Tag Archives: Book Excerpt

Read an excerpt of one of the books that inspired the documentary film “Promised Land” — Join us for a free screening in Seattle

In Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place, Second Edition (published Spring 2017 in the Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books series), Coll Thrush brings the Indigenous story to the present day and puts the movement of recognizing Seattle’s Native past into a broader context.

Native Seattle and several other UW Press titles (including Chinookan Peoples of the Lower Columbia edited by Robert T. Boyd, Kenneth M. Ames, and Tony A. Johnson, and the forthcoming Chinook Resilience by Jon D. Daehnke) helped form the framework for the documentary Promised Land,” about the Duwamish Tribe and Chinook Nation fight for federal recognition. “Promised Land” filmmaker Sarah Samudre Salcedo says:

“The book not only informed our film’s research for the Duwamish, but so well described the tribe’s modern day struggle for recognition that it inspired our focus to the broader federal policies that eventually drew our attention to the Chinook story, and stories like it across the nation. Those histories and struggles are so well-documented in these books and our film wouldn’t have made sense without them and the appearance of the authors within the documentary.”

We are thrilled that Seattle Theatre Group (STG) is hosting a free screening of “Promised Land” at the Neptune Theatre on July 6 and bringing the Duwamish Tribe and Chinook Nation’s struggle to the people of Seattle. Both tribes will be on hand before and after the show at tables in the lobby, and at a post-film panel discussion, to talk to the community. University Book Store will also have a table at the event to sell our books. Doors open at 7 p.m., the Duwamish and Chinook start drumming at 7:30 p.m., and the film starts at 8 p.m. We hope you can join us!

In celebration of the screening event later this week, we feature the following excerpt from the new preface to the second edition of Native Seattle:

Please join us for this special event:

STG & Tall Firs Cinema present
Promised Land
Special Guests: Duwamish Tribe, Chinook Nation, and the Filmmakers

Thursday, July 6, 2017
Doors at 7 p.m.
Event at 8 p.m.

Come early at 7:30 p.m. for preshow songs and drumming with the Chinook Indian Nation and Duwamish Tribe.

Post-film Q&A with Chinook Nation, Duwamish Tribe, and Tall Firs Chinemas.

Free and open to the public. All ages / bar with ID. GA seating – first come, first seated.

RSVP on the STG site

RSVP on Facebook

Save

SaveBeyond the federally recognized tribes, Seattle’s urban Indigenous community has also become increasingly visible in the decade since Native Seattle was first published. Performers like Red Eagle Soaring, a dance and theatre ensemble made up of Indigenous youth of many backgrounds, took stages across the city. Artists such as Seminole-Choctaw filmmaker Tracy Rector, whose “You Are On Indigenous Land” photography installation, made up of intimate portraits of members of her community taken by her and her colleagues, received praise from the local press. And in 2015, Blackfeet legal advocate and jurist Debora Juarez successfully campaigned for the city council, representing the city’s northernmost district. A far cry from the place of Indigenous people in the city’s consciousness in earlier eras—symbols of a vanishing race or threats to urban order—Indigenous women and men have become important players in the city’s cultural and political landscape.

Indigenous institutions are also on the rise. Daybreak Star cultural center, located in Discovery Park and founded by the activists who took over Fort Lawton in 1970, remains a crucial resource for many people in Seattle’s Indigenous community, including hosting the annual Seafair Days powwow. At the University of Washington, meanwhile, wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ (Intellectual House) opened in 2015, after years of organizing by activists both within and outside the UW community. It serves as a center for Indigenous concerns on campus and is already a much sought-after venue for academic and other events. But wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ’s place-story goes deeper than that. According to Tseshaht Nuu-chah-nulth professor Charlotte Coté, “when you walk into Intellectual House, you really do feel the spirits of their ancestors. This is not just a building.” Designed by Cherokee-Choctaw architect Johnpaul Jones in a style reminiscent of the longhouses that once graced the nearby Duwamish community of Little Canoe Channel, wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ was described by organizing committee member Denny Hurtado of the Skokomish Tribe as “a home where we can share our culture with the non-natives, and build bridges amongst us.” And down at the Pike Place Market, Nooksack artist and entrepreneur Louie Gong has opened the famed market’s first Indigenous-owned business, Eighth Generation. Together, all of these new additions to Seattle’s Indigenous landscape speak to the ongoing work of the city’s Indigenous community to be seen, to create, and to flourish.

Seattle’s Indian-inflected self-image has also continued to grow and change. In 2008, for example, the city unveiled a new trail circling Lake Union that was named after Cheshiahud, the Duwamish man who had once lived on the lake’s shoreline. Nearby, at the Museum of History and Industry’s new location, the 1950s diorama of the Denny Party no longer serves as the starting point of the city’s history; instead, a gallery curated under the guidance of local tribal members reminds visitors that they, as was Denny, are on Indigenous land. In 2014, meanwhile, the city council ruled unanimously to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day, making Seattle one of the first cities to reorient itself in relation to a long-honored and much-excoriated commemoration of colonialism’s ultimate bête noir. That same year, the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl, and even that victory was framed in part through Indigenous imagery: the Burke Museum displayed a Kwakwaka’wakw eagle transformation mask thought to the be the inspiration for the football team’s logo, while during the team’s victory parade, running back Marshawn Lynch received a drum from Lummi tribal member John Scott. Lynch’s beating of the drum received worldwide attention and once again highlighted Indigenous presence in the city. Finally, in the years to come, the city’s much-debated redevelopment of the waterfront will feature the work of Puyallup artist Qwalsius (Shaun Peterson), whose Coast Salish–style works will push back against the North Coast imagery so associated with Seattle’s public image.

