Advertising

The Seattle Times Company

NWjobs | NWautos | NWhomes | NWsource | Free Classifieds | seattletimes.com

Local News


Our network sites seattletimes.com | Advanced

Originally published Monday, November 22, 2010 at 8:45 PM

Comments (0)     E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

Williams family forever bound to totems

With a suitcase full of totem poles, Nancy Williams arrived Monday in Seattle to be here as the inquest process into the shooting death of her brother John by a Seattle police officer gets under way Tuesday.

Seattle Times staff reporter

With a suitcase full of totem poles, Nancy Williams arrived Monday in Seattle to be here as the inquest process into the shooting death of her brother John by a Seattle police officer gets under way Tuesday.

Nancy Williams, 52, brought totem poles carved by the youngest generation of the family all the way back to her grandmother, to show how important the tradition has been to every member, including her late brother.

"It keeps my dad alive in me; he is the one that taught me," she said of her father, Ray Williams, whose carving hangs over the door at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on the Seattle waterfront.

Her grandfather's work stands by the door — monumental totems he carved on Harbor Island, at his home on the Duwamish, using logs that had washed up on the beach.

John T. Williams was shot by Seattle police Officer Ian Birk on Aug. 30 after not responding when Birk ordered him to drop a knife. A member of the Ditidaht band in Canada, Williams was a member of a major carving family in British Columbia that has been selling model totem poles in Seattle since at least 1910.

Another sister, Rita Williams, stayed home in Vernon, B.C., but some of her work traveled along for the inquest hearing, in Nancy's bag, along with poles by other sisters and brothers.

Some are painted, some stained, some have abalone insets. Some are simply carved and some are ornate, with cut-through designs.

And they are alive with carved figures of frogs, killer whales, salmon, thunderbird and more, designs passed on through the family.

"I am not here for money. I am here to see justice done for John," said Williams, who traveled from her home in Vancouver, B.C., by bus to be at the King County Courthouse for a preliminary hearing to handle procedural matters for the inquest, including setting a date.

Another sister, Linda, also from Vancouver, was still trying to get here Monday night, as snow snarled the highways. Two other family members, brothers Eric and Rick, live in Seattle.

John T. Williams carved for a living, as do most of the Williams clan. He was carrying a board and small, folding pocket knife used for carving when Birk shot him.

Birk has said he stopped Williams because he was carrying an open-bladed knife while walking across the intersection of Boren Avenue and Howell Street during rush hour. Birk said he fired when Williams didn't respond to three commands to drop the knife.

Lynda V. Mapes: 206-464-2736 or lmapes@seattletimes.com

E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

More Local News

UPDATE - 09:46 AM
Exxon Mobil wins ruling in Alaska oil spill case

NEW - 7:51 AM
Longview man says he was tortured with hot knife

Longview man says he was tortured with hot knife

Longview mill spills bleach into Columbia River

NEW - 8:00 AM
More extensive TSA searches in Sea-Tac Airport rattle some travelers

More Local News headlines...

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Comments
No comments have been posted to this article.

advertising


Get home delivery today!

Video

Advertising

Marketplace

First Volvo XC90s for sale online; Duran Duran to debut Miatanew
(Volvo) Volvo XC90 first edition an online-only buy To get a first edition of the 2016 Volvo XC90, buyers will have to go online this week. In a nod t...
Post a comment

Advertising