About 200 people showed up at Chief Garry Park on Wednesday for the dedication of a memorial inspired by the park’s namesake, revered Spokane tribal leader Spokane Garry, who died in 1892.
The Gathering Place monument, incorporating several Spokane tribal themes, replaces a deteriorating concrete statue of Chief Garry, which was removed in 2008, and the short-lived appearance of a totem pole favored by coastal tribes.
The ceremony was attended by Spokane Mayor Mary Verner and Spokane tribal Chairman Greg Abrahamson, who said Garry was “one of the first of our people to learn a foreign language – English.”
Born in 1811 to a Spokane chief, Garry was educated at the Red River Settlement’s Anglican mission in Canada, where he was given his Anglo name.
Garry returned to his ancestral home on the Spokane River, where he became an interpreter and represented the interests of the Middle and Upper bands of the Spokane Tribe during a critical time in the encroachment of white settlers.
Also in attendance on Wednesday were Garry’s descendants Theresa Williams and Sue Garry, a principal in the Marysville, Wash., School District, who spoke of her ancestor’s contribution to the education and welfare of his people.
Though Garry struggled to obtain a Spokane tribal homeland, she said, “He sought to mediate misunderstandings.”
Ultimately, the city of Spokane was incorporated in 1881, the same year the Spokane reservation was established on a 159,000-acre corner of the tribe’s 3 million-acre homeland.
According to tribal Vice Chairman Mike Spencer, the circular monument comprises culturally appropriate symbols, including the circle entry representing the sun, stone columns representing drums and youth, a replica of an ancient pictograph and steel salmon swimming upstream.
The approximately $40,000 monument was built with the assistance of a $10,000 grant from the Spokane Parks Foundation and community donations, including gifts by businesses and local schoolchildren. Labor was donated by the Northeastern Washington and North Idaho Building and Construction Trades Council.
Much of the credit for completion of the monument in the east Spokane park was given to Spokane tribal member Jamie Sijohn, who spearheaded the three-year effort.