Suquamish Art (Photo Diary)

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The Northwest Coast is a region in which an entrenched and highly valued artistic tradition flourished and continues to flourish. The Suquamish are the people of the clear salt water. For more than 10,000 years they have occupied that area known today as the Kitsap Peninsula, Bainbridge Island, Blake Island, and parts of Whidbey Island in what is now the state of Washington.  Suquamish art continues today in a variety of different media. One room of the Suquamish Museum is dedicated to contemporary art forms.  

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Basketry:

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Woodwork:

One of the outstanding characteristics of the tribes of Northwest Coast is the highly developed skill of woodworking. Contemporary Suquamish artists continue to work in wood.

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One of the unique items among Northwest Coast Indians are kerfed boxes in which the sides of the box are made by scoring and then bending a single board to form the sides of the box. The single side seam is then carefully fitted and sewn together with spruce root. The bottom of the box is also carefully fitted and sewn to the sides. Shown above is a contemporary version of this traditional box.

Personal Adornment and Clothing:

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Masks:

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Wall Art:

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The design shown above is needlepoint.

Other art:

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Suquamish Basketry (Photo Diary)

The Northwest Coast is a region in which an entrenched and highly valued artistic tradition flourished and continues to flourish. The Suquamish are the people of the clear salt water. For more than 10,000 years they have occupied that area known today as the Kitsap Peninsula, Bainbridge Island, Blake Island, and parts of Whidbey Island in what is now the state of Washington.  

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Traditionally, the Suqamish made several different kinds of baskets, each with a special use. Writing in 1895, anthropologist Franz Boas reported:

“A great variety of baskets are used-large wicker baskets for carrying fish and clams, cedar bark baskets for purposes of storage.”

Coiled baskets were used for collecting berries, carrying water (yes, they were woven tight enough to be waterproof), cooking (hot stones were dropped in the water filled baskets to cook the food), and for storing dried foods. Open weave baskets were used for gathering clams, small fish, and seaweed.

After the European invasion began, the Suquamish basketmakers began making special baskets for sale as collectables. They also wove other small items for sale including dolls and toys.

Shown below are some of the baskets which are on display in the Suquamish Museum.

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Ancient America: Tulalip Archaeology

The Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve has several displays of artifacts found during the archaeological excavation of sites occupied by their ancestors. While it is not a part of the Tulalip cultural beliefs to uncover ancestral remains or ancient village sites, the Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve was gifted these artifacts and is now charged with the responsibility to care for them in perpetuity for the ancestors who once owned them. The artifacts were gifted by archaeologist John L. Mattson.  

Hibulb Site:

The Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve is named in honor of the great village of Hibulb which was the largest village of the Snohomish Tribe. The village was built within a large palisade of upright cedar poles approximately 18 feet high. The village was positioned so that the people could defend themselves against hostile tribe and communicate by messengers with the smaller villages along the shoreline.

Hibulb had the largest longhouse in Snohomish territory: 115 feet and 43 feet. In addition to the big longhouse, the village contained four smaller longhouses (100 feet by 40 feet) and other structures.

Some of the archaeological artifacts from this site are shown below.

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Biderbost Site:

The Biderbost Site (45/SN/100) was the first significant wet site excavated in Washington. Archaeological wet sites exist when waterlogged artifacts like wood weirs, nets, and basketry are preserved in an oxygen-free environment. The site was uncovered during a flood on the lower Snoqualmie River in 1959. The site was occupied about 2,000 years ago.

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Peterson Site:

While Dr. Mattson estimates that this site is probably not more than 3,000 years old, tribal elders feel that it goes back to time immemorial. This was a large fishing and hunting village.

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The Suquamish Museum (Photo Diary)

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The area along the Pacific Coast north of California and between the Cascade Mountains and the ocean, is the home to many Indian nations who traditionally based their economy on the use of sea coast and river ecological resources. The Suquamish are the people of the clear salt water. For more than 10,000 years they have occupied that area known today as the Kitsap Peninsula, Bainbridge Island, Blake Island, and parts of Whidbey Island.  

