For decades Spokane Public Library’s downtown branch was housed in the former Sears Roebuck building. The replacement structure, with its vast glass lens overlooking Spokane Falls, sits on the same site.
The 1994 dedication ceremony and blessing (delivered by tribal member, Peter Campbell) heralded the branch’s reopening. His words were profoundly moving. He shared that he had gone to his elders and asked them what he might say about this building occupying the same landscape where the Spokane Tribe and neighboring indigenous peoples gathered for millennia. The elders told him that the library’s presence would “continue to reach back and bring some of the old things forward” for both the First People and the new people while remaining the traditional gathering place for information—just as in times past.
The library’s November Native American Heritage Month programs embraced the wisdom, generosity and foresight expressed by Campbell. Indian artists, musicians, filmmakers, poets, canoe makers, language keepers and authors shared their culture.
Thanks to SPL for highlighting the presence and achievements of the first inhabitants and their descendants. Thank you to librarian, Jeff Benefield, who coordinated the splendid month-long focus on and celebration of Native Americans.
Peter Campbell’s blessing continues.