Bertha Blues in a Sinking City: A Brief History of Seattle’s Shifting Landscapes

David B. Williams talks Seattle geology in front of the Exchange Building's 3.54 billion-year-old gneiss feature.

David B. Williams discusses Seattle’s surprising geological history. The marled stone behind him is 3.54 billion-year-old gneiss that can be found at the base of the Seattle Exchange Building.

In the past week, Seattle received more bad news about its ill-fated tunnel construction and Bertha, the infamous tunnel-borer that has now been stuck under the city for a year. New reports indicate that Pioneer Square has sunk an inch since Thanksgiving and that a number of historic buildings and roadways are newly compromised by the beleaguered tunnel project. In this guest post, author David B. Williams places these recent developments within the city’s complicated history of reshaping its landscape, arguing that the shifting ground should come as no surprise.

[Crossposted from GeologyWriter.com]

Another day, another problem with Bertha. This time it has to do with cracks and settling and groundwater and planning and fixing and… It’s amazing how many problems that Bertha has had! I want to focus in on the newest map released by the Washington state Department of Transportation (WSDOT). Below is a zoom-in on the map, where I have added an outline of Seattle’s historic shoreline in red. You can clearly see that the areas of greatest settling correspond to where the city was filled in around what is known as Maynard Point (also known as Denny’s Island, but this is a made up name that probably didn’t come into existence till the 1960s). Maynard Point was a mound that rose perhaps 20 feet or so above sea level. It connected to the main part of Seattle by The Neck, a low spot that would periodically be covered by tides, converting the mound into an island. The Point has also been buried by fill.

Ever since WSDOT released information last week about their groundwater problems, people have been in a tizzy about the ground settling. Pioneer Square has had groundwater and settling problems for decades. Why do you think the sidewalks tilt? They weren’t built that way. Why do think so many buildings have steel retaining rods sticking out of them? It’s because the ground is settling. Why do buildings have sump pumps, which are needed more often in the winter during high tides? The Seawall doesn’t stop the tide; it’s not supposed to either. Why do parking lots undulate? Cores show that under the surface is a stew of crap, including coal, lumber, pilings, wood debris, sawdust, ceramics, sand, boulders, charcoal, ash, bricks, metal, glass, that continues to decay, compress, and settle.

Walk along Western Avenue between Yesler and Columbia and you’ll see what looks to be an engineer’s nightmare. The middle of the street is higher than the sides and the entire road surface undulates. The concrete curbs also look as if they had been poured by a drunkard, sometimes disappearing under the street and sometimes rising eight to ten inches above it. Near the southern end of the street is a low point that every time I have walked by is a pool of water.

In 1996, WDSOT drilled a core nearby as part of a seismic vulnerability study of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. In the first four feet of the core, the drillers found three inches of asphalt, three inches of railroad ballast, 12 inches of concrete, 18 inches of broken concrete, pieces of creosote timber debris, and rounded gravel. The technical report then lists organic soil and “a void from 4.0 ft. to 8.0 ft” before hitting moist, loose soil again. Fourteen and a half feet down the core changes to pieces of creosote timber and a new feature, an aroma of rotten egg and sulphur. The remaining 8 ½ feet of core is described as contaminated organic soil. A final note adds “See samples at own risk.”

Ask any building owner or tenant in the area and I suspect they will be able to tell you additional stories of how their building is anything but immobile. I am not writing this to defend WSDOT, but no one should be surprised by ground surface and subsurface issues in this area. It certainly looks like Bertha has contributed to the problem but it does not bear sole responsibility. These problems are the legacy of the landscape where we live and that we have altered continuously since first settlement, and  there appears no end in sight to this constant state of alteration and settling.

Read more from David B. Williams on Bertha and Seattle’s tunnel project:

Bertha: One Year Anniversary

 Bertha and her problems (again)

David Williams‘ forthcoming book, Too High and Too Steep: Reshaping Seattle Topography, uncovers the fascinating history of Seattle’s manufactured topography and is due out in fall 2015. In the meantime, stay tuned to David’s timely research: follow his blog, attend his upcoming talk at MOHAI, or join him for a walking tour of downtown Seattle’s geological history.

Poetry and the Politics of Chinese Immigration on Angel Island: Q&A with Judy Yung

In the early twentieth century, most Chinese immigrants coming to the United States were detained at the Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco Bay. There, they were subject to physical exams, interrogations, and often long detentions aimed at upholding the exclusion laws that kept Chinese out of the country. Many detainees recorded their anger and frustrations, hopes and despair in poetry written and carved on the barrack walls.

Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940, Second Edition tells these immigrants’ stories while underscoring their relevance to contemporary immigration issues. First published in 1980, this book is now offered in an updated, expanded edition including a new historical introduction, 150 annotated poems in Chinese and English translation, extensive profiles of immigrants gleaned through oral histories, and dozens of new photographs from public archives and family albums. In this Q & A, Judy Yung—one of the book’s three coauthors—discusses the Angel Island Chinese immigrant experience, remarkable poetry engravings on the barrack walls, and more. 

Could you give us a snapshot of a common Angel Island immigrant experience?

Judy Yung: From the beginning, the Angel Island Immigration Station has been known as the “Ellis Island of the West,” but in fact, it was very different from its counterpart in New York. Built in 1892 to welcome European immigrants to America, Ellis Island processed immigrants through within a few hours. They were given a cursory physical exam and asked 29 questions mainly to test their sound minds and ability to support themselves in America. Only 10% of the 12 million who came through Ellis Island were detained, usually for a few days, for legal or medical reasons.  In contrast, Angel Island was built in 1910 to better enforce the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which barred Chinese laborers from the country. At Angel Island, Chinese immigrants were thoroughly examined and interrogated and often detained for weeks and months at a time.

Chinese men's dormitory, 1910. Courtesy of California State Parks, 2014.

Chinese men’s dormitory, 1910. Courtesy of California State Parks, 2014.

Upon arrival in San Francisco, all Chinese newcomers were taken by ferry to the Angel Island Immigration Station for the medical exam and immigration inspection. Aside from the line inspection and eye exam by medical officers, they were subjected to an invasive exam of their blood and waste products to detect parasitic diseases such as hookworms. If found with these diseases, they could seek medical treatment at the immigration hospital, but it would be at their own expense. Following the medical exam came the dreaded hearing before the Board of Special Inquiry, in which Chinese applicants were interrogated for days and asked hundreds of detailed questions about their family background, village life, and marital relations in an effort to verify their identities and right to enter the country. The same questions were asked of their witnesses, and discrepancies in their answers could mean deportation. When denied entry, 88% of the Chinese applicants chose to retain an attorney to appeal their cases to immigration authorities in D.C. and the higher courts if necessary. They usually succeeded in their appeals, but it meant staying locked up on Angel Island for an additional six months and added expenses.

Because of this arduous and time-consuming process, the Chinese made up 70% of the detainee population at any time and they were detained the longest. Their average stay was 16 days compared to one or two days for European immigrants. We know that at least 200 Chinese were detained for over a year while waiting for decisions on their appeals. Confined in segregated dormitories that were deemed overcrowded, unsanitary, and unsafe by government inspectors, they were only allowed out for meals in the dining hall and for some exercise in a small, fenced-in yard. To prevent collusion on the interrogation, Chinese applicants were not allowed visitors until their cases had been settled. Their only visitors were Christian missionaries who were allowed to tend to their welfare, religious, and recreational needs.

Chinese detainees complained bitterly about the poor quality of Chinese food they were served at Angel Island (food riots broke out on numerous occasions), the long delays and unfair process for the Chinese as compared to other immigrant groups, and the prison-like and dismal conditions at the station. The men organized the Angel Island Liberty Association for mutual aid and support. A few were driven to suicide, usually by hanging themselves in the bathrooms. Many others resorted to writing poetry on the walls to express their anger and frustrations.

The poems you feature in the book are remarkable—could you explain who wrote them, how and where they made the engravings, and some of the common themes you’ve observed ?

JY: Thanks to Tet Yee and Smiley Jann, two detainees who each copied down close to 100 poems during their stay at Angel Island, we were able to translate and include 135 poems in Island. The poets were largely Cantonese villagers in their late teens with no more than a grammar school education. Yet they knew how to express themselves in the classical forms of Chinese poetry, such as the five to seven character quatrains or parallel couplets. The most outstanding poems, those filled with historical legends, literary allusions, and personal expressions of longing, anguish, and despair show remarkable talent, maturity, and wisdom beyond their years. Some of the poems dwell on wives and families left behind or debts incurred in making the voyage. Other poems reflect a strong sense of national consciousness, decrying the unjust exclusion laws and bemoaning a weak motherland incapable of intervening on their behalf. There are also angry poems that speak of revenge.

