Duwamish

Eastside Stories: Indigenous Myths in a Land of Change

Eastside Stories   is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

Eastside Stories is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

In a place where violent acts of nature are common in the form of landslides and wildfires, and the threat of earthquakes and volcanoes are ever present, Native American myths show how these kinds of events have unending possibilities for humanity. Many Native American myths from the Eastside and surrounding areas tell of a powerful being who came and transformed the world from what it was into what it is today. Groups like the Snoqualmie and Muckleshoot peoples believe in a deity who aided people and made great changes to the earth and animals. This transformative being is known by many names including The Changer, Moon the Transformer, Xode, Snoqualmie, and Dukʷibeł. The changes and transformations brought on by these creators made the region of western Washington inhabitable for human beings and allowed crafts such as woodworking to begin.

For the Snoqualmie, Dukʷibeł (Moon the Transformer) is the son of a human girl and a star. As a baby, he was stolen away and gained magical powers which allowed him to come back and transform the world. Lake Washington and all the cities and towns around it make up the ancestral land of the Muckleshoot, Snoqualmie, Duwamish, Coast Salish, and other indigenous groups who had and maintain a deep knowledge of the environment around them through sharing skills, stories, and myths.

Snoqualmie Valley Hop Farmers and Workers, c. 1890. L88.029.003.7

Snoqualmie Valley Hop Farmers and Workers, c. 1890. L88.029.003.7

“This is the land of the Changer, the Star Child who descended from the heavens to the fertile earth and, as Moon, married a daughter of the Salmon people, ensuring his human kin happiness and plenty if they would respect the family of his bride.” The Changer pops up in other myths but his largest work was in the shaping of the land around us. It is said that he announced his plan to make the earth into a place for human beings before coming to Western Washington to do his work of creating the world as we know it today. Some animals were angered by this and deer are said to have prepared bow and arrow to fight The Changer. When The Changer came he took the arrows and stuck them into the deer’s head, making them docile and turning them into prey. Actions like this turned the earth into a place where human beings could live.

In the many stories about this transformative deity, the great changes he creates are almost always beneficial to humans as a whole or as individuals. The tribes of our area reveal their great understanding of the changes that came before humanity arrived to the geological landscape. Recently, indigenous myths have begun to gain the respect they deserve as sources of knowledge and a form of information sharing. In fact, the area of Geomythology has been gaining ground in the scientific field as myths from indigenous people around the globe prove to be records of previous geological changes. For example, the Duwamish tell of a large red sandstone boulder called ‘yahos’ that animal spirits are said to live in. These boulders indicate fault lines and areas of previous seismic violence, having been pushed up by the shifting of the earth. Fear of these rocks would have protected people from settling in areas that were prone to dangerous geological occurrences.

The myth of The Changer and Moon the Transformer also teach people today about the beautiful land in Washington, west of the Rockies. By making change into a positive force and honoring the one who brings those changes, Indigenous people of Western Washington demonstrate their knowledge that even catastrophic environmental events can bring renewal and replenishment to the earth.


Sources

Beurge, David M. "Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest: An Introduction." American Indians of the Pacific Northwest Collection. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://content.lib.washington.edu/aipnw/buerge1.html

De Los Angeles, Steve. "Story of the Moon." Story of the Moon | Snoqualmie Tribe. 2012. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://www.snoqualmietribe.us/moon

Krajick, Kevin. "Tracking Myth to Geological Reality: Once Dismissed, Myths Are Winning New Attention from Geologists Who Find That They May Encode Valuable Data about Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Tsunamis, and Other Stirrings of the Earth.(News Focus)." Science310, no. 5749 (2005): 762-764.

Matthes, Whitney, Frey, Rodney, Putsche, Laura, and Tripepi, Robert. The Relationship between Plants and People: An Ethnobotanical Study in Partnership with the Muckleshoot Tribe , 2016, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.

Watson, Kenneth Greg. "Native Americans of Puget Sound -- A Brief History of the First People and Their Cultures." Native Americans of Puget Sound -- A Brief History of the First People and Their Cultures. June 29, 1999. Accessed August 06, 2019. https://www.historylink.org/File/1506

Eastside Stories: The Ferries of Lake Washington

No. 1 | February 6, 2019

Eastside Stories

Subscribe to Eastside Stories by emailing us at: info@eastsideheritagecenter.org

Eastside Stories   is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

Eastside Stories is our way of sharing Eastside history through the many events, people places and interesting bits of information that we collect at the Eastside Heritage Center. We hope you enjoy these stories and share them with friends and family.

