In this episode of the Re: Building Democracy series, we head over the pass again to central and eastern Washington to hear more about the ways Washingtonians are bridging civic, class, and cultural divides.
Indigenous communities in the Pacific Northwest bred little, fluffy white dogs that provided for them, both materially and spiritually.
Dogs were so important to Indigenous people on the coast that the canines were sometimes buried in association with humans—a practice not extended to other animals. Washington State University alumnus Matthew Marino analyzed numerous such burials and concluded that some dogs operated as persons in the Coast Salish world, a conclusion that echoes Indigenous elders.
As persons and ancestors, dogs were entitled to a better life than other animals. And since wool dogs provided wealth via their fur, they were accordingly well fed and treated kindly. The dog bones that Marino examined showed little damage, although some puppies may have been sacrificed to accompany the burial of a child; one adult dog had a healed broken vertebra, indicating it had been cared for long enough to recover from an injury. The wool dogs, in particular, ate well.
There is no doubt wool dogs underpinned a robust weaving industry on the coast, an activity noted in archaeological digs. For instance, excavations in the 1970s at the Makah village of Ozette on the westernmost point of today’s Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, uncovered wooden looms, spinning whorls, combs, and beaters, as well as miniature looms for training children. A landslide—probably caused by an earthquake on January 26, 1700—had destroyed the village and buried several cedar longhouses beneath a three-meter wall of mud.
The disaster preserved numerous belongings of the people—kin to the Nuu-chah-nulth—including one blanket containing dog fur that was largely intact, as it was stored in a cedar wood box. They were very productive weavers. “They built 25-foot [7.5-meter] longhouses of cedar,” says Dale Croes, an archaeologist at Washington State University, who helped on the excavation. “They could easily fit three to four looms inside. We calculated they could have easily had nine weavers per household. It was an absolute industry.”
When America’s first youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, presents another of her original poems during Super Bowl LV events on Sunday, Washington State University student and campus civic poet of 2020 Allyson Pang will be among the millions of people cheering her on.
Like Gorman, Pang wants to use her education and creative writing skills to make the world a better place.
“In my poetry, I always want to inspire and motivate people,” said Pang, a 20-year-old junior from Honolulu, double-majoring in English and journalism.
Gorman’s stirring poetic recital at the U.S. presidential inauguration on Jan. 20 was a passionate call for social change, and her Super Bowl poem will spotlight three people the NFL is honoring for outstanding community leadership during the global pandemic.
Last spring, WORT Radio talked with WSU historian Matthew Sutton on the show about the apocalyptic politics of the American evangelical right.
Today, we’ve invited him back to discuss his latest article in the New Republic, “The Capitol Riot Revealed the Darkest Nightmares of White Evangelical America” and do a deep dive into the recent history of white evangelicalism and its host of seeming contradictions, how “evangelical” has evolved to be more of a political identity than a religious one, and what we might see from this group in the future now that Trump is out of office.
Matthew A. Sutton is a history professor at Washington State University, where he teaches courses in 20th century United States history, cultural history, and religious history. He is the author of several books, including American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism (Belknap Press, 2014) and, most recently, Double Crossed: The Missionaries Who Spied for the United States During the Second World War (Basic Books, 2019).
Washington State University Tri‑Cities will host a free seminar discussion on exclusion and segregation in the mid-Columbia region on Tuesday, Jan. 26, as part of the WSU Common Reading Program.
This event, which takes place from 4–5:30 p.m. online, coincides with the launch of the third book in the “Hanford Histories” series that documents historical accounts and realities of the Hanford Site and surrounding regional area.
Both the book and event parallel themes in this year’s WSU Common Reading book, “Born A Crime” by Trevor Noah, who lived in racially-segregated areas in South Africa.
“As part of the Common Reading program, WSU freshmen read an assigned book that introduces students to the value of research, power of ideas and interconnected ways in which disciplines across WSU approach similar issues,” said Tracey Hanshew, WSU Tri‑Cities history faculty member and coordinator for the event. “Because these conditions and societal views mirror local mid-Columbia history, the seminar contributes to the student experience by highlighting the common community value of the Common Reading program.”
During the event, WSU Tri‑Cities history faculty Robert Bauman and Robert Franklin will specifically discuss racial segregation and resistance to discrimination in the mid-Columbia region.