Learning About Native Peoples at Blake Island and Tillicum Village

By | October 22, 2014

tillicum-villageCharter guests who are interested in learning about the history and native peoples of the San Juan Islands region would benefit from a stop at Blake Island. Blake Island is located in the middle of Puget Sound between Vashon Island and Bainbridge Island. It is a 475 acre marine camping park, offering five miles of saltwater shoreline as well as unobstructed views of the Olympic Mountains and the Seattle skyline. Historically, the island was used as a camping ground by the Suquamish tribe, and was the birth place of Chief Sealth, for whom the city of Seattle was named. It was also used by bootleggers smuggling alcohol south from Canada during the Prohibition. It became a state park in 1959 and is now popular for bird watching, hiking, wildlife viewing, crabbing, clamming, and fishing. The island also offers two horseshoe pits and a volleyball court for those looking to get exercise off the boat and play games. The main attraction of the island, however, is Tillicum Village, located on the northeastern shore.

Upon arrival to Tillicum Village, guests are greeted by performers wearing Northwest Coastal Native tribal costume and are then given clams and broth. Since the 1950’s, each guest to the village has eaten their clams and then crushed the clam shells on the path leading up to the longhouse. The crushed clam pathway is now several inches thick. Inside the longhouse, guests can watch salmon cooking on cedar stakes over an alder wood fire before enjoying a traditional salmon dinner. After dinner, the Tillicum Village dancers put on a performance that includes traditional stories, dances, and songs of various Northwest Coastal Native groups. Guests can also visit a gallery featuring regional Northwest artwork and watch a totem pole carving demonstration. Blake Island is only accessible via tour boat out of Seattle, or by private vessel. There is a 1500-foot long moorage dock as well as 24 mooring buoys. Electrical services and pumpout is also available for a small fee.

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