Friday, July 30, 2010

Twilight (yes, THAT Twilight) in the Northwest

Love them or hate them, the Twilight series of novels and movies has brought attention to Washington’s coastline and the small towns of Forks and LaPush. But what we don’t often think about is the attention that it has brought to the Quileute tribe, featured prominently in this story.

For those of you who’ve never read the series, it features a character named Jacob Black. Jacob is a Quileute who has the ability to transform, along with many other tribal members, into a werewolf.

Of her character, Stephenie Mayer says on her website:
“Lots of people give me more credit than I deserve; they think I knew Jacob was a werewolf from the very beginning. This is not the case. Twilight was supposed to be a stand alone novel, remember. There was no thought of werewolves in my mind as I wrote it. The Quileute (Quill-yoot) legends Jacob tells Bella in chapter six of Twilight are all genuine Quileute stories that I learned when I was researching the tribe (which is a real tribe with a truly fascinating and mystical history). All actual Quileute legends, except for the vampire myth about the 'cold ones.' I latched onto the wolf story (the actual Quileute legend claims that the tribe descended from wolves transformed by a sorcerer) because it fit with my sketchy knowledge of vampires and werewolves always being at each others' throats (ha ha, pun intended).” (Read the rest here)

But what are the actual stories behind the wolves of Twilight? From the WSHS permanent collection, two animal totem masks and a ceremonial drum are on loan to the Seattle Art Museum, as part of a new exhibition examining the Hollywood-style fiction of the wolf as a Native American animal totem in the movie Twilight.

The History Museum is lending both a wolf- and bird-head masks used by the Quileute tribe in dance ceremonies, dating to the late 19th century in the southwest corner of the Clallam County region of Washington State. Comparisons between the film’s use of the wolf as a mythological creature with the real cultural associations the animal has for the Quileute tribe are graphically depicted with the help of masks like these. The Seattle Art Museum’s exhibition, Behind the Scenes: The Real Story of the Quileute Wolves, runs from August 14, 2010 – August 14, 2011.

So if you (or someone you know) is on Team Jacob, consider checking out this exhibition to find out the real story.

More information about native culture and the Behind the Scenes exhibit can be found on the web at the following places:
To learn more about Native culture, visit the History Museum’s In the Spirit: Contemporary Northwest Native Arts Exhibition on display through September 19. A corresponding festival with salmon bake, performances, art sale, and more, is August 7 and 8, 10 AM-5 PM daily at the History Museum in downtown Tacoma. Check out for details about the “In the Spirit” celebration.

- Gwen

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Center for Columbia River History Announces 2010 James B. Castles Fellow

Formed in 1990, the Center for Columbia River History is a consortium of the Washington State Historical Society, Portland State University and Washington State University Vancouver. Located on the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, its mission is to promote the study of Columbia River Basin history. CCRH conducts interdisciplinary research projects, publishes material in text and electronic formats, sponsors free public programs and teacher workshops, and develops curricula. It collaborates with other historical and cultural institutions and offers programs to schools, libraries, historical societies and public groups throughout the Columbia River Basin, a region that includes territory in seven states (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming, and Utah) and one Canadian province (British Columbia).

Each year, CCRH selects a James B. Castles Fellow, conducts original scholarly research that contributes to public understanding of the history of the Columbia River Basin. The Castles Fellowship is made possible by an endowment provided by the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust to CCRH in honor of James B. Castles, a founding trustee who promoted the heritage of the Columbia River throughout his life. This year's recipient is Johanna Ogden, an independent scholar who recently earned an M.A. in History at the University of British Columbia (2010). Her interests and publications have ranged from the Bracero Program in Hood River to Conscientious Objectors on the Oregon Coast during World War II. Most recently, she has investigated the immigration and activities of Punjabi Sikh laborers along the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon. In this effort, she has tied regional immigrant communities to the Ghadar Party, an early 20th Century Indian independence movement. Ms. Ogden's work fits into the CCRH Columbia River and the World Initiative. She plans to use the fellowship funds to broaden her archival research in the region and to revise a portion of her thesis, "Oregon and Global Insurgency: Punjabis of the Columbia River Basin," into an article-length manuscript. In addition, she will collaborate with CCRH staff to craft an internet product based on her work.

Learn more about the Castles Endowment, including the fellowship, lectureship, and public programs it supports.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!

Main Street Coordinator - If you followed the twists and turns of the state budget last year, especially as it relates to heritage, you know that the Main Street program was endangered. Luckily, it moved to the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, and will be managed by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. Here's the position description: The Main Street Coordinator will be responsible for coordinating and delivering services primarily to Washington State Main Street members as well as build interest in downtown revitalization statewide. He or she will be responsible for promoting the program, aid communities in forming local Main Street revitalization efforts, and document progress based on national standards. Main Street is a program of the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation that is managed by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. The Main Street Coordinator will be hired by the Washington Trust as an independent contractor for a one-year period. The position may be extended at the end of year one if funding is available. The Main Street Coordinator will report directly to the Washington Trust Executive Director and will work in close collaboration with the Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer. The successful candidate must live in or move to Washington State. Relocation to Seattle is not required. To apply, submit a cover letter and resume to Jennifer Meisner, Executive Director,  by July 9, 2010. 

Administrator, Ezra Meeker Historical Society - Part-time position; duties include supervision of staff, recruitment, training and coordination of volunteers; general administration of the society; evaluation and implementation of historical programs and activities; curatorial duties which include the preservation and restoration of the Meeker Mansion. Screening of applications will begin immediately. E-mail your resume.

Grants Manager
and Development Manager, Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.

EMP | Experience Music Project Adult Audience Specialist - As a member of the education department, the Adult Audience Specialist is an active exhibition team participant, designing innovative gallery experiences and museum programs for adults and general visitors. The specialist will work with museum curators and educators to plan, and develop content related to both the museum's music- and science fiction-related exhibitions. In addition, the specialist will collaborate closely with the education staff to help the department design and deliver a full range of complementary programs that meet the needs of adult audiences. This is a temporary, part-time position (30 hours per week) July 1, 2010 - December 31, 2011. More information at . To apply, E-mail resume and cover letter referencing "Audience" in the subject line.