Forum Index > Pacific NW History > Twilight on the Thunderbird 2: Howard's Rest
Previous :: Next Topic  
Author Message
Anne Elk
BrontosaurusTheorist



Joined: 07 Sep 2018
Posts: 514 | TRs
Location: Seattle
Anne Elk
  Top

BrontosaurusTheorist
PostWed Jul 10, 2019 1:42 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Earlier this year,  I made a post about a personal memoir of early 20th century Quileute life written by Howard Hansen, an elder of the tribe. This past solstice I was honored to witness the final release of Howard's spirit at the scattering of his ashes in the outgoing tide at the mouth of the Quillayute River; his final wish.

Sensing early that he would never have his own lineage-bearing apprentices, Howard began to document his knowledge and stories. Diving deep into memory, into decades of notebooks and tapes, writing at times in a stream-of-consciousness style,  he channeled the voices of his people.  "I spend more time in the spirit world than in this one", Howard once remarked to his godson.


Howard Hansen wrote:
"Beach presented Mystery because, as we were told, Ocean (cKwahleh), which made Beach, was and is Mother Earth's oldest Living Child.  Beach was our immediate contact with the Power of the Eternal...Beach and Surf helped bring the meditative state of Mind which seems to be 'free flowing'...Beach (Lawawat) called to us when we wanted Thought to come. We felt ourselves to be in what Hoquat called 'cathedral' when we walked Lawawat."


When I arrived at the coast the day before the ceremony, Mora campground was sparsely occupied, sunny and filled with birdsong. I set up my tent in the company of a lively little wren: "Cho-cho" in Quileute, Howard's "greatest Spirit of Forest". I did long, quiet walks and longer sits, reminiscing about Howard and revisiting chapters of the book as a way to keep him closer, imagining the La Push he knew: old growth forest from the ocean to Forks; a natural river estuary aglow at night with migrating salmon on the incoming tide stirring bioluminescence; mountains of drift logs dwarfing what we see on the beaches today and sheltering all manner of Creaturely People: mammals, birds, amphibians.


Howard Hansen wrote:
"Since the beginning of time, the shadow of Ahkalut has fallen on Quileute People (Po-oke) at Quillayute River (Taboke) ...Ahkalut symbolized home and protection and pride. It has watched them since their arrival, known their history as no other thing but River ... Ahkalut, a steady, sturdy, unmoving bastion knowing Po-oke as even they do not. From the top of Ahkalut, from many smoke-houses, pale blue driftwood smoke wafted skyward... sentinels of smoke calling home the whalers and seal hunters from far at sea.  "Smoking Island" those sea-venturers called it. The day they waken no longer using the Quileute name, can't remember it, it will be a different island, James Island, and the shadows will fall only on a forgotten past, the past of the tribe of Po-oke who are no more."

Ahkalut from La Push jetty


Bearing his ashes with flowers and traditional cedar, Howard's wife Joanne was assisted by native paddlers who took them to the edge of the river mouth in the lee of Ahkalut.  A few of us followed along with the harbormaster in his skiff; some watched from ashore on the jetty.


Howard Hansen wrote:
"Power of Spirit.  Never go away. Animal (body) wear out pretty fast. Who know about tomorrow? But we know when the trail gettin' short...want you to remember it ain't the Animal I'm in that's the Power.  The Power is what you know.  When you need to talk to me, to any of them already gone Over There, talk to us, tell us your problem. Sit down where we got buried, tell us...  From the beginning of when you come to be known to me it's been my Spirit talking to your Spirit, learning you about Life...Your ears hear it today; Spirit will talk to Spirit tomorrow.  We been training you to hear it ... Keep listening."

Se-ic-tiss,  Quileute Elder


Howard Hansen wrote:
When Uncle Yum and I roamed the land in 1958 savoring the last of the Elder influences, we played an act of happiness. But both of us were sad, I realize now...We stood on Hoh Beach looking north toward Hoh Head and Uncle Yum said that Po-oke had a trail to La Push which few remembered but which had been an Indian "highway" for years without number.

"Chi-ila, [Uncle] has anyone recorded all the Po-oke histories?"

" Some. Not all by no means...hundreds of them was part of the culture for to lay down laws for behavior. I know lots of stories...gifted to me to keep an' pass to tomorrow's people. I got lots of legends to give you..."

