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Seattle council approves returning Upper Skagit tribal artifacts

The artifacts were discovered in 2013 during the Newhalem Gorge Inn Restoration Project.

SEATTLE — The Upper Skagit Tribe will have 270 artifacts returned after the Seattle City Council passed an ordinance 8-0 on Tuesday.

CB 120278 calls for the transfer and curation of artifacts discovered during the 2013 Newhalem Gorge Inn Restoration Project. The ordinance passed unanimously through the Economic Development, Technology and City Light Committee last week.

City Light Natural Resources Director Chris Townsend said during a presentation to the committee that the artifacts were identified as belonging to Upper Skagit tribe members through extensive ecological research.

Most of the artifacts found were “rock chips” and “material that’s been worked,” according to Townsend. He added there were substantial pieces like a large stone club.

“That is the artifact that would be most associated with a permanent village rather than a camp or other historical activity,” Townsend said.

The artifacts currently are held in a curation facility in Marblemount that is run by the National Park Service, which is where Townsend expects them to stay even after the Upper Skagit Tribe takes ownership.

Townsend said City Light pays up to $25,000 a year for the curation of artifacts at the Marblemount facility, and these pieces will now be a part of that arrangement. If the Upper Skagit Tribe chooses to do so in the future, it will be able to move the artifacts to another approved curation facility, its headquarters or another location.


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