In the midst of all this, with the deepest place-story of all, the Duwamish remain. Despite being denied federal recognition yet again in 2015—a decision the Department of the Interior described as “final”—the tribe’s members continue to fight for legal and cultural recognition. In the wake of the 2015 ruling, more than fifty Duwamish people and allies protested at the West Seattle home of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, and in one newspaper account of the decision, tribal chairwoman Cecile Hansen stated firmly, “we’re not invisible.” This is true. As they had during the 2001 sesquicentennial of the Denny Party’s landing at Alki Beach, the Duwamish continue to make their presence known in very public ways while attending to their own cultural revival. Former tribal councilmember James Rasmussen, for example, is one of the leaders of the Duwamish Cleanup Coalition, whose goal is to continue the work of remediating the Superfund site that is Seattle’s only river, while the tribe’s dance group T’ilibshudub (Dancing Feet) often performs around the city and elsewhere. Most notably, the Duwamish opened their long-planned longhouse and cultural center in 2009, just across West Marginal Way from the site of their ancient town of Crying Face. The tribe has also been involved in documenting its own history, perhaps most importantly through the work of University of Victoria graduate student and Duwamish descendant Julia Allain who collected stories of many of the tribe’s leading families. These activities and others show that federal recognition, as a colonial legal framework, does not necessarily determine Indigeneity: as Indigenous people around the world have asserted, they can exist regardless of someone else’s rules.

None of the events described above have happened without significant Indigenous activism, as has been always been the case throughout Seattle’s history, in which Native people have had to struggle to claim a place in the city and to combat the stereotypical images of the doomed, vanished Indian. In doing, so, they have exhibited what Ojibwe journalist and scholar Gerald Vizenor has called “survivance.” Survivance, a neologism that connotes both survival and resistance, speaks to something beyond simple persistence:

Theories of survivance are elusive, obscure, and imprecise by definition . . . but survivance is invariably true in native practice and company. The nature of survivance is unmistakable in native stories . . . and is clearly visible in narrative resistance and personal attributes, such as the native humanistic tease, vital irony, spirit, cast of mind, and moral courage.

The character of survivance creates a sense of native presence over absence, nihility, and victimry. Survivance is a continuation of stories, not a mere reaction . . . survivance is greater than the right of a survivable name.

Nothing captures this notion of survivance more than the 2015 protests against oil giant Shell, whose enormous drilling rig was anchored for a time in Elliott Bay. Hundreds of “kayaktivists” took to the water to speak out against drilling and block aquatic access to the rig, but this was more than the usual Seattle environmentalist action. There, among the brightly colored plastic watercraft, were tribal canoes, leading the charge in defense of the earth. Such is survivance; such is the truth that Seattle’s Indigenous history is far from over.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

The Tao of Raven: An Alaska Native Memoir

In The Tao of Raven: An Alaska Native Memoir (published Fall 2016), Tlingit elder Ernestine Hayes explores the challenges facing Alaska Natives in their own land and recounts her own story of becoming a professor and a writer. This powerful follow-up to her previous memoir Blonde Indian asks: what happens once the exile returns home? The 2016-2018 Alaska State Writer Laureate will soon visit Washington State for a series of book events.

The following excerpt from the book’s prologue tells the story of Raven and the Box of Daylight:

At a time so long ago it can be measured neither by following the moon’s slow dance nor by tracing the sun’s brightened path, had moon and sun then been part of life, darkness was upon the face of the world. This circumstance made it difficult for human beings to conduct their ordinary lives. For example, how much more difficult to impress one another when decisions are made in the dark. How much more difficult to recognize an ally, how much more difficult to praise another’s significance, thereby increasing one’s own importance. How much more difficult to confront a shadow, to challenge the gloom. In an unbrightened world, light does not reveal itself. It must be stolen.

Please join us for these events:

Saturday, February 25, 5 – 7 p.m. // Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Washington, wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House, “Sacred Breath: Writing & Storytelling” featuring Ernestine Hayes, Raven Heavy Runner, and Elissa Washuta, Seattle, WA, RSVP required

Sunday, February 26 at 4 p.m. // Village Books, Bellingham, WA

Monday, February 27 at 7:30 p.m. // Third Place Books, Seward Park, Seattle, WA

Liberated. Reclaimed, some might say.

Raven has always and not always been around to be amused at the pitiful antics of self-important human beings, and no doubt he found amusement in the ill-composed conditions of a darkened world. But, although he may have discerned intrigue and opportunity, although he may have sensed illicit adventure, although he could well have been distracted by wonders that he alone could see, nevertheless Raven decided to do something about the darkness.

