Significance of the Bear Creek Site

Story of Place

The Lushootseed word x̌obal, meaning “broad” for a creek, may refer to Bear Creek entering the Sammamish River below Redmond.

The Redmond area has been home to people for thousands of years. Redmond lies on the shores of Lake Sammamish, in proximity to Lake Washington, and accessible to the forests of the Cascade foothills. Multiple glaciations, occurring between 1.8 million years ago and 10,000 years ago, carved the deep troughs that make up the topography characteristic to the region, the largest of which are now occupied by the waters of Puget Sound, Lake Washington, and Lake Sammamish.

A unique archaeological site—the Bear Creek Site—was discovered during a 2008 cultural resources survey. During archaeological investigations conducted with the restoration of the Bear Creek stream the site yielded artifacts that date to over 12,000 years ago. Oral histories of Indian tribes, the descendants of those who occupied the Bear Creek Site, refer to living here since time immemorial. Generations of people have been drawn to this location, with its abundance of fresh water in the lakes, creeks, and rivers; plentiful fish and game; and rich soils in the area supporting fishing and hunting and later timber harvesting and agriculture. The area has been a place of occupation as well as a gathering place for trade and community for centuries. The early residents and visitors to Redmond have left their mark on the land and waterways in both tangible and intangible ways.

Learning the Archaeology and Ethnography of the Bear Creek Site

Experts from the Washington State Department of Transportation, Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians, and archaeological consultants present archaeology basics, describe what Redmond was like approximately 10,000 to 14,000 years ago, and discuss the local history of the Bear Creek site. 

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6

Bear Creek Rehabilitation Project

Phase 1 of the Bear Creek Rehabilitation Project was constructed in 2013. The purpose of this City capital project was to rehabilitate the lower, channelized part of Bear Creek — starting at the Sammamish River going upstream on Bear Creek. The project construction scope included recovery of archaeological artifacts based on permit conditions issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District Regulatory Branch (Corps) in response to a 2008 archaeological discovery at Bear Creek.

The Corps initiated a formal consultation process, after the Washington State Historic Preservation Officer determined that the Bear Creek site was eligible for listing in National Register of Historic Places. The consultation process included communication with other federal, state, and local agencies and with the following affected Indian tribes: Chehalis Tribe, Cowlitz Indian Tribe, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, Lummi Nation, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Nisqually Tribe, Nooksack Tribe, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, Puyallup Tribe, Samish Tribe, Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe, Skokomish Tribe, Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, Squaxin Island Tribe, Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians, Suquamish Tribe, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, Tulalip Tribes, Upper Skagit Indian Tribes, and Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation.

The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Tulalip Tribes, and Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians expressed interest in participating as concurring parties through the Section 106 process. The Samish Indian Tribe, Suquamish Tribe, Confederated Tribes and Band of the Yakama Nation, and the Suquamish Tribe requested to remain informed about the Bear Creek project and its progress. 

Through 2023, the City will continue work, in consultation and collaboration with the Tribes, on a variety of stipulated actions regarding this significant site.