Kitsap uncovered

Kitsap Totem poleFurther roaming on the Kitsap Peninsula uncovers a cultural smorgasbord although, historically, this is the ancestral land of the Suquamish, Skokomis, Chemakum, S’Klallam and Toanhooch tribes and the home of Sealth, who is better known as Chief Seattle after who the Pacific Northwest city is named.

Chief Seattle is buried in the Suquamish Memorial Cemetery on the Port Madison Indian reservation and his memory honoured each year on Chief Seattle Days, held in Suquamish over the third weekend in August. I drive to Old Man House Park to see the chief’s home and the Suquamish Museum and Cultural Centre to see ancient baskets, carvings and documents and cultural artifacts. 

There’s nothing morbid about my side trip to the S’Klallam cemetery near Port Gamble, where graves are set around a central totem pole, each resting place festooned with colourful personal memorabilia including photos, tinsel, toys and even the odd vehicle number plate or road sign.

Point No Point in Kitsap’s far north is the name given an expanse of beach covered with driftwood and fringed by forest and wetlands. It was named for its deceptive appearance, which often fooled unsuspecting navigators.  Others were also fooled. A plaque near the Point No Point lighthouse commemorates an 1855 treaty signed on this spot a mere four years after the first white settlers set foot in the Seattle area. The treaty ceded vast tracts of Indian land – “from the crest of the Olympic Mountains to Puget Sound” – to the US Government. In return, the resident Indian tribes got small reservation and hunting rights plus a sum of money, to be paid out over many years.

Port Gamble store

Port Gamble store

Scandinavian heritage is a dominating theme in the trim little village of Poulsbo on Liberty Bay, also known as “Little Norway” and fine-tuned to tourism with a trio of marinas and a street of galleries, gift shops, cafes and the “famous” Sluys bakery.

Poulsbo’s annual lutefisk dinner celebrates a traditional Norwegian dish of reconstituted white-fleshed stockfish. It’s an acquired taste. Much more to my liking is the Marine Science Centre with its jelly fish exhibit and saltwater touch tank.

Puget Sound’s top marine treasure is the geoduck, pronounced “gooey duck”. It’s the world’s largest burrowing clam, with a neck that can grow as long as a metre. The geoduck is also the second longest-living animal organism after the Galapagos tortoise. I watch crates of them being unloaded from fishing boats in Brownsville harbour. These clams usually end up in chowder although the neck can be eaten sliced thin and raw, like sashimi.

Kitsap harbour

Marina, Bainbridge Island

Handmade, homemade or homegrown is the trinity of criteria for all things sold at the Bainbridge Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings from April to October. It’s the biggest of the various weekly markets on the peninsula and provides an excellent showcase of peninsula endeavour. 

I mix and meet friendly locals and sample fruits and berries, artisan breads and cheeses, vegetables, local tuna, eggs, pies, cakes and biscuits, jams, honey, island wines and local craft beer.


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