Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail visitors can stop at the welcoming pole where, at a different time, tribes heading to the Columbia River or Nehalem Bay would gather for visits, celebrations and potlatches—or gift-giving feasts to celebrate friendship.
Near the old Cannon Beach Elementary School in Cannon Beach, Oregon, and the mouth of Ecola Creek, lies Necus’ Park. This small public park was once the site of a prosperous native village, known as NeCus’ to the local tribes, prior to colonization. NeCus’ roughly translates to “where the tide flows swiftly out.”
It was here, in January 1806, that William Clark and a few members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, while searching for a 105-foot beached whale, met with members of the local tribes from whom they bought whale oil and blubber. It is believed by some that expedition member Hugh McNeal also nearly met his end here because of a plot to steal his clothes and blanket by a man visiting from a distant village. McNeal was saved by a Tillamook woman who, upon realizing she couldn’t stop him from going with the man, alerted the other men of the village to the danger. While others believe her scream saved her from McNeal's attacks.
Today, Necus’ Park is incredibly important to the Clatsop-Nehalem Confederated Tribes. In 2016, a 10-foot cedar statue of a young Clatsop man, called a welcoming pole, was erected along the bank of Ecola Creek at the park’s edge. Carved by Quinault artist Guy Capoeman, the welcoming pole commemorates a centuries-old area that was a welcoming place for members of the Clatsop, Nehalem, and Tillamook Tribes.
The statue is one of the highlights of the Cannon Beach Public Art Walking Tour, a 1.5-mile self-guided tour through the city. For more information on the walking tour, visit https://www.cannonbeach.org/things-to-do/cannon-beach-walks/public-art/