Tear-down, rebuild for Tulalip church

An 85-year-old church on the Tulalip Indian Reservation likely will be torn down and rebuilt beginning this month. In October, Tulalip tribal members voted to spend at least $200,000 to burn down the Indian Shaker Church on North Meridian Avenue and rebuild it for the church members.

Work on the building could begin this month, according to the See-Yaht-Sub tribal newsletter.

The church: Built in 1923, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is a weathered clapboard structure that church members say is used several times each month. Tulalip leaders aren’t sure whether the new church will be built on the same lot as the old church.

The religion: The Indian Shakers are a uniquely American Indian group and exist mainly in the Pacific Northwest. The religion began in 1881 when Squaxin Island tribal member John Slocum claimed that he was revived from death when his wife shook with religious fervor. The belief that “shaking” could heal illness spread quickly, and the group was coined “Shakers.” Church services often are filled with dancing and shaking as tribal members come for healing. The group is not connected to the Protestant denomination of the same name.

Shaker practices today: Indian Shakers travel between churches on reservations throughout the Pacific Northwest to worship each week. Their numbers are small but members are devout.

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