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UW To Break Ground On Native American Longhouse Facility October 25

GroundbreakingA groundbreaking ceremony for the University of Washington Native American longhouse-style facility, Wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ (Intellectual House), will take place on the UW campus in Seattle, Fri., Oct. 25, from 3-5:30 p.m.

The ceremony will be held at the facility’s construction site currently located in the N6 parking lot between Lewis and McMahon Halls. The event is open to the public.

University leadership, as well as area tribal leaders, will offer remarks. Included in the program will be UW President Michael K. Young, UW Vice President for Minority Affairs and Vice Provost for Diversity Sheila Edwards Lange, and Wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ Committee Co-Chairs W. Ron Allen (Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Chairman and Chief Executive Officer) and Charlotte Cote’ (UW American Indian Studies Associate Professor). Duwamish Tribal Chairwoman Cecile Hansen and Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman will be among the participants as well.

Wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ, pronounced “wah-sheb-altuh” and known as the Lushootseed language name for “Intellectual House,” will serve as a learning and gathering place for Native American students, faculty and staff, as well as the UW and surrounding community. It will be a symbol that honors the region’s tribes and serve as a resource that contributes to a sense of unity for the entire campus.

Wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ will feature a “village concept” that includes two primary buildings and a central outdoor gathering space. The Oct. 25 ceremony will feature the groundbreaking for the project’s first phase which is the 8,400-square foot Community Gathering Building and the outdoor space. Both are planned to be operational for winter quarter 2015.

eNews Fall 2013The design for Wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ was created by the Seattle architectural firm of Jones & Jones. It will showcase the Pacific Northwest coastal-longhouse style and include elements that speak to Native people from all regions of the country.

The planning process to build Wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ received input and guidance from UW community members, an elders committee and regional tribes. A site blessing was performed on April 10, 2009, and the Wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ name was gifted to the project by the late Vi Hilbert, a Lushootseed linguist and elder in the Upper Skagit Tribe.

Donations and pledges totaling almost $6 million are supporting the design and construction of phase one. Phase two of the project will include further fundraising for the second building, a Teaching and Learning space.

For more information, contact Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity Tribal Relations Liaison Ross Braine at