holyoutlaw: (me meh)

Indians of the Pacific Northwest From the Coming of the White Man to the Present Day
Vine Deloria, Jr.
Fulcrum, 1977, 2012

The first white people to arrive in the Pacific Northwest were British traders, looking to take advantage of the established trade routes of the Salish peoples for their own ends: The Makah whalers for whale oil, others for salmon or animal skins. They lived in relative peace with Salish peoples, even intermarrying, although they still brought smallpox. The Americans who came later wanted to establish permanent settlements, which resulted in the occasionally violent removal of first peoples from their lands and the establishment of reservations. I thought this book would be a pretty depressing read, but although it told the story of the thefts of Americans without flinching, it also told the many stories of successes that first peoples have had, in re-establishing their fishing rights and keeping parcels of their lands under their own control. I think this book leaves a lot out, as well, particularly the story of the Duwamish. It was first published in 1977, and an afterword provides an update as of 2011, which takes us through casinos and up to the first Elwha Dam removal.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.

holyoutlaw: (picture icon iv)

Cedar: Tree of Life to the Northwest Coast Indians
Hilary Stewart
University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1995

The Western Red Cedar (Thuja Plicata) was so useful to Coastal Salish people that they said it was the reincarnation of a man who was helpful to everyone. When someone needed, he gave; when someone hungered, he fed. His reward was to be made the Western Red Cedar, which was used for clothing, shelter, transportation, storage, and ceremony.

The bark was used for clothing; the wood for storage, planks for longhouses, and canoes for transportation; the withes were used for rope; the roots for baskets. A coastal Salish person would use some aspect of the cedar literally from cradle to grave.

Stewart’s book looks at each part of the tree and its uses in depth. The words are accompanied by detailed line drawings of tools that worked the wood and the uses it was put to. You might not be able to go and build a cedar plank house, but you could probably describe the process well enough for a novel. And you certainly have a greater idea of how important the tree was, and how many people making a canoe or a house required. Or how the baskets were woven.

I found the amount of detail intimidating, in fact, which isn’t Stewart’s fault at all. This would probably be a better book for reading the specific section that interested you, or as a reference in a paper. The material is presented at a writing level that would make it appropriate for high school or undergraduate research.

Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.


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