Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dick Hieronymus - CD Grey Life Remastered

The newly re-mastered CD "GREY LIFE” has just been released featuring musical arrangements by San Juan Island's Dick Hieronymus. The original recording, one of Hieronymus’ first assignments at Dot Records in Hollywood, features twelve songs by singer-songwriter Val Stoecklein. Hieronymus orchestral arrangements were written for Stoecklein’s 12-string guitar, rhythm instruments, a large string section and oboe. The album hit the Billboard Magazine charts and received an award as one of the ten best album cover designs for the year.

Dusty Groove America describes the CD, "A darkly beautiful solo album from Val Stoecklein -- ex-leader of the Blue Things, stepping out here in a set of sweetly melancholic tunes! Val's in the lead on most numbers on vocals and acoustic guitar -- but there's also some fantastic support from light strings arranged by Dick Hieronymus, which gives the record a surprising amount of depth and complexity!"

Hieronymus has just signed on with Academy Award nominated director Ron Satlof to score a feature film, working title MISCONCEPTIONS, scheduled to shoot in January 2008.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

San Juan Island Painter - Dana Roberts

The Lost Sister - Oil on Linen
by Dana Roberts

"I particularly respond to fall and winter. The air infiltrated with water: fog, cool humidity, rain, snow. Boundaries become permeable. Sodden and brittle, red and grey. The huge sound of tiny tree frogs. The ground sloshing with water, the garden drowned.

I most directly physically interact with my place by gardening. My garden is humble and ignorant. I'm still touched when a perennial reappears, as though it likes me! But largely I do not nurture plants: I garden by motion and elimination. I hack and weed and rip out and clip and move rocks, shove dirt, dig, edit. I squat close to the dirt. I forget to look at the plants - I just want to be close to the dirt. Perhaps I am then open to the collective unconscious of the plants, the insects, birds, earth. I can absorb it, almost like something rising up from the ground.

My painting is fed in this indirect way - through absorption, immersion, the slow drip of familiarity. Scenery is for the eyes, and I do not exactly paint with my eyes, but rather on the border of sight and touch, the border of...At one point I decided that I did not like to scrutinize nature, looking for a pleasing aspect, a dramatic juxtaposition, a freeze frame. I felt I was using her; it was an uneasy relationship.

Now I assume that I absorb, that I can not help absorbing, that my place inhabits me as much as I inhabit it. I am drenched with deeply percolating water. I paint from within, and what I find within is "

Dana Roberts,
excerpt from: The Artist as Native: Reinventing Regionalism
Pomegranate Artbooks

Friday, September 28, 2007

From San Juan Island for the People of Burma

I dedicate these words from the Dalai Lama and these images from the Sakya Kachod Choling Buddhist Center on San Juan Island to the courageous people of Burma.

Green Tara Statue Shrine Room Sakya Kachod Choling Buddhist Center

Never Give Up

No matter what is going on

Never give up
Develop the heart
Too much energy in your county
Is developing the mind
Instead of the heart
Develop the heart
Be compassionate
Work for peace
In your heart and in the world
Work for peace
And I say again
Never give up
No matter what is happening
No matter what is going on
Around you
Never give up

HH the XIV Dalai Lama

Buddha Statue and traditional Tibetan Painting Sakya Kachod Choling Buddhist Center

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Buddhist Art on San Juan Island

This small Buddha statue is on the grounds of the Sakya Kachod Choling Buddhist Retreat Center on Mt Dallas on San Juan Island.

May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness
May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering
May all beings never be separated from the supreme joy that is beyond all sorrow
May all beings abide in equanimity free from attachment and aversion

This Green Tara statue is in the shrine room.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Burma and the Blog

Photo: Ko Htike - Monks Protest
You may well ask, why an entry about the Burmese Democracy movement on a local San Juan Island arts blog? Because Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has asked us to use our liberty to promote theirs and I could not refuse her request. If bloggers in Burma are risking their lives to get this information out. The least I can do is post it.

