Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Misty Fjords and Metlakatla Pictures!

(Wow.  Totally diggin' the new "upload and put in journal" picture-adding feature.  Way better than the old two-step way.)

So, next set of pics are from cruising through Misty Fjords and visiting Metlakatla.

As for the Misty Fjords pics, I was still trying to get to know my camera.  (Which, actually, I was trying to do all trip.)  Do I use the "landscape" setting or the "sun and snow" setting when there's, y'know, a landscape with sun and snow?  Oh, the pressure.

Anyway, here's some vague piece of Alaskan scenery:

Here's another piece of Alaskan scenery.  This one (she says, proudly) has a waterfall in it.

Dig the reflection.  I was, like, aiming for that, trying to be all artsy and stuff.  Just for you.  :)

OK, then we went to Metlakatla which was the one remaining Alaska Native Reservation in all of Alaska.  (It was all made clear to me later in the trip.)  Back when they decided to build that great big ol' oil pipeline in Alaska, they had to go through a whole bunch of lands on which Alaska Natives had claims.  So a deal was made whereby Alaska could put the pipeline where the pipeline had to go, and, in exchange, the Alaska Natives would incorporate their tribes (and, one assumes, get a piece of the pipeline income) and also be able to claim some other land.  This was (says our tour guide) a much better deal than Native Americans get in other states.  Which, I think, just goes to show that it pays to have your land conveniently located underneath the planned course of an extremely profitable pipeline.

In any event, Metlakatla is the island reservation owned by the Tsimshian tribe, the one tribe that chose not to take the incorporation deal in all of Alaska.  After we toured the island, we were invited into the Long House for traditional songs and dances.

This here is a photograph of one of the performers.  I totally dug her because she brought her baby along and was including the kid in all this cultural stuff.  At first, I'd been a little concerned that the baby would start crying because of the loud drums and stuff, but the kid totally dug swaying around to the traditional rhythms.

Now, what they're wearing are "button robes" (or "button blankets" -- embarassingly, I've forgotten).  They're these robes (made out of blankets, hence my confusion) where all the beadwork on them is individual buttons all hand-sewn on.  There's a lot of work that goes into these things, as they reflect one's identity within the tribe.  People are born into different "houses," which are identified by different animals.  So they're, like, "people of the killer whale" or "people of the wolf" or whatever.  Here's the back of a robe one guy was wearing.  I'm trying to figure out which animal -- it's got wings so I'm thinking Eagle or Raven, but I can't remember how you tell the difference between the two (something about whether it has a hooked beak).  I'm thinking Raven, but feel free to correct me on this.

All of the silver colored outlining on that is individual buttons.  Be impressed.

We had a Tlingit lecturer who explained that, traditionally, the buttons used were "mother of pearl," but that now, when his kids made their button robes, they used "mother of plastic."  Ahh... keeping traditions in a modern world.

1 comment:

hewasolddog299 said...

Nice photos. I'm pretty sure that Ravens have straight beaks and Eagles beaks are hooked on the end. I imagine that cutting out buttons from oyster shells is a lost art these days. He has a good sense of humor about it.

Nice photos, by the way. That little cataract is a pretty shot, worthy of treatment (enlargement, matted, framed).

I'm looking forward to seeing more.  ;)