Charles, Bea: Helped preserve Klallam culture Walks on at 89

Port Angelse, Washington (AP) 4-09

Bea Charles, who worked to preserve the Klallam language and culture of the Lower Elwha tribe, is dead at age 89.

Charles passed away April 22 in her sleep at home on the reservation west of Port Angeles. Her death was confirmed by Tribal Chairwoman Frances Charles, whose husband is a relative of Bea Charles.

In 1992 Bea Charles and three other elders began working with a linguist, Timothy Montler of the University of North Texas, to record and preserve the tribe’s native language. Of them, only her aunt, 91-year-old Adeline Smith, is still alive.

Montler is now close to finishing a dictionary and description of the language’s grammatical structure.

Frances Charles estimated that more than 200 Lower Elwha Klallam children have been taught the Klallam language in the last decade.