The rich cultural heritage of the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe is one that we can trace back to our early ancestors. The way we do some traditional things such as "smoking salmon" and "preparing a clam bake" is not much different than it was fifty, one hundred, or two hundred years ago. As close as we are to our traditional cooking methods, some of our artistic heritage has changed. With the influence of "Northern Salish" tribes, our art has evolved over the years to include what is distinctly S'Klallam with the northern art style to create an artistic hybrid. Our language that was once spoken, and was forced to be forgotten, now has new life and new tongues. As we continue on this journey of preserving our past and building our future, we invite you to take part and share in the sounds, textures, colors, and personalities that make us the "S'Klallam People."
The smell of cedar shavings -- who can resist such a rich aroma? When one journeys to our Carvers' shed you not only get to take in the pleasant smell, but you also get to take in the awe inspiring art. You'll see everything from eagles, ravens, canoe paddles and masks . . . to even seeing a man riding on the back of a killer whale. A rich treasure trove to feed one's imagination.
Tribal Carver Floyd Jones
When one views this art you can see all the influences that has made our S'Klallam artists who they are today. It is a rare thing to find any artist who is not affected by the "Northern Salish" style of carving and form-line design. Although this hybrid style is often practiced, there are still some artists who pursue and preserve the original "S'Klallam" style.
Tribal carver Joe Ives working on a mask.
"How does one learn the art of carving?" To answer this question one must ask the individual. No two stories will ever be the same in how they came to learning this time honored skill. It is a journey that most S'Klallam men take at some point of their lives. It is a journey of dedication and patience, a journey that can give fruit to great personal rewards.
Tribal carver Floyd Jones sanding a paddle.
Becoming a carver can take several paths: father to son, apprentice to a relative or just taking a class. The S'Klallam people have little to fear with carvers such as Gerald "Jake" Jones, Gene Jones, Lloyd Fulton, Floyd Jones, Bill Jones and Joe Ives. These men are preserving and passing down not just a skill, they are passing down a way of life. With the "homemade" tools like the ones used long ago, they are passing the torch to a younger generation that will ensure that this art form shall continue to have an important place with the S'Klallam people.
Tribal carver Jake Jones working on his latest project.
What do "pow-wows," fundraisers, sports tournaments and family "get- togethers" on a reservation all have in common? Chowder and frybread. They are a staple for any large gathering of people. Now we all know that neither of these two foods are traditionally S'Klallam in origin, but each have become a tradition in the last century, as the S'Klallam kitchens have left their tasty imprint on these two adopted foods.
Tribal member Sharon Ives preparing fry bread.
The following recipes comes from sisters Cyrene "Bun" Tooze and Sharon Ives. Both have graciously offered their recipes for "S'Klallam Clam Chowder" and "Fry Bread" for you to enjoy. Like many of the kitchens here at "Little Boston" these recipes were hard to get for two reasons: nobody wants to share a family recipe and most cooks like Sharon and "Bun" were taught to cook by taste, not by following recipes in books. So in your decision to prepare these for your family, we hope you all enjoy what we consider a "staple" of S'Klallam cuisine.
In the S'Klallam community no family gathering is complete without the "clam bake." Regardless of the social function, the clam bake is often the focal point in which outings are planned, and often depending on your family, the way to prepare a clam bake may often differ. Most agree on the basics, the difference mainly will be in the cooking time. The following method was used by "Queeda," as everyone knew her, was a consummate clam bake chef, dedicated to her craft of delivering the best cooked clams to her family, friends and community. Her strict method of preparation is being carried on by her sons and family. Donavan "Doc" Ashworth, her oldest son, has decided to share this method used for a clam bake for all to enjoy:
Laying wet newspapers on the clam bed.
First in preparing a clam bake, you must try to figure out how many people you are going to feed. This is crucial because you never want to have more people than clams (once you get a taste for fresh steamed clams, no other casserole or salad at your social affair is going to fill the cravings of your guests). But you also don't want to have too many clams, because you could waste a precious commodity.
Enjoying a clam bake at Point Julia.
