Posted by on Feb 21, 2017 in Featured

Saving Licton Springs by Matt Remle

Saving Licton Springs by Matt Remle

Nestled away in a North Seattle residential and commercial district lays the remnants of one of the last remaining sacred sites of the Duwamish peoples, Licton Springs. Licton (pronounced LEE’kteed) is derived from the Duwamish word le?qtid meaning red-paint, a connotation of the reddish colored mud from the springs.

The springs served as a location for spiritual gatherings for the Duwamish peoples, where they would gather annually to build sweat-lodges for cleansing. The red ochre pigment was also collected from the springs and used as a paint for different ceremonies and to decorate longhouses and other items with spiritual imagery. The reddish-mud was also utilized as an ointment by traditional healers.

For generations, the Duwamish Tribe gathered at Licton Springs, together with their relatives by marriage, in the proper season for harvesting sacred Red Ochre pigment, necessary for spiritual celebration and renewal. Like the Duwamish Tribe, neighboring First Nations consider the sacred site le?qtid to be a tangible cultural property inherited from their male or female Duwamish Ancestors. As a result of inter-marriage, neighboring First Nations have a material interest in access to and preservation of the sacred site le?qtid.

Thornton Creek was the home of the tuw’Xú?bidabS (“Tu’húbedabsh”, tuw’Xú?bid- Creek-People), a prominent group of the Duwamish recorded in Dr. T.T. Waterman’s ground-breaking work Puget Sound Geography.

The tuw’Xú?bidabS are the First People of McAleer Creek, Thornton Creek, Matthews Beach, and the northwest shoreline of hiI XáVu? (Big Lake, “Lake Washington”), an important district of the ?ál?altid (Ancestral Homeland) of Chief Seattle’s Duwamish Tribe.

Licton Springs was a therapeutic resource for the Duwamish Tribe, who built a wúXted (“WUKH-tud”, “sweat lodge”, sweat-house) near the springs. A wúXted was used to cleanse and revitalize a person’s spirit, as well as their body. For spiritual gatherings and ceremonies, the Duwamish People painted their faces with Red Ochre pigment, the reddish mud flowing from Licton Springs, and used the red pigment to decorate their longhouses and other objects with spiritual images. Healers administered herbs and soothed aching bodies with the red mud.” ~Thomas Speer*

Generations of colonial settlement to the region has drastically impacted the once vast network of healing springs. Licton Springs, itself, exist today as a mere trickle of its once prominent self. Urban sprawl has wiped away the diverse forests, creeks, and natural springs that once dominated this region.

Licton Springs

le?qtid cannot be re-created, replaced, or re-located. Its importance is beyond measure and description, and its value is beyond price. The Duwamish People are the stewards of le?qtid, other holy places and the natural endowment that dókwibuA (Creator) bestowed upon our ?ál?altid (Ancestral Homeland).

At the beginning of time, le?qtid (“Licton Springs”) was given to us by dókwibuA (Creator) in perpetuity. It is an inalienable part of our Patrimony, a legacy from our Ancestors, and the Cultural Heritage of the dxdew?abS (People-of-the-Inside), Chief Seattle’s Duwamish Tribe.” ~Thomas Speer

Efforts are currently underway to save Licton Springs as a historic preservation site.

by Wakíƞyaƞ Waánataƞ (Matt Remle- Lakota)

Matt Remle (Lakota) is an editor and writer for Last Real Indians and LRInspire. @wakiyan7








Every part of the Earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clear and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man.

The white man’s dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful Earth, for it is the mother of the red man. We are part of the Earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters, the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and the man, all belong to the same family.

This shining water that moves in streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you land, you must remember that it is sacred blood of our ancestors. If we sell you land, you must remember that it is sacred, and you must teach your children that it is sacred and that each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events in the life of my people. The waters murmur is the voice of my father’s father.”  ~Chief Sealth

*Historical information in this article provided by: Thomas R. Speer (Duwamish)