- My own essay on Chief Seattle and Chief Joseph examines the impact of western history on the lives of two prominent native leaders - and their impact upon it. Seattle went out of his way to befriend Americans and recruited entrepreneurs among them in hopes of creating a community where native and newcomer could share its prosperity. Joseph used every skill at his command to preserve hispeople's freedom and secure their return to their homeland. Neither succeeded, and their ironic, tragic words continue to haunt our public conscience.
It is part of the Library of Congress American Memory site, the goal of which is to create digital collections of primary sources relating to the history and cultural development of the United States. To adapt a technical term, it creates a meta-library that gives users access to information scattered around the country simply by typing in a web site address and clicking an icon. Made available are historical photographs recording aspects of native life along the Northwest Coast and on the Plateau east of the Cascade Mountains, selected pages from the Annual Reports of the Indian Commissioner, selected articles from the University of Washington Publications in Anthropology and the Pacific Northwest Quarterly, copies of several treaties with tribes in Washington and Oregon and a series of essays authored specifically for the collection that describe and interpret selected topics.
The word "nigger" is a key term in American culture
- Of all native art forms from the Northwest Coast, the most distinctive is the totem pole, misnamed but appreciated and duplicated with considerably liberty worldwide. In her essay about them, Dr. Robin K. Wright, curator of Native American art at the University of Washington's Burke Museum, looks to folklore for clues to the origin of their form and examines the impact of western influence upon its development. Because they were raised during potlatches, the ban on the latter seriously curtailed their creation, but the demands of tourists and museums created a market for them and for imitations. The irony highlights the peculiar ambivalence that has marked the relationship between native and non-native.