The Leschi Dreamcatcher
Two Native Americans are memorialized in our community. The Dreamcatcher at the intersections of and 32nd Avenue and East Yesler Way is a tribute to Bernie Whitebear and his sister Luana Reyes. In building this tribute, Lawney Reyes, their brother, and well known artist wanted to capture something of their spirit—“ a lot of people thought Bernie was a dreamer—and he was. But he and Luana also lived to see many of their dreams fulfilled.” (interview Seattle Times, Sept 23, 2002)
(Dreamcatcher Sculpture at 32nd and Yesler, near the Leschi Elementary School.)
During a lifetime devoted to advocacy for Indian Civil Rights and the preservation of Indian Culture, Bernie Whitebear was well known throughout the region and the nation. For 30 years he was the executive director of United Indians of All Tribes Foundation. He led the invasion of Fort Lawton in 1970 which resulted in land being set aside for an Indian Cultural Center and the building of the Daybreak Star Center at Discovery Park. He received numerous honors including Citizen of the Decade from Governor Gary Locke and Seattle’s Distinguished Citizen Award. Bernie died on July 16, 2000 in Seattle.
As Executive Director of the Seattle Indian Health Board in Seattle and later as Director of Headquarters Operations at the Indian Health Service in Rockville, Maryland, Luana Reyes was a tireless advocate for Indian health and all who had limited access to health care. She received numerous awards for her service including the 2011 Presidential Rank Meritorious Award, presented by President Bush to top federal managers for exceptional performance. Luana died on November 5, 2001.
On March 6, 2002, after a very moving presentation made to the Leschi Community Council by Lawney Reyes, Jill Marsden and Ros Bond the Council voted to support their proposal to build the “Dreamcatcher at Yesler and 32nd Avenue to replace the deteriorating Native American representative of a Thunderbird, that existed on that site."
When Leschi Community Council launched a fund raising campaign, Bernie and Luana’s reputation as community leaders was evident as contributions, large and small poured in from the local Indian Tribes, current and former politicians, family and friends.
Aided by a Seattle Neighborhood grant of $5000.00 it didn’t take long for the Whit