From our most recent newsletter…
An 1860 Snohomish Tribe village just south of Langley is the starting point of the Tangled Web of History research project being sponsored by the South Whidbey Historical Society.
After inheriting a trunk of artifacts and newspaper clippings belonging to her great-grandmother, Ruth Galland Miller Bown, project historian Kyle Walker, M.A. decided to focus her research in three main areas:
The history of the Snohomish Tribe on South Whidbey (villages, events and notable figures); the impact European settlers and Asian immigrants on tribal assimilation, and challenges faced by mixed race families and women in a cross-cultural, rural setting.
How Portuguese sailor, Joseph Brown, and his wife Mary Shelton, a “high-born” member of the Snohomish Tribe, altered the cultural landscape of a permanent Snohomish village and greater Sandy Point area, into a thriving center of early maritime trade and a seasonal residential destination.
The experiences of Brown/Shelton family members working as undercover detectives for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of Treasury to investigate prostitution and “white slavery” sex trafficking, and to suppress the illegal sale of liquor and opium in saloons and on tribal reservations in the Pacific Northwest.
During the pandemic, the project was limited to online research and preliminary field surveys outreach with some residents of South Whidbey. Of surprise was the unexpected expansion of stakeholders and stories, new artifacts and archival materials.
To date, the project has established more than 31 separate project files by topic.
Research is finally able to expand to regional and state archival centers, previously closed during the pandemic.
A roundtable discussion with descendants, oral history interviews, website updates, and a new museum display on the indigenous history of South Whidbey are all in the works.
A part-time intern, funded by a grant from the Washington State Historical Society will also be assisting.
Research activities require additional funds to offset costs for materials, supplies, and travel to archival centers.
Donations are welcome and can be made in the enclosed remit envelope or online at
Individuals who have artifacts and archival materials pertinent to the project to share will be considered donors.
Donors will be acknowledged in project materials and presentations and receive periodic project updates.
For more information, email Kyle Walker at [email protected].