Makah tribe nets grant to build longhouse-style pavilion

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

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NEAH BAY — Makah tribal members have a half-million reasons to celebrate after a national organization awarded the tribe a $500,000 grant to build a community-designed longhouse-style pavilion.

Tribal officials hope to see construction start next summer.

“We have the check in hand already, so we’re ready to move forward,” said Crystal Hottowe, grantwriter for the Makah tribe.

“We’re really excited about this.”

The Makah tribe’s grant award was one of 54 announced last month and was one of a total 1,200 applications that had been turned in since October to ArtPlace America, a group of national nonprofits and banks that promotes art and culture projects and programs throughout the nation, Hottowe said.

The money will go toward building an open-air pavilion designed to resemble a Makah longhouse decorated with traditional Makah artwork and sculpture, Hottowe said.

“This whole structure is going to be completely Makah art,” Hottowe said in an interview.

In addition to a new place for community gatherings, Hottowe said, the pavilion will mean a chance for the Makah tribal community to reconnect with fellow members and strengthen a sense of connectedness.

“This is more than just the structure itself,” Hottowe said.

“It’s about bringing the community together.”

Meredith Parker, general manager of the Makah tribe, said the pavilion also will be an attraction for visitors.

“[It will be] another place [for people] to visit and really get a taste of Makah and who we are,” Parker said.

“I’m really just pleased and exited about the opportunity to work with the community and make this happen.”

Ideas from community

Details on the design and placement of the longhouse pavilion are still to be decided, Hottowe said, because designs will be almost entirely based on ideas gleaned from tribal and Neah Bay community members during three community meetings planned for this October through March.

Once a design is finalized, Hottowe said, community volunteers will be tapped to build the pavilion with materials paid for through the grant, which also will pay traditional Makah artists to adorn the structure with tribal images and designs.

“This sort of structure, when everybody contributes something, creates that ownership factor,” Hottowe said.

“When you own something, you tend to take pride in it.”

The grant will fund a number of training classes Hottowe plans to hold that will teach volunteers the basics of carpentry and other skills needed to build the pavilion.

“We’re going to need people who know how to use power tools and put hammer and nail to it,” Hottowe said.

Hottowe said construction is expected to be completed by late August 2014 so the pavilion can be used for the tribe’s annual Makah Days events.

Hottowe praised Mel Melmed, public health director for the Makah tribe’s Sophie Trettevick Indian Health Center, for her role in developing the longhouse pavilion idea as a way to support the health of the Makah community.

Melmed said Thursday that the pavilion will provide both a place for community members to walk or bike to, supporting physical health, and be a gathering place where people can attend and participate in tribal dances and meals, sustaining emotional well-being.

“This particular opportunity seems to allow us on multiple levels to continue to move toward Makah ways of wellness and really healthy, thriving communities,” Melmed said.

Looking toward the future, Hottowe said she hopes the process used to gather ideas for and build the pavilion will be used as a model for other community improvements and establish momentum to get them moving.

“And when we get that momentum going, there’s really no limit to what we can build here, what we can enhance on our reservation,” Hottowe said.

Hottowe said updates on the project will be posted to the tribe’s website at


Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at

Last modified: June 08. 2013 4:37PM
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