Category Archives: Journalism

Ancient Burial Ground Found And Dug Up

Ancient Burial Ground Found, Dug Up


By William Simonsen

Port Angeles, Wash. — There are tombs and graves in Rome and Athens, some are 1.700 years old. They are preserved and venerated.

There are graves 1,700 years old in Clallam County and corpses are being dug up to make way for a construction yard. And no arrangements are being made to preserve the corpses.*

Here, state and federal officials plan to pave over corpses that aren’t disinterred.

This week officials from WSDOT, the Federal Highway Administration and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe plan to meet to try to reach yet another compromise so a huge bridge replacement project can continue at a site on Ediz Hook.

The trouble began shortly after a 22.5-acre parcel in the harbor was chosen for construction of large drydocks to build components to rebuild the Hood Canal Bridge.

When construction started in the summer of 2003, ancient corpses were found. It soon became evident a tribal village was on the site for hundreds of years.

Work was stopped and archeological excavations were started.

Less than one year into the project it is two years behind schedule, and there is still a lot of excavating to be done.

WSDOT Communications Manager Lloyd Brown said under normal circumstances all of the excavation would take six weeks.

When the first skeletons were found, this project becamce anything but normal.

He said digging in the deepest parts of the drydock — almost 30 feet — is well underway. He said WSDOT does not plan to excavate deeper than 5 to 7 feet in areas planned for only concrete pavement. Almost all of the remains were found at depths of less than ten feet.

This policy leads to the disagreement between the tribes and WSDOT.

Tribal officials claim graves that have not yet been found will be sealed under concrete. Before concrete is poured on the surface those leaders want deeper excavations to unearth all possible corpses.

Last week the Federal Highway Administration ruled the construction of large drydocks can continue as planned.

“The FHWA ruled that the Memorandum of Agreement (with the Tribe) of March, 2004, is still in effect,” a press release said Wednesday afternoon.

Tribal requests for more excavation of the area were rejected under the ruling,

The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe is asking for the same treatment for buried ancestors given to orderly, tree-lined modern graveyards with mowed lawns and granite headstones.

“We know that they’re there,” tribal council chair Francis Charles said. “Put your foot in our shoes and somebody you love, would you want them laying under a concrete floor under tons of water?”

So far, 265 fully intact corpses have been exhumed, as have more than 700 isolated pieces from an unknown number of bodies and thousands of historical objects. The site is the location of an ancient Klallam village, Tse-whit-zen, which dates back more than 1,700 years.

More than 70 burials were found in an ancient sand dune along the edge of the site. When digging was expanded to an adjacent area, seven more burials were discovered within 30 minutes and six more were later found, Charles said.

“It’s not like we’re asking them to go through the whole 22 and a half acres,” tribal chair Frances Charles said.

The tribe is primarily concerned with an area along the northern edge of the drydock site, along the 1896 beach line, where they suspect more tribal ancestors are buried.

She said the tribal elders and spiritual advisors determined the best course would be to remove all of the remains to be reburied together. She likened the situation to a family burial plot that relatives would not wish to disturb or separate spouses or children and parents.

She noted that archaeologists have discovered a mother and child buried together and a couple buried in an embrace.

“We do not want to separate them or others like them,” Charles said.

She said the tribe is in discussions with the Port of Port Angeles and Nippon paper mill, which own property on either side of the burial site, to acquire adjacent land for reburial.

Brown said if a construction project disturbed a modern cemetery, WSDOT “would follow the law to the letter,” when moving corpses.

All parties involved profess a desire to keep the project in Port Angeles.

Brown said WSDOT views negotiations as “bringing together two very different perspectives.”

The stakes driving a compromise are enormous.

If the tribes appeal the FHWA decision in court, it “would throw us into a situation where we’d have to consider looking somewhere else” to finish the project, Brown said.

Charles said she hoped to resolve differences during discussions in the process outlined in the original agreement signed by the state and tribe outlining the process and compensation for disturbing the village and burial site.

There are several avenues left for resolving the dispute and talk of filing an appeal in the court system is too early, Charles said.

Either way, last week’s FHWA decision is not the final word.

So far, more than $65 million has been paid to Kiewit-General, the main contractor on the bridge reconstruction. The winning bid for the job came in at $243  million, money that will mostly be spent in Clallam County.

About the only thing all parties can agree upon is that the current bridge across the Hood Canal must be rebuilt. Traffic has increased from 1,500 cars per day when it opened in 1962, to 18,000 cars per day in 1997. Traffic is projected to reach 37,000 cars per day in 2020.

WSDOT engineers say the current structure is hard to maintain and unsafe for the projected traffic load.

© 2013 William Simonsen. All rights reserved.


Rebuilding Hood Canal Bridge


By William Simonsen

Port Angeles, Wash. — Rebuilding the Hood Canal Bridge just got a lot more complicated.

The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe asked the state to stop construction at its site in Port Angeles harbor in a letter Friday to WSDOT Secretary Doug MacDonald.

Tribal Chairman Frances Charles said the tribe wanted work stopped “because of the physical problems involved.”

Charles stopped well short of blaming WSDOT for the problems. “We know that you and your colleagues at WSDOT have made every effort, and are willing to continue to make efforts, to save our burials,” her letter said.

Charles wrote, “We have already suffered damage to ancestral remains and losses of historic properties, and it has become clear that — no matter how hard we all worked at it — the current construction cannot be sustained without additional destruction of burials and remains of our ancestors.”

Charles sent copies of her letter to Rep, Norm Dicks, (D-Wash.), Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Marla Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Gov. Gary Locke.

If WSDOT complies, a new location for construction of components for rebuilding the floating Hood Canal Bridge must be found.  The state Transportation Commissioners meet in Olympia Thursday.

Shortly after work was started 17 months ago, 1,700-year-old graves and artifacts were unearthed. From that time forward, archaeological excavations, and little else, have been in progress.

WSDOT planned to use the site to build huge pontoons and concrete anchors to replace the aging eastern half of the Hood Canal bridge, the longest floating bridge in saltwater in the world.

The 22.5-acre construction site is now known to be the site of the ancient village of Tse-whit-zen. It soon became evident a tribal village occupied the site for hundreds of years. So far, 265 fully intact corpses have been exhumed, along with more than 700 isolated pieces from a number of bodies.

Longhouse structures, cooking hearths, hunting and cooking tools, and articles of clothing have been discovered.

The area on Port Angeles harbor has turned out to be the largest archaeological site in the Pacific Northwest.

It has become evident the village boundary extends well beyond the boundary of the planned construction site.

When construction began, more than 70 burials were unearthed in an ancient sand dune along the waters edge. As digging expanded to an adjacent area, seven more burials were found within 30 minutes, then six more.

With these discoveries, heavy machinery was removed from the site. Since then, archeological excavation followed by the careful sifting of material has been the rule.

The crux of the disagreement between the tribe and the department concerns graves not yet discovered. Tribal officials claim unexcavated graves of their ancestors could be sealed under concrete.

Before concrete is poured on the surface those leaders want deeper excavations to unearth all possible corpses.

The tribe’s request to stop work is its response to a two-week-old Federal Highway Administration decision.

It was much less than the tribe wanted.

FHWA said work can continue and archaeological work will be done only in areas disturbed by construction, ignoring the tribe’s request.

WSDOT Communication Manager Lloyd Brown said department officials plan to meet with the tribes soon to discuss the future of the site.

He said the consensus of opinion is to move the construction of the bridge components elsewhere. Brown said WSDOT plans to address public safety concerns about the delay in bridge construction.

Engineers plan a new inspection of the 45-yeaer old bridge to determine if any immediate repairs are needed, or if it remains safe for public use.

Brown said the construction site shutdown would impact many workers, some of whom are tribal members.

To date, more than $65 million has been paid to Kiewit-General, the main contractor on the bridge reconstruction.

Brown said the cost of the delay has not been calculated.

Some of the expenses were incurred in work completed widening the western half of the bridge and on the eastern approach to the bridge.

The original bid for the bridge rebuild was $243 million, but that was long before the ancient cemetery was discovered.

Wherever the construction is moved, the department plans to use the same site to build components for the highway 520 bridge across Lake Washington.

Still in question is the disposition of the artifacts and corpses from the site.

Charles said she hopes WSDOT and federal officials will help find “an appropriate use for the site.”

Monday afternoon the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce released an opinion poll asking its members about the construction site dilemma.

The poll’s questions sum up the questions of the community of Port Angeles. It asks for opinions on alternatives from WSDOT pulling out completely, to stopping the archeological work and proceeding with construction, or removing dirt from the entire site to be sorted in a different location. Chamber Executive Director Russ Veenema said Tuesday several dozen responses had reached his office.

“They express pretty diverse opinions,” he said.

And a Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe member has put a petition online addressed to “All Government Officials.” It states signers of the petition believe no more work should be attempted at the site without consent of the tribes, It also demands complete funding for any archeological work needed to restore and repair the site, and fund emotional and spiritual healing.

© 2013 William Simonsen. All rights reserved.


Construction Yard To Be Moved, Along With Jobs


By William Simonsen

Port Angeles, Wash. — The state Department of Transportation has decided to move its construction site out of Port Angeles and there is no turning around, said Secretary of Transportation Doug MacDonald.

Monday, he said nothing would happen at the department’s 22-acre, $4.5 million site until the state, the city of Port Angeles and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe agreed on the action.

MacDonald said, “We need to convince people we are going to stop” using the site.

“We don’t want the tribe out there until there is a plan,” he said. “Federal laws require the department to cap the site to prevent looting.”

MacDonald said there are now “cosmic issues” involved in the future use of the land on the waterfront.

“There should be mediation and talks” about the future of the site, said MacDonald.

But no talks can be held now because “we are not hearing from the tribe,” he said.

Then Tuesday, tribal representatives met with department officials in Port Orchard to discuss the future of the waterfront land.

“The meeting is about getting both parties to the table to talk about what we do now,” said Lloyd Brown, communications manager for the department. “This is not about continuing work” at the Port Angeles site.

“Expecting any results from this meeting is too optimistic,” he said.