“We are the Suquamish people. We are a tribe, a nation, a culture, and a family.

We share a proud heritage founded on the teachings of our ancestors, and an enduring future forged from our spirit, wisdom, and enterprise.

We are born of these ancient shores, where the water touches the land, and where the gifts of opportunity are revealed with every changing tide.

Wherever those tides may carry us, these shores will always be our home.”

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One wall of the museum (shown above) presents a time-line history of the Suquamish people.

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One of the most important Suquamish villages once stood on the shores of Agate Passage. This is where the Suquamish built Old Man House, the largest longhouse on the Salish Sea. This was a major intertribal gathering place where people from all across the region came together for trade, celebrations, and diplomacy. In 1841, Joseph Perry Sanford, a member of the United States Exploring Expedition, described the Old Man House:

“It measured 200 ft by 100 ft. The floor is of earth and sunken. It had on either side 20 uprights and on which were rudely carved uncouth figures with head, eyes &c.”

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The entrance to the museum is between two carved house poles which are sometimes called the welcoming figures.

The Museum:

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Shown below are some of the items displayed at the museum:

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The Squamish were traditionally a fishing people. Mounted on the museum’s ceiling is a display (see photos above) showing a woven net/basket and a school of fish.

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The rather nondescript rocks shown above, labeled as “cooking rocks”, were heated in a fire, then dropped into a water-filled basket. In this way, the water could be brought to a boil and the food cooked. It should be noted that not just any rocks can be used for this since many rocks simply disintegrate when heated.

Spirituality:

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As with other Indian tribes, living a successful life depended on the assistance of spiritual helpers. Individuals had songs and dances, set to the rhythms of hand drums, to obtain their help. Much of the carving and painting on both common and ceremonial objects was designed to gain cooperation from one’s spiritual guides.

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Shown above is a raven rattle.

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Travelers’ Rest State Park (Photo Diary)

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For thousands of years, the Indian peoples of western Montana were connected to the rest of the world through an intricate network of trade routes. The natural hub of these routes is Travelers’ Rest which is today operated as a state park.  

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Travelers’ Rest is located at the east end of the Lolo Trail. This trail crosses the Bitterroot Mountains and connected the Salish-speaking people of western Montana to the Nez Perce and other Indian nations in Idaho, Washington, and Oregon.

To the east, the trails led into the buffalo country of the Great Plains, a resource area whose importance increased after the acquisition of the horse in the eighteenth century.

To the north, the trails led into the rich hunting and gathering areas of the Mission and Flathead Valleys and beyond. These areas were rich in camas as well as deer, elk, and caribou. The north trails also connected them with other Salish-speaking groups (Pend d’Oreille, Kalispel, Spokan, Couer d’Alene) and the Kootenai.

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While the site of today’s Travelers’ Rest State Park was an important and frequently used Indian camp site, the designation “Travelers’ Rest” comes from the American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. In September 1805, the party of American explorers known officially as the Corps of Discovery arrived in the Bitterroot Valley. They had crossed into the valley via the Lost Trail Pass which had been blanketed by the season’s first snow. They were lost and hungry. As was their custom, the Bitterroot Salish (also known as the Flathead) provided the strangers with food and friendship. Indian agent Peter Ronan would later report:

“During the stay of the explorers in the Flathead camp Captain Clarke took unto himself a Flathead woman. One son was the result of this union, and he was baptized after the missionaries came to Bitter Root valley and named Peter Clarke.”

Meriwether Lewis named the creek on which they camped “Travellers’ Rest.” On their return trip the following year, they camped here again. Today it is the only archaeologically verified Lewis and Clark campsite.

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Shown above is the Lewis and Clark campsite with tent frames showing the locations of their tents. As a military expedition, they laid out their camps according to the military manual.

In 1960, Travelers’ Rest was established as a National Historic Landmark in recognition of the site as a critical decision point for the leaders of the Corps of Discovery (also known as the Lewis and Clark Expedition).