Many of the poems were originally written on the walls with Chinese brushes. The immigration officers repeatedly ordered the walls repainted to cover up what they considered graffiti. Undeterred, the poets began carving the outlines of the Chinese calligraphy with a knife to create impressions of each word. The maintenance crew was then instructed to fill in the words with putty before applying a new coat of paint. Although the putty and paint succeeded in obliterating many of the carved poems, they also served as sealers that helped preserve the wood from further deterioration. Over the years, the putty shrank and the different layers of paint cracked, revealing the carved poems underneath. So the walls at Angel Island do talk.

With two exceptions, all of the poems are unsigned, most likely for fear of retribution from the authorities. Regrettably, none of the collected poems were written by women, as the Administration Building where they were kept, was destroyed in the 1940 fire. For the second edition of Island, we were able to include four poems found at Ellis Island and seven poems from the immigration station at Victoria, B.C. Like many of the Angel Island poems, these works are rough and unpolished, but they express similar heartfelt sentiments.

Together, this collection of poems from Angel Island, Ellis Island, and Victoria, B.C., represent the first literary body of work by Chinese in North America. Often haunting and poignant in their directness and simplicity of language, the poems express a vitality and spirit of indomitability never before identified with Chinese America. The poems chronicle the indignity and trauma suffered at the hands of racist immigration systems, while conveying what it was like to be a Chinese immigrant imprisoned on an island.

Is there one poem that stands out to you as being particularly striking?

JY: Yes, poem 135 is deeply etched into the walls of a lavatory room on the first floor of the detention barracks. Written by a Chinese Mexican waiting to be deported to China in the early 1930s, it is the most visible and among the most poignant poems found at Angel Island.

Detained in this wooden house for several tens of days,
It is all because of the Mexican exclusion law that implicates me.
It’s a pity heroes have no way of exercising their prowess.
I can only await the word so that I can snap Zu’s whip.

From now on, I am departing far from this building.
All of my fellow villagers are rejoicing with me.
Don’t say that everything within is Western style.
Even if it is built of jade, it has turned into a cage.

Poem 135 was found on the walls of a lavatory room on the first floor of the detention barracks. Photograph by Mak Takashi. Courtesy of Phillip P. Choy.

Poem 135 was found on the walls of a lavatory room on the first floor of the detention barracks. Photograph by Mak Takashi. Courtesy of Phillip P. Choy.

 What can the stories of the Chinese immigrants on Angel Island tell us about contemporary immigration issues?

The oral histories of Chinese immigrants on Angel Island attest to the hardships and indignities they had to suffer and endure because of a racist immigration system. But through perseverance and hard work, they eventually succeeded in making a new life for themselves and their children in America.

In 1943, Congress repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act as a goodwill gesture to China, an ally to the U.S. during World War II.  Chinese aliens were finally able to become U.S. citizens, but only 105 Chinese were permitted to immigrate to the U.S. each year.  It wasn’t until Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 that the last vestige of racism was removed from our immigration laws and every country was put on an equal footing.

Today, fifty years later, we find ourselves with another broken immigration system: 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows of society with more attempting to cross our borders every day; 400,000 immigrants are detained every year in government and private prison facilities for months at a time and in far worst conditions than at Angel Island; and there is a long waiting list of Asian applicants trying to join their families in America as well as a backlog of visa applications for high-tech jobs.

Let us not make the same mistakes.  As we search for a way to fix our immigration system, we would do well to heed the lessons of Angel Island and of what can go wrong when our immigration policies do not live up to our ideals as a nation of immigrants with liberty and justice for all.

Judy Yung is professor emerita of American studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the author of Unbound Feet: A Social History of Chinese Women in San Francisco and Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America. The book was coathuored by the late Him Mark Lai and Genny Lim, a native San Francisco poet, playwright, performer, and educator. She is the author of three poetry collections and the award-winning play Paper Angels, about Chinese immigrants detained on Angel Island.

Deaconess Katharine Maurer with women and children on rooftop of the administration building, c. 1930. Courtesy of California State Parks, 2014.

Deaconess Katharine Maurer with women and children on rooftop of the administration building, c. 1930. Courtesy of California State Parks, 2014.

