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Thursday, December 31, 2009

History - Seattle Totem or Story Poles

Since I have not been posting with pics since I keep freezing my camera by leaving it in the car I am not currently driving and have a bunch of work photos on there anyway I thought I could cheat and treat you to a bit of history.

The unpainted story pole standing in the pic to the right while the fellow is strapping down a painted totem pole is the first pole EVER in Seattle that tells the story of Seattle. Installed in 2007, and carved by a member of the currently federally unrecognized Duwamish tribe.
Chief Seattle lived in the Duwamish River area, and his mother was duwamish. Unrecognized tribe? A major city is named after a respected indigenous leader of whom some of his descendents are unrecognized by the federal gov't as being duwamish? There is a whole lotta conversation to be had on this, as in, who decides 'what' you are? (i know i am in trouble for using this terminology, ms. facci.) How about you are what you are. If you are born to it, if you are raised it, why would that be contested. Why would someone else define your family of origin whether you are born into it, adopted, extended or married. I am fairly sure we are still a free-choice culture. I notice when money, fiscal rewards or property/casino/fishing rights get involved a whole lot more people have an opinion. Ok, done with my wee venting action.
A story pole differs from a totem pole in that from bottom to top it tells a story of something. A totem is just that, totemic figures/symbols representing a community or tribe.
-The replaced horizontal totem pole that is being strapped down was bug chewed and moved away to the local community museum.

The vertical postcard of the single pole and the Seattle city skyline captures an image of the first totem pole ever placed at this park. This photo looks like a 1950's Seattle. This particular totem pole was created for the tourist trade in the early 1900's. The significance of the totem figures is nada, it was created using popular totemic figures, not necessarily significant to the people that carved it. At the top is a beaver, then bear with a salmon, then orca/killer whale. The faces on the side have to do with the orca being this tribes significant creature. But as I said, this is just tourist trade work..
I notice a serious lack of pollution in this photo. The air is no longer this clean in Seattle. Sigh.

And then there is modern day Seattle all the way at the top. What is sad is I remember when the wee dinky Smith Tower, just a bitty point on the far far right was a BIG BUILDING on the skyline. Now you can barely make it out with all the newer larger pointy things rising in the air. We call one of the buildings downtown the "Ban roll-on" building. If you are downtown, you can figure it out. (And I suppose if you are old enough to remember Ban deodorant.....) See the yellowy haze most visible to the right of the pic? This was probably a nice summer day when we had not had rain in quite a while, so the air is full of crap. Did I say I moved away from this city? Why yes, yes I have. And am happy about that since we have an asthmatic child whose asthma has mysteriously been getting much better.
Modern Seattle photo courtesy

1 comment:

Jayne said...

I didn't know about story poles until I read this. Really interesting.

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