PDN: Hazel Sampson, oldest Klallam-speaking member, walks on

Hazel Sampson, the oldest native speaker of the Klallam language, died Feb. 4, at 103. She was one of the last native speaking members of the Klallam tribes.

From the Peninsula Daily News:

Sampson — the granddaughter of the founder of Jamestown, Lord James Balch, for whom Jamestown was named — died Tuesday at her home in Port Angeles, survived by numerous children, grandchildren and great-, great-great and great-great-great grandchildren.

Sampson was a native Klallam speaker — those who learned Klallam first, then learned English as a second language, said Jamie Valadez, a Lower Elwha Klallam tribe member and teacher of the Klallam language and culture at Port Angeles High School.

“She was the last one,” Valadez said. “[Her death] changes the dynamics of everything.

“In the U.S., this is happening all over Indian Country,” she said.

“They carry so much knowledge of our culture and traditions. Then it’s gone.”