Fall was sneaking in and we felt it...Uncle Yum and I watched someone in a cKeynoo near the sanded mouth of the Hoh River, he perhaps thinking of the centuries of this historical action soon to be no more.  I watched, wishing I could be here with these, my people, to be the natural person I'd been guided to be while I was here, on our Coast... Then Uncle Yum said,

"Remember us, Howard.  Talk to them (outsiders) about what we was.  We're almost gone now. Many got the story of Po-oke in some form or another, but you got born here, learned, then got Hoquat education in Seattle. Keep us in your heart an' tell about us. They got us with our backs to cKwalleh, we're standin' knee deep in it now, with no further place to go."

'cKulell sentinals; Howard's namesake


excerpts from Twilight on the Thunderbird reprinted w/permission from the estate of Howard Hansen

--------------
"There are yahoos out there.  Itís why we canít have nice things."  - Tom Mahood
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
allie
Member
Member


Joined: 01 Jul 2014
Posts: 7 | TRs
Location: seattle
allie
  Top

Member
PostWed Jul 10, 2019 8:08 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
What a beautiful story. Thank you Howard, for talking to us about who your people were.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
trestle
Member
Member


Joined: 17 Aug 2008
Posts: 1973 | TRs
Location: the Oly Pen
trestle
  Top

Member
PostThu Jul 11, 2019 10:02 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Thank you, Anne. The stories of history, of culture, of meaning, are so important to remember and pass on. I'm going to see if I can find this book at NOLS next time I'm in town.

--------------
"Life favors the prepared." - Edna Mode
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Anne Elk
BrontosaurusTheorist



Joined: 07 Sep 2018
Posts: 514 | TRs
Location: Seattle
Anne Elk
  Top

BrontosaurusTheorist
PostThu Jul 11, 2019 11:53 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Trestle,  it was small-press printed, so not widely available in stores.  You can order direct from the publisher, via Third Place Books, which may be the only venue that reliably stocks it.  Amazon lists it, too.

--------------
"There are yahoos out there.  Itís why we canít have nice things."  - Tom Mahood
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Songs2
Member
Member


Joined: 21 Mar 2016
Posts: 40 | TRs

Songs2
  Top

Member
PostWed Jul 17, 2019 3:36 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Anne Elk, Thank you for this post, and for sharing your participation in a day of honoring Howard Hansen (and I echo allie's thanks to Howard Hansen for setting down his memories and his people's lifeways). Both are a great gift.

I bought Twilight on the Thunderbird after your earlier mention of it and have been waiting for the "right" time to read it. Now seems the right time. Will try to remember to carry it on my next visit to Olympic Peninsula.

It would be fascinating to try to trace some of the old footpaths, though I expect that would be a futile task: well in-grown by now, and possibly eradicated in spots by roads.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Bernardo
Member
Member


Joined: 08 Feb 2010
Posts: 1922 | TRs
Location: out and about in the world
Bernardo
  Top

Member
PostWed Jul 17, 2019 7:55 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Very beautiful.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Anne Elk
BrontosaurusTheorist



Joined: 07 Sep 2018
Posts: 514 | TRs
Location: Seattle
Anne Elk
  Top

BrontosaurusTheorist
PostWed Jul 17, 2019 10:09 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Thanks to everyone who bought the book and commented.
Songs2 wrote:
It would be fascinating to try to trace some of the old footpaths, though I expect that would be a futile task: well in-grown by now, and possibly eradicated in spots by roads.

Or clearcuts, or any number of disturbances to the original lay of the land, as well as lack of use/maintenance.  On a related note, I've heard a number of stories about how the Quileute ended up on only a dinky square mile of reservation right on the coast, as compared with other nearby tribes. Nothing I'm confident is sufficiently accurate that I could mention it here.

--------------
"There are yahoos out there.  Itís why we canít have nice things."  - Tom Mahood
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
graywolf
Member
Member


Joined: 03 Feb 2005
Posts: 582 | TRs
Location: Poulsbo
graywolf
  Top

Member
PostThu Jul 18, 2019 6:53 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Anne, I did read the book, and it was an interesting journey.

