washington Pulp and Paper Company mill was built in the 1920s, on the site of the DOT’s ill-fated project.

Through a series of negotiations involving Daishowa, the tribe and City of Port Angeles, an agreement was struck to perform an archeological survey late that year. That survey failed to turn up any evidence of artifacts, or remains, and eventually the tribe and Daishowa settled the dispute and the company built and opened the recycled mill in 1992.

On the surface, the story appears to end there, and so we thought when PNN first began researching the events a year ago. But deeper digging this week allowed us to identify and obtain a key report from public archives. A report that is both startling and ironic because of subsequent events here at the base of Ediz Hook. It is a report that nearly pinpoints the location ofTse-whit-zen and its cemetery, authored by the same archeology team brought in to work the DOT site after human remains were found.

The 48-page report was written by Larson Anthropological and Archeological Services, commonly known as LAAS. Archeologist Lynn Larson and her team were hired to investigate the Daishowa recycle mill site, an investigation that cleared the way for the construction of that mill in 1991.

It was also Larson who was hired by DOT to supervise the recovery of artifacts and bodies at the dry dock site under an agreement worked out by the tribe last year. It was Larsen and her team who judged the extent of the Tse-whit-zen discovery, calling it one of the “most significant” Native American sites ever revealed.

That phrase “significant” is exactly what Larsen had already used in her 1990 report saying that “known Klallam villages” may have “existed in their historic locations for 2000 years”. She said the area included Tse-whit-zen and its cemetery, and makes reference to longhouses, fish processing, burials and everything that has subsequently come to light. Larsen said in 1990, quote, “because an historic Klallam cemetery has been identified on the property”… “any intact cultural resources” could be “significant” and eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Larsen’s 1990 report identifies three local villages on record with the State Archeology office, at Hollywood Beach, the Rayonier Mill site and the mouth of Lee’s Creek. She doesn’t list Tse-whit-zen as an identified village on state records, but frequently quotes a 1920 research paper referencing Tse-whit-zen as “west of the City of Port Angeles at the base of Ediz Hook”.

Larsen says that researcher had said the “old village site was a “swampy place of considerable importance during aboriginal times” and goes on to say the location “was east of the mill complex and the lagoon outlet fronting the bay” Although Larsen could find no population estimates of Tse-whit-zen she quoted another researcher who referenced the location of cemeteries near the beach in 1927. She went on to the write, “the literature and local informants when speaking of the village and cemetery in the Daishowa America vicinity speak of the cemetery in the woods and the cemetery on the beach”.

Larsen also said “the cemetery associated with Tse-whit-zen was located, at least at some point in the history of the village, in the location of the mill complex, although the precise location is not known.”

Larsen even quoted well-known historian Harriet Fish, who wrote in 1985 about Captain Alexander Sampson, who’s got into an argument with the Klallams when his homestead claim included Tse-whit-zen and its cemetery. Fish died in the late 1990s.

But Larsen’s 1990 report also includes stories that have recently been at the heart of the dry dock dispute. 15-years before the present controversy, Larsen was quoting the 1940 Evening News accounts of the 1920s mill construction telling of “hundreds of Indian bones were disturbed… when ground was broken for the foundations”… “great numbers of bones were disturbed with evidence of battles having been fought there”

Larsen also talked with tribal elders Bea Charles and others who told her of the “big cemetery” at the base of the hook. She goes on to reference fish harvesting in the vicinity “although the precise location isn’t known”, forecasting the actual discovery of fish hooks and other artifacts uncovered from Tse-whit-zen last summer.

Larsen closed the 1990 report by recommending, because there’s a “high likelihood” for “hunter-gather occupations” that other subsurface excavations be monitored for cultural resources.

The report had a wide distribution list with copies being sent to not only the tribe, city and Daishowa but several state agencies, including Department of Ecology and the State Department of Historic preservation. But despite the critical and rather specific information about Tse-whit-zen and its cemetery, apparently the report was never brought to light by anyone prior to the DOT launching the dock project in the summer of 2003.

There are still several aspects of this story that we are continuing to investigate so stay tuned for further reaction and developments.



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