Photo Essay: Exploring the Great Bear Wild

“Through breathtaking photographs and moving prose, McAllister’s Great Bear Wild presents a compelling case for the urgent need to protect, in perpetuity, one of the most magnificent ecosystems on the planet—the increasingly threatened Great Bear Rainforest.” –Jane Goodall, UN Messenger of Peace

Great Bear Wild combines more than one hundred full-color photographs of the astonishing biodiversity of the Great Bear Rainforest with essays that illustrate the  threats that climate change, oil pipelines, and resource extraction pose to the region. Author and photographer Ian McAllister has dedicated his life to documenting and preserving this remote ecosystem and cofounded the organization Pacific Wild to support his efforts. Read more about McAllister’s conservation activism in this Q&A. In the meantime, we invite you to take a visual tour through the stunningly beautiful world of the Great Bear Rainforest and to meet the animals and sea creatures who inhabit it.

1. Spirit bears remain an iconic symbol of the fragility and uncertainty facing Canada’s northern rainforest.

Photo by Ian McAllister.

2. A marine mammal-eating Bigg’s killer whale circles a sea lion hangout hoping to surprise its prey. Capable of a century-long life span, these whales cannot afford to lose an eye to a seal or sea lion, so prefer to attack quietly and by surprise to avoid risk of injury.

McAllister_pg 147

Photo by Ian McAllister.

3. Anemones, starfish, and kelp. A strong tidal current, nutrient-rich, and pollution-free waters make the BC north coast one of the best dive locations in the world.

McAllister_pg 122

Photo by Ian McAllister.

4. Curious, gregarious, and agile, Steller’s sea lions are making a remarkable return to BC waters after decades of government-sponsored kill programs. Before they were protected in the 1970’s their numbers were reduced to one-quarter of their historic population.

Anemones, starfish, and kelp. A strong tidal current and nutrient-rich and pollution-free waters make the BC north coast one of the best dive location in the world.

Photo by Ian McAllister.

5. A mother bear successfully catches a coho salmon while her cubs encourage her from above. Salmon may be the reason for the spirit bear’s evolutionary adaptation of a white coat, as it acts as camouflage against a bright sky.

McAllister_pg 37

Photo by Ian McAllister.

6. Sea wolves live almost exclusively on deer and what the ocean provides, unlike wolves closer to the mainland, who have access to mountain goats, deer, moose, and beaver. These wolves are eating herring eggs at low tide.

Sea wolves live almost exclusively on deer and what the ocean provides, unlike wolves closer to the mainland, who have access to mountain goats, deer, moose, and beaver. These wolves are eating herring eggs at low tide.

Photo by Ian McAllister.

7. Steller’s sea lions move effortlessly through the offshore kelp forest.

McAllister_pg 135

Photo by Ian McAllister.

8. Princess Royal Island. The interface of ocean and rainforest define the ecological richness of the Great Bear Rainforest. The sunflower sea star is the largest of its type in the world.

McAllister_pg 17

Photo by Ian McAllister.

9. A waterfall drops into a vast stretch of rainforest near Dean Channel.

McAllister_pg 57

Photo by Ian McAllister.

10. Until there is a legislated ban on tankers in the Great Bear Rainforest, the future of this coastal paradise remains uncertain.

McAllister_pg 179

Photo by Ian McAllister.

Ian McAllister is a cofounder of the wildlife conservation organization Pacific Wild and an award-winning photographer and author of The Last Wild Wolves. Time magazine named him one of the Leaders of the 21st Century. Great Bear Wild is available for purchase from the University of Washington Press website or anywhere books are sold.

December 2014 News, Reviews, and Events

News

S15-catalog-cover (2)Our Spring 2015 catalog is now available! We’re excited to announce a number of great new titles: a history of bikes and cars battling over rights to the road; the role of Hollywood and black celebrities in the Civil Rights Movement;  an illustrated survey of the work of world-renowned landscape architect, Richard Haag; and much, much more. Browse through our online catalog to learn more about our forthcoming books.

 

 

 

Media and Reviews

Photo by Fotolia/jpldesigns

The Utne Reader website featured an extended excerpt from Lincoln Bramwell‘s book, Wilderburbs: Communities on Nature’s Edge:

Since the 1950s, a growing number of people have been moving into the once-rural landscapes of the West and transforming them into neighborhoods. In Wilderburbs (University of Washington Press, 2014), author Lincoln Bramwell tells the story of how roads, houses, and water development have transformed the rural landscape from wilderness into suburbia. He introduces readers to developers, homeowners, and government regulators who have all experienced environmental problems while designing and building residential housing in remote locations. This excerpt, which explains how and why these types of communities began, is from the Introduction, “Moving into the Woods.” Read the excerpt.

