S'Klallam Foundation

The Port Gamble S'Klallam Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization rechartered from the Klallam Development Fund in 2002 to benefit the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe, its members, and its mission. The Foundation works to improve the quality of life for tribal members while increasing the understanding of the Tribe's rich cultural heritage with people residing in Kitsap County, the Puget Sound area, and beyond.

A Board of Trustees meets twice yearly to govern and direct the Port Gamble S'Klallam Foundation. The Board includes the following individuals:

Jeromy Sullivan, President
Chris Tom, Vice President
Renee Veregge, Secretary/Treasurer
Kyle Carpenter
Talia Decoteau
Ben Degnin
Barbara Leigh-Smith
Lee Neff
Lena Tunkara


The staff of the Foundation are Joan Garrow, Executive Director; Betty Decoteau, CFO; Steve Knowlton, Executive Assistant; Elena Von Sternberg, Accountant. The Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe donates the services of staff as needed to facilitate the work of the Port Gamble S'Klallam Foundation.

Foundation History

The Foundation's current focus is to advance appreciation and understanding of tribal art, history, and culture; promote education; and increase awareness and action to protect the environment.

A summary of the Foundation's projects and programs over time:

House of Knowledge

In 1999 the Tribal Council initiated what would become a $5 million dollar capital campaign, envisioning the first S'Klallam longhouse in over a hundred years. The longhouse was planned to be an integrated facility with a career and education center, a new home for the Little Boston Library, and an elders center. The House of Knowledge complex was designed by Johnston Architects of Seattle and Cutler/Anderson of Bainbridge Island.

The project construction began in 2002 and was completed by 2007. Senator Patty Murray agreed to serve as the Honorary Chair of the capital campaign. The effort included a Steering Committee and over 100 volunteers. It took many grants, a Congressional appropriation, many donations by businesses and individuals, and a substantial investment in the project by the Tribe.

Five tribal art auctions were held as fundraisers during these years. The first two art auctions were held at the UW Burke Museum in Seattle and the next auctions were held in the House of Knowledge Longhouse when it was completed. The generosity of artists to the House of Knowledge project cannot be understated.

The late Bea Charles and Adeline Smith, two wonderful members of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe who spent many years teaching the S'Klallam language, gave us the S'Klallam name for the House of Knowledge. We honor their teaching and gift of the word Xcntax.

We honor their teaching and gift of the word Xcntax. It is pronounced: Haa-chi-nought.

It is pronounced: Haa-chi-nought.

A History Book of the Tribe

We are excited that a five year project, the Tribe's history book, The Strong People: A History of the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe, was published in January, 2013 and is now for sale. We thank the following funders who helped to underwrite the book: Port Gamble S'Klallam Appendix X grants, The Genographic Legacy Fund, Nisqually Tribe Charitable Fund, The Potlatch Fund, Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund, Squaxin Island Tribe 1% Charitable Contribution Commission, the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe, and individual donations. A celebration and book reading occurred on February 27, 2013. Many people were involved in making this dream come true, and we are especially grateful for the memories of tribal elders that have been documented over the years. To purchase a copy ofhe Strong People, click here.

Preschool Capital Project

During 2011 and 2012 the Foundation was actively involved in seeking grants and fundraising for a desperately needed new Preschool Building. On the happy day of March 13, 2013 a grand opening was held to celebrate the completion of the new facility.

The building project focuses on the natural environment being a part of the curriculum for children with elements of nature integrated into the project. An example of this is finding an old growth cedar stump featured within the building for children to view as an active garden feature. Children view a living roof and active rain garden when they arrive and leave the building daily.

A tribal art auction in the fall of 2011 netted over $17,000 for the new preschool. Participants enjoyed the dinner and watching the preschool children perform traditional dances and songs. Grant funders for the preschool include the Medina Foundation, $25,000; Suquamish Tribe Appendix X, $1,000; Quil Ceda (Tulalip) Appendix X, $6,000; and many individual donors. The project finished on schedule and within budget, with the support of a HUD Indian Community Block Grant, $500,000; PGS Housing Authority, $50,000; and the Tribe's contribution. The children love their new preschool.

Portraits of Tribal Elders

Early in 2012, the Foundation, with the coordination of tribal staff, completed an elder portrait project funded by the Norman Archibald Charitable Foundation, Puget Sound Energy, the Tribe's Appendix X charitable funds, and tribal administrative funds. The project included 28 elders. The photographs were taken by photographer Eduardo Calderon late in 2011. Along with each print that was matted and framed with archival materials, we received a high resolution scanned image. Copies were made for each elder and the original scanned image is in the Tribe's archives. They are displayed in the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribal Center, opposite elder photos taken approximately 20 years ago from a project called "Pride Is Our Heritage" by photographer John Stamets.

snə̓xʷɬ yaʔyiyəŋ - canoe journey

Have you ever been at Point Julia in July and watched the canoes ask permission to come ashore? It's a tradition that was resurrected from ancient times in 1982 (thank you Emmett Oliver, Gerald "Jake" Jones, and other tribal leaders) with the Paddle to Seattle.

