Andrew Morrison
One of the murals by Andrew Morrison that will be preserved and incorporated into the new school buildings.

Reddish Mud of a Spring or Eaglestaff—One Name Will Grace a New School

Richard Walker

A Seattle school program for Native American students and students from an alternative school will have a name that is based on the Duwamish name for a local spring.

Schools housing American Indian Heritage School and Pinehurst K-8 are being torn down to make way for new schools. American Indian Heritage School and Pinehurst K-8, which has an emphasis on social justice, are being combined into a single program and will share another site beginning this fall until a new school is built. Indian Heritage/Pinehurst is now called Licton Springs K-8.

The name was chosen by parents, teachers and community members. “Licton” is derived from the Duwamish word Liq’tid, for the reddish mud of a spring in North Seattle.

However, a Licton Springs K-8 parents committee and the Urban Native Education Alliance hope their new school, scheduled to open in September 2017, will be named Robert Eaglestaff School, after the late and beloved principal of Indian Heritage School. The school will be built in the Licton Springs neighborhood on the site of Wilson-Pacific School, the longtime home of Indian Heritage School.

Sarah Sense-Wilson, Oglala, chairwoman of the Urban Native Education Alliance, said Licton Springs K-8 is the name of a program, “and programs coexist with other programs within school buildings. So, programs are not permanent, [are] less stable and dependent on funding, whereas the building is permanent. This is why we are seeking the building be named after him.”

The Licton Springs Community Council, an association of neighborhood residents, also supports naming the school after Eaglestaff. “During his leadership, Indian Heritage experienced tremendous success with graduation rates and decreased drop-out rates for Native students,” the council wrote the school board in July 2013. “Robert Eaglestaff accomplished this success by enlisting community support and by integrating culturally responsive curriculum; ensuring he had Native staff/instructors; and affirming tribal values and traditional teachings as a foundation for Native learners. Robert Eaglestaff was a visionary who was deeply committed to improving the lives of all Native children.”

Wilson-Pacific is also the site of Native-themed murals featuring Chief Joseph and Chief Seattle by artist Andrew Morrison, Haida/Apache. The walls with the murals are being preserved and will be incorporated into the new school buildings.

RELATED: Will Endangered Seattle School Murals Be Saved?

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