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Washington Reads (Winter 2005) - Washington's Native People

The Native people of Washington, who according to scientists have lived in this region for at least 10,000 years, have rich and complex histories, and their traditions have enriched us all. Native tribes and early settlers held different beliefs. From before the signing of the original treaties by Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens, natives and settlers have often clashed. The conflicting goals and values, as well as the treaties, have brought misunderstanding and discord over the years. It is my hope that we gain a better understanding of the rich heritage and beliefs of the natives of our state as well as an understanding of the treaties and their repercussions by reading about native culture, history, and legends.

A Whale Hunt Sullivan, Robert. A Whale Hunt.

Sullivan describes in detail his observations of the controversial Makah tribal whale hunt, relating the obstacles and opposition, as well as the difficulties of keeping a tribal cultural tradition alive today. We are drawn into the author's journey and see the whale hunt events unfold through his eyes. This is an exceptional account of the clash between the Native traditions and present day values.

Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest Clark, Ella. Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest. Illustrations by Robert Bruce Inverarity.

This is a collection of more than one hundred legends that were based on the oral tradition of tribes as told around their fires through scores of generations. The legends are grouped by topics, such as mountains, lakes, creation, and most are prefaced by a brief factual description of the native beliefs and storytelling customs. The book, written for the general reader rather than a researcher or specialist, has been the definitive book on Northwest legends, in print for over fifty years.

Messages from Frank’s Landing: A Story of Salmon, Treaties, and the Indian Way Wilkinson, Charles. Messages from Frank’s Landing: A Story of Salmon, Treaties, and the Indian Way. Photo essay by Hank Adams.

In 1974 the Boldt Decision had a significant impact on the history of the Pacific Northwest, as it affirmed the treaty rights of the tribes. This book examines that turning point and the events that led to it, as well as those that followed. Oral history woven skillfully with legal analysis form a compelling story that combined with the riveting photos tell of the struggle that centered on Billy Frank and Frank’s Landing.

Spirit of the Cedar People: More Stories and Paintings of Chief Lelooska Lelooska. Spirit of the Cedar People: More Stories and Paintings of Chief Lelooska. Edited by Christine Normandin.

This is the second book of Northwest Coast folktales as recounted by Chief Lelooska, renowned storyteller and artist. It follows his award-winning Echoes of the Elders.

This book is accompanied by a CD of the chief telling the legends and performing traditional drumming and chanting. Rich native art is throughout the book. The myths and legends of the world of bears, halibuts, ravens and loons come to life for children through words, illustrations, and the chief’s voice. (Children, age 7 and older)

Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest McDermott, Gerald. Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest.

McDermott is an accomplished storyteller who accompanies his rhythmic storytelling with brilliant illustrations. They take the reader from darkness to brilliant backgrounds as Raven, a well-know trickster in legends, tricks the Sky Chief into giving the people the gift of light. (Children, ages 4-8)

Book cover from Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest, copyright @ (copyright symbol) 1993 by Gerald McDermott, reproduced by permission of Harcourt, Inc. This material may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Meet Kaya: An American Girl Shaw, Janet. Meet Kaya: An American Girl. (Includes the entire Kaya series.) Illustrated by Bill Farnsworth.

Set in 1764, this is part of the American Girls Series. This series follows Kaya, growing up as a Nez Perce girl before the United States became a country. The series takes the readers of today to the exciting time of the past. It also provides a “Peek at the Past” chapter that describes many facets of life for the Nez Perce in both historical and current times. (Children, age 7 and older)

Vaughan, Richard Lee. Eagle Boy: A Pacific Northwest Native Tale. Illustrated by Lee Christiansen.

This is a delightful and enduring tale of an outcast orphan, Eagle Boy, who befriends the eagle, which protects him. Eagle Boy becomes a hero by saving his people from starvation. The full-page illustrations are a work-of-art by themselves, and provide a dazzling background to a warm and charismatic story. (Children, ages 4-8)