JOURNEY’S END


Emmett Oliver & Granddaughters

                                                                                 THE RIGHTS OF PASSAGE

“As the spirits of the past and those of the present ascend from the sky, we join and become one.”

Spirit canoes in the clouds are of the past, present and those of the future.  As the Salish canoe drifts down through the mist, it represents the essence of our traditional canoe heritage.

The “new” canoe reminds us of our commitment to succeed in our Journeys.  Our determination to pursue new and creative ideas is founded in tradition.

To ensure that our canoes are and always will be the best we can offer.  Share your knowledge with others as they did in the past.
The Raven canoe above them represents our kinship with our neighbors from the north.

Canoe Journey has no boundaries.

The village flames near the beach reminds us that our traditional Native values are burning bright.  Keep stoking the fire and never let it burn out.  Share and pass on your traditions for future generations to enjoy.  The petroglyphs in the sky are symbolic of the Squaxin people.  It belongs to them for others to appreciate and admire.  It looks upon us as one.  We are of one family.  A canoe family.

Mt. Rainier behind our Salish “village of the past” represents our majestic world.  Take care of it.  The raven among the clouds is our messenger.  He carries our stories and our songs around the world for all to hear.

A Salish welcome figure near the beach invites his guests to their village with pride and open arms.  Respect your welcome.

Emmett’s canoe, the Willapa Spirit, views upon the 102 invited canoes with pride and respect.  Etched in the surrounding waters of the Northwest, his spirited vision, once only a delightful dream, is now fulfilled.

In honor of my father,

Marvin Oliver, August 2, 2012

MARVIN OLIVER is Professor of Art,University of Washington.  His sister, MARYLIN OLIVER BARD,and daughter and niece, pulled in the family canoe for this long Journey.

BARBEQUED RATTLESNAKE?


One of my grandsons is a wildlife biologist.  They say you can tell what sort of job a person is suited for when they are children.  Well, we should have known about this one when he drove off for college with fishing and hunting gear loaded into his small grey truck.  They didn’t have an ocean in the state where he aimed so there was no need for a surfboard.  But life is good anyway.

He hunted often in the hills near his home, so there should have been no surprise when his parents arrived home one afternoon to find the skin of a six foot rattler drying in the bright Southern California sunshine and firmly attached to their fence.  Since this was not part of the normal garden decor, they naturally sought the new designer.  He was found in the person of their ten year old son who was happily starting a fire in the barbeque pit preparing a rattlesnake picnic for friends.  He and a young friend had come upon this squirming monster under a discarded sheet of corrugated metal on the side of the hill, and being of curious nature and “just happening” to have brought along a homemade snare, they had captured their unwilling  prey.  After an agreeable time on the grill, they both agreed that it tasted like chicken.

 

THE ELIXIR OF LIFE


I have just discovered my latest beauty secret from a small 75 year old lady who works at McDonalds.  It was her birthday and I complimented her on having such smooth wrinkle free skin.  She sat right down and said it was due to olive oil.  That’s right; pure extra virgin olive oil.  I remembered my grandmother’s skin as being free of wrinkles also, and that she too used olive oil.  Oh, why does it take me so long to realize that other people know more than I do?

My bathroom counter and cupboard is filled with expensive jars of stuff that assured me the skin of a 20 something.  None of which worked I should mention.  But I am a sucker for a pretty young saleswoman who says she actually uses her product and see what it does for her?  So I reach for my credit card and add another jar to my collection.

Anyway, seeing is believing and I don’t believe such a nice old lady would lie to me about such a serious matter.  So I came home and poured olive oil into a small container to place in my bathroom.  I have used it for two days, and you know, I think I see a difference already.  Of course, it would have been better if I had started earlier—like maybe 40 years ago, but better late than never.

I’m going to tell my friend Cheri because she just planted a whole olive orchard, and it’s just the right time for her to use it and  in a couple of years I will be able to get all the olive oil I need and my skin will continue to look radient.

UP THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS


There are many ways to tell a story.  My stories were always told with paint and clay.  Now they are frequently dredged from memories made long before I discovered words.

The same story often differs from the version told by my husband (aka Dr. Advice), though his version is sometimes more interesting.