Cities of the Dead: The Ancestral Cemeteries of Kyrgyzstan by Margaret Morton was reviewed in DART: Design Arts Daily:

“A mythical landscape emerges from the dust under the scrubby mountains of Central Asia’s high plateau desert….the strange beauty of these cemeteries is inscrutable.” Read more.

In the Spirit of the Ancestors: Contemporary Northwest Coast Art at the Burke Museum by Robin Wright and Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse was reviewed in Museum Anthropology:

“Besides being a beautiful [book], In the Spirit of the Ancestors demonstrates alliances between museums and indigenous peoples and reveals the continuity of “traditional” and contemporary art.”

New Books

Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form, 50th Anniversary Edition
By Bill Holm
The 50th anniversary edition of this classic work on the art of Northwest Coast Indians now offers color illustrations for a new generation of readers along with reflections from contemporary Northwest Coast artists about the impact of this book. The masterworks of Northwest Coast Native artists are admired today as among the great achievements of the world’s artists. The painted and carved wooden screens, chests and boxes, rattles, crest hats, and other artworks display the complex and sophisticated northern Northwest Coast style of art that is the visual language used to illustrate inherited crests and tell family stories.

Tattoo Traditions of Native North America: Ancient and Contemporary Expressions of Identity
By Lars Krutak
Distributed for LM Publishers
For thousands of years the Indigenous peoples of North America have produced astonishingly rich and diverse forms of tattooing. Long neglected by anthropologists and art historians, tattooing was a time-honored practice that expressed the patterns of tribal social organization and religion, while also channelling worlds inhabited by deities, spirits, and the ancestors. Tattoo Traditions of Native North America explores the many facets of indelible Indigenous body marking across every cultural region of North America. As the first book on the subject, it breaks new ground on one of the least-known mediums of Native American expressive culture that nearly disappeared from view in the twentieth century, until it was reborn in recent decades.

Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940, Second Edition
Edited by Him Mark Lai, Genny Lim, and Judy Yung

In the early twentieth century, most Chinese immigrants coming to the United States were detained at the Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco Bay. There, they were subject to physical exams, interrogations, and often long detentions aimed at upholding the exclusion laws that kept Chinese out of the country. Many detainees recorded their anger and frustrations, hopes and despair in poetry written and carved on the barrack walls. Island tells these immigrants’ stories while underscoring their relevance to contemporary immigration issues.

Events

Frances McCue, Mary Randlett Portraits, Urban Craft Uprising, December 6 at 1:00 p.m.

Frances McCue, Mary Randlett Portraits, Seattle Public Library, December 7 at 2:00 p.m.

Robin Wright and Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse, In the Spirit of the Ancestors, Seattle Public Library, December 11 at 7:00 p.m.

Seattle Indie Press Book Bazaar, University Book Store, December 13  from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Judy Yung and Genny Lim, Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940, Eastwind Books of Berkeley, December 13 at 3:00 p.m.

Aaron Glass and Barb Cranmer, Film screening of the fully restored Edward Curtis film, In the Land of the Head Hunters (1914), Seattle Public Library, January 6 at 7:00 p.m.

Aaron Glass and Barb Cranmer with Feliks Banel, Return to the Land of the Head Hunters book talk, Town Hall Seattle, January 7 at 7:00 p.m.

An exhibition of original photographs from Cities of the Dead: Ancestral Cemeteries of Kyrgyzstan will open to the public in the Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery of The Cooper Union on January 27, 2015. Join Margaret Morton at 6:30 p.m. on the 27th to celebrate the exhibition at the opening reception.

On November 12, St. Mark's Bookshop hosted Margaret Morton for the launch of her new book, "Cities of the Dead: Ancestral Cemeteries of Kyrgyzstan."

On November 12, St. Mark’s Bookshop of New York hosted Margaret Morton for the launch of her new book, “Cities of the Dead: Ancestral Cemeteries of Kyrgyzstan.”

Native Northwest: Books on Indigenous History, Art, and Culture

November is Native American Heritage Month and a number of recent University of Washington Press books provide testament to the enduring, resilient nature of that heritage. The books below feature Indigenous authors, contributors, and collaborators, reflecting the Press’s longtime commitment to privileging Native American perspectives on their own history, art, and culture.

