The city of Langley is on its way to mending relationships with the people whose ancestors once called Whidbey Island home.
Mel Sheldon, a council member for the Tulalip Tribes, came to Langley Monday to personally express his thanks to the city for removing a pair of imitation story poles that were carved by white men during a time when it was illegal for members of the Snohomish Tribe to do so.
In September 2020, a Langley resident sent an email to the city’s citizen-led Dismantling Systemic Racism Advisory Committee, urging members to take a closer look at the poles made by a local artist and what they represent.
Councilmember Craig Cyr brought the issue to the council’s agenda in February 2022. The culturally inappropriate faux poles have since been removed from their Seawall Park site.
During a brief and informal gathering Monday afternoon, Sheldon presented an intricately carved and painted paddle to Mayor Scott Chaplin.
He presented the paddle again during the following council meeting. Chaplin, in return, gifted Sheldon a pin with the city of Langley’s logo, which features a whale, a heron and sunshine.
“We’re in the same canoe, and we’ll be paddling in the same direction together,” Sheldon said.