One autumn day, after school my twin brother Thomas and I noticed that our family’s dog was not outside on his chain. Nooksack usually barks or howls at us, once we step off the school bus in the afternoon. He will continue barking; until he gets the attention that he is craving from us. I thought that my step-dad might have moved him inside the house, before he went to work. After searching the house, my brother and I realized that Nooksack was missing. I was beginning to worry when my confident brother suggested that we walked along the naval base in Seattle, WA. I was literally stumped on where he could be, because normally he would chase our school bus whenever he broke his chain. As we walked the neighbored, my brother and I gave out his description to the other kids we passed. We knew he liked all children, since we were about to turn ten years old on New Year’s Eve.
“Where could he be?” I thought to myself.
“Let’s go check the nature trail. Nooksack is used to us walking with him in that area.” Thomas suggested.
Nooksack was a dark brown and tan German-Shepherd mix, who was born different colored eyes. His left eye was light blue and his right eye was a dark brown, which made him unique. I was getting frustrated and sad because we couldn’t find him, but my brother was sure we would find him. I continued calling his name, as my brother continuously whistled for him.
We walked down a winding hill, until we reached a path which was lined with wild flowers and apple trees. My brother decided to grab a couple of the green apples for us, as we continued walking along the trail. I stopped to pick some wildflowers for my mom, as Thomas handed me an apple. I stuck my apple in my pocket and we continued looking and calling for him.
In the distance, we saw a small wooded trail, which lead deeper into the woods. My brother and I were sure we had never seen it before. At first, I didn’t want to follow the new trail, because I was worried about getting lost. However, my brother assured that he knew the way back to our home. As we approached the trail, I noticed a large set of paw prints, which belonged to a large dog like Nooksack.
I knew that the paw prints could belong to our dog, so I became excited and showed my brother what I had discovered. He suggested that we follow the paw prints and the new trail we had found. Not long after we set out on the wooded trail, we came to a clearing and found a wooden gate. The gate was made of two totem poles with carvings of animals and a sign that read, Discovery Park in bright yet bold yellow letters. My brother and I walked through the gate and followed the walkway, until it led to two small buildings that were painted an off-white color. As we got closer to the buildings, I noticed a small playground with a set of swings and a tall metal slide. My brother and I ran to the swings, when a four-legged figure appeared from behind the trees that lined the backside of the playground. Suddenly, I realized it was Nooksack walking toward us with his tail wagging and barking at my brother and I. Personally, I was thrilled about finding our dog, but even more excited to have found such an interesting place.
“There you are! Come here boy.” I called out.
My brother and I played fetch with Nooksack, until he had had all the attention he could stand for the moment. He decided to go lay down in the shade, while we investigated the buildings that we had discovered. The first building was open, so my brother and I quietly made our way inside the mysterious buildings. I stood in amazement of what we found inside of the building, which was full of real-life Indian artifacts. The buildings walls were lined with clothing, unique jewelry, moccasins, and wooden sculptures. In addition, some interesting artifacts were enclosed in a locked glass case that lined the back wall. My brother pointed out some beautiful paintings of different Indians who were riding their horses. These paintings were leaning against a wall near a closet, but the closet was locked.
My brother and I decided to venture out of the building, in order to explore what was inside of the second building. Once, we were inside of the building, we found more glass cases with more impressive artifacts. In addition, we found a small model, which showed the two buildings and the playground. My brother and I read the different articles and notices that were hanging on the walls before we left the building.
“I’ll race you to the swing…Sis!” My brother yelled.
Suddenly, he took off running toward the swing set and I was closing in fast, but he beat me to the swing as usual. After we had played on the swings for a while, I pointed out the tall metal slide. My brother jumped off the swing and ran toward the slide, so I decided to follow him. He began climbing toward the top of the slide as I stood at the bottom and watched. Finally, I decided to climb the stairs, in order to reach the top of the slide but my heart began pounding with fear. When I reached the top of the slide, the excitement started to replace the fear that I had felt. I felt the wind rush against my face, as I slid down the enormous slide. In that moment, I could not believe how much fun we were having in this new park, which we had discovered while looking for our dog.
We lost track of time over the next few hours and the sun began to set overhead, so we put Nooksack’s leash on him. My brother stopped me and urged to be quiet, because he had heard a sound coming from the woods. Our dog began growling and barking, as a figure of a large man appeared to be coming out of the woods. My brother and I stayed behind our dog, as we hid under the slide.
My brother whispered “Stay here with Nooksack. Be prepared to run, just in case.”
“I won’t leave you.” I declared as my heart began pounding.
“I will be right behind you.” He promised.
Just as my brother came out from under the slide, I saw an older man with dark skin and long black hair approaching us. The man was using an old wooden walking stick as a cane. He was dressed similar to the men in the paintings, which we had seen earlier inside the buildings. I noticed that he was wearing a pair of real leather moccasins, like the ones we had seen in the glass display cases.
“Hi, I am Chief Twin Feather. I did not mean to frighten either of you. I am the caretaker here at the museum and the playground.” The mysterious man claimed with a friendly smile. “What brings you both here so late?”
“We were looking for our dog and we found him here at the park, but we lost track of time!” Thomas answered as he shook the man’s hand. Nooksack began wagging his tail and barking his friendly bark, like he knew the man as he reached down to pet him.
I stepped out from under the slide to shake the man’s hand and introduced myself to him.
“Your dog has been coming to visit me for about a month now.” The Chief revealed.
“No wonder he breaks his chain a lot!” I responded. “It’s nice meeting you, but we have to go home.”
“Come back anytime you want and be sure to bring your dog.” He declared with a warm smile.
After we made it home, we told our mom all about the Indian park and museum that we discovered in the woods. Our parents decided to follow us to the park the next and they brought my little brother Jamie along. Chief Twin Feather met our parents and my little brother loved the simple playground as much as we did. Every day after school, we took our dog to see Chief Twin Feather, while my brothers and I played at the park. The Chief taught us about the many artifacts in the museum and what each on represented. I enjoyed hearing his many interesting, yet intriguing stories shared about how his ancestors lived. One day, he invited us to a special ceremonial dance and he gave my family new tribal names.
My official Indian name was Free Spirit and my twin brother’s name was Wild Eagle. However, I don’t remember what he named the rest of my family, but it was one memorable night. For the next few years, my brothers and I always met up with the Chief at the park, so he could teach us more about his culture. Furthermore, he took us on a tour of the lighthouse, since he was also the caretaker. We had a wonderful time and I will never forget Discovery Park or the many things he taught us.
Today, Discovery Park is one of the largest wildlife parks in Seattle, Washington. The park has grown considerably, since we lived there in the early 80’s. I noticed that there have been many changes since the last time my family visited this park. However, a few things have remained the same, like the lighthouse and the Indian Cultural Center that once was a small museum.