Being Cowlitz: How One Tribe Renewed and Sustained its Identity
By Christine Dupres
Without a recognized reservation or homeland, what keeps an Indian tribe together?  What began as the author’s search for her own history opened a window into the practices and narratives that sustained her tribe’s identity even as its people were scattered over several states. Christine Dupres interweaves oral history, archival documentation, and personal narrative to tell the story of the Cowlitz Tribe.

 

 

Return to the Land of the Head Hunters: Edward S. Curtis, the Kwakwaka’wakw, and the Making of Modern Cinema
Edited by Brad Evans and Aaron Glass
Foreword by Bill Holm
The first silent feature film with an “all Indian” cast and a surviving original orchestral score, Edward Curtis’s 1914 In the Land of the Head Hunters was a landmark of early cinema. Influential but often neglected in historical accounts, this spectacular melodrama was an intercultural product of Curtis’s encounter and collaboration with the Kwakwaka’wakw of British Columbia. In recognition of the film’s centennial, and alongside the release of a restored version, Return to the Land of the Head Hunters brings together leading anthropologists, Native American authorities, artists, musicians, literary scholars, and film historians to reassess the film and its legacy.

Tulalip From My Heart: An Autobiographical Account of a Reservation Community
By Harriette Shelton Dover
Edited by Darleen Fitzpatrick
Foreword by Wayne Williams
In Tulalip, from My Heart, Harriette Shelton Dover describes her life on the Tulalip Reservation and recounts the myriad problems tribes faced after resettlement. Born in 1904, Dover grew up hearing the elders of her tribe tell of the hardships involved in moving from their villages to the reservation on Tulalip Bay: inadequate food and water, harsh economic conditions, and religious persecution outlawing potlatch houses and other ceremonial practices.

 

 

Chinookan Peoples of the Lower Columbia
Edited by Robert T. Boyd, Kenneth M. Ames, and Tony A. Johnson
Chinookan peoples have lived on the Lower Columbia River for millennia. Today they are one of the most significant Native groups in the Pacific Northwest, although the Chinook Tribe is still unrecognized by the United States government. In Chinookan Peoples of the Lower Columbia River, scholars provide a deep and wide-ranging picture of the landscape and resources of the Chinookan homeland and the history and culture of a people over time, from 10,000 years ago to the present.

“This mature and welcome work provides lifelong academic insights concerning complex hunter-gatherers, regional social networks, ethnogenesis of modern Chinooks, comparisons of highly varied research, and strong voices of living Chinooks.” –Western Historical Quarterly

Shadow Tribe: The Making of Columbia River Indian Identity
By Andrew H. Fisher
Shadow Tribe offers the first in-depth history of the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia River Indians – the defiant River People whose ancestors refused to settle on the reservations established for them in central Oregon and Washington. Largely overlooked in traditional accounts of tribal dispossession and confinement, their story illuminates the persistence of off-reservation Native communities and the fluidity of their identities over time. Cast in the imperfect light of federal policy and dimly perceived by non-Indian eyes, the flickering presence of the Columbia River Indians has followed the treaty tribes down the difficult path marked out by the forces of American colonization.

“An engaging and compelling narrative, Shadow Tribe, engages legal, cultural, and political history as well as religion, colonization and resistance, and the sociology of identity formation. By complicating the ‘narrative of confinement and isolation’ that has dominated popular understandings and representations of Native American life, Fisher makes a thoughtful and informative addition to the long history of Indian Removal and Native American cultural persistence.”
—Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources

Where the Salmon Run: The Life and Legacy of Bill Frank Jr.
By Trova Heffernan
Billy Frank Jr. was an early participant in the fight for tribal fishing rights during the 1960s. Roughed up, belittled, and handcuffed on the riverbank, he emerged as one of the most influential Northwest Indians in modern history. His efforts helped bring about the 1974 ruling by Federal Judge George H. Boldt affirming Northwest tribal fishing rights and allocating half the harvestable catch to them.

