Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Breaking news! State ends transportation project on ancient tribal site

Washington state is abandoning its transportation project at Port Angeles, after spending $58 million there.

The decision by the state Department of Transportation was in response to a request Dec. 10 by the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe to leave the site. Construction of a dry dock there inadvertently disturbed more than 300 intact skeletons of the tribe's ancestors and uncovered an ancient Klallam Village, Tse-whit-zen. Portions of the village date back 17 centuries.

We admit to being somewhat conflicted by this development. It is an extremely important site and one that will enrich our knowledge of the Northwest's past for years to come. But still, $58 million is no small chunk-a-change. Never mind that besides losing that amount will be a still more expensive operation yet to get off the ground. We would like to think local tribes would be willing to contribute some portion of their gambling proceeds to offset the cost somewhat.