It has been reported that Aung San Suu Kyi has been removed from house arrest and taken to prison. Since Wednesday morning more than 10 peaceful protesters, including 6 Buddhist monks and 1 Japanese citizen have been shot or beaten to death. About 500 monks and hundreds of other non-violent protesters, some democracy party leaders, have been arrested. Numbers can not be confirmed and could be much higher.

Stephanie Holmes of the BBC News reports that, "Burma's bloggers are using the Internet to beat censorship, and tell the world what is happening under the military junta's veil of secrecy. Thanks in part to bloggers, this time the outside world is acutely aware of what is happening on the streets of Rangoon, Mandalay and Pakokku and is hungry for more information."

Photo: Ko Htike - Monks & People Meet Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Artstock - A Fall Festival of Art

San Juan Island's inaugural Fall Festival of the Arts, Artstock, will take place Saturday, October 6 and Sunday, October 7. Art Galleries in Friday Harbor and Art Studios both in Town and out of town will be open to visitors from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm both days.

Raven II - wood and steel on granite boulder
Sculptor Matthew Gray Palmer will be in his studio at 835 - A Argyle Avenue

Just a few highlights of Artstock include:

Ed Peekeekoot, Cree carver and musician "known for his foot-stopping fiddle, banjo, guitar and harmonica playing" will be playing music at Arctic Raven Gallery from 1 - 4 pm on October 6.

Demonstrations at Island Studios will include: On October 6, A watercolor demonstration by Pat McDole and the flute and drum music of Lavelle Foos and Terrea Bennett. On October 7, a lampwork glass bead demonstration by Darleen Nixon and the music of local musicians. Demonstrations will be from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm and music from 6:00pm to 7:30pm.

Waterworks Gallery will preview new works by David Smith Harrison, intaglios & paintings & Kevin Pettelle, Bronzes. The artists will be at the gallery for questions and conversations from 1.00 to 3.00 on Saturday.

Carved Plate - Porcelain
Potter Paula West will be in her studio at 160 MacGinitie Road

Many more artists will be showcasing their work. For a complete list of artists, galleries and events please link to Artstock.

Aung San Suu Kyi on Non-Violence

I could not ignore this.
Think globally. Act locally.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Artist to Speak on Relevance of Coast Salish Art

On Sunday September 30th ay 6:00 PM in the Gubelman Room at San Juan Community Theater Northwest Coast Native artist Shaun Peterson will speak about the relevance of Coast Salish art to today's culture.

Artwork by Shaun Peterson

Shirley McDill of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria will also speak giving an introduction to the upcoming exhibition, "Transporters: Contemporary Coast Salish Art" opening November 2, 2007 in Victoria, B.C.

The evening event is presented by the organization, Visual Arts Museum of the San Juans.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Frog Girl and Volcano Mother

Even if you’ve lived on San Juan Island for a long time Mt Baker can catch you by surprise and take your breath away with its snow clad beauty. Called Komo Kulshan by native tribes it is not unusual to see a plume of steam above the volcano’s crater. Mt Baker last erupted in 1943 causing a forest fire and coating the surrounding area with ash.

Detail from Frog Girl written and illustrated by Paul Owen Lewis

In his companion book to Storm Boy, Paul Owen Lewis tells the story of Frog Girl who follows her animal guide beneath the lake beside her village. She is inducted into the Frog Clan and given an appeal and a warning by Volcano Mother. Frog girl risks her life to return captured frogs to the lake just in time for their songs to accompany the rain quenching the volcanic fires that threaten to destroy her village. In native mythology frogs are associated with rain and wealth.

Detail from Frog Girl written and illustrated by Paul Owen Lewis

Frog Girl is available at the Whale Museum. A portion of the proceeds from the book is donated to the Haida Gwaii Rediscovery program for tribal youth. All purchases at the Whale Museum promote stewardship of whales and the Salish Sea ecosystem through education and research.