Welcome to Eastside Stories, a new series from the Eastside Heritage Center. Through these periodic postings we will bring Eastside History to life and highlight the people, places and events that have shaped its remarkable evolution.

The Ferries of Lake Washington

We’ll begin our series of Eastside Stories with one of the things that made settlement of the Eastside possible: ferries on Lake Washington.

The earliest settlers got around by rowboat and canoe, but for the Eastside to grow as an agricultural area and as a commuter suburb, it would need reliable transportation to the burgeoning city of Seattle.

 
The Leschi, in her early steam sidewheel configuration. She was later converted to diesel engines with propellers. (Photo courtesy of Puget Sound Maritime)

The Leschi, in her early steam sidewheel configuration. She was later converted to diesel engines with propellers. (Photo courtesy of Puget Sound Maritime)

By the 1880s, entrepreneurs had seen enough people settling around Lake Washington to justify ferry service. The first problem was to get boats onto the lake, since the Lake Washington Ship Canal was still just a pipe dream. Some early ferries were built in yards in Seattle and Houghton. Others were dragged up the Black River, which drained the lake through Renton.

Early passenger steamers, like Acme , Dawn and Elfin needed a place to land. King County built a series of wharves around the lake, and most residents lived within easy distance of a ferry landing. And there was always the option of flagging a ferry for an unscheduled stop at a private dock.

By the early 20 th Century, Seattle was growing like crazy—from 50,000 people in 1890 to 250,000 in 1910—and all those new people needed to eat. Eastside farmers could supply produce, but loading it on and off small steamers would not do the trick. So, ferries for wagons and the growing fleet of cars and trucks began to ply the lake. The vehicle ferries Kent , Washington and Lincoln served on the Madison Park-Kirkland route beginning around 1900.

 
The Ariel operated on a route from Madison Park to Houghton, serving wharfs on Evergreen, Hunts and Yarrow Points. She was owned by the Johnson brothers and was the only steamer on the lake that stayed out of the hands of Captain Anderson. She ended her days serving as student housing on Portage Bay. (Photo courtesy of Puget Sound Maritime)

The Ariel operated on a route from Madison Park to Houghton, serving wharfs on Evergreen, Hunts and Yarrow Points. She was owned by the Johnson brothers and was the only steamer on the lake that stayed out of the hands of Captain Anderson. She ended her days serving as student housing on Portage Bay. (Photo courtesy of Puget Sound Maritime)

The most ambitious ferry project was the Leschi, a steel-hulled ferry commissioned by the new Port of Seattle in 1912. The ship canal had still not opened, and there were no yards on the lake that could build a steel hull. So the hull was fabricated on the Duwamish, disassembled and re-assembled at Rainier Beach. The Leschi originally served Meydenbauer Bay and Medina (that's the Leschi in Meydenbauer Bay in the background of the the EHC logo) but the Meydenbauer stop was dropped in 1920. The Seattle-Medina route ran until the day before the new floating bridge opened in 1940.

Car ferry service kept going to Kirkland through World War II, mostly to get shipyard workers to Houghton. The last of the lake’s passenger steamers, the Ariel, which served the Points Communities and Houghton, retired in 1945.

The early steamers were lovely to look at, but like wooden steamboats everywhere, they often had short lifespans. Fires, exploding boilers, rot and sinking were the fate of nearly all of the lake’s small ferries. When Captain John Anderson began to buy up the ferries on the lake he brought some order to the chaos, but also took some of the fun and romance out of it. 

About once a decade we get another study of returning ferry service to Lake Washington. The economics have always been a challenge, and the slow speed limit in the ship canal makes for a long trip to Lake Union. A new service from Renton is now in the offing.

But Lake Washington is still full of passenger boats doing what those early steamers all did for extra money: sightseeing excursions on the most beautiful urban lake in America.

 

Our Mission To steward Eastside history by actively collecting, preserving, and interpreting documents and artifacts, and by promoting public involvement in and appreciation of this heritage through educational programming and community outreach.

Our Vision To be the leading organization that enhances community identity through the preservation and stewardship of the Eastside’s history.


Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture

Eastside Heritage Center is supported by 4 Culture