In 2006, somebody painted this swastika on the former Bank of America building in Clallam Bay.
Neither of the small papers I write and photograph for wanted the story. Since newspapers are being pressured by the internet into becoming little more than flyers for the local tourism or sports industry, this made sense; swastikas won't sell any fishing licenses or stadium seats (it might sell an avant-garde art-walk, but that's a few years in the future).
Some people said whoever did it must be mad at the Makah for whatever reason people get mad at the Injuns around here (it doesn't take much and usually has to do with some form of fishing squabble). But since it was on the bank building, it might have been a vague protest against actions on the part of the bank itself.
To you and me, the swastika is only an ancient worldwide spiritual symbol that a bunch of right-wing ignoramuses swiped for their own uses. A lot of less-well-read people think the symbol is something bad having to do with old war movies and possibly Communism. It's a real attention-getter, and not for announcing anything nice like the arrival of the Mexican ice-cream sedan. So whoever had painted the sun-cross was mad about something.
At the time, the whole town was pretty steamed over being abandoned by the only bank within thirty miles (I said the bank was pulling out of smaller towns to invest in the heating housing market, and pulled all our funds out of our stocks). Some of the oldsters cranked out that "We ain't had a bank before and we can get along without one now!" in the same tones that sounded like they might have been able to get along without the sheriff's deputy or the fire department. Or, in the case of the church community, the theory that the earth revolved around the sun.
Earlier in 2009, I received a call to get up to the memorial rock, fast. The rock is in the parking lot at the entrace to Sekiu. Everybody from basketball-crazed teens to relatives with birthday or health wishes to the local Christians spray-paint messages on the rock, which over time has become as smooth as melting ice with layers of pigment. The chamber of commerce and the highway authorities allow this as a channel for graffiti that might otherwise end up on the walls of the abandoned cannery or somebody's boat-storage garage.
When I made it to the rock, Sasha Medlen, the Community Action Team leader, hired as part of the Clallam Bay/Sekiu chamber of commerce's USDA grant for improving the towns, was desperately trying to spray-paint over the latest swastika. This time it was accompanied by the words "White Power." I took a quick shot of the little that was left and later compared the two designs.
Whoever painted the first swastika probably painted the second swastika. They're not that easy to paint correctly - they demand exact lengths and corners not to come out unevenly - and whoever had done it, had done it freehand.
Some people suggested it was painted because the Forks basketball team lost to the Neah Bay basketball team. Team violence once tore the sink off the men's side of the Clallam Bay Park restroom. Somebody's mad about something. We'll see.