Mudra Triptych

These three watercolor paintings on handmade paper from India depict three Mudras, ancient symbolic hand gestures or physical expressions of different states of being. Mudras are common iconography in Buddhist art. Atmanjali Mudra, Prayer, is a common hand gesture to many cultures indicating reverence. Bhumisparsha Mudra, The Earth is my Witness, originates with the enlightenment of Buddha. Abhaya Mudra, Have No Fear, is a gesture of reassurance and protection.

These paintings, together or separatly, as well as my featured paintings on the side bar are available for purchase as Giclee Prints. Please leave a comment below to indicate interest.

The origonals of the Mudra paintings were submitted in my application for my residency with the Morris Graves Foundation and were given as a gift to the Foundation after my residency.

Purchase of art from this blog will support continuation of this blog, development of the ON SAN JUAN ISLAND blog as a web page and continuation of my painting career. At this time I have no mechanism for online purchasing please indicate interest in the comment function below and I will respond to your comment with contact information ~ Peggy Sue

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Salish Sea

The term Salish Sea is relatively new. Biologist Bert Webber first suggested it in the 1970s while he was working of oil spill issues. The name relates to the language area of the Salish tribes and describes a bioregion bisected by the Canadian/American border. The Salish Sea includes; The Straits of Georgia, Straits of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound. This inland seaway and glacial-fed river drainage is one of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the world. Though you may not see the name on maps it is growing in popular use among biologists, environmentalists and naturalists. In a step toward making it official the Salish First Nations named their council the Coast Salish Sea Council.
* information from Salish Sea, a Handbook For Educators

photo: Ken Balcomb - Orca Survey

Friday, September 21, 2007

Happy Autumn Equinox!

By the time fall comes to San Juan Island I’m ready for it. On this rainy, misty autumnal equinox my heart is aching for a wood fire. My favorite autumn smells are hugging someone in a hand-knit wool sweater when beads of moisture from the air cling to the wool bringing out the smells of the lanolin and captured wood-smoke, that, and a big pot of ginger apples on the stove.

Peggy Sue’s Ginger Apples

Pick a big bag of apples.
Core them and cut them up putting them in a pot adding water to cover.
Cook about 1/2 to 2/3rds of the apples down to an applesauce consistency.
Add brown sugar to taste,
And a few splashes of lemon juice.
Slice up plenty of fresh ginger root and let it simmer in the applesauce.
Cut up the remaining apples, cook in the applesauce just until tender.
Put up in jars.

Potlatch Revival

Shell Buttons

This summer the Lummi celebrated their first tl’aneq’ or Potlatch since the 1937. The celebration marked the climax of an Intertribal canoe journey, Paddle to Lummi. Traditionally the potlatch served as a mechanism to redistribute wealth, establish alliances, and confirm status based on generosity. According to Cat Sieh of the Bellingham Herald, at this summer’s potlatch “Handmade gifts for thousands of attendees included 4,500 necklaces, 600 shawls, 100 drums, 100 cedar hats and 1,000 sewn wool crafts. Bags, pillows and cedar headbands were also handed out.” Many of the items were created by Lummi youth as a means to learn traditional art forms. The most extravagant gift was a hand-carved and painted totem pole and small canoe given to the Cowichan Nation, which will host the 2008 paddle (Intertribal canoe journey).

Europeans saw the potlatch at best as wasteful and unproductive and worse as satanic. Potlatches were outlawed by both Canada and the United States until the mid twentieth century.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Totems in Transition

Today Northwest Coast tribal people are again identified with totem poles. Tragically, during the period of early contact, well-meaning but seriously misinformed Christian missionaries, perceiving totem poles to be a form of devil worship, convinced many native people to burn them. The tribal societies recently decimated by European diseases were ripe picking for missionaries who told them that their troubles were a result of their own sins. What the missionaries did not understand was that the Totem Poles and tattooing, also perceived as barbarism to be discouraged, were a means by which the tribal people recorded complex family and clan relationships. This was critical not only to their identity but it informed them of whom they could or could not marry. In an incredible feat of cultural survival through adaptation the native people began to record tribal crests with newly available materials, shell buttons and wool blankets. Tattoo designs were transferred to the engraved silver jewelry we are familiar with today. The idea came from the engraved silver tea services brought here by the English. Haida artist Charles Edenshaw (1839-1920) mastered this form of silverwork. Notably, Edenshaw was the grandfather of well known Canadian artist Bill Reid.

