The year ended with some exciting news, the last of the standing chapter totem poles was identified. The tall slender pole stands down the hill from the longhouse site and has been without a name for many years as its oral traditions faded. Longtime lodge member Tom Bingaman stepped forward and identified the pole as belonging to the Tillikum Chuck chapter. Tillikum Chuck means Water People. This chapter broke away from the Hyas Eena Chapter and served the Renton, Maple Valley and Tahoma School districts in the 1970s'. Later it was reabsorbed into the Hyas Eena Chapter and the history of the pole began to fade.
According to Mr. Bingaman who was the Chapter's adviser at the time of carving said the pole was donated by Baxter's Pole Yard, and was designed and carved by youth members of the chapter in the back yard of one of the members in Fairwood. No commercial paints were used, only natural dyes and paints available to the 1st peoples.
Since the opening of the E. Packard Longhouse, Chapters were encouraged to carve and raise their own totem poles. Over the past 40 years some have been lost, some survive and new ones have been raised. There are currently eight Chapter totem poles at the longhouse site.
The Tillikum Chuck pole is toped by an eagle holding two salmon in its talons. The great bird is catching the salmon from the bounty of the Cedar River, also the name of the district that Tillikum Chuck served. The Eagle is feeding the salmon to Frog, who represents man to some Pacific Northwest 1st peoples groups. The bottom figure is that of Beaver, the symbol of Hyas Eena, from which Tillikum Chuck split.
Today the area covered by Tillikum Chuck is serviced by Hyas Eena, and Wau Wau Talapus.
We want to give a special thanks to Tom Bingaman for stepping forward with this information and allowing the lodge to better understand its own history.
Even though all the poles have now been identified we are still looking for people to step forward with old photos of the longhouse site and its poles to put on the website. We want to make sure our history and traditions are preserved and then shared so that future generations of arrowmen can enjoy and understand them.