  • Canoe family
  • Point Julia Canoe Hosting
  • Canoes

The Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe is known for its wonderful hosting of this annual event. From the clambake, to the feast, the evening ceremony in the House of Knowledge Longhouse, and the great places to pitch a tent, people say it's one of their favorite stops along the journey. The Tribe sponsors the hosting, including staff time, resources, and the expenses. The event is open to the public. Shuttles are available to transport people to the beach.

The canoe families represent many tribes and come from near and very far. It's a daring trek to undertake, with all ages involved, and standing firm about no alcohol or drugs. Some say it's a life-changing experience and all involved feel proud of their culture and enjoy the social time of re-establishing friendships with other native people.

The Tribe's Canoe Families do fundraising throughout the year to help pay for the journey to a different host tribe each year, and the Port Gamble S'Klallam Foundation looks for grants and donations for this important event. We are thankful to The Potlatch Fund for their consistent support for the canoe journey. This year the canoe journey was hosted by the Nisqually Tribe, in Olympia, WA.  In 2017 the canoes will all meet in Sliammon, B.C.

Make a Donation to the Canoe Family
If you or your business would like to make a tax deductible donation to the Canoe Family please contact Kelly Sullivan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (360) 710-8959.

Tribal Art Programs

Through the years the Port Gamble S'Klallam Foundation has coordinated fundraisers and programs to educate and support tribal artists to become better well known for their talented work and to preserve knowledge of tribal elders:

  • PGSF has coordinated 6 tribal art auctions as fundraisers to benefit the House of Knowledge and Preschool building projects (from 2004 through 2011).
  • "Children and Educational Panels For Display," a youth grant involving learning about and photographing tribal ancestral places, resulted in learning activities for the children and educational panels that now are displayed in the Little Boston Library and the Youth Center. (2008-2011).
  • Washington Stories: historical panels tell the Tribe's story. They were developed by a Foundation/tribal team and toured throughout the State during 2007. They are now on display in the lobby of the Tribal Center. Funded by Humanities Washington and in coordination with the Museum of History and Industry.
  • Successfully applied for a Smithsonian Native American grant on behalf of tribal member, Joe Ives Sr., to do a mural dedicated to the elders (2006-2008) and supported Mr. Ives during the implementation of the grant. The mural is called "Telling Stories and Sharing a Meal". Tribal youth and other carvers assisted with the project.
  • A grant from Muckleshoot Charitable Fund allowed the Foundation to purchase art from tribal members for the House of Knowledge Longhouse (2004-2005).

One place to view Port Gamble S'Klallam art is at The Point Casino. There was a determined effort to have a piece of art from most tribal artists. As you walk into the Casino the desk has a brochure describing where to see several murals and smaller pieces of art throughout the casino. They are beginning to showcase a tribal artist for a limited time, with art available for sale.

Energy Efficiency

A grant funded by the U.S. Department of Energy resulted in the evaluation of 23 tribal buildings in 2010. The goal of the project was to provide a clear picture of the energy efficiency and conservation opportunities in tribal facilities to save energy and money and curb greenhouse gas emissions and associated risks. A building condition assessment was included as part of the project. A written report was prepared by Paul Horton Consulting Group, LLC, in March, 2011. Many of the recommendations have been implemented.


In 2012 the Kitsap Community Foundation provided a grant for weekend food bags for 6th-12th grade youth during March and April. Lunch was served in the Youth Center Monday-Friday during spring break for K-12th grade. In addition youth received a to-go breakfast bag Monday-Friday for the following morning's breakfast. 152 youth, K-12th grade, were supplemented with food through this project.


The Foundation was successful in obtaining a 2008 grant from WA State Department of Ecology. The grant, "Port Gamble Bay Toxic Site Sampling, Clean-up and Cultural Resource Participation", was integrated into other efforts done by the Tribe's Natural Resources Department.

Veterans Memorial

During 2007 planning, fundraising and construction for a tribal community Veterans Memorial occurred. Ron Charles, Rudolph Purser, Ivan George, Wayne DeCoteau and Bernard Tom consistently attended planning meetings. The Veterans Memorial was dedicated on Veterans Day in November, 2007. Six grants funded this effort. Later a flag pavilion and a walking path were installed.