As urban people, a walk across the Olympic Rain Forest was a daunting thought for first time backpackers 50 years ago.  With borrowed packs and dry food, the hike began at the Hood Canal, Washington for two people and a small dachshund named Hilda.  We were experienced campers and hikers, but had never attempted this distance carrying full packs.

With a choice of river trails including the Hamma Hamma, Dosewallips, Duckabush, Elwha and Hoh rivers, we chose the Duckabush which was well-marked on the Geologic maps, and would connect with the Quinalt trail midway across where we could be met and returned  to Lilliwaup.  (Don’t youlovethose wonderful old Indian names?)

Hilda was in rare form, cheerfully trotting along ahead on her short little legs and reveling in all the strange smells and occasional scurrying of invisible varmints.  Dr. Advice marched happily along singing his old Boy Scout songs and generally behaving as if he were going for an afternoon stroll.   After about 5 miles and eating handfuls of grapes to keep hydrated, I called a halt to remove my backpack  and overcome my sudden nausea.  Meanwhile Dr. Advice, being of such strong indomitable Danish heritage, suggested I throw away the grapes.

We continued for another few miles that first day, until strangely, my pack gained another 16 pounds, and I begged to stop for the day.   Just about that time, we heard singing coming from along the trail behind us, and a large group of Boy Scouts came marching cheerily along and heading for the same bivouac we were planning to stay.   Hilda was thrilled to meet some new people and would gladly have joined their group, but we decided to go on a bit further instead of sharing the space with a bunch of 12 year old boys!

We set up our camp about half a mile further on near a tiny stream and Dr. Advice asked if I had seen the “Beware of Bear” signs.  We had no food the bears might be interested in unless you consider Hilda, so I tucked her snugly into my sleeping bag,  hung some laundry including a pair of red lace panties, and we collapsed for the night.

The next morning we packed up and struck out.  After three days, two of which were raining, we had only gone about 20 miles, and given the length of the remaining trail, we decided to call it quits and head for home.

It is difficult to stash all your belongings in their proper places when it is raining and your hands are cold, and a tiny rain-soaked dachschund is begging to climb into your pack, but somehow we did it.

Going back seemed shorter as it usually does, and it was great to see the trailhead over the crest of a hill.  As we got closer, we saw something red peeking out from a small pile of rocks as if to mark the trail.  I picked up the rock and found my red lace panties!  Rain Forest Lost and Found.

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”  Martin Buber

THE POWER OF SOUP


Never underestimate the power of soup.  For centuries soup has given sustenance to weary travelers, hungry families, babes in arms and ancient toothless grandmas alike.

Soup can’t be eaten with a weapon, so it was  one of the first offerings of friendship to a stranger.  Sitting around a campfire in the desert, or on a snow-covered mountaintop, it opens and warms the hearts while filling the belly.  A bowl of soup can either be a beginning or the complete meal.

During times of need Soup Kitchens feed the resident or transient homeless.  It’s like a friendly hand up the ladder to make it through another day.  You hardly ever see Salad or Dessert Kitchens.  They would certainly not fill the same need.  (Although a Dessert Kitchen isn’t a bad idea!)

Soup strengthens the bonds of friendship as news, gossip and confidences are shared.  A soup kettle is bottomless because it holds Love, the most important part of any meal.   It is frequently added to, even as it is diminished.  The soup spoon is the largest one on the right hand side because it is the first utensil to be used, thus the most important.  Soup can’t be eaten with a knife or a fork  so there is no misunderstanding as to which implement to pick up.

The smell of a pot of soup on the stove means “welcome back home”.  It’s like a hug around the heart.

 

“Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.”  Jules Renard

THE JOURNEY


Emmett Oliver by Kayti Sweetland Rasmussen

For at least 8,000 years before Euro-Americans arrived, there flourished on the western shores of the North American continent a people and a culture highlighted by the omnipresent dugout canoe.  They hunted the sea, the woods were full of game and berries, and the air with fowl.  Food was easy to find.  They created masks and totems and made their houses and canoes from the wood; they shared an essential friend in the cedar tree.