Hillary Stewart’s book, Looking at Totem Poles is a beautifully illustrated overview of Totem Poles and their meaning.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

In The Foreign Film Section

A reader suggested bringing reader recommended film reviews onto the blog. I love the idea. My plan is to set up a web site soon where films will have their own section and reader reviews will be easy to submit. Meanwhile please leave a comment if you have a film to recommend.

I found The Edukators by Austrian director Hans Weingarter this afternoon in the King's Video foreign section. In the film three young idealistic would be revolutionaries bumble themselves into a kidnapping. Loyalties are tested. A. O. Scott of The New York Times says, "The film is, to some extent, a sympathetic exploration of the state of political idealism in the contemporary West, where all avenues of resistance seem blocked or co-opted by the system. But it is also a sometimes mocking exposé of what the old left used to call political infantilism. The director is clearly fond of his radicals — and the terrific actors playing them do so with exemplary conviction." Staring Daniel Bruhl, Julia Jentsch and Stipe Erceg, German with English subtitles, Rated R 124 min.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Smallpox Bay

The native people of the Pacific Northwest were unique among cultures in that they developed a complex stratified society without ever developing agriculture. They built their wealth on the bounty of nature that surrounded them. They supported a noble class, sophisticated arts, theatre, and system of cosmology on an economy based on salmon, shellfish, cedar, camas root and berries. The inland seaways were their highways and through trade added obsidian, jet & shell beads and amber to their wealth.

The misnomer that there was not much going on here before Europeans arrived is not due simply to arrogance. To say that we were a plague upon their houses is the literal truth. It is estimated that as many as 90% of the native population was decimated by disease before settlers even began to arrive. Smallpox was the worst of these diseases. What European settlers found here were the remains of a society that had just collapsed. Smallpox Bay on San Juan Island is named for Native Americans who contracted smallpox and immersed themselves in the seawater to cool their fever. They died of hypothermia, drowning or the disease itself.

“In our different excursions, particularly those in the neighborhood of port Discovery, the skulls, limbs, ribs, and backbones, or some other vestiges of the human body, were found in many places promiscuously scattered about the beach, in great numbers. Similar relics were also frequently met with during our survey in the boats; and I was informed by the officers, that in their several perambulations, the like appearances had presented themselves so repeatedly, and in such abundance, as to produce an idea that the environs of port Discovery were a general cemetery for the whole of the surrounding country. Notwithstanding, these circumstances do not amount to a direct proof of the extensive population they indicate, yet, when combined with other appearances, they warranted an opinion, that at no very remote period this country had been far more populous than at present.”

From the Journal of Captain George Vancouver - 1793

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Orca Groove

During a recent presentation at the Whale Museum Jim Nollman of Interspecies Communication spoke about the 15 years he spent researching Orca communication off the northern tip of Vancouver Island. Nollman, himself a musician, experimented in playing music for the whales through an underwater microphone. When asked, "What kind of music do they like best?" he answered, "Reggae". Nollman based this on his observation that the whales hung around longer and made more vocalizations themselves when Reggae music was being played. The crew also invited Tibetan monks on board. When the monks chanted into the underwater microphone the whales approached but instead of making their usual vocal response to human music they hovered nearby silently.

Read more about Jim Nollman's work at the Green Museum

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Orca Clan and Storm Boy

The Orca in our midst are quite possibly one of the oldest life forms inhabiting these Islands. The species spans the globe and is thought to have been around for 5 million years. They are sophisticated social animals that travel in matrilineal family groups distinguished from other groups by their unique dialects. The first humans to inhabit the Pacific Northwest traveled the same waters as the Orca and the whales figured into their cosmology as symbols of mysticism. The majestic creatures are associated with strength, dignity, prosperity and longevity.