Where the Salmon Run tells the life story of Billy Frank Jr., from his father’s influential tales, through the difficult and contentious days of the Fish Wars, to his enduring legacy. Based on extensive interviews with Billy, his family, close advisors, as well as political allies and former foes, and the holdings of Washington State’s cultural institutions, we learn about the man behind the legend, and the people who helped him along the way

Spirits of Our Whaling Ancestors
By Charlotte Coté
Foreword by Micah McCarty
Following the removal of the gray whale from the Endangered Species list in 1994, the Makah tribe of northwest Washington State announced that they would revive their whale hunts; their relatives, the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation of British Columbia, shortly followed suit. Neither tribe had exercised their right to whale – in the case of the Makah, a right affirmed in their 1855 treaty with the federal government – since the gray whale had been hunted nearly to extinction by commercial whalers in the 1920s. The Makah whale hunt of 1999 was an event of international significance, connected to the worldwide struggle for aboriginal sovereignty and to the broader discourses of environmental sustainability, treaty rights, human rights, and animal rights. It was met with enthusiastic support and vehement opposition. As a member of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation, Charlotte Cote offers a valuable perspective on the issues surrounding indigenous whaling, past and present.

“A relatively small book of potentially immense importance. The central issue it covers . . . is one that resonates with attempts by indigenous people worldwide to maintain their customary subsistence patterns.” —Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources

Bartering with the Bones of the Dead: The Colville Confederated Tribes and Termination
By Laurie Arnold
Bartering with the Bones of their Dead tells the unique story of a tribe whose members waged a painful and sometimes bitter twenty-year struggle among themselves about whether to give up their status as a sovereign nation. Over one hundred federally recognized Indian tribes and bands lost their sovereignty after the Eisenhower Administration enacted a policy known as termination, which was carefully designed to end the federal-Indian relationship and to dissolve Indian identity. Most tribes and bands fought this policy; the Colville Confederated Tribes of north-central Washington State offer a rare example of a tribe who pursued termination.

“The net effect of Arnold’s narrative strategy may be that future generations of Colvilles, and future generations of scholars, will see this book not only as a valuable work of tribal history but also as a document of Colville cultural continuity.” —Oregon Historical Quarterly

Northwest Coast Indian Art: An Analysis of Form, 50th Anniversary Edition
By Bill Holm
The 50th anniversary edition of this classic work on the art of Northwest Coast Indians now offers color illustrations for a new generation of readers along with reflections from contemporary Northwest Coast artists about the impact of this book. The masterworks of Northwest Coast Native artists are admired today as among the great achievements of the world’s artists. The painted and carved wooden screens, chests and boxes, rattles, crest hats, and other artworks display the complex and sophisticated northern Northwest Coast style of art that is the visual language used to illustrate inherited crests and tell family stories.

Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place
By Coll Thrush
Foreword by William Cronon
In traditional scholarship, Native Americans have been conspicuously absent from urban history. Indians appear at the time of contact, are involved in fighting or treaties, and then seem to vanish, usually onto reservations. In Native Seattle, Coll Thrush explodes the commonly accepted notion that Indians and cities-and thus Indian and urban histories-are mutually exclusive, that Indians and cities cannot coexist, and that one must necessarily be eclipsed by the other. Native people and places played a vital part in the founding of Seattle and in what the city is today, just as urban changes transformed what it meant to be Native.

“As an urban Indian palimpsest, by grounding Seattle and Puget Sound geography with Native names and by documenting the continuity of Native peoples over time and place, [Native Seattle] succeeds as a benchmark book.” —American Historical Review

Forthcoming in Spring 2015!

The first two books in our new Indigenous Confluences series will debut next spring, marking the continued expansion of our Indigenous studies publications into areas beyond the Pacific Northwest:

 A Chemehuevi Song: The Resilience of a Southern Paiute Tribe
By Clifford E. Trafzer
Foreword by Larry Myers
The Chemehuevi of the Twenty-Nine Palms tribe of Southern California stands as a testament to the power of perseverance. Having survived much of the past two centuries without rights to their homeland or any self-governing abilities, the Chemehuevi were a mostly “forgotten” people until the creation of the Twenty-Nine Palms Reservation in 1974. Since then, they have formed a tribal government that addresses many of the same challenges faced by other tribes, including preserving cultural identity and managing a thriving gaming industry.

A dedicated historian who worked closely with the Chemehuevi for more than a decade, Clifford Trafzer shows how this once-splintered tribe persevered using sacred songs and other cultural practices to maintain tribal identity during the long period when it lacked both a homeland and autonomy. The Chemehuevi believe that their history and their ancestors are always present, and Trafzer honors that belief through his emphasis on individual and family stories. In doing so, he not only sheds light on an overlooked tribe but also presents an important new model for tribal history scholarship.