They made clothes and blankets from its thick brown pelt.  They created masks and totems and made their houses and canoes from the wood.  They built strong seaworthy racing canoes to engage in annual competitions between the villages.

All the young strong men helped paddle the large canoes, and one of the best and strongest was Emmett Oliver, a young Quinalt Indian from the Western coast of Washington state.

By 1985 dugout canoes were almost a lost art in the Pacific Northwest, found mostly in museums.  Some had not carved a canoe for over 50 years, and some tribes had never done so.

Emmett Oliver, then the Superintendent of Indian Education for the State of Washingon, remembering the unifying effect the canoe races had had in the early years, decided to return the  event, giving particular pride back to the various tribes.  Each group would of course be responsible not only for carving their canoe, but for obtaining permits, raising money, and cutting their own trees.  Carving workshops were formed and finally, framed by the rising skyline of the city of Seattle, 18 canoes were ready to paddle across the Puget Sound.  With Emmett aboard a Coast Guard command vessel, and with 5,000 people ready to greet them, Paddle to Seattle was accomplished on July 21, 1989.  The paddlers performed as though they had manned those canoes lifelong.  Their shoulders bore the traditions of 8 millenia.

This year Emmett’s son, Marvin Oliver, well known artist and professor of Art at the University of Washington, has designed a North Coast painting on the sides of the Oliver Family canoe, and Emmett’s daughter Marylin Bard, along with 2 granddaughters, will be included in the crew.   The race has grown exponentially year by year, with 89 canoes taking part in 2011.

This year in July,  when the first of 100 canoes are spotted, and with sunlight reflecting off the waters of Puget Sound, a very old man in his 100th year will be on the shore, waiting for the first canoe to beach.  The strong muscles of his youth have long been absent, his eyesight may be weak, but his heart is strong, and in his memory he feels the pull of the water, the sunlight on his back, and the thrill of the race as each paddler chants and shouts out his encouragement to his companions.  The pride in his family is strong, knowing that this race is part of the legacy he has left for his family and for his people.

 

THE SWIMMER


They sat quietly, the boat drifting slowly, watching a ripple line on the clear and sunless water.  A run of humpback salmon was entering the river to spawn and two or three feet beneath the surface they could see hundreds of silvery fish, pressed tight, moving secretly, almost stealthily, with a kind of desperate urgency, to reach a destination they knew not where.  They watched, fascinated until they had passed and for a moment they were not sure that this silent happening  had occurred at all.

The boy and his grandparents were fishing in the Queen Charlotte Strait north of Vancouver, British Columbia.  The Kwakiutl people of the North Coast call the salmon “the swimmer”, and he usually enters the river at night on the way upstream to spawn in the place where he was born.  On the way, he passes thousands of fingerlings on their way downstream to the open sea where they are free.  Nobody knows how far they go or where.  When the time comes to return, their bodies tell them, and those hatched in the same stream separate from all the others and come home together.

They pulled their boat up onto the sandy shoreline to eat their lunch, and as ate they told the boy stories of the Indian people who have lived along these shores for millenia.  “I would like a tattoo” the boy said .  The grandmother told him he should have something to show what spirit  lives in him, in  the way the Indians did to show their family clans.  “But what am I” asked the boy  “You are a salmon” said the grandmother.  “Why is that?” asked the boy.  “You have been a swimmer since you were a small child, so you are a salmon.  If you like, I will design a small salmon tattoo for you.  It will be your clan sign”

The boy grew up and finished his education and was ready to leave his family and earn his own living far away from his home.  He was leaving his boyhood behind and would not find it again.  As the grandmother said goodbye, she said to him “Be mindful of your salmon tattoo.  It will remind you that you must always return to your home.”

May you all walk in balance.  Aho

THROUGH A DOG’S EYES


Liza

We are a dog-loving family, never having gone more than a month or two without benefit of loving brown eyes waiting to see what else they can do for you.  After one such period, I answered an ad for German Shepherd pups, and came home with an adorable black puppy whom we named Bella for beautiful.

However, it soon became apparent that there was something very wrong with the pup, so I took her to a well-respected breeder in Washington state to have her evaluated.  The breeder was a German woman whose mother had a large kennel in Germany.  She looked at the pup’s papers and then called several employees over to see the dog.  It seems that through ill-informed breeding this little thing would have a limited life-span, demanding constant care and expense.