Archaeology:

For many years it was thought that the Travelers’ Rest campsite was located at the confluence of Lolo Creek and Bitterroot River, about 1.5 miles east of the current park. In 1996, investigators came to suspect that this location was incorrect. Historical archaeologist Dan Hall used remote sensing equipment to identify places where the magnetic properties of the soil had been altered. In 2002, archaeologists excavated these anomalies and found evidence of the expedition’s latrine and campfire.

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Among the medications which the Corps of Discovery carried with them was Dr. Rush’s Thunderbolts, a powerful purgative that was commonly used by the members of the expedition. The medication contained mercury and thus the feces deposited in the latrine by the members of the expedition also contained mercury, an element not found in American Indian feces. When the archaeologists had the soil from the latrine site analyzed, it revealed mercury vapor.

The charcoal from a hearth site was analyzed using Carbon-14 dating and provided a date range from 1785 to 1855, well within the range of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The archaeologists also uncovered a military uniform button, a blue glass trade bead, and a spilled piece of lead.

Loop Trail:

Shown below are some photographs taken from the loop trail through the park.

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More Plateau Indian Beadwork (Photo Diary)

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In American Indian cultures, art is not separate from daily life. Traditionally, the things people used in their everyday life-clothing, tools, housing, containers-were often decorated to enhance their beauty and their spirituality. Prior to the European invasion, the Indian people of the Plateau area-roughly the area between the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest-decorated their clothing and other items with paintings, with beads made from shell, animal teeth, bone, and other items, and with porcupine quills. With the European invasion, new decorative elements became available to the Indians: glass beads. These beads were quickly adopted into the cultures and began to replace and supplement both painting and quilling. The Plateau Indians soon became well-known for their fine bead work. Shown below are some examples of Plateau Indian beadwork which are on display at the museum at the Travelers’ Rest State Park in Lolo, Montana.  

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Moccasins:

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Gloves:

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Plateau Indian Artifacts (Photo Diary)

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Prior to the European invasion, the Indian people of the Plateau area-roughly the area between the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest-decorated their clothing and other items with paintings, with beads made from shell, animal teeth, bone, and other items, and with porcupine quills. Shown below are some Plateau Indian artifacts which are on display at the museum at the Travelers’ Rest State Park in Lolo, Montana.

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Shown above is an example of quill work. The design is made from porcupine quills.

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Shown above is a parfleche: a large leather envelope.

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Shown above is a feather bustle that was often used as a part of a dance outfit.

Drums:

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Cradleboards:

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A Taste of Native America (Photo Diary)

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During 2012, the Clark County Historical Museum in Vancouver, Washington had a display exploring the food and related cultural artifacts of the Native American people throughout Washington. Indian people traditionally harvested, prepared, and shared meals together and thus food was, and still is, an integral part of cultural unity.  

The traditional Indian diet was diverse and based on the seasons. According to one of the displays:

“Our ancestors ate more complex foods and received a greater variety of vitamins and minerals in their diet. Eating many types of foods also preserved the diversity of the environment, which helped uphold the entire ecosystem by avoiding overharvesting of any one resource.”

Shown below are some of the items from this display.

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Berries were an important part of the diet of the Indians of the Lower Columbia River area. Shown above is a basket used for gathering berries and some dried Huckleberries (Vaccinium membranaceum). Huckleberries are small to medium sized shrubs which are found in the moister mountain areas, particularly in areas with acidic soils and areas which have been burned by forest fires. Women usually did the gathering of the huckleberries and could gather one or two basketfuls in a day’s work (about 2-4 liters). Huckleberries were often dried over a slow fire that had been set in a rotten log. This drying created a raisin-like product that could be kept indefinitely.

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Shown above is an old photograph of an elder filleting salmon so that it can be cooked on a plank.

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Shown above is an old photograph of an elder drying the huckleberries in the traditional way.