The meeting was set up at the last minute by Tim Thompson, a private consultant to the department, Brown said. It was closed to the public.

But at the very public meeting Monday MacDonald emphasized the state will do little to mitigate the impact of abandoning the site.

He said the department will not be involved in any further archaeological work at the site — with the exception of disposition of human remains. “We have boxes and boxes of the remains of souls,” said MacDonald.

Transportation funding comes from gas tax and is supposed to be used for building roads, not archaeological digs, he said.

There is currently a fence around the site. No one is allowed on the property, he said.

“The problem will have to be solved by people of good will in this community,” said MacDonald. The future of the Port Angeles site will be decided without the help of the department, he said.

MacDonald said his participation in rebuilding the bridge is, “the most interesting and difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

MacDonald said the groundbreaking ceremony at the site in 2003 “was the last good day on this project.”

“Within days, we found the first burial,” he said.

The corpses found at the site were not all buried in a traditional manner. Archaeologists said they were likely victims of a smallpox epidemic in 1786.

They said some of the remains dated back more than 1,700 years.

It is the largest archaeological site in the Pacific Northwest.

Longhouse structures, cooking hearths, hunting and cooking tools, and articles of clothing were discovered.

But the hundreds of corpses were not enough to stop the project.

However the combination of a request from the tribe to excavate the entire site and negative public opinion were the deciding factors, he said.  “Every mile you get from Port Angeles opinions shift because it becomes a larger issue of historic preservation.”

The department has spent over $65 million on the bridge project.

Now, the focus of work for the department is to find a different location to build the huge pontoons and anchors for the bridge rebuild. MacDonald said the department prefers to use a site on the Olympic Peninsula, but has received inquiries from all parts of the Puget Sound area.

When a new dry dock site is chosen, contracts will have to be renegotiated and plans changed. He said the department will “bring in a panel of national experts to help decide how to proceed.”

MacDonald said the decision to pull out of Port Angeles was several weeks in the making.

“Many government officials participated making the decision,” said MacDonald.

Gov. Gary Locke, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, participated in the decision to leave Port Angeles, said Linda Mullen, communications director for the department.

© 2013 William Simonsen. All rights reserved.


Ancient Burial Ground History 


By William Simonsen

Port Angeles, Wash. — The north Olympic Peninsula had its own Trail of Tears.

In 1912 Michael Earles offered to build a sawmill if the town of Port Angeles would furnish the land. Townspeople took him up on his offer. They collected over $35,000, an immense sum a century ago, and gave him land at the base of Ediz Hook. Land covering a an ancient tribal graveyard. Land already in use by Native Americans for their village.

Even after they were evicted from their village, Klallam tribal bands lived on the shore of Port Angeles harbor until 1933, an anthropologist writing in 1993 reported.

“Port Angeles city officials wrote to the Indian Agency to inform them that the city planned to move trhe Inddians off the beach…and was looking for a place to move them,” said a 1997 anthropological report from Larson Archaeology/Anthropology.

Anthropologists Robert Ruby and John Brown wrote the federal government bought 372 acres at the mouth of the Elwha River on Freshwater Bay. Fourteen Klallam families remaining from Tse-whit-sen village were moved on the land, which became the Lower Elwha Clallam Reservation.

The land seized from the tribe kept its secret hidden for almost a century. During construction excavations last year hundreds of burials were found, in addition to the human remains, large midden piles and relics of longhouses, tools and fire pits were found.

Scientists think they have found the largest archaeological site in the Pacific Northwest, and perhaps North America.

The graveyard was revered by the tribe. Tribal elders told children not to walk on the land above the graves, said tribal chairman Francis Charles. Areas of mass burial document the smallpox epidemic that decimated the Native American population.

Earles came through on his promise by building the largest sawmill on the continent at the time, the Puget Sound Mill and Timber Co. Archaeologist Lynn Larson said mill construction did not disturb most of the relics and remains at the site.

The mill was sold to Charles Nelson and Joe Irving. It was closed in 1933.

It was re-opened during World War II as Olympic Shipbuilders.

Larson said it was not surprising to find a village at the site.

Klallam tribes inhabited the southern end of Vancouver Island as well as the northern shore of the Olympic Peninsula, studies say. The tribes migrated to river and creek mouths during the winter months and built longhouses of cedar planks for shelter against the elements.

They took advantage of food resources from both fresh- and saltwater, especially salmon and steelhead, a report from Larson Archaeological Anthropological Services said.

Klallam settlements were established on almost every freshwater drainage or bay, the report said.

Fish were taken using weirs, traps, hook and line, spears and nets. “At least one trap was kept on each river and creek in Klallam territory,” said a 1927 anthropological study by Erma Gunther.

The site of the now defunct Rayonier mill at the mouth of Quinn Creek, east of downtown Port Angeles, is no exception. It was proposed by for the dry-dock construction site by Rayonier Properties LLC., owner of the property for several decades.

Historical records place an Native American village and graveyard on the site.

Archaeology confirms the written record. During construction near the creek in 1976 “at least two skulls were unearthed in addition to many blue trade beads, both rounded and square, circular coins, and at least one projectile point,” said a 1997 report to the state Department of Transportation.

The village of I-eh-nus, meaning good beach, was on the Rayonier site when white settlers arrived. Archaeologists think Native Americans have occupied the Ennis Creek area for 2,500 to 5,000 years.

The creek mouth was also the site of the Puget Sound Cooperative Colony, a utopian community in existence from 1887 until 1904. It was one of many utopian colonies to spring up on the Olympic Peninsula.

Colony records indicate the creek mouth was shared by both cultures for many years.

More than 400 people lived in the colony. They built a sawmill, meeting house, houses and the first hotel in the area. The colony settled on both sides of the creek and at the base of the bluff to the west.

Local historians agree the colony at its peak was larger than the town of Port Angeles.

Forms nominating the area for the National Register of Historic Places in 1969 said, “…the Clallam Indian burial ground was located near the mouth of Ennis Creek…the burial ground disappeared completely when the area was covered with 10 feet of earth to build an area for parking cars.”

Between the colony and Rayonier the sawmill went through several owners. In 1917 it was enlarged by the federal government to produce spruce to use in airplanes during World War I.  A Clallam County Historical Society document said 30,000 soldiers were assigned to the effort centering on the mill.

But the present proposal for use of the area is apparently for land created by dumping fill into the bay to build a 1,100-foot dock after the site was bought by Olympic Forest Products in 1929. Olympic merged with Rayonier, Inc., in 1937.

The mill was closed 10 years ago and shortly afterward became an EPA Superfund cleanup site. Health reports list petrochemicals in the ground as the main pollutants.

The proposed site at Twin Rivers has a history too.

Lafarge North America put forward its Twin River Clay Quarry to use for dry-dock construction.

Lafarge, based in Reston, Va., is one of the largest suppliers of cement for residential, commercial, institutional and public works construction, with 14 plants in the United States and Canada.

The Twin Rivers area is connected to the current site on Ediz Hook by both ancient and recent history.

Anthropologists think Native Americans inhabited the site long ago. They theorize it was one of a string of villages centering on Tse-whit-zen.

When sawmills were built, owners looked west for logs to feed their machinery. A short-line railroad was built to haul logs to the mills in Port Angeles and Port Townsend.

Twin Rivers, the terminus of the railroad became a logging town settlement home to the largest logging operation in the world at the time, say local historians.

© 2013 William Simonsen. All rights reserved.


The Cost Of Moving Construction Project


By William Simonsen

Port Angeles, Wash. — Pulling out of its Port Angeles construction site will be painfully expensive for the state Department of Transportation.

It has spent more than $58.8 million, but produced no components for the Hood Canal bridge. Last week, the department released a Preliminary Summary of Costs itemizing its expenses at the site.

The original contract for the entire bridge rebuilding project was $243 million.

When the department paid the Port of Port Angeles $4.8 million for 22.5-acre site at the base of Ediz Hook it intended to excavate enormous trenches to be used as dry docks. Then huge concrete pontoons and anchors would be built to replace those parts failing on the 40-plus year old floating bridge.

The land purchase turned out to be one of the smallest expenses at the site. Shortly after breaking ground, Native American corpses and relics were unearthed. Work stopped, negotiations with the Lower Elwha Clallam Tribe were held.

As a result of the negotiations, $3.4 million in mitigation was paid to the tribe to allow work to continue. The negotiations resulted in archaeological work at the site.

Excavation by Larson Archaeological Services cost $2.8 million and Western Shores Historical Services cost the department $700,000.

The department’s estimate of additional archaeological work is incomplete. The report said completing excavation and lab work to comply with its agreement with the tribe will cost $5.1 million. No estimate is included for screening stockpiled  and new excavated material. 

The state spent $4.2 million on steel pilings driven at the edge of the construction site to allow excavation below water level.

Contractor mobilization cost $9 million. Keiwitt-General of Poulsbo is the general contractor of the bridge rebuilding project. No estimate was available for extra costs to Keiwitt for work not included in the original contract and change orders. The actual payment must be negotiated with Keiwitt.

The department spent $2.5 million on in-house engineering on the project.

An estimate of $4.5 million is included for additional construction cost attributable to abandoning the site. This cost includes capping the excavation with four feet of clean soil to protect archaeological material as required by federal law. It also includes security fencing the site, pulling  out some of the piling and contractor cost to remove its equipment.

© 2013 William Simonsen. All rights reserved.


Proposed New Construction Sites


By William Simonsen

Port Angeles, Wash. — Municipal port authorities and waterfront industrial businesses from Tacoma to Grays Harbor to the Canadian border sent in proposals offering land to use building components for the Hood Canal bridge. Eighteen proposals were received by the deadline — 5 p.m. Jan. 10 at state Department of Transportation headquarters in Olympia.

One will be chosen within 45 days.

The department is pulling out of its current facility in Port Angeles. So it needs a new place to build huge dry-docks to be used for construction of Hood Canal bridge components. Four of the proposals are for locations in Clallam County, three from Jefferson County.

WSDOT Communication Manager Lloyd Brown said, “The bridge project design team will evaluate each submittal, gather additional site information, and summarize characteristics of each proposal.”