Detail from Storm Boy written and illustrated by Paul Owen Lewis

Paul Owen Lewis beautifully interprets the link between native peoples of the Pacific Northwest and the Orca in his award winning children’s book Storm Boy. A chief’s son goes fishing alone and falls into the sea. He spends the next year with the Orca people exchanging stories and dances before returning home only to find that just one day has passed for his family on the shore.

Detail from Storm Boy written and illustrated by Paul Owen Lewis

Storm Boy was awarded: Northwest Book Award, Best Book of the Year; American Book Award, Best Children’s Book of the Pacific Northwest and the Washington State Governor’s Award. The book is available at the Whale Museum where you can also see a life size Storm Boy exhibit.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Orca Calf L-108 Named ~ Meet Coho

The votes are in and the Orca calf formerly known only as L-108 has been just been christened Coho. First seen last spring near Neah Bay the new member of the L-pod family joins Mother Ino aka L-54 and brother Indigo aka L-100.

Photo: Erin Falcone, Cascadia Research Collective

Coho is now the youngest Orca available for adoption through the Whale Museum Orca Adoption Program. The adoption program supports and promotes stewardship of whales and the Salish Sea ecosystem through education and research. Adopters receive a handsome packet containing information, a biography and photograph of their whale and if desired email updates.

Of the Law ~ by Susan Wingate

Local author Susan Wingate has finished her first novel, Of the Law. Could her dark look at small town Island life be inspired by the real thing?
"The mystery, Of THE LAW, is the story about small town life on Dahl Island. Harvey Flemings is the Police Chief of the town there. He becomes embroiled in a maze of deceit, adulterous encounters, bribery and, murder – a couple of them. Failure to bring to justice the corrupt Leona Malouf (the wealthiest woman in the community) colors Harvey's every thought. Despite the impermeable legal fortress she has surrounding her, Harvey vows to end Leona's run of terror. Doing so, he enters into a world of sinister thought. The very element he's fought against his entire life grabs hold of his moral collar and will not let go. Will he win his fight against evil? Or, will he be destroyed? Of THE LAW looks at the darker side of humanity".

Official Website of Susan Wingate

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Island Museum of Art exhibits Lopez Artists

September 14 - November 17, 2007
Opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, September 14

Island Museum of Art opens "A Wild Nature", a five-person exhibition from Lopez Island. The show is curated by printmaker and sculptor Jean Behnke who says "…in some way we all manifest the dream of wild nature in our art work." Included in the exhibition are Bruce Botts, painter and printmaker, Janis Miltenberger, glass artist, Summer Moon, photographer, Jeffrey Hanks, ceramic artist and Jean Behnke, printmaker and sculptor.

Says Behnke, "In a melancholic way, this art celebrates the incorrigible tangle of a wild nature pushing through internal and external orderliness with beautiful tenacity. As in the writings of Gabriel Garcia Marquez there is a sense of the wild that is saturated with nature's heartiness and its reality as original home."

For more information about the exhibit please call
the Island Museum of Art at 370-5050.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sacred Ground ~ Curiosity and Respect

Thinking about the Lummi Healing Poles and a thoughtful comment to my earlier post about Kennewick Man prompted me to pay a visit to my own sacred burial grounds. My Dad, my Grandparents and my Great Grandparents are buried in the cemetery in San Juan Valley where a classically picturesque white clapboard church & steeple looks out over the valley farmland.

Sometimes I go there when I have a big decision to make, when I am in need of guidance or when I just want to get out of town for a quick break. I’ve also been there on a few memorable occasions laying loved ones to rest. When my grandfather died his Masonic brothers laid fir boughs on his coffin. I was in shock when my father died but I remember thinking how he would have loved it that my Mom found two young girls to play the bagpipes for him. My friend Ben who died so gracefully was laid out organically in his seersucker suit with no chemical additives. There is a finality to lowering a coffin into the ground then hearing the thunk of earth on wood.

