Welcome pole greets visitors with open arms

Sequim Gazette photos by Mark Couhig

A hand-carved “Welcome Pole” now greets those entering the House of Learning Longhouse at Peninsula College.

The towering sculpture, carved in a temporary studio on the Port Angeles campus by Master Carver Jeff Monson, was raised during a Tuesday, Oct. 26 ceremony. Monson, a member of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, was also honored during the ceeremony.

Ben Charles, Spiritual Leader of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, served as master of ceremonies for the celebration. He was followed on the dais by Dr. Thomas Keegan, Peninsula College president, who said the pole is the latest sign of the continuing fruitful relationship between the local tribes and the college.

Representatives from five peninsula tribes served as formal “witnesses” to the ceremony. Members of the several tribes also provided drumming, singing and dancing for the event.

About the artist

Monson has been carving for 15 years, including time spent studying with Dale Faulstich, Dewayne Pasco and Jake Jones. His biggest influence, Monson said, came from Roger Fernandez of the Lower Elwha.

“He taught me how free you can be with your work,” Monson said.

Monson was assisted in his work by apprentices Dave Purser, Dusty Humphries and Brian Charon, all members of the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe.

The work was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Dept. of Education Fund for Improvement of Postsecondary Education, and by the assistance of local sponsors.



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