Brown said the summary should be ready for further consideration by department engineers and staff members this week.

“We are still on track to make a decision on where to build pontoons and anchors by March,” said Brown

The Makah Tribe proposed a site in Neah Bay. The Makah land is a component of its port development plan, department documents said.

A site was proposed by Lafarge North America owners of the Twin River Clay Quarry about 10 miles west of Port Angeles.

Lafarge home office is located in Reston, Va. It is one of the largest suppliers of cement for residential, commercial, institutional and public works construction, with 14 plants in the United States and Canada and annual sales of more than $1.6 billion, said its website.

The Port of Port Angeles sent in a proposal for Terminal 7, a parcel contiguous to the current site. Port Executive Director Robert McChesney said the land could be used without excavation. The paved site would require a special railway to transport the enormously heavy concrete components to the water, he said.

The site of the now defunct Rayonier mill at the mouth of Quinn Creek, east of downtown Port Angeles, was proposed by Rayonier Properties LLC.

Forms nominating the site for the National Register of Historic Places in 1969 said, “…the Clallam Indian burial ground was located near the mouth of Ennis Creek…the burial ground disappeared completely when the area was covered with 10 feet of earth to build an area for parking cars.”

But the proposal is apparently for land created by dumping fill into the harbor during the 1930s.

A site at Fort Discovery on Discovery Bay was proposed by its owner, Security Services NW, Brown said.      

The Port of Port Townsend and Townsend Paper Company jointly proposed a site. Port officials said the site is located on land created by landfill.

Olympic Property Group proposed a portion of its property in Port Gamble, said Brown.

The property group is a Pope Resources subsidiary. Pope is a huge real estate holding and development company. It owns the entire historic town of Port Gamble, its website said. It also owns timberland and real estate properties in the West Puget Sound.

Glacier Northwest, producers of sand, gravel and quarry rock, proposed its Mats Mats quarry property in Port Ludlow.

The former Scott Paper Mill in Anacortes currently owned by MJB Properties was proposed for dry-dock construction.

The Port of Grays Harbor proposed       property at the confluence of the Hoquiam and Chehalis Rivers.

FCB Facilities Team proposed property owned by Concrete Tech., AML / Duwamish Shipyard and Todd Pacific Shipyards in Seattle.

Property on Skokomish River was proposed by Gerald G. Richert.

Property on Thea Foss Waterway was proposed by J. M. Martinac.

The Port of Everett proposed use of 26 waterfront acres.

A proposal from KLB Construction in Everett was received.

Also in Everett, the Snohomish Delta Partners proposed its property, the former Weyerhaeuser mill.

Concrete Tech sent in a proposal for its       property on Blair Waterway.

The Port of Shelton proposed upland industrial property only, no waterfront.

© 2013 William Simonsen. All rights reserved.


It Was An Eden


By William Simonsen

Port Angeles, Wash. — The extinction of the buffalo caused the near extinction of Native Americans living on the Great Plains.

On the Olympic Peninsula, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe was driven almost to extinction by more subtle means.

With treaties, starvation, disease and brute force the Klallam’s Eden was taken from them.

First, the tribe was weakened by disease contracted from its first encounter with European explorers and traders. Then, shortly after settlers began arriving in the area, the federal government forbade the tribe from fishing, its traditional source of food.

The same year the tribe was stopped from fishing and gathering shellfish, a dam went up on the Elwha River, forever altering the runs of anadromous fish.

Just as the buffalo disappeared, so went the salmon.

Bowing to pressure to allow fishing, the state said tribal members could fish if they had a license. But then it refused to issue licenses to tribal members because they were not citizens.

When citizenship was granted to Native Americans, the state still refused to issue licenses because the tribal members had no permanent address.

At its low point, only 325 members of the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe were left, say tribal elders.

When settlers arrived, the Klallam found that all the rules of their existence were changed. They were no longer allowed to get food. They were forced to move to a foreign place — immediately — by invaders who did not speak their language and brandished guns. Being forcibly moved from one huge village stretching from Ediz Hook along the beach all the way to Green Point onto a 300 acre reservation was traumatic. It is a terrible scene as described by tribal elders.

Some individuals never moved. A few tribal members lived on Ediz Hook until the 1950s. But the majority of what became the Lower Elwha Tribe was relocated to the reservation by 1937, said tribal elder Adeline Smith.

While the total dislocation of an entire generation was occurring, federal authorities decided the Klallam tribe should be divided into three separate tribes. So the Lower Elwha Klallam, the Jamestown S’Klallam and the Port Gamble Clallam tribes were created.

Tribal members still scoff at the imposed political division, preferring to regard themselves as Klallam, merely living in different places.

The elders describe the land of the tribe as Eden — before the settlers brought civilization.

Bea Charles and Smith, women in their 80s, describe a time of grace, beauty and peace. A time when “the strong people”, the Lower Elwha Klallam’s name for themselves, lived in harmony with nature. It was a time when surpluses were given to each other, and other tribes, in elaborate ceremonies, and sharing was a way of life. Sometimes potlatches lasted three days, Smith said.

Charles said the people would follow their food sources from place to place on the northern end of the peninsula. Their migrations timed to maximize their hunting and gathering.

And romancing.

Smith married a member of the Makah Tribe. She said the main incursions, other than very occasional battles over whales, from the Makah were to steal away Klallam women.

“Of course the Klallam women were more beautiful,” she said with a smile.

Leaving little trace of their rich culture except graves, the Klallam lived for thousands of years along the coast. They knew when and where plants and medicinal herbs would ripen. They knew where the beargrass grew for basketmaking. And the strong people would be there for the harvest, said Charles.

In winter, families would congregate at river mouths on the Straits of Juan de Fuca to trap, spear and hook salmon. The fish were dried and smoked for consumption later.

Smith said villages were at every river mouth and bay along the strait.  She said there were 13 settlements along the Elwha River between Lake Crescent and the strait.

Hunters went into the hills after deer and elk, she said.

There was never a lack of food, no one ever starved.

Bee said there were times when the settlers, facing starvation from crop failure, would be fed by the Klallam.

Unable to catch fish to survive, some Klallam families turned to agriculture. Smith said five families homesteaded near the mouth of the Elwha River, but all eventually lost their land. They could not read notices or understand the ways of taxes, deeds and sheriff’s tax sales on the courthouse steps.

She said her father attended school through the eighth grade, then became an interpreter for other families.

Both Smith and Charles said they attended Dry Creek School near the reservation.

It was a one-room school with a wood stove for heat and 42 students in grades one through eight when Smith attended. Most students spoke English only at school. They spoke the tribal Salishan language at home.

Life on the reservation was hard. Charles said the main form of transportation was walking until 1929 when state highway 112 was completed to Twin Rivers and Seiku.

Still, most of their knowledge of the world came from their families and other tribal members.

Smith said the elders taught all the children not to go near the graveyard on Ediz Hook.

“The way I was raised, I believe it (the burial ground) should be left alone.

“Put them back where you found them. Their souls are never going to rest unless you do,” she said.

A monument should be put at the spot to mark the burials, she said.

Smith and Charles agreed no further excavations at the site on Ediz Hook should be allowed.

Neither woman is optimistic about the search for a new site for a dry dock along the strait. Smith said every waterfront place with a decent harbor or river mouth was the site of a village.

“They were good places to land a canoe,” she said

Smith said teaching their language in Port Angeles High School is a good start to reclaiming the tribe’s heritage. With the language the students begin to learn the parts of their culture that was lost when a the tribe was dislocated in the early 1900’s.

Some tribal members say the excavation of the site on Ediz Hook allowed them to re-discover their culture. The dry dock construction site turned out to be the largest archaeological site in the Pacific Northwest, possibly North America.

But most members are disturbed by digging up the bodies of their relatives that were at rest on the hook. Scientists estimate the site was in continuous use for 2,700 years.

Decisions will have to be made. There are hundreds of cedar boxes containing the remains of tribal members in storage. There are graves left exposed to the elements, half excavated.

Above all else, the members of the tribe want to be part of the decision of what happens to their graveyard next.

Smith said everyone in the tribe knew there was a graveyard at the site chosen for construction.

“But no one asked us,” she said.

She wants to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

© 2013 William Simonsen. All rights reserved.


Where Should The Corpses Go? 


By William Simonsen

Port Angeles, Wash. — By the sheer number of laws, the Washington Legislature has said burials, graveyards and cemeteries are among the most sacred of all lands.

This is a sample of laws on the books, not even 5 percent of the laws on the books. The legal language of the laws is abridged for clarity.

Chapter 27 in the Revised Code of Washington (compiled state laws) protects Native American graves. It says, “Any person who knowingly removes, mutilates, defaces, injures, or destroys any cairn or grave of any native Indian… is guilty of a class C felony.”

Then lawmakers decided all graves should be protected from graverobbing. “Every person who mutilates, disinters, or removes from the place of interment any human remains without authority of law, is guilty of a class C felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in a state correctional facility for not more than three years, or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars, or by both,” RCW Chapter 68.

Legislators felt moving a corpse was to be taken very seriously.

Again Chapter 85.50 RCW makes it clear anyone moving a body from its resting place must follow certain specific legal procedures.

“The remains of a deceased person may be removed from a plot (with)… the written consent of one of the following in the order named: (1) The surviving spouse, (2) The surviving children of the decedent, (3) The surviving parents of the decedent, (4) The surviving brothers or sisters of the decedent.

“If the required consent cannot be obtained, permission by the superior court of the county where the cemetery is situated is sufficient…” the lawmakers wrote.

And once again, by law, the legislators sought to protect burials from any disturbance. They approved a law protecting the effects of the person buried, “Every person who in a cemetery unlawfully or without right willfully opens a grave; removes personal effects of the decedent…removes or damages caskets…is guilty of a class C felony punishable under (state law).”

© 2013 William Simonsen. All rights reserved.


Tribal History Timeline


By William Simonsen

Port Angeles, Wash. — A timeline of Lower Elwha Klallam Tribes’ history since first contact with Europeans to the present.