The soil that contains the bones of those so dearly loved is indeed sacred to me. I would never want to see this hallowed sod disturbed. Then there is Kennewick Man. Is it wrong to examine his bones? Curiosity is a powerful force. Thoughts of Kennewick Man led me to contemplate an ancestor of my own race, Lindow Man. Lindow Man is a 2,000 year old Celtic Prince found preserved in a bog in Cheshire, England. Scientific inquiry strongly suggests that Druid priests ritually sacrificed him after giving him a breakfast of barley cake and a drink containing mistletoe pollen. I want to know that about my ancestors! Maybe there is something like the 5-second rule for food (if you drop food on the floor but pick it up within 5 seconds its OK). If your ancestor has been dead for 2,000 years or more is it OK to study his remains? Do respect and curiosity have to conflict? Can we study an ancestor’s remains without disturbing their immortal soul?

Monday, September 10, 2007

September 11 ~ A Lummi Carver With A Vision

One of the groups of native people whose ancestors fished off of San Juan Island for thousands of years are the Lummi people. Today’s Lummi reservation is near Bellingham. After September 11, 2001 Lummi Nation council member and master carver Jewell “Praying Wolf” James had a vision. According to Kari Shaw of the Bellingham Herald, Jewell James was looking out from the shore when he saw “hundreds of totem poles bobbing in the water beneath a silvery moon. But the moon was going east, the wrong way across the sky. Then he was flying on a totem pole himself, chasing the errant moon and looking back and down on the gravel canoe grounds of the reservation.” The Great Spirit told James, “Look at the reds, the blacks, the whites and the yellows”.

James responded to his vision by working with fellow carvers in the House of Tears, a 20-ft long carving shed carving a Healing Pole for the victims of the New York City 9-11 attack out of a giant cedar tree hundreds of years old. The next year they carved an Honoring Pole for the site of the flight 93 crash in Pennsylvania. Then in 2004 they presented the Liberty and Freedom Poles to the Pentagon in Washington DC.

According to James the colors on the poles, red, white, black & yellow reflect the four races of America. “I think America is beautiful because we’re composed of all four races and we believe in liberty and freedom – the freedom to choose our own leadership and remove them, the liberty to practice our own native beliefs our own form of organized religion.”

Each pole was driven across the country to its site stopping at Native American communities along the way to receive traditional blessings. The Healing Pole in New York is now permanently installed in the Sterling Forest, an hour from Manhattan. The pole faces west toward a corresponding pole in the Lummi Semiahmoo cemetery. Together they grace the entire nation with healing prayers.

The Honoring Pole in Pennsylvania depicts a bear holding a human. It represents the courage of the passengers and crewmembers of Flight 93 who according to James, "had to have the strength of a bear to do what they did."

In September of 2004 the Freedom and Liberty Poles were raised at the pentagon and remained there for a year before being permanently installed in District of Columbia’s Memorial Grove on Kingman Island in the Anacostia River. The Liberty Pole is carved as a female Bear with Grandmother Moon on her abdomen. The Freedom Pole is carved as a male Bear with Grandfather Moon. The uniting crossbar represents Sovereignty upheld by Liberty and Freedom. “We have the power to heal, the power to love each other, the power to unite,” said James, “That’s what the symbol is about.”

links to photo slide shows



Sunday, September 9, 2007

Women Who Run With The Whales

Literary Thursdays this September at the Whale Museum feature two extraordinary women writing from an Orca perspective.

