Wednesday, November 30

More Adventures in the PNW-Native Americans

Dear Real-Noah,

Wow! Yesterday was such a busy day and I went to bed late and slept in this morning! It's really easy to sleep in here because it is often cloudy and there isn't any sunshine to wake you up!

So I thought I'd tell you some more about my latest adventures in the PNW...that stands for "Pacific North-West" which is where Washington State is. Did you know that Washington State super close to another country called Cananda? You can drive to Canada from here just like we can drive to Mexico from our home in California!

One thing that I learned since being up here is that Washington State has a lot of funny sounding names for their cities. Like Snohomish--it sounds like a sneeze! But most of those funny sounding names come from the names or words of local Native American Tribes. There are lots of Native American tribes up here.

The original inhabitants of the area that is now Washington included:
~The Cayuse tribe
~The Chehalis tribe
~The Chinook tribe
~The Colville and Okanagan tribes
~The Coeur d'Alene tribe
~The Cowlitz tribe
~The Kalispel and Spokane Salish tribes
~The Klallam tribe
~The Kwalhioqua tribe
~The Lummi and Samich tribes
The Makah tribe
~The Nez Perce tribe
~The Nooksack tribe
~The Quileute, Hoh and Chemakum tribes
~The Quinault tribe
~The Thompson Salish tribe
~The Umatilla tribe
~The Walla Walla and Palouse tribes
~The Wasco and Wishram tribes
~The Yakima tribe
~The Puget Sound Salish tribes including the Puyallup, Snohomish, Muckleshoot, Snoqualmie, Nisqually, Skagit, Suquamish, Squaxin, Swinomish, Stillaguamish, and Sauk-Suiattle tribes.

There are 29 federally recognized Indian tribes in Washington today. (You can visit these websites if you want to learn more: or or )

Some people in your class may have heard of the Twilight Series books and movies. The stories take place here in Washington in a town named Forks and the Native American tribe described in the books is real; Auntie M has been there. However I doubt that any of the Native Americans really turn into wolves!

Anyway, beacause there are so many Native American tribes here, you see a lot of Native American things, from art to totem poles. Sometimes even the sidewalks have pictures of Native American art stamped into them!

Yesterday, when we were in Mukilteo, Auntie M took me to see a real totem pole! It stands on a hill looking out over the water and the ferry station.

Totem poles are huge sculptures carved from large trees, mostly Western Red Cedar, by Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. The word totem is derived from the Ojibwe word odoodem, "his kinship group". Since they are made of cedar, which decays  (rots) eventually in the rainforest environment of the Pacific Northwest Coast, very few examples of poles carved before 1900 exist.

The meanings of the designs on totem poles are as varied as the Native American cultures that make them. Totem poles may tell the stories of legends, families, or notable events. Some poles celebrate cultural beliefs, but others are mostly artistic presentations. Some are plain wood carvings and some are painted incredible colors.

Totem poles are to be respected just as a painting in a museum would be. However, unlike paintings in museums, you can get close to a totem pole and even touch it!

Here I am climbing on the totem pole in Mukilteo! (Because I am a paper-person, it was ok for me to climb on it.)

It was pretty cool. Maybe one day we can come back and you can see some of these totem poles for your self!

Miss you,

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