Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe

Traditional Values

As told by Beatrice Charles, 1994

​When I was a child I lived at Pysht, Washington with my great-grandfather, Tim Pysht. In the evenings we would sit by the fire. My younger brother, Ernie and I would sit at our great-grandfather’s feet. There was a box of kindling nearby. He had his pocket knife and he would be carving shavings that would curl up like a flower.

He’d carve both ends like this and then break it in half. They looked like flowers. My brother and I would take turn handling him the kindling and putting the flowers back in the kindling box. They were used to start a fire in the morning. This was the time of day that he would teach us traditional Klallam values in which to live by.

He would also tell us stories and sing us songs.

I’m going to share with you some of the values I remember great grandpa Tim Pysht taught me as a young girl.

  1. Always respect and help your elders.
  2. Honor your m​other and father. (Don’t talk back to them.)
  3. Never fear death. (You were born to die.)
  4. If a child offered you something you take it with much praise. Because you’re teaching that child to be a giving person and not to be stingy.
  5. If someone made you angry, just turn around and walk away. Don’t answer back because you can’t swallow those bad words back.
  6. Never choose the biggest fruit, because you will always be hungry if you pick the biggest one. (Don’t be selfish, teach moderation.)
  7. Take care of and respect mother earth – take only what you need.​

Top 12 Values by Elders & Adults of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe

  1. ​Always respect and help your Elders.
  2. Honor your mother and father (don’t talk back)
  3. Always respect your Elders, yourself, and your children/spiritual beliefs.
  4. Help someone who needs it whether or not you like them.
  5. Take care of and respect Mother Earth – take only what you need.
  6. Walk your path with good morals: specially in front of children and Elders.
  7. If a child offered you something, take it with much praise, because you are teaching that child to be a giving person and not to be stingy.
  8. Live in honesty and truth.
  9. Never fear death – you were born to die.
  10. Every part of this earth is sacred. 
  11. Financial responsibility for self and family.
  12. People will see the good that you do: you don’t have to brag about it.​​​

Top 5 Values selected by the youth of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe

  1. ​”Strong People” show strength in unity.
  2. Never give up.
  3. Love, prepare for and welcome family home.
  4. Always walk with your held held high; be proud of who you are – show ​pride.
  5. The first rule of the chief is to feed people and all else will follow.