Pre-1790 – About 2,000 Klallams lived in villages spread along ocean from Hoko River to Puget Sound, and on southern coast of Vancouver Island

1790 – Manuel Quimper lands at Freshwater Bay and Dungeness – first recorded contact of Klallam with Europeans

1791 – George Vancouver explores north Olympic Peninsula coastline

1800-1860 – Klallam population decimated by smallpox, measles, influenza and tuberculosis epidemics

1850 – Oregon Donation Act – allowed homesteading in Washington and Oregon

1852 – U.S. astronomical station established on Ediz Hook, near Klallam villages

1853 – U.S. Navy survey of Dungeness Spit and Ediz Hook – Klallam villages noted on map

1855 – Point No Point Treaty

1865 – Lighthouse built on Ediz Hook

1890s – Settlers arrive in Clallam County further displacing Klallam villages

1910 – Construction of first Elwha River dam

1910 – Fishing declared illegal for Native Americans

1914 – Construction of sawmill on Klallam graveyard site on Ediz Hook

1934 – Indian Reorganization Act – 14 families given 327 acres in Elwha Valley

1968 – Lower Elwha Reservation recognized by federal government – first funding from Bureau of Indian Affairs

1974 – Tribal right to fishing reinstated – Boldt Decision

1875 – Lower Elwha Fish Hatchery built

1977 – Three Klallam tribes were paid for 400,000 acres taken in 1855 treaty with federal government.

1994 – Court uphold tribal right to shellfish

2003 – Beginning of construction of dry docks on graveyard site on Ediz Hook

© 2013 William Simonsen. All rights reserved.


Five killed in Avalanche

Five killed in Avalanche 1


By William Simonsen

Bigfork, Mont. — Five people died Friday afternoon when an avalanche hit a party of snowmobilers about 10 miles northeast of Bigfork. Two snowmobile riders were also injured by the avalanche.

“I never saw nothing until that big wall of snow,” said Jim Pierce of Bigfork, who was riding his snowmobile at the front of the group.

“I went first. I turned around and looked and saw all this snow coming down the mountain,” said Pierce.

“I yelled at everybody and the went back across the top of the avalanche and there was no one there,” he said. 

The first few snowmobiles in the group were the ones who made it out.

Killed in the avalanche  were Pat Buls, 46, Kalispell; Kendall Smith, 41, Hill Spring, Alberta; Miles Merrill, 7, Cardston, Alberta; and Bart Nelson, 35, and Gordon Sherman, 46, both of Jefferson, Alberta, said Flathead County Sheriff Jim Dupont. The two injured were Jamie Merrill and Sandra Sherman, both of Cardston.

Sandra Sherman was rescued after being buried to her waist in the snow, she had several broken ribs, but was otherwise unhurt, said Dupont.

ˇShe was stopped on her snowmobile only about three feet from her husband when the avalanche hit the group.

Gordon Sherman, was found dead about 4 p.m. several hundred feet downslope from the area where she was found. Efforts to revive him failed.

Jamie Merrill was found by searchers using probe poles after being buried for about two hours. Dupont said Jamie Merrill was able to survive so long buried in the snow because he was trapped between two snowmobiles which created an airspace allowing him to breathe. He was buried under about three feet of snow. He was treated for hypothermia by rescue personnel and remained at the scene throughout the night to help search for his son, Miles. Miles Merrill was standing next to his father when the avalanche hit. His body was not found for almost 24 hours after he was trapped under the snow. Miles Merrill’s mother was at the family home in Cardston at the time of the avalanche. Dupont said he was buried under twelve feet of snow about 30 feet away from his father.

Buls was a fireman with the Kalispell Fire Dept.

Gordon Sherman and Smith were ranchers. Nelson ran a salt business in his hometown.

Larry Brazda of Kalispell, said he and several others had joined Pierce’s party of snowmobilers, making a total of 14 people in the group.

Dupont said there were 13 snowmobiles in the group.

Brazda said he was the first person over a ridge after they stopped for a break. Brazda said the group had been riding in the area where the avalanche occurred, in one to two feet of new snow, for several hours before the tragedy struck. Advisories issued for Friday said avalanche danger was moderate in the area, said Dupont.

Brazda said the snow showed no signs of the imminent danger that was present.

Pierce said he has ridden in the area for years and had never seen an avalanche where the party was struck.

Some of the riders in the ill-fated group with larger, more powerful machines had been taking turns breaking a trail over the top of a ridge shortly before the snow broke loose, said Brazda. He said the avalanche covered an area about 75 feet wide and 400-500 feet long. Avalanches can move at speeds of up to 200 mph.

Brazda said he and several other members of the party immediately tried to rescue those trapped in the snow. But because the snow was so deep and packed so hard by the avalanche they had no luck with their attempted rescues. Brazda said he dug in the snow with his bare hands to uncover one snowmobile, but could not find it’s rider.

Brazda said he and Pierce then rode down the mountain to Pierce’s truck, then used his cellular phone to call for help. Brazda said he and others in the party broke branches off nearby tress and attempted to probe in the snow for the others, but the snow was too deep and they couldn’t find branches long enough to reach through it

Dupont later said the digging through the snow was like “shoveling wet concrete.”

The call from Pierce came into the Flathead County Sheriffs Office at 12:52 p.m.

Initial reports to the search crews said eight people were feared buried in the avalanche.

The sheriff’s office immediately dispatched members and equipment from  Bigfork QRU, East Valley QRU, Creston Fire Dept., Flathead Search and Rescue, and the ALERT helicopter to the scene.

The biggest problem encountered by rescuers was simply getting personnel to the site of the avalanche, said Dupont. The snowmobilers were buried at an elevation of 5,600 feet about five miles off the nearest plowed road. A command post was set up at the intersection of Peters Ridge Road and Foothills Road. A county road department snow plow was sent to Peters Ridge Road. It cleared more than two miles of road so Flathead Search and Rescue, Bigfork QRU and other four wheel drive vehicles could get to an upper staging area at the end of the road. Snow was several feet deep at the staging area. From the staging area, searchers were ferried to the site of the avalanche by snowmobiles, or walked.

Undersheriff Chuck Curry said it took searchers about one hour to get from the staging area to the scene of the avalanche. Searchers used long metal poles to probe the avalanche area in a grid pattern. Metal detectors were also used during the search.

Pierce said two of the people buried in the avalanche had “peepers”, small radio transmitters designed to help searchers locate people buried in the snow. But one of the units was left in the car by its owner, and the other unit was turned off when the avalanche hit, he said.

During the afternoon other volunteer groups were called to the scene to help in the search and rescue operation. Trained dogs were brought into the search – two from the Kalispell Police Dept. and one from a private citizen.

Two Kalispell Ambulance units stood by at the command post to ferry victims to area hospitals.

The Nordic Ski Patrol, South Kalispell Fire Dept. and North Valley Search and Rescue also joined in the rescue effort.

A private helicopter also joined the rescue party, but was unable to help ferry rescuers to the site due to inclement weather conditions.

By mid-afternoon, more than 100 people had joined the search. As temperatures dropped Friday afternoon, the site of the avalanche was “in a cloud,” said Dupont. He said the weather conditions hampered the rescue of the remaining victims.

At 4:45 p.m., while Sandra Sherman was being transported down the mountain, Dupont said three additional people had been found and CPR was being administered to them.

By 10 p.m. another body had been found by rescuers. All of the victims found Friday were found by searchers using probe poles.

Dupont said four of the victims were pronounced dead at the scene at 1:49 a.m. Saturday.

Dupont temporarily called off the rescue at 4 a.m. Saturday without having found Miles Merrill.

Dupont said he asked for assistance from search and rescue teams in Missoula, Lincoln and Lake counties in the early hours of Saturday morning because the local rescue teams were worn out. He also asked for assistance from the Swan Search and Rescue team.

Searchers were back on the scene as soon as it got light.  Heavy snow fell and weather conditions deteriorated Saturday morning. Dupont said 14 inches of new snow fell at the site from 8 a.m. to noon when he met with two avalanche experts from the U.S. Forest Service who advised him conditions were becoming hazardous to the searchers. He stopped the search at 1 p.m.. Minutes before the end, the body of Miles Merrill was found by searchers. His body was found under about 12 feet of snow in an area previously probed by searchers. A trained dog from the Missoula County Search and Rescue team kept returning again and again to the area above the boy. Dupont said one of the probe poles had passed within inches of the boy, apparantly providing enough scent for the dog to pinpoint the area. Miles Merrill’s body was dug out of the snow and he was rpomounced dead at 1:56 p.m. Dupont said searchers were relieved that the family could take the boy’s body home with them. He said all six of the snowmobiles had been recovered from the scene by Monday morning.

About one hour after the avalanche on Peters Ridge was reported, a report was made to the sheriffs office of a snowmobiler buried in an avalanche in the Lost Johnny area of the South Fork drainage, just over the ridge from Peters Ridge. Glen Flaget, 32, Kalispell, was hit by an avalanche, but managed to free one arm and raise it above the snow. His companions dug him out within about 30 minutes. Flaget said he suffered only bruises from the experience.

The tragedy on Peters Ridge is the worst avalanche related accident in Northwest Montana since Dec. 1969 when five mountain climbers were killed during a winter ascent of Mt. Cleveland in Glacier National Park, said Steve Frye, chief park ranger. James Anderson, 18, Bigfork, was one of the victims in the Mt. Cleveland avalanche.

Five Killed In Avalanche 2


 By William Simonsen

Bigfork, Mont. — An unauthorized system of trails leading into the Peters Ridge and  Krause Basin areas where an avalanche killed five people New Years Eve, was reported to Forest Service employees more than one year ago, said a representative of the Montana Wilderness Association. The Forest Service is currently conducting an investigation of the avalanche and the trails which led snowmobile riders into danger.

Steve Thompson, Kalispell field representative for MWA said Friday that members of his organization gave photographs of unauthorized trails Iin the area of the avalanche to Forest Service employees late last summer. He said concerned members discovered a blazed and cleared trail system on Peters Ridge and in Krause Basin and photographed damage done by motorcycles and other off-road vehicles in the area.

ˇReports about the unauthorized trails were made to the Forest Service more than one year ago, he said.