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Another important food was bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva), shown above with a gathering bag (known as a sally bag). In the Upper Chinook Kiksht language bitterroot is known as ibi-uk-ee. The taste of the bitterroot (it’s “bitterness”) is determined by where it is grown. The stored starch in the root makes the roots both nutritious and tender. The white fleshly interior (seen in the photos above) is easily exposed by peeling the outer root coverings. The white interior is then boiled, baked, or powdered to make meal.

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Camas (shown above) was also an important food plant. Camas (Camassia quamash) is a lily-like plant whose bulb can be fire-baked to make a sweet and nutritious staple. Camas is very high in protein: 5.4 ounces of protein per pound of roots. In comparison, steelhead trout (Salmo gairdneri) has 3.4 ounces of protein per pound.

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Wapato or Indian potato is shown above.

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Shown above is a digging stick used in gathering root plants such as bitterroot and camas.

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Shown above is an open weave Salish basket which was used for gathering clams and mussels.

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Fish were an important food source and shown above is a model of a traditional fish drying rack.

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Shown above is an old photograph of a fish trap.

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Shown above is an old photograph of the fish being cooked in the traditional manner.

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Shown above is a drawing of Governor Isaac Stevens at a traditional meal with the Nez Perce in 1855.  

Ancient America: Mesoamerican Art

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Prior to the European invasion, Mesoamerica was the home to many highly developed civilizations. Geographically this is a region that extends from central Mexico to South America. Shown below are some of the items from these ancient Mesoamerican cultures which are on display at the Portland (Oregon) Art Museum.  

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Shown above are some labrets: these are plugs which are inserted in a hole in the lower lip.

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Shown above is a piece from the Omec.

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Ancient America: South American Art

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Prior to the European invasion, South America was the home to many highly developed civilizations. Homo sapiens have lived in South America for at least 15,000 years and possibly longer. By 2000 BCE some highly developed civilizations had emerged in the region. There was a dramatic increase in population during this time and the economies became more dependent on stable, intensive agricultural systems.

The Inka Empire was the dominant state at the time of the Spanish conquest. The Inka had expanded out of their home in Cuzco to control an empire which spread from modern Ecuador in the north to central Chile in the south. The expansion of the Inka Empire began about 1438 and grew by military conquest.

The ancient civilizations of South American are well-known for their metalwork, particularly their work in gold which the Spanish often melted down; their pottery, which includes realistic portrayals of men and women (including men and women engaged in sexual intercourse); and finely woven textiles. Shown below are some of the items from these ancient South American cultures which are on display at the Portland Museum of Art.

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Shown above are clothing pins.  

Southwestern Art (Photo Diary)

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The Southwest Culture Area is a culturally diverse area. Geographically it covers all of Arizona and New Mexico and includes parts of Colorado, Nevada, Utah, and Texas as well as parts of the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua. Much of this area is semi-arid; part of it is true desert (southern Arizona); and part of it has upland and mountain ranges which support conifers. Culturally, the area can be divided into four basic cultural traditions: Pueblo, Athabascan, Piman, and Yuman.  

In northern Arizona and New Mexico there are several Indian tribes who have traditionally lived in compact villages. The Spanish used the word pueblo which means “town” in referring to these people. The Pueblo people are not a single cultural tradition, but are in fact several distinct cultures. They share some features – farming, housing – and are very different in others.

Around 1400 CE a new group of people began to enter the Southwest. These Athabascan-speaking people – the Navajo and the Apache – migrated from the area north of Edmonton, Alberta.

The Sonoran desert of Arizona and Sonora is the home of a number of Piman-speaking groups, primarily the Tohono O’odham (Papago) and Akimel O’odham (Pima).

The area along the Colorado and Gila Rivers was the traditional home to a number of Yuman-speaking tribes



Pottery:

The pottery traditions of the Southwestern Pueblos are well-known to museums, art collectors, and others. For many centuries, Pueblo people have made and used a wide variety of pottery containers, including bowls, jars, cups, ladles, and canteens. Pueblo pottery is traditionally formed with a coil technique in which coils of clay are circled around the base of the pot to form the walls of the vessel. Shown below are some examples of Southwestern pottery on display at the Portland Art Museum.

