Photo Gallery: WWU longhouse dedication

Many from the WWU, Bellingham, Whatcom County and local Indigenous communities came together on Thursday, April 11 to celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony for Western's new House of Healing longhouse.

The longhouse is the result of a 2016 letter written by Native American Student Union (NASU) members at Western looking for more support. This will be the first longhouse in the City of Bellingham, located at the south end of Sehome Hill Arboretum. 

“This is important that Western is answering the call,” Tribal Liaison Laural Ballew said. “It’s important because this shows that our students have a voice.”

During his speech at the ceremony, President Sabah Randhawa issued a formal apology for the university’s harmful past. 

“It seems to me that the ground-turning for the longhouse is an opportune time for me to offer a sincere apology on behalf of Western Washington University for the past racist teaching to the Lummi Nation. In offering an apology for these harms, we acknowledge that recognition and apology only ring true when accompanied by action by not only bringing awareness of the past into the present, but in acting to ensure reconciliation, repair and renewal."

Dignitaries at the event included Tony Hillaire, chairman of the Lummi Indian Business Council, RoseMary LaClair, chairwoman of the Nooksack Tribal Council, Bellingham Mayor Kim Lund, Whatcom County Executive Satpal Sidhu, and WWU Board of Trustees Chair Faith Pettis. 


Read more about the ceremony and plans for the longhouse in Cascadia Daily News.

WWU photos by Luke Hollister
Attendees plunge golden shovels into the ground at the longhouse ceremony.
Attendees plunge golden shovels into the ground at the longhouse ceremony.
An attendee in traditional Coast Salish garb.
Attendees under a tent listen to a speaker at the dedication.
Western's tribal liason, Laural Ballew, addresses the crowd.
The blackhawk dancers bless the ground.
A drummer chants and drums to open the dedication.
Attendees hold their hands in the air to give and receive blessings.