Thompson said he never got any response from the Forest Service.

Chuck Harris, Bigfork district ranger for the Flathead National Forest, said the trail construction in the area was never authorized by the Forest Service.

“We would not have put a trail into an avalanche area,” said Harris.

“The (unauthorized) trails lead people into an unsafe area,” he said.

A permit is required to build a trail on its lands, he said. No permit was issued.

“To go build a trail (without a permit) is illegal,” he said. But the entire area around Peters Ridge and Krause Basin is laced with old skid roads and trails, said Harris. The blazes on trees marking the trails were not made by the Forest Service, he said.

Harris said fallen trees and brush were removed when the unauthorized trail was cleared, but that no grading of the ground was done. An investigation of the fatalities was started immediately after the accident. Under Forest Service policy, a routine investigation is conducted whenever a fatal accident occurs on its land. When the blazes were discovered the investigation was expanded to cover the construction of the unauthorized trail, Harris said.

Results of the investigation will be available in about two weeks.

Harris said he suspects that the blazes were made by off-road vehicle riders who use the area. He said the same people probably cleared trees and brush from the trails to provide better access for their vehicles. Harris said Forest Service employees made an initial investigation of the report from MWA last summer which found some damage caused by motorcycles riding around snow banks during the summer. But there was no way to determine exactly when the tracks were made, he said.

The entire area, not just the trails, is closed to motor vehicle use for two periods each year. Harris said under a 1988 Forest Service decision the area is closed between April 1 and July 1 because it is prime spring grizzly bear habitat. It is closed again from Sept. 1 until Nov. 30 to protect big game animals.

The remainder of the year the area is open to motor vehicle use. The trails leading to the avalanche area are inside the closure area, he said. Keith Hammer of Swan View Coalition, another conservation organization, said there are two separate issues at stake when unauthorized trails are allowed on public land. One is the issue of public safety. He said Forest Service regulations do not allow trails to be built in unsafe areas. The second issue is that of unauthorized trails.

Thompson said the Forest Service needs to take strong action against people who build unauthorized trails or violate trail closures. “The Forest Service has always winked and nodded at these things (unauthorized trails),” he said.

“This is serious. This led to five people’s deaths.” He said the photographs showed evidence of “rogue off-road vehicle riders turning alpine meadows into a motocross track.”

Motocross races were held in the area during the 1970s and some new trails were cut at that time, Harris said.

Hammer said he was told about the blazes on trees and the unauthorized trail by a Forest Service employee more than one year ago.

Thompson said a proposal to use the basin as an off-road vehicle area was made by some local groups last week.

The Krause Basin and Peters Ridge areas were included in the proposed Jewel Basin Wilderness Area as part of the Montana wilderness bill which was introduced in Congress last year. Thompson said he wrote Rep. Pat Wiliiams, D-Mont., last fall to warn him of the incursion by off-road vehicle users into the wilderness. A group of local snowmobile clubs, Montanans for Multiple Use and groups of off-road motorcycle riders proposed last week that the area be removed from the list of proposed wilderness areas. The groups wrote Williams and asked him to sponsor the change for the area. They suggested that the recreation area be named after Pat Buls of Kalispell, who was killed in the New Years Eve avalanche.

Thompson said he feels the request by the groups is “inappropriate.”

He said, “We deeply regret that Montanans for Multiple Use is trying to use this tragedy for political gain.”

But Harris said if the classification of the area is changed to a recreation area, the current motor vehicle closures will still be in effect. If it becomes designated as wilderness area, motor vehicles would be ­prohibited completely.

Harris said the Forest Service is reluctant to close areas due to the possibility of avalanches. “If we close one then we start the perception that we are looking out for avalanches. If we miss one then our liability is increased.”

“If people find their way in there, then they are accepting the risk of their sport.”

Bosco Murder

Clark Arrested For Murder 12/15/93

By William Simonsen

Polson, Mont. — Joseph Shadow Clark, said his teachers, would be the last kid they’d ever pick to be charged with murder.

His high school counselor called him “a good kid, quiet, never in trouble.”

He was active in his church, a Royal Ranger and bright student who received an academic scholarship to a Quaker liberal arts college.

His arrest for a double murder last week stunned his friends, fellow students and his hometown of Bigfork.

Clark, 18, was arrested Dec. 7 in Oregon and charged with the August murder of a Ferndale couple.

Clark, a 1993 graduate of Bigfork High School who was attending George Fox College in Newberg, Ore., allegedly acted alone in the killings, said Lake County Sheriff Joe Geldrich.

Clark was charged with the Aug. 12 deliberate homicide of John Bosco, 41, and his wife Nancy, 32, at their home.

Clark was arrested after questioning by Oregon authorities and investigators from the Montana Criminal Investigations Bureau.

Clark’s father, Joe Clark, said Monday, “I can tell you right now that he’s innocent.”

“Remember he’s innocent until proven guilty,” he said.

John and Nancy Bosco were found dead at their home, in their bed, nude, on Aug. 19.

The Boscos purchased the home on Kelly Drive from Clark’s parents a little more than one year ago.

Authorities will not say if Clark has confessed to the crime.

Deputy Lake County Attorney Robert Long said a confession means that the person involved confesses to all aspects of a crime. “I don’t know that he did that,” said Long.

Long said he had not had an opportunity to review all of the reports from Clark’s questioning in Oregon.

Joe Clark said, “He hasn’t confessed to anything.”

Joe Clark said his son has never been in trouble with law enforcement authorities in past, and had no criminal record.

Paul Sullivan, a counselor at Bigfork High School said Clark “was a good kid, quiet and never in trouble.”

“When we heard,” said Bigfork High teacher Sid Ashim, “the teachers all agreed he’d be the last kid we’d pick to get arrested for murder.”

George Fox College is a small private four-year institution founded by Quakers in 1891.

Joe Clark said his son was attending the college on a full academic scholarship

About 1,800 students attend the college. Newberg is a town of about 13,500 located about 35 miles southwest of Portland, Ore.

College officials closed the campus last Friday afternoon so shocked students could meet with college counselors.

Freshmen, like Clark, entering the college were required to be in attendance by Aug. 28.

Clark was accepted by the college last March, college officials said.

Officials said the break in the case which led authorities to Clark came about two weeks ago when the chief of security at the college called the Flathead County Sheriffs Office.

Flathead County Sheriff Jim Dupont said detective Mike Sward took the call from the security chief who said he had some vague information about a student talking about a killing in the area.

Sward determined the information concerned the Bosco murders and referred the security chief to the state Criminal Investigation Bureau, Dupont said.

He said Sward also called the CIB with the information.

Two investigators from CIB, Ward McKay  and Arlyn Greydanus, went to Oregon on Dec. 6 to follow up the lead, said Lake County Sheriff Joe Geldrich.

Geldrich said Clark told friends about the crime and the friends reported it authorities.

He said Clark was picked up at his room in Edwards Residence Hall on the college campus and taken to the Newberg Police Department.

Geldrich said McKay and Greydanus along with Newberg Police detectives Ken Summers and John Goad questioned Clark of Dec. 7.

Late that afternoon, Clark was arrested by Summers, said Geldrich.

During questioning Clark told investigators he gave the murder weapon to a friend who lives in Kalispell before he left for college last fall, said Geldrich.

Geldrich said Clark’s friend is not implicated in the crime.

Geldrich said he went to Kalispell Dec. 8, and picked up the weapon.

He said no search warrant was obtained to get the weapon.

Friday he said the weapon, a 9mm Smith and Wesson semi-automatic pistol, had been tested by the State Crime Lab, and confirmed to be the weapon that killed the Boscos.

It is not the pistol John Bosco’s father said was missing from the Bosco house after the murder.

Geldrich said he did not believe robbery was the motive behind the murders.

He said a few small items were unaccounted for, but nothing of any great value.

The murders were discovered Aug. 19 when a neighbor suspected that something was amiss at the house.  She noticed that all the windows were open, and the doors locked.

The neighbor knew that John Bosco was scheduled to make an appearance in a Colorado court on a felony charge of forgery Aug. 16.

She notified authorities, and the Bosco’s bodies were discovered.

John Bosco was shot in the head, Nancy was shot once in the head and a second time in the back, authorities said.

Geldrich said the telephone line had been cut and the power shut off to the house.

He said there was evidence of a break in through a window in the basement bathroom of the house.

Geldrich set the time of death as sometime Aug. 12.

Joe Clark said his entire family had been on vacation in Alaska, arriving back in the area only two days before the date of the murder.

He said Aug. 12 was one of his children’s birthday. He said the family spent the entire day celebrating the birthday. “All of his hours are accounted for,” said Joe Clark.

After his arrest, Clark was held in the Yamhill County (Ore.) Jail until a warrant could be issued by Lake County authorities, Geldrich said.

A complaint was issued by Robert Long, deputy Lake County attorney the evening of Dec. 7.

Lake County Justice of the Peace Chuck Whitson issued a warrant for Clark’s arrest late in the evening of Dec. 7, charging him with two counts of deliberate homicide.

Whitson asked that bond be set at $250,000 in the case.

On the afternoon of Dec. 8, Clark appeared at a hearing without an attorney before District Judge Wayne Harris in Yamhill District Court in McMinnville, Ore., where he was charged with being a fugitive from justice, and waived his extradition rights.

Geldrich said no fugitive from justice warrant was issued for Clark. He said under certain circumstances law enforcement agencies are allowed to hold prisoners for other laws enforcements agencies if a warrant is about to be issued.

Clark choose not to contest his extradition and was transported back to Montana Dec. 9 by McKay and Greydanus.

He arrived at the Lake County Jail at about 8:20 p.m. last Thursday.

Clark appeared without an attorney before Lake County Justice of the Peace Chuck Whitson at about 10 a.m. last Friday.

Long requested that bond be revoked for Clark.

Whitson ordered Clark held without until trial.

Whitson appointed public defender Ben Anciaux as Clark’s attorney.

Clark remained silent during the appearance.

His parents were in the courtroom during his appearance.

Whitson set the preliminary hearing in the case for Dec. 20.

