PDF/EPUB The Northwest Coast Or Three Years' Residence in à multi channel.co

In 1849 James Swan turned his back on his wife and two children a prosperous ship fitting business and the polite and predictable world of commerce in Boston and fled to the newly opened gold fields in California Soon sick of the bonanza society he emigrated to a shallow harbor called Shoalwater Bay now Willapa Bay north of the Columbia River in Washington TerritorySwan eagerly became a part of the frontier community enjoying the company of both the white settlers and friendly Indians in the area First published in 1857 his classic account of the western frontier remains fresh and timely for the modern reader Swan saw himself as both an observer and participant in a barbaric invasion His interest in the Indians and his acceptance of them as individuals of importance and integrity emerge clearly in a lively and informed narrative


10 thoughts on “The Northwest Coast Or Three Years' Residence in Washington Territory Washington Paperbacks Wp 62

  1. says:

    This may also be found at my my blog text During a recent trip to my hometown of Port Townsend I had a great conversation with a friend who’s lived in PT for close to 40 years We were discussing the crumbling historical brick buildings and he noted they had been built with a mortar mixture consisting of seawater leading to the crumbling decay of many of these feats of architectural achievement that remain imposing reminders of the majesty that once embraced this beautiful city We began poking fun at the town we both loved and he called upon a man named James Gilcrest Swan who’d lived in Port Townsend during the late 1800’s and was perhaps the city’s strongest advocate of any era Port Townsend has many nicknames the “Key City” the “City of Dreams” and it’s no wonder Port Townsend is strategically situated on a peninsula where the Salish Sea meets the Puget Sound On a clear day you can see two mountain ranges and a bay stuffed with sailboats many passing within a stones throw of a ferry carting passengers to and from Whidbey Island It’s known among the locals that Port Townsend was once considered for the capital of Washington State If you walk among the Victorian homes and historic buildings you’ll see an old customs house a former German consulate and a clock tower and post office that remain as regal standard bearers from a distant era It is also known that the city went through both a dramatic boom and perhaps a dramatic bust due to its strategic port location In the 1800’s it was the first stop for many ocean going vessels entering the Puget Sound but it became irrelevant when larger ships were redirected to the deeper port in Seattle and the railroad never made it past Tacoma My interest was piqued when my friend said that Swan had written several books of this era semi antropological narratives that shed a light into the dark lives of men from an area which was once called the Washington Territory Swan grew up in Boston and in the mid 1800’s he left his wife and young children behind to travel across the continent and over to San Francisco where he worked in the shipyards He made his way north parking himself in Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay just north of Astoria Oregon It’s there he spent several seasons working on oyster farms as one of the first white settlers in the region This is where his memoir “The Northwest Coast” published by the University of Washington Press Go Cougs focuses almost exclusivelySwan’s “The Northwest Coast” is a nearly anthropological study of life in the Oregon and Washington territories during the 1850’s and 1860’s I’ve long been in love with my lifelong home in the Pacific Northwest but Swan’s narrative gave me a fresh opportunity to explore an era of history that I know precious little about During his time in Willapa Bay he befriends natives becomes an oyster farmer explores the WashingtonOregon coast is a passive observer to tensions caused by a war between the US and Great Britain witnesses the creation of the first roads to Olympia and Salem spends some time in what will become Astoria home of the Goonies and travels the majority of the region by canoe Of the natives he describes their customs and habits it in a manner that you might expect of a white man from the 1850’s slightly racist at times and definitely ethnocentric but at the same time you can tell he has a greater respect for the natives than most white men of that era He is discouraged by the manner in which other white men treat the natives and he goes out of his way to be fair in all dealings and adventures It’s apparent that he has many native friends In fact it was my friend who had recounted that Swan wrote about native methods for boiling water that were far superior to European methods at the time and thus began my interest in Swan In “The Northwest Coast” Swan spends a lot of time in the wilderness in and around Willapa bay He describes the natural abundance as something I’ve never seen in my lifetime The rivers stuffed full of large salmon ducks and other fowl abundant in fact Swan paddles around the rivers and bays of the region shooting just about anything he can including beaver bear lynx any number of animals I have rarely if ever seen in the Pacific Northwest today At times I was disturbed with the manner in which he went around shooting anything that moved just for sport It’s an interesting insight into the greedy and shortsighted mindset of the European settlers a topic I can recall most vividly from a Kevin Costner’s soliloquy in Dances with Wolves Swan pays no mention of the rampant genocide that occurs in the region yet mentions several massacres between warring native tribes In one of the interesting stories from the book he attends a treaty ceremony somewhere inland on what I think was the Chehalis River It was a negotiation between General Stevens representing the US government and many regional tribes The US government was negotiating to give the natives a large swath of land on the coast with the caveat that they must all move there and share the same land He seemed to have good intentions because from his perspective he thought this would give the natives the ability to form one cohesive unit granting them greater power and influence What he didn’t take into account was that some of the tribes were reluctant to give up their native homes but also had long standing rivalries that often resulted in war between neighboring tribes After several days the negotiations fell flat and each party went their own separate ways leading to what is now a patchwork of reservations across the regionThis historical account so interested me that I took the opportunity to visit the region this past weekend I picked one of the foggiest days of the year out of circumstance and heading out to Astoria where I met with two friends from a favorite restaurant called Clemente’s The co owner then took me out on a hike across the Columbia River at a place called Fort Columbia that had it not been foggy would have allowed a great vantage to see many of the lands James Gilcrest Swan spent the early years of his tenure in the Pacific Northwest The forest was beautiful and majestic and crammed full of magnificent and large trees I felt a pulse of life that has been denied from the past six years of city living and I recalled an earlier era in which my step dad would take me to the West End of the Olympic Peninsula nearly every weekend to hunt for that elusive steelhead After finishing the hike we drove up the coast to several towns areas that Swan most certainly hiked or paddled through including Chinook Ilwaco and Long Beach We drove past a salmon hatchery that was established in 1893 another reminder of the way in which the Europeans thoroughly abused the land Just 30 years earlier they were pulling 100 lb salmon from the river by the tens of thousands a brand of fish that my guide referred to as “summer hogs” Now it’s common to see a couple of 50 pounders each year Swan has another book this one describing his life in and around the Port Townsend area or so I am told and this is next on my list Then there’s a NW man named Ivan Doig who has a book titled “Winters Brothers” about his experience going through Swan’s memoirs I have already purchased this book and might put Swan’s next memoir on hold as a result After leaving Willapa Bay Swan made his way to Port Townsend where he spent a greater part of the end of his life advocating for the town and for native rights and eventually drifting into severe alcoholism Swan’s dream of making Port Townsend a grand city on par with San Francisco was never actualized He lobbied hard to have the railroad link up to the bustling port city but it never made it past Tacoma which ruined the town from an economic standpoint Yet I think this is what makes Port Townsend so great today It’s a remarkable yet isolated city with unmatched natural beauty It has Victorian era buildings to suggest a city that time forgot You can live there and thrive eating locally produced foods biking or walking anywhere you want to go and are exposed to a great art and music scene tooAnd while I miss and love that town I cannot live there because I can’t imagine living there and making a living too At least not right now Still no matter where I live or where I travel my compass will always be oriented with Port Townsend as my magnetic north sorta like a modern day James Swan