On September 20th at 7:00 PM Astrid van Ginneken will introduce her novel, Togetherness is Our Home - An Orca's Journey through Life. Years of observation of different killer whales in many different circumstances shaped Astrid’s perception of the highly intelligent and loyal orca. In pitch-perfect prose, orca expert Dr. Astrid M. van Ginneken puts the reader into the orca’s mind as she tells the story of the young killer whale Tuschka. Born in the wild, Tuschka learns the ways of her pod of fellow creatures and experiences the never-ending search for food, the joy of play, and the sadness of loss. But then Tuschka is mercilessly taken from her home waters and transferred to a marine park, where her only solace is a trust in her human trainers.

On September 27th at 7:00 PM Mary J. Getten will introduce the new edition of her 2007 Nautilus Book Award winning Communicating With Orcas: The Whales' Perspective. Mary Getten, respected whale naturalist and professional animal communicator, takes the reader on a voyage with her and her colleague. Together they use their telepathic skills and communication abilities to interview wild and captive orcas. Communicating With Orcas takes you inside the world of the Orcas allowing you to see things from their perspective and to understand another way of life - the orca way.

Indian Summer

When summer lingers into Autumn we call it Indian summer. School has started and there is a hint of fall in the air but the beach still beckons. By the time summer ends I'm usually ready. I love fall on the Island. I love winter too. My idea of going south for the winter is spending Christmas in Ballard. I love the rain and I love being able to find a parking spot in town. Yet, San Juan Island has always had summer people. For at least 5,000 years the Coast Salish tribes native to this area including the Songhees, Saanich, Lummi and Samish came out to San Juan Island and set up camp for the summer. The fishing was good. There is no denying... summer here is grand.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Kennewick Man

The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture begins it's second regional tour of Kennewick Man on Trial this month. Discovered in 1996 on the shores of the Columbia River, Kennewick man has been determined to be between 5,650 and 9,510 years old. The exhibit examines controversial issues of law, ethics, science and race that surfaced along with this ancient man of mystery.

Illustration by Joyce Bergen, 1999

Kennewick Man was about 5 feet 9 inches tall, and had a robust, muscular build. At the time of his death, he was between 30 and 50 years of age and had survived a projectile point wound in his right hip that probably made walking difficult. The area of Eastern Washington where he was found was cooler and wetter 9,000 years ago than today, with grasslands and scattered pine forests covering the land. Ancient large bison, elk, deer, fish, freshwater shellfish, and plants were important sources of food.” – Burke Museum

Burke Museum

Thanks to commenter Tara for this book suggestion…

"A great book on the Kennewick Man case and the skeletons relation to contemporary American Indian peoples is Respect for the Ancestors: American Indian Cultural Affiliation in the American West. In it, Dr. Jones argues for a relationship between today's American Indians of the Plateau and the Kennewick Man. It will be interesting to see the museum's take."

Arrowheads found here by my Grandad

The First Islanders

Of course the very first inhabitants of San Juan Island were not Europeans. They were not even northwest coastal tribes as we know or remember them today. As the Ice Age retreated a great deal of the world’s water was still locked up in glaciers and the tide was much further out than it is today. Some sites of the earliest human habitat are now buried under the sea.

The Ice Age also wiped out earlier forests that returned slowly by replanting themselves one tree at a time. San Juan Island’s earliest known inhabitants were grassland dwellers who did not appear to subsist on marine resources but on deer and elk. These early inhabitants are first recorded as being here about 9,000 years ago during what is known by archeologists as the Cascade Phase. In 1977 archeologists found a fossilized mastodon rib on the Olympic Peninsula that contained a broken spear point similar to stone artifacts found on San Juan Island.

If the first San Juan Islanders did use marine resources evidence of their shoreline activity may be buried under the tides that only stabilized about 5,000 years ago. Or it could be that early hunting was so good the development of a marine economy was not yet necessary.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Northwest Passage

Juan de Fuca: The Movie

Spencer Tracy, Ruth Hussey and Robert Young
Northwest Passage 1940

Just as well Jaun de Fuca retired to the Greek Islands. He only would have disappointed himself and Queen Elizabeth had he pursued his search for the Northwest Passage. His life appears in my imagination in swashbuckling Technicolor. What great material for a screenplay!