But Long later said state law allows the prosecution 10 days from the initial appearance to file an affidavit and information relating to the case in District Court.

Long said he will file the necessary court documents before Dec. 20, but that Clark would probably not make another court appearance until Dec. 22, when he would appear in District Court.

Several weeks ago Geldrich said sample taken from the body of nancy Bosco were sent to a California lab for DNA testing.

He said samples from Clark would be sent for DNA testing “as soon as possible.”

On June 7, 1991, over a year before the sale of the property, the state Department of Commerce, Building Codes Division filed a lawsuit against Joe Clark, the father of Joe Shadow Clark, over the use of a shop building on the property where he manufactured furniture.

The state denied the Clark’s business, Frontier Furniture, a building permit to build an addition to the shop building.

Peter Bosco, the father of John Bosco, said last week that his son did not discover the problem with  his planned use of the shop building until the sale was almost completed.

Fred Hanson, who said he was the real estate salesman in the sale of the property, said Monday that he wrote a note that the shop could not be used as a commercial business on the buy/sell form for the deal. Hanson said he made every effort to inform John Bosco that the shop building could not be used for commercial purposes.

John Bosco intended to use the shop building for his cabinet making business his father said.

Peter Bosco said the state’s attorneys told his son that he could use the old part of the shop building for his business, so he went through with the deal.

Court documents show that the case against Joe Clark over the shop building is still pending.

John Bosco was not happy about the condition of the shop when he took possession of the property, said Peter Bosco. He said his son was forced to spend over $10,000 to make the building suitable for his use.

Joe Clark said the friction between the two families alleged by Peter Bosco, “Is completely bogus.”

Peter Bosco said Nancy Bosco told him Joe Shadow Clark drove by the house in an old truck shouting obscenities on numerous occasions after the Boscos moved into the house.

Joe Clark said Nancy Bosco was confused. “It was my other son,” he said.

But Peter Bosco said his son and Joe Clark talked the over problems until they were resolved.

Under Montana state law, deliberate homicide can be punished by death, life imprisonment, or by a prison  sentence of not less than 10 years or more than 100 years.

Long said he has not decided if he will seek the death penalty or not.

Antoinette Bosco, the mother of John Bosco, said she spoke with a psychic several weeks ago about the murders.

She said the psychic predicted the murders would be solved in December and that the murderer was someone who did jobs around the house.

She said the psychic said the murderer was “someplace out west” of Montana and “that he was just a young kid.”

Clark Murder Confession 9/7/94

By William Simonsen

Polson, Mont. — Convicted murderer Joseph Shadow Clark told investigators that he had been having a recurring nightmare about breaking into the home of John and Nancy Bosco every night for three weeks before he murdered them.

“…One night I woke up and did it,” Clark told investigators while making a statement Dec. 7, 1993, in Newberg, Ore.

Clark said he woke up the next morning, not sure if his sleep had been disturbed by the dream, or because he had finally acted out the dream during the night.

“I would like to know why I did it,” Clark told investigators Ward McKay and Arlyn Greydanus of the state Criminal Investigation Bureau.

The Bigfork Eagle obtained permission from District Court C.B. McNeil to view investigative reports, forensic reports, transcripts of interviews, crime scene photographs and prosecution files that had previously been sealed.

But reports from the forensic psychiatrist were held back at the request of Clark’s attorney, Stephen Nardi.

Also not released, due to objections from Nardi, was the pre-sentence investigation report prepared by the state’s parole officer for Lake County.

The original intent of the Eagle was to discover a motive, a reason, a purpose for the murders.

No motive is apparent in the official records other than the statements made by Clark about his haunting nightmares.

Lake County Deputy Attorney Bob Long said he is not required by state law to prove motive in a murder, “Only that the suspect did it.”

Clark told investigators he doesn’t understand why he broke into the home of two Ferndale residents and murdered them during the early morning hours of August 12, 1993.

Clark told investigators McKay and Greydanus of the state Criminal Investigation Bureau that he bore no grudges against the Boscos.

“I didn’t even know them…which is really weird as far as why I did that, I don’t know,” he said.

“Well, you know, I realize that I have messed up. But I’m not a bad person, and anybody you talk to will tell you that.

“I think it’s bad…but I don’t think it’s the end of the world for me, you know.

“I shouldn’t be condemed, you know, for doing one little, one thing.”

“I’ve done a lot of good things, and sure they don’t make up for doing that bad thing.”

The Boscos bought the home where they were murdered from Clark’s parents about six months before the murder.

Clark said he bought the gun he used to shoot the Boscos from an acquantance early in the summer of 1993.

It was already in his car, when he woke up in the middle of the night and drove to their home on Kelly Drive in the Swan Sites subdivision.

When investigators asked Clark what he intended to do when he got the Bosco home, he replied, “My intentions? I probably didn’t have any. I wouldn’t do that on purpose.”

Clark said he parked in the Bosco’s driveway, took his flashlight and gun and got into their house.

The power was shut off and the phone line was cut into the Bosco home, officials said.

Clark said he didn’t remember shutting off the power.

But he said “it’s probable” he shut the power off and cut the phone line.

The power to the Bosco home was turned off at 1:47 a.m. investigators discovered. An electric clock on the kitchen stove was stopped at that time.

Clark said he was alone during the murder “as far as I know.”

Investigators theorize Clark got into the house through the window of a ground level bathroom, which was left open.

Crime scene photographs show that no screen covered the window.

Clark told investigators he did not remember climbing the stairs to the second floor bedroom where the Boscos lay sleeping, but he did remember standing in the doorway to the room.

John Bosco was shot first by Clark because he was closest to the door, said Clark.

“I just remember hearing or seeing the shot being shot,” he said.

“I just remember a point…sticking the gun out and shooting. I didn’t aim or anything.”

“I just pointed it towards him. I didn’t point at a specific part of him.”

Clark said he was about four feet away from John Bosco when he fired the first time.

The autopsy of John Bosco, performed by State Medical Examiner Dr. Gary Dale of the State Crime Lab, said he died from one gunshot wound to the head.

The fatal bullet entered his skull about two inches below the top of his head, very close to the center of his forehead.

The bullet had spent its force by the time it went throught the back of John Bosco’s head and was found lying under his head on the pillow.

John Bosco never moved after he was shot, said Clark

Clark said after he shot John Bosco, he heard “some kind of clicking sound or something” from Nancy Bosco.

Clark said he had an “instant reaction” that she had a gun.

Officials found that Nancy Bosco had put her eyeglasses on, and had knocked the telephone off the bedside table before she was shot by Clark.

She screamed in terror.

“I wouldn’t say it was a scream, but it probably was. It seems like it would be a scream, you know, just being the circumstances (it) seems like that’s what the action would be,” Clark said.

Clark then turned his gun on her.

But shooting Nancy Bosco “it wasn’t like me actually shooting, shooting her, or shooting at her,” Clark said.

Clark said he “just fired in her direction” three times.

Two of the shots hit Nancy Bosco.

The autopsy report from the State Crime Laboratory said one shot (probably the first shot at her) entered Nancy Bosco’s back about 16 inches below the top of her head, and 5/8 inch left of her spine.

The bullet hit one of her ribs, her lung, and shoulder blade before in left her shoulder.

The same bullet then went into her head below her jaw, then hit bone and ricocheted out her eye, breaking the lens of her glasses.

Autopsy studies show she must have been in a defensive crouch, similar to the fetal position, for the bullet to have traveled on its path.

The bullet from the second shot entered the right side of her head, next to her ear,  5 7/8 inches below the top of her head.

The autopsy showed that bruises on her right calf and left thigh occurred shortly before her death.

Because the bodies of the Boscos were nude when discovered one week after the murders, rape was suspected by officials.

Forensic samples were taken from both bodies.

More samples were taken from Clark after his arrest.

DNA testing showed conclusively that semen samples recovered from Nancy Bosco, and the sheets on the bed, did not come from Clark.

The friend said the Boscos were “trying to have a baby” before they were murdered.

Clark said he left the room after shooting the couple.

“It’s possible that I touched her (after killing her),” said Clark.

“I didn’t touch her in any sexual way.”

But crime scene photographs show that Clark did indeed touch Nancy Bosco before he left the bedroom that night —  he placed a pillow over Nancy Bosco’s face when he was finished shooting her.

Investigators found the bullet from Clark’s fourth shot in the roof of the porch outside the bedroom were it became wedged after passing completely through the wall of the house.

Clark said he did not recall picking up the spent cartridges from his gun after he was done with the shooting.

But no cartridges were found in the bedroom or anywhere else on the Bosco’s property.

Clark’s gun, which was positively identified by ballistics tests as the murder weapon, is a 9 mm Smith and Wesson semi-automatic pistol.

When the pistol is fired, the spent shell casing are ejected onto the ground.

Clark said he did not remember wearing gloves during the murders, but none of his fingerprints were found anywhere in the house.

Clark told investigators he did not recall taking anything from the house.

But officials knew a hand gun was missing from the house.

Investigators took great pains in an attempt to identify and locate the missing gun. Clark’s bedroom in his parent’s house was searched.

His car was searched, and his dorm room at college was searched.

Several weeks after Clark’s arrest, his attorney brought a .357 magnum Ruger revolver to the office of Deputy Lake County Attorney Bob Long.

It was found by Clark’s parents hidden in a packing box inside of a trumpet case.

Clark told investigators that after he murdered the Boscos “I guess I just went to bed, I really don’t remember.”

He said he wasn’t sure he had even committed the crime until he heard about the murders from fellow employees in his father’s furniture shop.

“I have no idea why I did it. I don’t know why I would want to do it.”

Clark said he was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs when he committed the murders.

The dreams about the crime continued for Clark even after he committed the murders.

“I had dreams about (the murders) after, the following weeks, I still had dreams of doing it,” he said.

But Clark might not have ever been caught if he had not told a fellow studnet about the crime.

He was arrested in Newberg, Ore., on Dec. 7, only days after he told a fellow student about killing the Boscos.

Clark left Montana in late August, 1993, shortly afer the Bosco’s bodies wre discovered to attend George Fox College at Newberg.

