Washington State Magazine

Spring 2007

Spring 2007

In This Issue...


Bright plumage against green foliage: the grandeur and beauty of evolution :: Some have told me that evolutionary explanation robs nature of beauty. This attitude puzzles me, because all the evolutionary biologists whom I know are driven by a love for nature, and to them nothing is more exciting than to uncover some hidden aspect of a natural system. by Michael Webster

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Story: A Conversation about Art and Biology with Ellen Dissanayake '57 }

Ray Troll: A story of fish, fossils, and funky art :: Ray Troll '81 has a species of ratfish named after him, Hydrolagus trolli. He calls Darwin "Chuckie D" and paints pictures of him driving around in an Evolvo. This is a man who has embraced his past and paints it wildly and beautifully. by Hannelore Sudermann

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Video: Strollin' and Trollin': A tour of Ray Troll's Ketchikan, with music unlike anything you've ever heard before. :: He draws. He paints. He writes songs and—oh lord—he sings them! Hear him for yourself as you tour the world of Ray Troll '81 via an audio slide show produced especially for Washington State Magazine Online. }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Activity: Flying With the Dragon :: Know anyone with crayons? If so, we have a coloring treat for you: an Evon Zerbetz '82 original, uncolored. }

Darwin was just the beginning: A sampler of evolutionary biology at WSU :: All of modern biology and medicine is based on the theory of evolution, and every life scientist arguably is an evolutionary biologist. So where to start in exploring evolutionary biology at WSU? How about with dung beetles, African violets, and promiscuous wrens? by Cherie Winner

Zoology 61: Teaching eugenics at WSU :: Eugenics was the dark side of our understanding of human evolution. American eugenicists were united by the idea that the human race was degenerating because inferior people were breeding more quickly than those who were "well born." Zoology 61, Genetics and Eugenics, was finally dropped from the course catalog at Washington State College in 1950. by Stephen Jones

Why Doubt? Skepticism as a basis for change and understanding :: Skepticism can forestall a too-willing acquiescence to the-way-things-are; it can distance us from dogmatism and ward us away from zealotry; it can expose our mistakes. by Will Hamlin



:: SPORTS: Vaulting ambition

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Video: Forgetting gravity :: WSU student Todd Griffiths performing gymnastics atop a stationary, then a cantering, horse. }


{ WEB EXCLUSIVE—Music: Horace Alexander Young plays "That Kind of Girl" :: Listen to a performance by WSU music faculty member Horace Alexander Young on a track from his CD, Acoustic Contemporary Jazz. }

Cover: One Small Step for a Fish, One Giant Leap for Fishkind, 1995, pastel on paper. "Every mammal, reptile and amphibian alive on the earth today descended from the lobefinned fish that left the water 375 million years ago." —Ray Troll


Just like it was yesterday

by | © Washington State University

"We were living a good life," said Albert Redstarr Andrews in a meditation concluding the second Plateau Conference, "and we were disturbed." What might be taken as gracious understatement also resonated with profound loss.

In spite of a generally liberal sensibility and Native great-grandmother, I confess there have been times upon hearing Native Americans speak of the injustices of manifest destiny and conquest, I've wondered when they will finally accept, no matter the past injustice, that this is simply the way things are. Having attended the conference in October, however, I find I am still capable of learning.

The focus of this year's conference was the Palúus people, who had inhabited the Palouse region, wintering along the Snake River. The Palúus never signed a treaty and were thus known as the "renegade tribe," which is the title of the history of the Palúus people by former Washington State University historian Clifford Trafzer and Richard Scheuerman. Scheuerman earned his master's degree in history from WSU and has written many books about regional history. Both men participated in the conference.

Soy Redthunder, from the Colville Reservation, Chief Joseph Clan, opened the conference by having the members of long houses present join him in a song. The song, like others throughout the conference, was in a minor key, prayerful, and mesmerizing. Ron Pond and Palouse Falls Drum followed with an honor song.

Because they never signed a treaty, the Palúus were never assigned reservation land and were largely dispersed. Many of the Colville Federated Tribes have Palúus ancestry, as do other Plateau peoples.

Carrie Schuster, a Palúus elder who now lives in Yakima, lived on her family allotment on the Snake until they were finally driven off in the 1950s. "We still talk about coming home," she said.

In fact many of the Palúus were returned home recently, through a process euphemistically termed "repatriation." Last spring, Palúus remains that had been stored in museums, including those at the University of Idaho and WSU, were reburied, on a bluff above the Snake. It was a momentous, if partial, step toward rectification.

"We need to get our people back in the ground where they belong," said a participant in a conference workshop titled, "The Palúus Rest Again."

"They shouldn't be sitting on shelves," she said.

Later, Barbara Aston, interim director of the Plateau Center and coordinator of the conference (and a member of the Wyandotte and Seneca tribes), told of reburying some of her relatives and how "time fell away."

Not only did I get a basic lesson in Plateau culture, but also a good solid glimpse of an entirely different sense of time and place. Or rather, a different sort of memory. One that compresses time and melds it inextricably with place and kin. It is a memory that cannot forget, for it is cultural identity.

This sense of reclaiming time and history permeated the conference, with sessions on native language, Chief Kamiakin, and native people becoming scholars of their own history blending with drumming and singing in sorrow and determination.

Earlier, Soy Redthunder had noted that October 5 was the anniversary of Chief Joseph's surrender in 1877.

"For our people," he said, "it was just like it was yesterday."

Categories: Cultural studies, History | Tags: Native Americans, Eastern Washington

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