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Hundreds mourn Makah leader

NEAH BAY - Nearly 1,000 people in Neah Bay mourned the death of Edward Eugene Claplanhoo, a leader of the Makah Indian Nation who left his mark on the tribe.

Claplanhoo died of a heart attack March 14 at age 81. Under his leadership, he helped create the Makah Cultural and Research Center in Neah Bay after the Ozette village was uncovered during a dig.

“His legacy of public service will outlast all of us here in the gym today,” said Ann Renker, principal of the Neah Bay school, who delivered Claplanhoo’s eulogy Saturday.

People packed the Neah Bay gym to pay their respects, and a community dinner was held as well.

Claplanhoo was the tribal chairman when the Ozette village, buried in a mudslide in the 1700s, was uncovered. Lobbying lawmakers and researchers, Claplanhoo managed to maintain tribal artifacts in Neah Bay with the opening of the cultural center.

“I think that’s his great legacy – the convergence of these important archaeological finds with a college-educated, just inherently interested person who could provide leadership,” said Clallam County Commissioner Mike Doherty, a longtime friend of Claplanhoo.

Claplanhoo was the Makah’s first college graduate, earning a degree in forestry in 1956 from Washington State University. Claplanhoo also served in the Army.

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