Sequim, Washington state Healing Clinic opening a victory over racism
Tim Wheeler at the opening of the Healing Clinic | photo courtesy of Matthew Nash

SEQUIM, WA.–About three hundred people gathered Saturday, Aug. 20 for the ribbon-cutting of the Jamestown Healing Clinic, celebrating our victory for people in our community struggling against addiction to opioids.

There was much joy in the air with singing and drumming by a chorus of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.

Brent Simcosky, director of the Jamestown health program, served as Master of Ceremonies. He said the clinic, already, has treated 50 people and will treat hundreds more in the weeks to come. He introduced Elaine Grinnell, famed S’Klallam storyteller, who in turn introduced her granddaughter, Loni Grinnell-Greninger, Vice Chair of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.

Grinnell-Greninger told one of her grandmother’s stories about a man casting his net repeatedly into a river—the Dungeness. The salmon he pulls from the stream tell the fisherman to always care for the people of his village, care for himself, care for the river, care for the salmon, care for all of nature. The river changes its course, Grinnell-Greninger concluded, and this clinic, like the river, can change the lives of its patients by helping them heal.

Ron Allen, Chair of the Jamestown Tribal Council, thanked the tribe, the community, political leaders like Clallam County Commissioner, Mark Ozias, legislators Steve Tharinger, Mike Chapman, and Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, for helping bring the clinic to completion. Allen said the tribe always seeks the moral “high ground” in the spirit of healing, building a Jamestown Family Clinic that serves 20,000 people, organizing the COVID-19 vaccinations of many thousands in Clallam County, and building this magnificent clinic that aims to provide holistic treatment for victims of opioid addiction.

Mark Ozias, too, praised the opening of the clinic as a victory for everyone seeking “common ground” working to solve problems rather than create them.

Simcosky then thanked those who played important roles in the three-year struggle. Simcosky did not speak about it but everyone there knew. The battle included overcoming fanatical opposition by rightwing fear mongers who spread lies that busloads of homeless drug addicts will invade Sequim, begging, committing crime, ruining the town, and driving down real estate values. These forces, whipping up racist fears, captured majority control of the Sequim City Council including the mayor who spouted his support of QAnon.

Through it all, the Jamestown Tribal Council, led by Ron Allen, stood their ground, refused to take the bait of the racist instigators. And we in the progressive community, fought back, fielded a “Good Governance” slate of five including Vicki Lowe, a descendant of the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe. Last November 2, all five, including Vicki, were elected with 70% of the vote. Their first action was to remove the QAnon mayor who is chosen by the City Council. Voices for Health & Healing (VFH&H), an organization I serve as Acting Chair, played an important role in supporting the opioid clinic and mobilizing to defeat the QAnon “Gang of Four” in the Sequim council elections.

Vicki Lowe, the first S’Klallam descendant ever to serve on the Sequim City Council, a VFH&H Steering Committee member, was present at the ribbon-cutting. She is also the Executive Director of the American Indian Health Commission for Washington State and was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to the Washington State Women’s Commission. In the midst of the racist incitements, two years ago, Vicki Lowe pushed through the QAnon-dominated Sequim City Council a resolution condemning white supremacy. Simcosky praised the lawyer who won every legal challenge cooked up by so-called “S.O.S..” He thanked the building contractor who constructed the clinic. He thanked the League of Women Voters for standing with the tribe, and the entire medical establishment on the North Olympic Peninsula.

Then Simcosky said, “And Voices for Health & Healing…..Is Tim Wheeler here?” He held up a T-shirt and told the crowd that Tim Wheeler is getting the first one. I walked up to receive it. Ron Allen handed it to me and embraced me.

Minutes later, he and other tribal elders cut the ribbon. I hurried back to my car, stripped off my shirt, and put on the T-shirt emblazoned with the words “JAMESTOWN HEALING CLINIC.” I went back to mingle with the crowd, including other members of Voices for Health & Healing. I told them that in my 82 years this was my highest honor.


Tim Wheeler
Tim Wheeler

Tim Wheeler has written over 10,000 news reports, exposés, op-eds, and commentaries in his half-century as a journalist for the Worker, Daily World, and People’s World. Tim also served as editor of the People’s Weekly World newspaper.  His book News for the 99% is a selection of his writings over the last 50 years representing a history of the nation and the world from a working-class point of view. After residing in Baltimore for many years, Tim now lives in Sequim, Wash.