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[Detail] Chilkat dancers, Alaska, 1895

Chronological Thinking

Articles such as "Contributions of Early Explorers and Traders to the Ethnography of the Northwest" and "Lawyer of the Nez Perces" provide a rough outline of the major forces and events that forever changed Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest. Use the explanations and references in these and other texts to create a timeline of the major events that had an impact on native populations, from their first contact with explorers to their legal battles of the twentieth century. Alternately, conduct searches for materials pertaining to one tribal group and piece together a chronology of events affecting that group.

Several essays in the Special Presentation (external link) discuss the cultures of specific tribal groups. Among other things, they describe the cycles of migration and subsistence activities that coincided with the seasons. Create a map that depicts the yearly round of a particular tribal group. The collection's Maps of the Region (external link), may be helpful.

  • Many Native American cultures embrace a cyclical rather than a linear concept of time. Why do you think this might be?
  • How did Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest think about and record history? How are these records different from western historical records?
  • How might a cyclical concept of time have contributed to the way Native Americans felt about and dealt with the appearance of Euro-American people and culture?
  • How might different concepts of time have contributed to misunderstandings between Euro Americans and Native Americans?