I ran barefoot much of the summer growing up in Montana, but it’s been many years since I’ve wandered barefoot outside. Come summer, I’m going to try it. A friend recently described a book many natural healers are reading, Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? by Clinton Ober, Stephen Sinatra, and Martin Zucker. The main idea is that we have not only literally lost touch with the earth, but we have insulated ourselves against it. In that process, we’ve lost its healing energy.
I thought about that as my grandchildren and I recently visited the new Suquamish Museum celebrating the past–and the present–of the Suquamish Tribe. I am 100% Swedish and my family’s foods and cultural traditions are reflected in that heritage: split pea soup, homemade rye bread, and potato sausage and lefse at Christmas. I even like to sit outside and soak up those first warm rays of sun in late February or early March, much like the Scandinavians do.
But I’ve also been very aware of the people who walked on my little patch of earth for thousands of years before European settlement only some 200 years ago. You might call it curiosity and respect, but it’s more than that–a sense of connection and an energy for me from this ground on which I walk.
I remember visiting the old museum when it first opened back in the early 1980’s. I was there when a group of Russian bishops visited some years later, and I often took any out-of-town visitors to see it. I started volunteering at the old museum several years ago in a dark back room with low ceilings.
Gone are the dark back rooms! The new 9,000-square-foot museum opened this past September. From the “tideline” of resin filled with shells, grass, sea stars, and kelp which is embedded in the wooden floor to the school of moving fish hanging from the ceiling in front of a large fishing weir, the facility speaks to the creativity and imagination of the tribe and its artists. This first area of the museum, “Ancient Shores, Changing Tides,” holds some of the display items from the old museum, but also items that haven’t been on display before.
I was relieved to see the old video, “Come Forth Laughing,” which features tribal elders’ memories, incorporated into the new museum–in a unique way. The display case of cedar baskets is lovely. My grand-daughters also enjoyed the art exhibit featuring current tribal members’ work. The museum is a great combination of the historical and the contemporary–weaving, basketry, fishing, sports, carving. Yet to be installed (soon) is a timeline that will cover one long wall. I saw a mock-up of it recently in a back area of the museum and it will be worth another trip back to see it!
If you’ve not made your first trip, do plan an outing for one of these dark and wet winter days. It’s near the center of Suquamish, clearly marked. All the native plantings around the facility create a beautiful setting. For more information, the museum website is www.suquamishmuseum.org.