“You see your culture coming out of the ground like a power”: Uncanny Encounters in Time and Space on the Northwest Coast
The stunning natural beauty of the Olympic Peninsula draws millions of tourists from around the world each year. In addition, the region is home to numerous indigenous communities – including the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. It would seem that the region possesses the necessary components for a new eco-tourist economy: marine and terrestrial wild life, “pristine” glacial peaks, miles of “undeveloped” coast line, quaint towns and indigenous occupants. However when a state and municipal waterfront development project unearthed a 2,500-year old Klallam village and burial site in the City of Port Angeles in 2003, social and cultural divisions within the greater community – ever present just below the surface – threatened to erupt when Native categories for defining land and objects as sacred conflicted with those of other – and equally passionate – user groups. This paper examines the multicultural divisions and back stories emerging and the uncanny dilemmas presented in the wake of the recent “discovery.” Clearly, many people, in particular Natives and non-natives are in conflict over how best to successfully re-develop the Olympic Peninsula’s struggling post-timber communities. Diverse and contentious user groups clash over which heritage(s) truly define the Olympic Peninsula and ultimately will prevail when it comes to preserving lands deemed ‘sacred’ and interpreting the memories, experiences and histories that haunt the region.