Raven knew about an old man who lived with his daughter in a well-fortified house in an isolated place at the top of a river far away. This old man, it was said, kept in his house precious bentwood boxes in which could be found answers to the darkness. It was said that this old man guarded these boxes even more carefully than he guarded his daughter. He allowed his daughter to venture outside the house for such purposes as gathering roots and collecting water, but never did he allow his precious boxes to be removed from his house or even to be opened, or even to be looked upon, or even to be named.

Continue reading

Remembering Pearl Harbor 75 years later: Excerpt from “Emperor Hirohito and the Pacific War” by Noriko Kawamura

Wedemperorhirohito-kawamuranesday, December 7, 2016 marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii that thrust the United States into World War II. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe will visit Pearl Harbor with US president Barack Obama later this month, making Abe the first Japanese leader to visit the site of the attack since 1941 (Washington Post). This excerpt from Emperor Hirohito and the Pacific War by Noriko Kawamura explores the decision by Japan to go to war with the United States.

The final decision to commence war with the United States, Britain, and the Netherlands was made at the imperial conference on December 1. The nearly two-hour-long meeting simply formalized the decision for war that had already been made a month earlier, and “His Majesty, ever the silent spectator of the scene,” as Robert Butow puts it, “left the chamber.”  It is not too difficult to document the emperor’s personal agony and hesitation to sanction the final decision for war. Deputy Grand Chamberlain Kanroji Osanaga recalled in his memoir,

The anguish he [the emperor] suffered on the eve of war with America was extreme. . . . At such times the emperor would be in his room alone. . . . But we could hear him pacing the floor, sometimes muttering to himself, and we knew that something had happened again, and was worrying him, but it was not our place to ask what. The pacing would continue for a long time, each step resounding painfully in our minds, so that we wished to stop up our ears.

On November 26, the emperor suggested to Tojo that the jushin attend the imperial conference to deliberate the war question, but the prime minister did not accept that idea.  Instead, the emperor invited eight jushin to a luncheon on November 29 and listened to their opinions for about an hour afterward. Although recognizing the grave situation Japan was facing in the wake of the failed negotiations with the United States, most of the jushin expressed doubts or hesitation about making a hasty decision for war, but without directly saying that it was not the right time to go to war.  If the emperor was looking for a strong voice against war from the jushin, he must have been disappointed. Later he recalled, “The opinions of those who were against war were abstract, but the cabinet argued for war by providing numbers to back up its case, and therefore, to my regret, I did not have power to curb the argument in favor of war.”

On November 30, the day before an imperial conference was to be convened to endorse a final war decision, the emperor briefly withheld his order to convene the meeting, after being told by his brother, Prince Takamatsu, that the navy still had lingering doubts about going to war with the United States. Neither the emperor nor his brother was able to get rid of worries that Japan might not be able to win the war. The emperor consulted with Kido, who in turn advised him to summon Navy Minister Shimada and Chief of the Naval General Staff Nagano and ask for their candid opinions.

According to Navy Minister Shimada’s November 30 diary entry, the two admirals had an audience with the emperor for twenty-five minutes in the evening. The emperor asked them, “The time is getting pressed: an arrow is about to leave a bow. Once an arrow is fired, it will become a long-drawnout war, but are you ready to carry it out as planned?” Admiral Nagano expressed the navy’s firm resolve to carry out an attack, upon receiving an imperial mandate (taimei ), and told the emperor, “The task force will arrive 1,800 ri  [4,392 miles] west of Oahu by tomorrow.” The emperor turned to Admiral Shimada and asked, “As navy minister, are you prepared in every aspect?” Shimada replied, “Both men and supplies are fully prepared and we are waiting for an imperial mandate.” The emperor continued, “What would happen if Germany stopped fighting in Europe?” The navy minister replied, “I do not think Germany is a truly reliable country. Even if Germany withdrew, we would not be affected.” At the end of the audience, “in order to make the emperor feel at ease,” in Shimada’s words, the navy chief and the navy minister guaranteed a successful attack on Pearl Harbor and the navy’s resolve to win the war at all cost. The navy minister observed that “the emperor appeared to be satisfied.”  After the audience, the emperor told Kido that Shimada and Nagano were “reasonably confident” about the war, and consequently he approved of holding an imperial conference the next day, as originally scheduled. This was the point of no return.

Thus, the role that Emperor Showa played in Japan’s decision to go to war with the United States could be compared to Max Weber’s discussion of the absolute monarch who is “impotent in face of the superior specialized knowledge of the bureaucracy.” The emperor was personally against war with the United States and exerted his influence to delay the war decision for one and a half months; but his influence was circumscribed within the nebulous triangular power relationship among court, government, and military. Emperor Hirohito eventually succumbed to the persistent pressure of the military bureaucracy and accepted the argument that war was inevitable and possibly winnable. But though Hirohito eventually sanctioned the government’s war decision, he was never free from the fear that his country might lose the war.