College friends told investigators of extreme mood swings in Clark becoming worse as the semester wore on at the Quaker college about 40 miles from Portland.

Two students from his dormitory said Clark began to drink beer for the first time in his life.

One other students said Clark showed him blotter paper doses of LSD and claimed he had taken the drug during a trip back to Bigfork at Thanksgiving break.

Clark approached one resident of his dorm, a psychology major, for help in interpreting dreams.

Clark told the young man about the dream he had of entering the Bosco house killing the couple.

The student took notes about the dream, but never suspected the dream had become reality.

His notes would become evidence for the prosecution after Clark was arrested and charged with murder.

Another college friend said Clark was in a particularly foul mood one evening while they were driving to a Portland computer store.

He confronted Clark about his increasing moodiness on Dec. 3, 1993.

The student later told investigators, “He said he had this dream of killing somebody. Then he said one day it wasn’t a dream anymore.”

The student said Clark felt, “Something overtook him and made him do it.”

The student said Clark told him, “I did something that could put me away for the rest of my life.”

The student said Clark then used his had and fingers to pantomime shooting a gun.

His friend knew Clark had a gun in his possession, because Clark had shown it to him during September.

The student was frightened by Clark’s admission and contacted college officials on Dec. 6, 1993.

They were referred to Greydanus and McKay, who listened to the student’s story and drove to Oregon immediately.

It was not the first time in their investigation that Greydanus and McKay had heard about the Clark family.

When the agents traveled to Colorado in October, 1993, to investigate ;leads in the case there, they interviewed Nancy Lauthe, John Bosco’s ex-common law wife.

She told the investigators that the Boscos had been having difficulties with the Clarks, and suggested they look for evidence of a connection to the murders.

The investigators probably knew they had their man when, within the first few minutes of their first interview with Clark, he asked, “Do you guys have enough to convict me?”

Clark told the investigators that he no longer had the murder weapon in his possession, but had given it to his friend, Chris Dimler, during his trip to Montana in late November. Dimler was to keep it, along with other possessions, until Clark’s return from Oregon.

Lake County Sheriff Joe Geldrich obtained a search warrant and found the gun at Dimler’s apartment in Kalispell.

Clark was brought back to Lake County by McKay and Greydanus on Dec. 8, to face charges.

But the students in his dorm had not heard the last from Clark.

Dec. 12, Clark placed calls from the Lake County jail the student who had talked to the investigators first.

Clark was extremely angry and demanded to know what they had told officials.

He asked the student who went to officials with the story, “Why did you talk?”

The student told him, “Because you need help.”

The next day Clark called another student and bragged he had come up with an alibi. Clark said he intended to claim he was at a movie with his sister and one of her friends the night of the murder.

Clark’s attorney was warned that any further calls from Clark to the students, who might have to testify as witnesses in the case, would not be tolerated.

“It would be nice to know why I did it…maybe I should talk to a psychologist or something, you know,” said Clark.

Clark will have the time and the opportunity to seek professional counseling.

On July 27, Clark was sentenced to 220 years at the Montana State Prison. As part of a plea bargain agreement, he will not become eligible for parole for 41 years, when he has reached the age of 60.

© 2013 William Simonsen. All rights reserved.

Clark Prison Interview 11/23/94

By William Simonsen

Deerlodge, Mont. — After spending the first few months of his 220 year sentence in prison, Shadow Clark said he is not guilty of the murders of the August, 1993, murders of two Ferndale residents. It was not the same story he told investigators or the judge at his sentencing.

Clark said he was with friends in Kalispell at the time of the murder.

He said someone else used his gun to commit the murders.

Clark, 19, pleaded guilty to two counts of deliberate homicide of John and Nancy Bosco as part of a plea bargain last August.

During an interview at Montana State Prison last Thursday, Clark said he did not want to plead guilty to the murders.

“I told my parents I didn’t want to, I told my lawyer I didn’t want to, I told the guard I didn’t want to” plead guilty, said Clark.

“The lawyer said, like, ‘There’s no way to win. If you don’t plead guilty and you take it to trial, you’re gonna lose and then they will give you the death penalty,'” Clark said.

Clark, 19, said his fear of receiving a death sentence, or a sentence of life imprisonment without parole, drove him to plead guilty.

Clark, a 1993 graduate of Bigfork High, is currently being held in a maximum security unit at the prison.

As part of the plea bargain Clark will not be eligible for parole until he is 60 years old.

He currently works in the kitchen of the prison about nine hours per day.

He and other inmates from his unit are allowed about one hour of exercise time in the gymnasium each day.

Clark said he spends most of his time locked in his cell with his cellmate.

Official investigation reports show Clark confessed to the crime.

But Clark said two investigators from the state “threatened” him and scared him into making the confession.

“They wouldn’t take no for an answer,” he said.

Clark said Ward McKay and Arlyn Greydanus of the state Criminal Investigation Bureau told him to “make it easier on yourself” and confess to the crimes.

“I don’t know if I’ve been framed or not, but they needed somebody to blame” for the murders, Clark said.

“I’d like to get it back in the courts because I think it was pretty much coercion to get me to plead guilty,” he said.

He said he thought the investigators questioned him because they felt he might have known who committed the crime.

Clark said he is not guilty of the murders because “you can’t be in two places at once.”

He said he was with three friends in Kalispell until 3 a.m. the day of the murder.

Investigators determined the murders were committed just before 2 a.m.

Clark said three friends visited him while he was being held in jail in Polson awaiting trial to tell him he was with them the night of the murder.

He said his friends told him they would testify to his whereabouts, but were never contacted by law enforcement officials or his attorney.

Clark said he thinks the investigators would change the time of the crime so he could be found guilty.

The Boscos purchased the house where they were killed from Clark’s parents about six months before the murder.

Clark said he had me the couple only once, when they came to look at the house before finalizing the purchase.

“Why would I do it,” Clark said.

“I’ve got no reason to kill anybody.

“I’ve never even hit anybody before.

“That’s a pretty big step from ever hitting anybody to killing someone.”

Clark denied he ever told Greg Tompkins, a fellow student at George Fox College, he committed the murders.

Tompkins notified college officials about Clark’s statements. The college officials notified law enforcement officials, who then questioned Clark.

Clark said Tompkins had “just basically seen the gun.”

Clark said he showed Tompkins his 9mm Smith and Wesson semi-automatic pistol. It was later determined by state forensic specialists to be the murder weapon.

Clark said he had the gun with him during part of his stay at college.

He told police he left  the gun with a friend in Kalispell when he came back to Montana on Thanksgiving break.

After Clark’s arrest, his gun was found at the residence of his friend.

Investigation records show Clark told investigators four shots were fired during the murders.

The records show four shots were fired during the murders, one bullet struck John Bosco, two bullets struck Nancy Bosco and one bullet missed both of the Boscos and lodged in the roof of their house.

Officials kept secret the number of shots fired during the murders, releasing only the information that three shots had struck the couple.

Last December, Clark told Greydanus and McKay he fired four shots during the murders.

But last week Clark said one of the investigators told him one shot hit “the guy”, so he “guessed” there were a total of four shots fired.

Clark said his gun was used by someone else in commission of the murders.

He said he did not keep the gun locked up. He said ” lots” of people had access to the gun.

“My friends, my parents, my brother, his friends” could have taken the gun from his car and used it to murder the Boscos, said Clark.

Clark said he bought the gun that was later used as the murder weapon on impulse.

“I just wanted it,” he said.

Clark said he only practiced shooting the gun on two occasions. He said he was “not a very good shot.”

The autopsy report on John Bosco said he was shot very close to the center of his forehead from a short distance away.

The autopsy report on Nancy Bosco said she was shot twice while cowering in the couple’s bed.

In his statement to McKay and Greydanus, Clark said he had recurring dreams about committing the murders for some time before he woke up in the middle of the night and went to the Bosco’s house.

Shortly before he murdered the Boscos, Clark was on vacation with his family in Alaska.

Last week Clark said he began having the dreams about the murders while he was on the family vacation.

Clark told another student at the college about his dreams last fall.

Clark said last week he told his fellow student about several different dreams.

“The cops, they kind of stuck them all together trying to make them all one big thing,” he said.

Clark said he never used drugs before or during the crime.

But Clark said he took LSD while he was home visiting last fall.

He said the drug had no effect on him.

“You know what’s strange? About that time I actually felt like I had done it because of the dreams. They were kind of similar,” he said.

“Now I don’t even remember it.”

He said it was “not very likely” that he awoke and acted out his dream of murdering the Boscos, as he confessed to state investigators.

Clark said he had never broken into another person’s house.

“I think I would have better things to do.”

Clark said if he wanted to sneak into another person’s home, he would chose another house, “because I know that house, I helped build it.”

Investigation reports said the murderer turned off the power to the house and cut the telephone lines before he committed the crime.

The reports said access to the house was gained through a bathroom window in the basement of the house.

Clark said while his family lived in the house, his parents slept in the bedroom where the Boscos were killed.

Clark said one year ago he didn’t “expect to be anywhere.”

“I’d just started putting stuff together, I guess you’d say, and started figuring stuff out.”

Clark said he was not going back to George Fox College for the second semester last year. He said he intended to attend FVCC instead.

He said it took all of his savings plus a grant from the school to pay for one semester. He said the cost of tuition, and room and board, at George Fox College was about $15,000 per year.

Clark said he would have taken courses in computer science if he had continued in college.

The supervisor of his unit in prison said he expects to assign Clark to computer-related tasks in the food services department in the near future.

Prison officials enrolled Clark in a psychological counseling program, Clark said.

“But I haven’t seen anybody yet.”

“I know other people in it and they try to stick you on a bunch of drugs,” said Clark.

Clark said he intends to finish his college work with correspondence courses while serving his sentence.

Clark said he was taught karate by his father during his childhood, and “should be able” to protect himself from other inmates “if I could ever get myself to do it.”

“People here say I need to do something when people pick on me, but I never do,” he said.

Clark said the thing that frightened him most about prison is the level of violence.

“It’s pretty violent, even though it’s a pretty mellow joint.

“It’s violent for me coming from a Christian home and Christian college,” said Clark.