After telling the breeder what we wanted in a dog, she asked us to come back in a few days after she had chosen several we might like.  When we returned, she had us go into small stall with about 4 cute 8 week old pups while she waited outside a Dutch door to watch.  As the little pups scrambled all over one another, climbing over and under, one went under a small bench seemingly wanting our attention.  As we went to collect her, the breeder crossly asked “What are you doing?”  We answered that this was the one we wanted.  She said “But THAT is the one who wants YOU!”  pointing out the tiny pup who was trying to shred my raincoat!

I learned a good lesson that day.  Don’t answer an  unqualified ad, and always choose the pup who wants to be with YOU.  Training is easy and fun with someone who wants to please you from the get-go.  You can have a wonderful dog otherwise, but it will take longer to make them trust you implicitly.

I returned Liza to the breeder in a few months to have them look at her.  She was becoming a fabulous looking dog, and they felt they had made a mistake in selling her as a “companion dog”.  She was descended from a long line of international champions, and they tried to convince us to show her.  However, we opted not to take on the responsibility of long hours of care and dog shows.

We lived in the country at that time, with a horse corral in the rear of our property.  When a very young grandson came to visit, Liza herded him away from the fence and back into his proper place.  She guarded us that same way the rest of her life.

Liza was our constant companion for many years, going everywhere with us, whether camping, to the mountains or the seashore, or simply grocery shopping.  She was a fixture in my sculpture studio greeting people as they came in to chat or to share a cup of coffee.  She was a party animal with a big tail wag for everyone.

There is a small sculpture and a large photo of Liza in our home, reminding us that she was a great part of our lives.  Though we have had a number of lovely dogs since then, including a terrific Jack Russell terrier now, Liza will always hold top honors in our hearts.  She was truly a Champion.

SO YOU THINK THINGS ARE TOUGH NOW?


Alaska Bears  KSR

It has been said that nothing is so bad it can’t get worse, and I’m sure that is so.  The Great Depression was certainly one of those bad times for a great many people.  Having weathered  through that one, I can vouch for a degree of discomfort and a few stories my kids think are highly unlikely, but even so, we had it good compared to a lot of people.    The pundits seem to feel that the entire world will be having another Depression soon enough.  It has become serious enough to put a capital “D” on it already.  Since the first one was “The Great” I wonder what the next designation will be.

I remember two friends we met years ago in Washington state.  They were small town kids when they married in 1939 during the Great Depression, and in her words, they were “Depressionate”!  They were both teachers, but had to keep the marriage a secret in order to keep their jobs.  When World War II was declared, they quit teaching and both went to work at the The Boeing Company in Seattle.  She worked as an IBM operator on a “monstrous, enormous machine!” ( Times have changed, now we carry computers in our pockets!)

When the war ended in 1946, thousands of people lost their war jobs, along with Nonie and Jack.  They started out thinking they would like to work in fish and wildlife management for the government, but instead were both offered jobs teaching Aleut natives in Alaska. Within 10 days they were on a boat bound for tiny Saint Paul Island, in the Pribilof Island group of Alaska, in the middle of the Bering Sea.  The nearest land mass was 150 miles away.  Jack taught all the students from fifth grade up, and Nonie taught the third and fourth grade students.  Their one and only co-worker taught first and second grades.

Japanese fleets had been located within 15 miles of the island during the war, and Japanese fishing floats came ashore regularly. There was still a feeling of unrest about the people.  They were iced in in the winter, and had no way out and no communication except for telegram and short-wave radio or the emergency weather plane.  In good weather the wind swept across the island, bringing Russia’s icy chill.  The men hunted seals, and in the short summers Jack worked in an office counting seal pelts for the government.

The U.S. Coast Guard also had a station on the island, but only five boats arrived each year, not counting a supply vessel which brought in coal and large items once a year in the summer.  A lonely existence.

In 1948 , after having been there for two years, they returned to Seattle and  resumed their teaching careers in a small town in western Washington.   Another couple of survivors of the Great Depression.

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.” Emily Dickinson