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Perhaps the best known Pueblo pottery is María Martínez of San Ildelfonso Pueblo. Examples of her black-on-black pottery are shown above.

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Basketry:

All of the Indian nations in the Southwest produced basketry.

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Carvings:

During the past century, the carving of katsina “dolls” called tihu by the Hopihas become a major art form which is well-recognized in the art world. These are carved by relatives of little Indian girls and presented to these children at Katsina dances to teach the children the features and meaning of the Katsinas. Traditional carvers feel that those who carve the katsina “dolls” should be able to speak Hopi because knowledge of the language is required to truly participate in Hopi ceremonies. Without full participation in Hopi ceremonies, the carvers cannot know the true spiritual intent of the katsina. Some of the carvings displayed in the Portland Art Museum are shown below.

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Note: while the term “kachina” is commonly used, the tribe prefers the designation “katsina.”

Southwestern Art (Photo Diary)

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The Southwest Culture Area is a culturally diverse area. Geographically it covers all of Arizona and New Mexico and includes parts of Colorado, Nevada, Utah, and Texas as well as parts of the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua. Much of this area is semi-arid; part of it is true desert (southern Arizona); and part of it has upland and mountain ranges which support conifers. Culturally, the area can be divided into four basic cultural traditions: Pueblo, Athabascan, Piman, and Yuman.  

In northern Arizona and New Mexico there are several Indian tribes who have traditionally lived in compact villages. The Spanish used the word pueblo which means “town” in referring to these people. The Pueblo people are not a single cultural tradition, but are in fact several distinct cultures. They share some features – farming, housing – and are very different in others.

Around 1400 CE a new group of people began to enter the Southwest. These Athabascan-speaking people – the Navajo and the Apache – migrated from the area north of Edmonton, Alberta.

The Sonoran desert of Arizona and Sonora is the home of a number of Piman-speaking groups, primarily the Tohono O’odham (Papago) and Akimel O’odham (Pima).

The area along the Colorado and Gila Rivers was the traditional home to a number of Yuman-speaking tribes

Pottery:

The pottery traditions of the Southwestern Pueblos are well-known to museums, art collectors, and others. For many centuries, Pueblo people have made and used a wide variety of pottery containers, including bowls, jars, cups, ladles, and canteens. Pueblo pottery is traditionally formed with a coil technique in which coils of clay are circled around the base of the pot to form the walls of the vessel. Shown below are some examples of Southwestern pottery on display at the Portland Art Museum.

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Perhaps the best known Pueblo pottery is María Martínez of San Ildelfonso Pueblo. Examples of her black-on-black pottery are shown above.

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Basketry:

All of the Indian nations in the Southwest produced basketry.

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Carvings:

During the past century, the carving of katsina “dolls” called tihu by the Hopihas become a major art form which is well-recognized in the art world. These are carved by relatives of little Indian girls and presented to these children at Katsina dances to teach the children the features and meaning of the Katsinas. Traditional carvers feel that those who carve the katsina “dolls” should be able to speak Hopi because knowledge of the language is required to truly participate in Hopi ceremonies. Without full participation in Hopi ceremonies, the carvers cannot know the true spiritual intent of the katsina. Some of the carvings displayed in the Portland Art Museum are shown below.

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Note: while the term “kachina” is commonly used, the tribe prefers the designation “katsina.”

Woven History, Part 2 (Photo Diary)

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Old baskets are fascinating. They reflect traditions and skills, as well as changes to culture and lifestyle. They speak to us from the past and can tell us much about the weaver’s life and society’s values.

The display of Native American baskets at the Clark County Historical Museum in Vancouver, Washington, includes baskets from many of the tribes of the Pacific coast, Columbia Plateau, and Northern California areas. Shown below are some more of the items which the museum has on display.  

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Weaving was used not only in making baskets, but also in making hats as can be seen in the woven woman’s hat shown above.  

