Looking north from Discovery Park's Daybreak Star Center. Credit: Nancy Chaney
Daybreak Star Center and Discovery Park history
Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center is an important community center for Seattle-area Native Americans and the headquarters of the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation. The center, typically open to visitors on weekdays, houses a Native art collection, but it's currently closed.
Daybreak Star Center came into existence in 1970 when a group of Native activitsts staged a peaceful occupation of some of the land that was previously Fort Lawton. The federal goverment had closed Fort Lawton and surplussed the land.
The building itself was completed in 1977 and it's an example of modern architecture of the time. It's worth checking out the outside, and there's also a duck pond nearby.
Check the Daybreak Star Facebook page for future events, such as the rescheduled 50th anniversary celebration of the Fort Lawton takeover. Daybreak Star also hosts powwows.
And a little history: While this park is at present a gem in the Seattle Parks system, and it's right that it includes a community center for the descendants of the first people to live along this coast, Discovery Park also holds important lessons in its past. These lessons are worth digging into for families with school-age kids.
Fort Lawton was home to a unit of African-American soldiers called the "Buffalo Soldiers." In 1909, some 900 African-American soldiers and their families accounted for about a third of Seattle's Black population.
During World War II, Fort Lawton housed German and Italian prisoners of war. In 1944, an Italian prisoner of war was killed, and 28 African-American soldiers were wrongly convicted of his murder. It took until 2007 for their convictions and dishonorable discharges to be overturned.