Elaine Grinnell

Jamestown S'Klallam and Lummi


It began in frightening times for young Elaine. She sat near a potbelly stove with her grandfather, David Prince, during World War II blackouts along the Jamestown Beach. But as he calmly peeled apples and told stories, Elaine listened, her fears forgotten as she pressed each word into her mind. He gave her the gift of storytelling.

Today, this art medium overlaps with traditional cooking and basketry for Elaine.

She spent much of her life living around the Straights of Juan de Fuca (also known as the Salish Sea) where she digs clams, picks oysters, catches salmon, crab and octopus and prepares them in traditional ways.

“I have taught two generations of my family to do the same and am beginning to teach our third generation,” Elaine says.

She is also showing them how to gather, prepare, and weave Western Red Cedar bark along with their stories.

Because of that dedication, Khia Grinnell (Jamestown S’Klallam and Lummi) nominated Elaine for the CSA.

“My grandmother has worked tirelessly to preserve and share our culture,” Khia says. “She has served as an ambassador of our people in a manner that has made not only her family but her community proud.”

Following in the steps of her grandmother Elaine, Khia is a storyteller and serves on the Northwest Native American Basketweavers Association board alongside Elaine.

Elaine also serves on the Jamestown S’Klallam Culture Committee, the Native Elders Committee of the University of Washington, Northwest Native American Storytellers Association board, and is a certified Klallam language teacher.

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