  2. says:

    James G Swan 1818 1900 was a Boston shipfitter who left his family to join the California Gold Rush He didn't like it so he moved to Shoalwater Bay now called Willapa Bay in what is now Washington state in order to raise oysters with Indian labor and sell them in California a site of the local Chamber of Commerce says that the bay still produces 15% of the nation's oyster crop The book is a straightforward narrative of his life on the shores of the bay in 1852 1855 in the company of a few white settlers and many Native Americans In fact most of the book is ethnography of the Indians Swan came into contact with their children's games their adult games of chance their burial customs their manner of hunting seals their method of making canoes their superstitions and so on By the 1850s the Indians have had quite some contact with the white society and the global economy women generally wore calicos only old women preferred traditional cedar bark skirts men hunted with firearms they had Chinese made camphorwood chests in their houses Swan learned at least two Native American languages Chehalis a Salishan language and Chinook Jargon a trade pidgin He wonders why the Indians who live in roughly the same conditions speak so many languages in fact we now know that languages of four families were spoken between the Columbia river and the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the 1800s Salishan which extended all the way to Missoula Wakashan the languages of which are also spoken on Vancouver Island and the nearby coast and two tiny ones Chinookan and Chimakuan Of course as of 2015 all of these languages are extinct or nearly so the descendants of their speakers having switched to EnglishBesides ethnography the book also has quite some natural history of what was then wilderness the bushy tailed woodrat which steals things from humans to use in its nest different species of waterfowl that nest in the bay gigantic salmon which was staple food to the Indians a stranded whale which the Indians stripped for blubber among the animals Swan and his friends shot there was a lynx otters and a bear During a Fourth of July celebration Swan and his friends made a bonfire which proceeded to burn down the forest until rain stopped the fireOverall I'd say that this is a pretty boring book I found the narrative of John Jewitt who was a captive of Indians at Nootka Sound 250 miles north of where Swan lived in 1803 1805 much interesting I think that this is because Jewitt the captive was much younger than Swan the oysterman and was able and willing to assimilate into Indian society to a much greater degree and although he escaped from the Indians was able to describe them as an insider would compared to Swan