At the March 30, 2023 school board meeting, the BISD’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to change the name of Captain Charles Wilkes Elementary to x̌alilc (Halilts) Elementary.
“We deeply appreciate the name that the Suquamish Nation has gifted our community,” said BISD Superintendent Peter Bang-Knudsen. “This is not only an opportunity to right past injustices and honor our neighbors and original inhabitants of Bainbridge and the surrounding area, but it is also an opportunity to educate our children about the Suquamish Tribe’s historic and ongoing contributions.”
The rationale given in support of naming the school x̌alilc (Halilts) was:
The Renaming Committee used a consensus process and three sets of criteria (Policy and Procedure, District Improvement Plan, School Community Feedback) to narrow a list of 89 names down to three options.The school board heard the rationale and public comment on the finalists — Akio Suyematsu Elementary, x̌alilc (Halilts) Elementary and Sunrise Hill Elementary. (The recording of the meeting is available here; the renaming portion of the meeting begins around the 22-minute mark.)
- The Renaming Committee was given formal permission for the use of this name through a unanimous vote resolution by the Suquamish Tribal Council as well as the tribe’s culture co-op committee.
- x̌alilc (Halilts) meaning marked edge or rock in Lushootseed, is an important petroglyph belonging to the Suquamish Tribe located on Agate Point (northern end of Bainbridge Island).
- Although the exact date of the petroglyph’s origin is unknown, Dan Leen, an archaeologist specializing in Northwest Coast petroglyphs, suggests the designs are more than 1,600 years old.
- Each spring, when the Suquamish canoes are awakened in ceremony, the first stop by the canoe pullers is x̌alilc (Halilts) to pay respect to this ancestral marker.
- It is known that some petroglyphs have served as a welcome sign to visitors in indigenous territories. x̌alilc (Halilts) may have been such a welcome and to signal that you are entering the boundaries of the dxʷsəq’ʷəb village, later the site of Old Man House, home of Chief Seattle.
In addition to selecting the new name for the school, the board officially adopted the Orca as the school’s mascot.Click here to listen to the pronunciation of x̌alilc (Halilts).School LogoThe school logo was designed by artist Kate AhvakanaKate k̓yʔk̓ablu Neayuq Ahvakana is suq̓ʷabš a Suquamish Tribal member and artist. Kate grew up in an artistic home with prominent Native artist parents on the Port Madison Reservation, where she still resides in her family home. Pulling inspiration from both her suq̓ʷabš and Iñupiaq heritage, Kate creates traditionally grounded meaningful designs for her tribe and community, contributing art to various Suquamish tribal entities. Kate attended University Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) and holds a bachelor’s degree in art. Kate currently works for the Suquamish Tribe as a Director for the Culture Department. Kate enjoys working for and with her Suquamish Tribe to promote Suquamish culture and art.