Northwest Coast Textiles (Photo Diary)

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The Northwest Coast peoples have a wide variety of garments which are worn during ceremonies and for special occasions. Sometimes the clothes are decorated with crest designs that show the wearer’s clan. Shown below are some examples of Northwest Coast textiles and weaving which are on display at the Portland Art Museum.  

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Some neckpieces are shown above.

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One of the best examples of Northwest Coast weaving can be seen in the Chilkat Dancing Blankets or Robes (example shown above). These blankets combine the twining of mountain goat wool and cedar bark with the images of mythological creatures. According to some experts, The pattern of the Chilcat blanket came from the Tsimshian and was adopted by the Tlingit, the Chilcat people specializing in its production, owning to the ease with which mountain goat’s wool could be procured in their district.

Traditionally, it would take a year or more to make a Chilkat Blanket. The blankets are woven by the women, but the designs are painted by male artists on special pattern boards.

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A pattern board for a Chilcat robe is shown above.

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This is another woven robe.

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A woven rain hat or canoe hat is shown above.

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A button blanket is shown above. This is a Tlingit blanket made about 1900 with pearl buttons and wool cloth. Button blankets were developed during the 19th century. Most are made of dark blue wool with a red pattern. The buttons are sewn individually to create the desired pattern.

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A pair of leggings is shown above.  

Plains Indian Art (Photo Diary)

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The Great Plains is the huge area in the central portion of the North American continent which stretches from the Canadian provinces in the north, almost to the Gulf of Mexico in the south, from the Rocky Mountains in the west to the Mississippi River in the east. This is an area which contains many different kinds of habitat: flatland, dunes, hills, tablelands, stream valleys, and mountains. It is a dry region and lacks trees except along rivers and streams. Plains Indians are those which are most often stereotyped by movies and other media as representing all Indians. The buffalo, the horse, and the tipi are all important items in Plains cultures. Shown below are some of the items from the Plains First Nations which are on display at the Portland Art Museum.

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While the moccasins shown above are common on the Plains and are frequently highly decorated, it should be pointed out that now all Indian cultures in North American used moccasins.

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While the Hollywood stereotype of the Plains Indians shows them riding their horses barebacked, virtually all good museums of Plains Indian cultures will include traditional saddles, such as that shown above.

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The ceiling in the Plains Indian exhibit area is interesting in that it seems to invoke the circular form of the tipi or the form of the Sun Dance Lodge.  

Northwest Coast Carvings (Photo Diary)

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The Northwest Coast is a region in which an entrenched and highly valued artistic tradition flourished. Northwest Coast art-carving and painting-has a very characteristic style. Most commonly, art is used for portraying the family crest and heraldic figures. Shown below are some examples of Northwest Coast carvings which are on display at the Portland Art Museum.  

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Shown above is a potlatch serving bowl. It is about 12 feet long. The potlatch is an expression of social stratification and so the lower ranking members of the society would be fed from the bowls at the knees and the highest ranking members would be fed from the head. During the several days of the potlatch, the hosts provide the guests with two large meals per day.

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Shown above are some of the decorated wooden boxes. One of the unique items among Northwest Coast Indians are kerfed boxes in which the sides of the box are made by scoring and then bending a single board to form the sides of the box. The single side seam is then carefully fitted and sewn together with spruce root. The bottom of the box is also carefully fitted and sewn to the sides. These boxes are waterproof and some are used for cooking. The watertight boxes can be filled with water and when hot stones are dropped into the box the water can be brought to a boil.

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Shown above are some examples carved serving spoons.

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Shown above are some carved bowls.

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Shown above is a drum with an orca design.

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Shown above is a cedar box drum. This drum was made by Tsimshian artist David Boxley about 1990.

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Shown above is an orca carving.

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One of the media used by Northwest Coast artists is argillite. Argillite is a soft stone which is found in the Queen Charlotte Islands. Shown above are some argillite bowls and carvings.

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Shown above are some large carved panels.

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A carved hat is shown above.  

