Native Peoples Interlude

Trails have carried us to abandoned mines, logging camps, and a beaver pond one cold grey January afternoon. They have taken us to the historic Gila Cliff Dwellings and a sunrise on what seemed like the top of the Rockie Mountains just east of Pagosa Springs in Colorado. Somewhere in Maryland we got out of the car to stretch our legs–Kathy noticed a historic marker and a short trail took us to the birthplace of one Harriet Tubman. We learned long ago to pause long enough to see the writing on information posts, placards, signs, and such. Today’s gift was encountered on a run on some trails near Rosario Beach on Fidalgo Island here in Washington.  The story combines legend, history, and myth, Native American spirits, and visions of people gathered ’round a campfire to listen to an old story retold.

In case the words on the left in the first picture are not legible,
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“This is not a “totem pole”. Totem poles were made by Native peoples of the North Pacific Coast such as the Tsimshian, Haida, and Tlingit of British Columbia and Alaska. A totem pole is a record of lineage (family history). It uses a relatively standardized vocabulary of animals and people.”
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“Here in the Salish Sea (Puget Sound and Georgia Strait), Coast Salish peoples carved or painted the doorways and large cedar posts of their houses. Carved and painted posts were also sometimes used to mark graves. The designs often tell how the builder of the house became wealthy.”
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“This pole was made by Fidalgo Island artist, Tracy Powell; for the Samish people. It was raised here in 1983 by Samish families to celebrate their survival and honor their traditions.”
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I look at these lines of historical information and am thankful for that day in 2009 when Kathy asked, “What about North Dakota?” I said, “What about North Dakota?” She explained about the Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa Reservation needing volunteers. We left our beloved Pacific Northwest; paused at Chief Joseph’s grave over in eastern Washington, ran on the trails of the Gila Cliff Dwellings in New Mexico with Aldo Leopold’s words in mind.  We even took a picture at one of the bridges of Madison Country before finally arriving in Belcourt, North Dakota for a year full of new people, peoples, stories–myth, history, and legend–Native American crafts and skills, and a constant reminder to always pause to read the story pages along the way.

———-Run gently out there———