Once you have figured out how many guests are going to be attending, you gather your "clam diggers." In my case this would be my brothers: Darren, Adrian and Vince and some of my aunts and uncles: Bun, Connie, Alice, Poe and Con. More often than not, many of my cousins would join in as well. Gathering the clams is just as enjoyable as eating them, due to having the family around for some "light hearted" work and playing "catch up" on the "family gossip." Depending on the size of the clambake would always tell you how many buckets to dig. As a rule my Mom would try to have at least two buckets of Cockles, and/or littlenecks and one bucket of oysters.
After we have gathered our clams we then put them in an old "onion" sack and tie them off our local dock and leave in the water overnight to spit out any sand they may have ingested. This can also be done by tying off to a boat if you have no fish dock around. Letting the clams soak over night helps ensure that they will be "sand" free at cooking time, thus tasting great.
*The following steps must be done in great speed, but also with great care.
You now should have all the wood off your clam bed. You then add the oysters as the first layer on your hot clam bed. We put the oysters on first to prevent the smaller clams from getting scorched. Make sure to spread your oysters evenly around the bed (be careful; the bed is still very hot). After you have got the oysters down, start adding the clams. Make sure your bucket does not contain very much water as the steam from hitting the rocks can scald your skin. Evenly spread your clams and you should now have a well formed mound.
Now that the clams are down, start adding your wet newspaper. Completely cover the clam bed (a couple of layers will do). Then put on the wet blankets, a couple of layers will do as well. Make sure your bed is now completely covered.
After your clams have been completely covered, time the cooking for exactly 17 minutes, no longer, no less . . . 17 minutes exactly. Remove the blankets and newspapers but be careful. The blankets and newspapers will be hot and remember there will be hot steam following them.
Once you have done all that your guest may now enjoy the tender cooked clams. Remember to have butter and ketchup ready
Dumping Oysters on a hot clam bed.
My mom Queeda had this thing about cooking the clams for exactly 17 minutes. This would always ensure that the clams were just right, they would not be too chewy or raw. She was very passionate about her clam bakes and seafood, and I am more than happy to help keep part of her tradition of the clam bake alive and make it a lasting legacy for my family and now yours.
Tribal member Donavan "Doc" Ashworth
Inside tribal member William Jones' smoke shed.
Much like the clam bakes and chowder recipe you read earlier, smoke salmon in the way that it is prepared is often a family secret. Smoke salmon has been a S'Klallam tradition from our earliest days. The process in which it is prepared is basically the same way our ancestors smoked their fish long ago.
William Jones preparing a Salmon.
William Jones has offered to let us share some photos of his process, while deciding to keep the details a secret. Just to let you know that once you have tasted Billy's smoked fish, you'll understand why it has remained a secret with him since he was 12 years-old.
In the following photos we see William with assistance from his mother-in-law "Bun" prepare his salmon for smoking.
Cyrene Tooze and William Jones hanging their salmon in the smoke shed.
Cyrene Tooze prepares the salmon for hanging in the smoke shed.
A lot of times the real difference in the way most people smoke salmon is in the wood they use, the rub or brine used on the fish, and the amount of time the salmon is to stay in the smoker. Trying to get anyone to share this with you is like panning for gold. You might get a nugget here and there, but you never hit the jackpot.
William Jones displaying filets of his smoked salmon.
Cyrene "Bun" Tooze
1 lb shelled Clams (could be Little necks, Butter clams or Geoduck)
1 Onion (chopped)
4 Potatoes (chopped)
2 Celery sticks (chopped)
3 Slices of bacon (chopped)
1 Carrot (ground)
2 Cups of milk
Add all ingredients to pot except milk. After all is thickened add milk. Let simmer, make sure you simmer long enough to cook bacon and clams. Salt and pepper to taste.
Tribal member Cyrene Tooze preparing some oysters.
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
To add for taste:
Milk, Sugar and Salt. These will be added by your own taste.
Mix dough, kind of sticky, then add more flour as needed. Let dough rest for about 1/2 hour.
Once rested take and flatten small handfuls of dough and fry in hot oil/grease until it is golden brown on both sides.
Sharon Ives cooking her fry bread