SNOHOMISH – Pete Ensign was in for a surprise when she went to check her mail Tuesday morning.
“Is there a woman standing there?” asked Ensign, 79, looking at a fenced property on Cypress Avenue.
It turned out to be the wooden statue of an Indian woman.
In an apparent protest, someone had brought the statue to a former pioneer cemetery where the city plans to build a 6,000-square-foot senior center, even though human remains are believed to be buried in 96 spots on the land.
“I’d like to see the bodies left there,” Ensign said.
Ensign’s reaction was just what Guy Faussett of Snohomish wanted.
Faussett admitted Tuesday night to The Herald that he took the statue of Pilchuck Julia from Collector’s Choice Restaurant and placed it at the old cemetery site Monday night.
“It wasn’t a prank. I wanted to make a statement,” said Faussett, 46, whose family has lived in Snohomish County since the late 19th century.
Pilchuck Julia was an Indian princess who once wrote a column in The Snohomish Advance newspaper called “Pilchuck Julia Says.” In the column, she would predict the weather based on how animals or insects were behaving.
Pilchuck Julia was buried in the old Snohomish graveyard in 1923. The bodies there were moved to the GAR Cemetery in 1947 to make way for a highway.
Pilchuck Julia died of smallpox at 83. Her obituary ran on the front page of The Everett Herald on April 25, 1923. Her statue was created 18 years ago at a cost of $400.
He said he is against building the senior center at the site and wants to see the human remains left intact.
“Hopefully, a few people would have a little bit of sympathy with my plight,” Faussett said.
The restaurant doesn’t plan to report the incident as a theft, manager Jerri Quinby said, because city workers returned the undamaged statue to the restaurant Tuesday afternoon.
John Hager, who owns Collector’s Choice Restaurant, said the statue also was taken about 12 years ago.
City manager Larry Bauman said he doesn’t think much of the protest. “I’m not reading anything into this other than that we have a stolen property we have to return,” Bauman said.
In late December, the city completed inspection of the site where pioneers were interred until the early 1900s. The remains amounted to more than city officials had expected. In the spring, the city plans to inform Snohomish County Superior Court of its findings and relocate the remains, in line with court orders.
The state didn’t relocate all the graves when it built a highway through the area in the 1940s.
“They didn’t finish the job,” said Karen Charnell, the senior center’s executive director.
Charnell said she saw the statue Tuesday, but didn’t realize it represented a statement.
“I wondered why it was there and how it got there,” she said.
The center has raised about $900,000 through grants, donations and fundraising events by seniors, and has secured service and construction materials worth $100,000 for the new $1.2 million center, officials have said. Seniors hope to move into the new building in late December.
The site is close to a bus stop, drugstore, library and clinic, and is within walking distance for seniors, Charnell said.
“It’s just ideal,” she said.
Reporter Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029 or firstname.lastname@example.org.