Clark said he was he was being pursued by sexual predators in the maximum security unit where he is being held.

District Court records show he filed for a review of his sentence on Sept. 27.

A sentence review is judicial process where the a sentence of one person is compared with the sentence given to another person convicted of a similar crime.

Sentence reviews do not consider legal issues, only if the sentence is “proportionate” said Deputy Lake County Attorney Bob Long.

Long said considering Clark could have gotten the death penalty for his crimes he is confident the sentence will be upheld.

Clark said he also contacted the Montana Defenders Project at the University of Montana Law School about appealing his case to a higher court.

© 2013 William Simonsen. All rights reserved.

Inside Montana State Prison 11/23/94

By William Simonsen

Deerlodge. Mont. — Through the small windows the sweep of the broad valley can barely be seen beyond the high fences topped with concertina wire and guard towers at every corner.

There is little time for gazing through the windows for the occupants of this room.

Their thoughts are occupied with survival.

The window is bulletproof and shatter resistent.

It is reinforced with metal bars.

It is in a cell in Maximum Security Unit One at Montana State Prison.

The unit is a world unlike any other.

It is not of the planet earth, though it is inhabited by men.

It is like one of the circles of hell.

To get to this unit inmates or visitors must pas through two sets of double electrically-operated remote controlled doors, a electrically operated gate and three more sets of doors.

When the final door slams shut, it is as sharp and final a sound as a coffin closing.

Walking across the prison yard to the unit it resembles a small college campus with paved walks and people bustling about, even on this cold November morning in the snow.

There are men in those towers with high-powered rifles ready to quell disturbances in the yard.

The cross-hairs of the rifle’s telescopic sights focusrsndomly on everyone walking across the yard.

Violence, depravity and fear live here.

Trapped in this place are men who have murdered, raped and maimed. Many men.

They would not flinch from committing these acts again — in truth, they might enjoy it.

The noise and the smell of the crowded unit are overpowering.

The clanging of electrically operated doors and the voices of the inmates echo off the hard smooth concrete and steel surfaces of the building.

Although the units are clean and well-maintained, there are smells that overpower even the strongest disinfectant — the acrid smells of fear and anger.

Violence lies just below a very thin veneer of civilization in this place.

Only men the prison administration considers dangerous offenders are assigned to this building.

The voices are not unlike the voices of men in groups spearated from women anywhere.

If not for the bars on the windows, it could be a college drom or an army barrack.

The menace and the knowledge of violence and danger behind the voices is singular.

In a college dormitory if a young man plays a prank on roommate, the roommate may threaten his life, all in good fun.

No pranks are played here. Threats against cellmate’s lives are not a laughing matter.

There are four wings in this two-story building.

About 20 cells on each floor of each wing open onto a day room about 25 feet square.

Tables and stools are bolted to the bare concrete floor in the day room.

When inmates are not at their jobs or at the gymnasium, they spend their time in the day room, or locked down in their cells.

When an inmate is in his cell a series of eight locked doors and gates separates him from the outside world.

An observation cubicle, like a small airport control tower, hangs in the center of the unit.

From behind its bulletproof glass and bars, a guard controls all of the electric doors in the unit.

In order to gain access to the cubicle, the guard inside must pass a key through a slot to guard outside and both must run their keys in separate lock simultaneously.

The prison is divided into three areas. High security, where all prisoners wear tan shirts and pants, is divided by an internal fence system from low security where all prisoners wear blue denim.

The prison chapel straddles the dividing fence.

The prisoners are segregated inside the chapel into high and low security areas.

The third area of the prison, where death row inmates are held, is in a far corner of the prison, separated from the rest of the prison by space and more fences and gates.

Prisoners on death row are not allowed out in the prison yard.

They have a separate exercise area in the center of their cellblock with an open roof.

In an twist of irony, the cells are called “houses” by administrators and inmates at the prison.

But perhaps the name is more fitting than ironic.

The cells, about 8 by 12 feet in size, are home to two men,

The bunks are metal, the window in the door that leads to the day room is even smaller than the window to the outside.

Small signs of freedom are evident in one of the day rooms.

A half-completed jigsaw puzzles and a monoply game are set out on one of the tables.

A television set is on the shelf of one of the cells.

They are privileges that can be taken away to enforce rules and keep order in this chaotic place.

The men who live here are not allowed to open doors.

They are not allowed to decide whether to walk through doors.

Those decisions are made for them by others

Before any of the inmates may walk through a door, they must wait for the unseen hands to throw a switch to electrically open the door.

Their ives are completely regulated, from the time they wake up in the morning, unti lights out each night, each minute of their time is controlled.

The men in the cellblock glare at visitors through hostile expressions set off against dead eyes.

They are waiting.

Waiting for their time in this hell to end. Or merely waiting for the next explosion of violence from another prisoner.

Waiting for something to happen.

They are like lost souls drifting on a river of time without any familiar places or signposts guiding their way.

They have either stepped outside the normal course of human existence, or have been, by courts and law, been banned to the nether regions of human existence.

They know they have been banished.

They know they have been judged evil by the rest of humanity.

And that knowledge feeds their anger like dripping hot acid.

One day room and its adjoining cells houses prisoners who have been judged to be mentally unable to cope with the rest of the men in the cellblock.

They are the true lost souls of the beast.

Some are old, some are infirm, some are merely not smart enough to fend for themsleves.

They are kept separate because officials fear they will fall prey to the predatory prisoners in the unit.

The are also the only inmates who smile — either because they know they are protected, or perhaps because they have lost even the knowledge of where they are living.

Other inmates loiter in groups of two or three outside the dayrooms, in the main halls of the unit.

They watch any activity like carrion-feeders ready to drop upon the unwary to feed.

Some pretend to be doing the chores necessary to keep a semblance of order in the unit — laudering uniforms, serving food, and other menial tasks.

But they are wary. They watch everyone around them.

They know that their primary task is to survive.

One inmates is occupied setting up a small table with key fobs woven from horse hair.

It is beautiful intricate time consuming work.

Inmates in maximum security are allowed to work with horsehair, but forbidden wood carving. To carve wood, knives must be used.

Knives are not allowed here.

Getting out of the cellblock is every bit as complicated as getting in.

Visitors must pass back through the gates and doors, under the unseen eyes in the towers, and show proper indentification.

Visitors hands are stamped with ink that glows only under ultraviolet light.

A visitor could be knocked unconscious and his clothes taken to replace an inmate uniform, but his hand can’t be taken and substituted for inmate’s hand.

Although the wind blows through the chain-link perimeter fence unimpeded, the air smells fresher and cleaner outside the fence.

© 2013 William Simonsen. All rights reserved.

Listen Up, Officials

Listen Up, Officials 4/20/94

By William Simonsen

Governmental officials tell us they honestly are trying to listen to the public.

Official listening is now so well controlled it is deaf.

Governments in general much more intersested in telling the public what to do than listening to its citizens.

Government officials have learned how to structure public debate so it can be easily controlled and ignored.

In the past when public meetings were held speakers on both sides of an issue would speak, debate, holler, call names and argue.

Democracy is and always has been a noisy, messy affair.

Sometimes public meetings on contentious issues would resemble a hockey game without officials.

But the system worked.

Win or lose, people wanted things settled.

Citizens were heard in a public forum. They had the chance to sway others to their point of view about public policy.

Most of our public institutions, from volunteer boards to the U.S. Senate, were designed to encourage public debate.

I think out founding fathers believed that the public airing of ideas tends to separate good ideas from bad. At the very least it allowed one side to hear opposing ideas, even it it disagreed.

I believe that citizens attended meetings — town meetings, city council meetings and school board meetings — in greater numbers in the past because the meetings were not only a place to be heard, but partly because were the best free entertainment in town.

Beginning several years ago many agencies stopped having public hearings where freedom of speech could be exercised.

The gagging of the public debate of issues was done in a very subtle way.

Arguing and debating became negative practices, frowned on by the very officials who said they wanted public input and comment on issues.

Many public meetings are no longer meetings where people get up before a crowd and speak.

Instead there are public forums where people may go and speak with public officials about issues that concern them.

They resemble cocktail parties without the booze. Citizens may exchange ideas with officials.

But public debate, the mechanism which allowed citizens to argue out issues with each other, is missing.

People representing both sides of an issue are free to speak with officials, but not each other.

Cocktail party forums are not real public meetings. They are exercises in how to pander to officialdom.

Officials call it reaching a consensus.

Consensus is highly overrated.

Consensus means officials have ignored a lesson they should have learned on the schoolyard — trying to please everyone never works.

Consensus kills new ideas. If new ideas are compromised enough in a vain attempt to please everyone they become an excuse for supporting the status quo.

An example of consensus of in action:

A public car has a flat tire.

Some people want to drive the car, so want to fix the flat.

Others don’t want to drive, so don’t want to fix the flat.

Instead of taking vote to see which side has the majority, officials attempt to reach a consensus on the flat tire issue.

An official decides, after a series of public forums, that in order to please both sides he will order the tire half filled with air.

Everyone should be happy because nobody lost.

But lost is the reality that no one can drive a car with a half-flat tire very safely or very far. Lost too is the reality that the car will be driven in spite of one groups desire not to have it driven.

Instead of one group losing, everyone lost.

Nothing changed, stagnation set in.

Government is in danger of drowning in a stagnant pool of consensus.

Officials brought the situation on themselves.

Officials learned not to make decisions in public, at public meetings.

Instead they take matters under advisement and announce their decision with press releases days or weeks later.

Yes, they will hear from parties on both sides of an issue after they announce their decision, but they no longer are required to stand up to the heat of a hostile audience booing at them.

Taking an issue under advisement means the official does not want to fell the public’s heat.

While some would defend the officials, saying they should not be required to take the abuse of an audience, I disagree.

A booing audience a message to the official that he may have made the wrong decision.

The citizens are trying to tell him something — he merely turns a deaf ear saying he should not be abused.

Officials deserve to be publicly booed when they make decisions that do not reflect the will of the people.

I do not trust democracy that is not messy and noisy.

It does not work.

Consensus does not breed satisfaction with government. it breeds distrust.