Alas, my search for, Juan de Fuca: The Movie, proved to be as elusive as the search for the Northwest Passage itself. The best I could find was a 1940 Spencer Tracy movie. In Northwest Passage, Tracy, Robert Young and Ruth Hussey search for a waterway across the continent from the east coast at least a century later than de Fuca sailed our seas out here.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Caravela ~ Sailing Vessel

The Straits of…..Apostolos Valerianos?

Juan de Fuca aka Apostolos Valerianos

Juan de Fuca, most likely the first European to venture into the Pacific Northwest, was a Greek sea pilot from the Island of Cephalonia in the Ionian Sea. His real name was Apostolos Valerianos. Valerianos or, de Fuca, served the King of Spain as Pilot of the West Indies for 40 years.

While serving the Spanish King in 1587 de Fuca, returning from China and the Philippines in his ship the Santa Anna, was captured, taken to California and relieved of his valuable cargo by an English Captain Candish. Five years later the Vicroy of Mexico sent de Fuca with three small ships and 200 soldiers up the Pacific Coast in search of the fabled “Straits of Anian” or the Northwest Passage. The soldiers mutinied due to the “misconduct” of a Captain and the ill-fated voyage returned from California to Mexico.

In 1592 the Vicroy sent him again, this time with a small Caravela and a Pinnance in hopes of finding the mythical passage. There, between 47 & 48 degrees latitude, de Fuca discovered a “broad Inled of Sea, he entered there into, sayling therein more than twentie days” here he is said to have seen people “clad in Beast’s skins” and a land “fruitful and rich of Gold, Silver, Pearle, and other things, like Nova Spaina.” Believing that he had completed his mission he returned to Acapulco where he was honored but not paid. After two years he returned to Spain still hoping to collect his pay. Yet again, he received honors and flattery but no rewards of substance. Disenchanted he left Spain for his home on the Ionian Island of Cephalonia stopping in Venice in the year 1596.

In Venice de Fuca met the English Consul, Michael Lok who pled his case to Queen Elizabeth and de Fuca agreed to serve the English Queen as a pilot exploring the Northwest Passage for a ship of 40 tons and compensation for his losses at the hand of the English Captain Candish. In spite of Lok’s advocacy the crown was slow to act and de Fuca, becoming impatient, returned at last to his Island home where according to the Island’s later inhabitants the old Mariner retired at last in comfort and peace.

Thanks to Michael Lok, de Fuca’s voyages were recorded by Samual Purchas in Purchas His Pirgrimes printed in London in 1625. The English Captain Charles Barkley was familiar with Purchas tome and in 1787 when Barkley sailed the Imperial Eagle up the Northwest Coast to the 47th parallel. It was Barkley who wrote there on his chart, “Juan de Fuca’s Strait”.

Who Was Juan de Fuca?

The Birth of an Island

Glacial Stone

The basic materials forming San Juan Island were heaved into place about 40 million years ago. The Juan de Fuca Ridge, an underwater volcanic mountain range, ran north to south a few hundred miles off of the west coast of Washington State. That ridge generated molten rock spreading east in ridges. Meanwhile, North America was sliding west. Enter the Farallon tectonic plate pushing northeast before plunging beneath the North American continent and you have a trench full of giant masses of volcanic basalt plus a jumble of re-crystallized oceanic sedimentary rock crumpling and buckling onto the coast like a Volkswagen Bug rear-ended by a Hummer. Out of this chaos an Island was born. Then, only about 16,000 years ago, huge sheets of glacial ice plowed their way south from Canada gouging out the Straights of Georgia, Straights of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound transforming Puget Sound from a north flowing watershed into the inland sea we know today. Walls of ice hundreds of feet high sculpted the sharp peaks and plummeting valleys of the Cascade and Olympic mountains that surround San Juan Island. The glaciers retreated leaving deposits of gravel beautifully tumbled into pebbled beaches and the occasional large granite stone standing like a druid monument.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007