Thursday, May 15, 2014

Book Review: The Makah

The Makah: Watts Library: By Sharlene and Ted Nelson, Scholastic Inc., 2003.
In the Makah people I have found a fascinating story.  The Makah inhabited the area in Washington which is the fartheset farthest west you can go in the lower 48 states, and the farthest north along the Pacific ocean.  This is known as Cape Flattery.  The reservation is still there, although much diminished over the years.  The Olympic National Park is also in this area.  It is also the area of Bella and the Twilight saga.
Some things stand out about this culture.  They traditionally gathered most of their food from the ocean, including whaling from large canoes.  Salmon was a large part of their diet.  This they would dry.  They would eat dried fish dipped in seal or whale oil.  The weaved cedar bark to make ropes and clothing, they believed in the tradition of Potlatch, where the person having the party would feed many, and give many things away.  This was OK because when they were invited to a potlatch they would get things back.  So their community was a balance between the forest and the sea.    Much of the forest has been logged, but there is still old growth in the national park. 
They also did intricate carvings in wood with which they would express their beliefs and traditions. 
A 500 year old site in Ozette was discovered and excavated over many years.  This lead to a museum and cultural center with many artifacts displayed.

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