California and Great Basin Art (Photo Diary)

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California and the Great Basin is an area of great cultural diversity. With regard to art, this is an area well-known for its basketry. Among some of the tribes, such as the Hupa and Maidu, woven baskets were used for cooking. The weaving on the baskets is so tight that they can hold water. When they were filled with water, hot rocks were used to bring the water to a boil. Shown below are some of the items from the California and Great Basin First Nations which are on display at the Portland Art Museum.  

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Woven History, Part 1 (Photo Diary)

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Old baskets are fascinating. They reflect traditions and skills, as well as changes to culture and lifestyle. They speak to us from the past and can tell us much about the weaver’s life and society’s values.

The display of Native American baskets at the Clark County Historical Museum in Vancouver, Washington, includes baskets from many of the tribes of the Pacific coast, Columbia Plateau, and Northern California areas.  

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One of the primary First Nations who lived along the Columbia River and along the Pacific Coast in the Vancouver area are the Chinook. Shown above is a drawing of a typical Chinook village scene.  

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Shown above is a stone mortar and pestle which was used in processing some foods.

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The people living in the lower Columbia River area were fishing people. Shown above are some of the stone net weights that were used to hold their fishnets down.

Shown below are some of the items which the museum has on display.

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More items from the museum’s collection will be shown in Part 2.  

Woven History, Part 1 (Photo Diary)

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Old baskets are fascinating. They reflect traditions and skills, as well as changes to culture and lifestyle. They speak to us from the past and can tell us much about the weaver’s life and society’s values.

The display of Native American baskets at the Clark County Historical Museum in Vancouver, Washington, includes baskets from many of the tribes of the Pacific coast, Columbia Plateau, and Northern California areas.  

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One of the primary First Nations who lived along the Columbia River and along the Pacific Coast in the Vancouver area are the Chinook. Shown above is a drawing of a typical Chinook village scene.  

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Shown above is a stone mortar and pestle which was used in processing some foods.

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The people living in the lower Columbia River area were fishing people. Shown above are some of the stone net weights that were used to hold their fishnets down.

Shown below are some of the items which the museum has on display.

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More items from the museum’s collection will be shown in Part 2.  

Cultures in Contact on the Northern Plains

In the late 1700s, Europeans began to arrive on the Northern Plains in Alberta, Canada and their arrival brought a century of great cultural change to the First Nations of the region. During this century, the buffalo, which had provided the Indians with food and shelter, comes close to extinction. At the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre near Fort Macleod, Alberta, displays on the fourth level of the building tell the story of the European impact on Native cultures.

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The coming of the fur trade had a far reaching impact on the people. One of the first traders to reach the Blackfoot was Peter Fidler who came among them in 1792. While he may have been the first European trader to reach the Blackfoot, European trade goods-metal items, beads, cloth, guns-had reached them several decades earlier. The traders not only brought in European trade goods, but more importantly they involved the Indians in a globalized economic system.

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The photographs above show some of the kinds of trade items that the European traders brought with them.

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The most famous trade good developed by Hudson’s Bay Company was the blanket. By 1740, the Hudson’s Bay Company was making a specially designed trade blanket. These blankets were heavier than other trade blankets and were made of pure wool. Each blanket was assigned a certain number of “points” based on its weight, and a series of stripes indicating the “points” were woven into the blankets. In this way the trade value of the blanket was easily seen by both trader and the Indian fur trappers.

Another change was brought about the treaties negotiated between the First Nations and the Canadian government. In 1877, representatives from the Blood, Siksika, North Peigan, Stoney, and Sarcee gathered at the Blackfoot Crossing of the Bow River in Alberta to meet with representatives of the Canadian government. Father Albert Lacomb, an Oblate missionary, was hired by the government to assist with the treaty. From the viewpoint of the Canadian government, the purpose of Treaty 7 was to resolve the problem of aboriginal possession so that those lands could be legally passed into private ownership.

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The Indians were given one square mile for each five people, and an allowance of $12 for the first year and $5 thereafter. The treaty ledger book showing payment to the Indians is shown above.