“Trafzer should be congratulated for his nuanced rendering of Chemehuevi history, which stems from his longstanding relationship with the tribe . . . I wholeheartedly recommend it for anyone interested in learning the ‘true history’ of California, the conquest of the U.S. West, and the survival of Native People in the Americas.” —Jeffrey P. Shepherd, author of We Are an Indian Nation: A History of the Hualapai People

Education at the Edge of Empire: Negotiating Pueblo Identity in New Mexico’s Indian Boarding Schools
By John R. Gram
Foreword by Ted Jojola
For the vast majority of Native American students in federal Indian boarding schools at the turn of the twentieth century, the experience was nothing short of tragic. Dislocated from family and community, they were forced into an educational system that sought to erase their Indian identity as a means of acculturating them to white society. However, as historian John Gram reveals, some Indian communities on the edge of the American frontier had a much different experience-even influencing the type of education their children received.

Shining a spotlight on Pueblo Indians’ interactions with school officials at the Albuquerque and Santa Fe Indian Schools, Gram examines two rare cases of off-reservation schools that were situated near the communities whose children they sought to assimilate. Far from the federal government’s reach and in competition with nearby Catholic schools for students, Indian boarding school officials were in no position to make demands and instead were forced to pick their cultural battles with nearby Pueblo parents, who visited the schools regularly. As a result, Pueblo Indians were able to exercise their agency, influencing everything from classroom curriculum to school functions. As Gram reveals, they often mitigated the schools’ assimilation efforts and assured the various pueblos’ cultural, social, and economic survival.

“Gram offers a highly engaging account of Pueblo Indian students and their experiences at the Albuquerque and Santa Fe Indian schools. His book reveals an intense power dynamic between parents, school officials, the Catholic church, and the students themselves. No other single scholarly work interrogates the ways Pueblo students and their tribal communities experienced these institutions.” —Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert, author of Education beyond the Mesas: Hopi Students at Sherman Institute, 1902-1929

 

Behind the Covers: Six Classics of Asian American Literature, Then and Now

For our Throwback Thursday contribution to the University Press Week blog tour, we’re taking a look at how cover designs for our Classics of Asian American Literature series have evolved over time. Below, we feature the original book covers alongside their new designs and comments from University of Washington Press designers Thomas Eykemans and Dustin Kilgore. Their comments illuminate some of the challenges and opportunities that  arise in reimagining book covers to better fit contemporary trends while also highlighting the historic significance of the books and their authors.

1. America Is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan

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The cover of the 1973 edition (left) and the 2014 edition (right).

Designer: Dustin Kilgore
Design statement: Prior to the 2014 reissue, the most recent edition of America Is in the Heart was published by the University of Washington Press in 1973 and featured a 1946 illustration by Frances O’Brien from the cover of the Saturday Review of Literature. When the design was reduced in size for the 1973 book cover, the shadows on Bulosan’s face appeared heavier than in the original illustration. The determined look in Bulosan’s eyes in the original O’Brien illustration became almost glowering as the quality of the illustration was degraded over time.

For the new cover, we wanted a more upbeat tone that highlighted Bulosan’s unerring hope for America even in the face of hardship. Urban Artworks—a local organization that uses public art to empower youth—had recently installed a Carlos Bulosan mural in Seattle’s International District. That image showed more optimism and nuance, so it fit perfectly with the direction I was hoping to take the new cover design. I switched the image’s color palette to warmer tones, rather than staying with the cool color palette the mural uses. The cool tones work well for the place the mural is installed, but I was concerned it would make the book less inviting and unintentionally repeat the somewhat sinister effect of the shadows we saw in the reprints of the 1973 edition.

Read more about the new America Is in the Heart cover design here. Continue reading

University Press Week and AAUP Book Design Tour

This week, we join with fellow members of the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) in celebrating the third annual University Press Week. This year’s theme, “Great Minds Don’t Think Alike,” celebrates the incredible range of contributions university presses from around the world make to stimulating ideas and conversations.


Don’t miss the University Press Blog Tour, a virtual journey through the innovative contributions university presses make to scholarly communities, regional knowledge, and awareness of global issues. The UW Press blog will be participating in this tour on Thursday, November 13 and will feature contributions from other university presses on our Twitter feed.

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