At a recent gathering at Kulshan Middle School, visitors from the Lummi Nation shared stories of the late Frank Lawrence, the Lummi artist of the Kulshan Middle School thunderbird logo, with district staff, including Kulshan principal Meagan Dawson.
The October 2019 gathering began with a traditional Lummi welcome which included blanketing and gifts. Several members of the late Mr. Lawrence’s family were in attendance, including his wife Tina (Olsen) Lawrence, his sister Helen Lawrence, his children and grandchildren, as well as his friends Steve Solomon and Cynthia Wilson.
The following is a brief history of the Kulshan name and the Kulshan Middle School logo shared by Principal Dawson, citing Cynthia Wilson of the Lummi Nation.
Celebrating 25 Years of the Kulshan Thunderbird
Our Kulshan community is celebrating a special anniversary this school year: 25 years ago, Kulshan Middle School opened its doors. During the development of the identity of Kulshan, students participated in a process to choose the school logo. Because our school name came from a Coast Salish word, the community wanted to choose a logo that held special meaning for the original inhabitants of the land in and around Kulshan Middle School. The original name of Mount Baker was Komo Kulshan (Kwelshan), which means Great White Watcher.
Cynthia Wilson of the Lummi Nation, writes about the Kulshan name here:
Ours stories and legends are handed down from generations to generations. They go back to the beginning of time — how we were created, how the rivers were created, how to heal ourselves and so on. Also they tell us that we have names of places within our gathering and hunting areas and one of these places we are talking about is known to us today as Mount Baker. We as Lummi people with a living language of our own call it Kwelshan. Before Kwelshan got its name, it was known as hey’i’ sngant which means big rock or big mountain. Kwelshan got its name after the mountain erupted and caused a big fire the people said at that time that the lighting caused the fire by hitting the mountain, causing damage to the side of the mountain. From that time the mountain was known and is still known as Kwelshan.
In 1995, competing against the orca whale and the king salmon, the thunderbird won out as the school logo via student vote. The thunderbird is a mythological bird responsible for protecting the salmon from the orca whales.
After choosing the thunderbird for a mascot, a local artist, Frank Lawrence of Lummi Nation, was commissioned to design our beautiful thunderbird logo. Mr. Lawrence coordinated all of the elements of the thunderbird into a balanced, easily recognizable logo for our website, letterhead, and sports teams. The thunderbird’s large wingspan and strong talons reflect the bird’s mighty speed and strength. Mr. Lawrence worked with our district design team to incorporate the Kulshan school colors of dark blue (representing the ocean), a deep red (representing the color of the sky when Mt. Baker erupted) and silver (representing the salmon).
The original newspaper clipping from 1995 is available here.
Beginning in 2019, the Kulshan school community offers a land acknowledgement at all public assemblies and full day staff trainings: We want to take a moment to acknowledge that the Lummi Nation and the Nooksack tribes are located in the heart of Whatcom County. Accordingly, we take this opportunity to recognize that we live, work and learn within the original homelands of the Coast Salish peoples and that their language names many of our schools here, including Kulshan. (Kwelshan) We acknowledge that the Coast Salish peoples have lived and nurtured these lands since time immemorial and we recognize that we are here because of the sacrifice forced upon them. In remembering these tribal communities, we honor and seek to raise up their legacy, their lives, their descendants, and their culture.