I took it with me on our trip to the Sedona area and the Grand Canyon, but never got the chance to really get into it.  We were at the Oak Creek Canyon Overlook, and looking at the Native American jewelry and crafts displays, when I struck up a conversation with one of the Navajo women there.  I always enjoy these encounters, and she asked me where I was from.  When I told her, she said "Oh, we have some sister tribes up there".  I mentioned the book and she was very interested, and wanted to take a picture of the cover so she could buy a copy.  So I went to the car, brought the book back, and handed it to her.

We leafed through it together, and I told her what I had learned about the author from the information you had shared.  She took a couple of photos, then I went on my way.  My wife noticed the book in my hand and asked what I had been up to.  I told her about my encounter, and while doing so realized what I wanted and needed to do.  I walked back to the woman and handed her the book and said "I want you to have this".  She asked if I was sure, and I said "Absolutely".  She thanked me profusely, and asked if I was looking for a particular type of jewelry.  I told her that I was looking for something for my mother, who would be celebrating her 90th birthday later that month (March).  She said she had something, but it wasn't on the display table.  She went through a small bin that was behind the table, found what she wanted, then handed me an item.

She said that she usually didn't sell this type of jewelry, but reserved it for gifting on special occasions.  She said "I want you to give this to your mother, and I want to say a Native prayer for her if that's okay with you".  I told her that I would appreciate that very much.  She leaned forward, I leaned forward, and we put our foreheads together and she recited her prayer in Navajo, then she repeated it in English (for my benefit).  It was beautiful and very touching.
I walked back to my wife, and she asked me what happened.  With tears in my eyes I told her - it had been a very emotional encounter.

When we had my mother's birthday celebration, I waited until we were sitting alone, then I presented her with her gift.  I told her the story behind it, then took a couple of photos of her wearing it.  She was very touched and wears it often.

But, the story continues.

I ordered another copy of the book and started to read it again.

One day at work, one of my IV patients and I started talking about our lives and what had been going on.  She comes in on a regular basis for an infusion for her rheumatoid arthritis, and she also happens to be an elder with the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe.  I told her about the book, and what had happened in Sedona, and she was really interested.  So, I got the book and without any need to think it over, I gifted it to her.  This woman holds a very special place in both my wife's and my hearts (my wife is the IV RN who usually gives this woman her infusion) because she wove a small traditional basket for us to put our rings in when we got married in Oak Creek Canyon.

So, I ordered a third copy of the book and started to read it again.

And it was wonderful.
Howard and the tribal elders who taught him, saw (see) things in the world in a way that I can understand and appreciate.  That the Great Spirit would choose the Pacific Wren (Cho Cho!) as his favorite animal makes perfect sense to both my wife and me.  We always marvel at this bird on any of our hikes and walks, and will stop and listen (and watch if we can spot him/her) with awe and appreciation.  We often say "There's our friend, he's following us!" when we hear one.

I found that I would read a chapter (or a paragraph) and put the book down and reflect on what I had just read.  Many times I would go back and read it again.  The way the Quileute saw (hopefully still see) the world really resonates with me, as do many Native American and Buddhist teachings, and I know I will come back to this book over and over as the years go by.  I'm sure I'll be gifting it again before too long and will have to buy another copy, but I'm okay with that.

Thank you again for starting this conversation.

--------------
The only easy day was yesterday...
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Anne Elk
BrontosaurusTheorist



Joined: 07 Sep 2018
Posts: 514 | TRs
Location: Seattle
Anne Elk
  Top

BrontosaurusTheorist
PostThu Jul 18, 2019 3:27 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Graywolf,  Thank you so much for telling us about these experiences, and sharing Howard's book with others. If he were around, Howard would be amazed that his memoir found a path all the way to the Navajo, thanks to your "spirit connection" with his wisdom.  Coincidentally, members of the Quileute tribe recently paddled to S'Klallam tribal land as part of an annual inter-tribal event, ending this year at Lummi.

Since my last post, I discovered that there is a downloadable document available written by a tribal member which recounts the history of Quileute land issues. As is usually the case with such histories, it's a complicated story of inequities.

--------------
"There are yahoos out there.  Itís why we canít have nice things."  - Tom Mahood
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
  Display:     All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Forum Index > Pacific NW History > Twilight on the Thunderbird 2: Howard's Rest
  Happy Birthday cascadianwarrior!
Jump to:   
Search this topic:

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum
   Use Disclaimer Powered by phpBB Privacy Policy