A Refugee in Her Own Land

  • Evening on Puget Sound.

    Edward S. Curtis Courtesy Library of Congress
 

Katie Gale: A Coast Salish Woman's Life on Oyster Bay
Llyn De Danaan
336 pages, hardcover:
$29.95.
Bison Books, 2013.

In Katie Gale, anthropologist Llyn De Danaan chronicles the life of a 19th century Salish woman who married a white man, gave birth to four children, became a successful oysterwoman, suffered greatly in a divorce settlement, and watched two of her children die of tuberculosis before succumbing to the disease herself. An extraordinary life? Not really. An exemplary one? No. But Katie Gale represents more than an individual: She stands in for an entire generation of Native American women trampled under the boots of white expansion.

"Of this I am certain, Katie Gale was a refugee, a person displaced by war and threats of war from her country of origin," argues De Danaan. Katie's tribe lived on the oyster-rich Washington coast "before the first non-Indian oystermen arrived in Oyster Bay with their values, dreams and aspirations that rapidly turned a largely subsistence harvest to one based on accumulation of wealth, investment and growth."

In the late 1800s, whites arrived in large numbers, the beneficiaries of laws encouraging homesteading. Joseph Gale and others claimed vast oysterbeds. But lacking knowledge of the area's unique harvesting practices, the settlers were at a disadvantage. Hence, the high number of intermarriages between white men and Native women who knew how to manage tribal lands for sustenance.

But subsistence living vanished when the 1893 depression struck. "Economic downturns had never touched her people before. Only natural disasters could bring shortages. Now Katie lived in a world that was plummeted into near chaos by the national and even international activities of marketing and finance."

Despite its difficulties, Katie's life is also full of love and community, all chronicled in fascinating detail by De Danaan, whose previous anthropological work includes field studies in Malaysia. The book is a masterpiece of creative interpretation of extensive archival work, as Gale left no diaries or letters. Clearly, De Dannan is moved by Gale's life and legacy. "Surely my life is as insubstantial, as ephemeral, as was Katie's. I will become like her, another mostly anonymous wraith, a specter who will walk the shores with all the others."

But De Danaan underestimates her work; this volume is an act of resurrection, well worth the contemporary reader's immersion in another life and time.

High Country News Classifieds
  • WATER POLICY ANALYST WITH WRA (BOULDER)
    Position Summary: Western Resource Advocates seeks a passionate Water Policy Analyst with knowledge of western water issues to join our Healthy Rivers Team to strengthen...
  • GILA NATIONAL FOREST
    9+ acre inholding. Passive solar strawbale off the grid and next to the Continental Divide Trail in ponderosa pine/doug fir forest at 7400.
  • HIRING BEARS EARS EDUCATION CENTER DIRECTOR
    Conservation nonprofit Friends of Cedar Mesa in Bluff, Utah is hiring an Education Center Director to oversee the operation of the Bears Ears Education Center....
  • PROGRAM MANAGER, SUSTAINING FLOWS
    Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ. Apply at https://verderiver.org/employment-opportunities/
  • PROGRAM ASSOCIATE - VERDE RIVER EXCHANGE
    Verde River Exchange - Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ. Apply at https://verderiver.org/employment-opportunities/
  • CODE COMPLIANCE OFFICER
    Teton County Planning & Building is hiring! Our ideal candidate is a team-player, a problem-solver, pays attention to detail, and can clearly communicate technical material...
  • ARCHITECTURE DRAFTSPERSON/PROJECT MANAGER
    Studio Architects is seeking a full time Architectural drafts-person/project manager with1-3 years of experience to join our firm. At Studio Architects our mission is to...
  • ASSISTANT MANAGER/TRAINEE, COLORADO RANCH
    needed for 16,000+ acre conservation property in south central Colorado. Qualified candidate would have experience working on a ranch or wilderness property, general forestry/fire management...
  • FARM HAND &/OR NANNY IN ESCALANTE
    Nanny for 18-mnth-old. Yearly salary, vacation, health insurance. Spanish/other foreign-language native spkr prefrrd.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Washington Association of Land Trusts seeks an ED to build on WALTs significant success & to lead the association to new levels of achievement. See...
  • BEAUTIFUL CUSTOM STRAWBALE HOME IN WESTERN COLORADO!
    Secluded, energy efficient Southwestern home on 40 wooded acres. Broker - Rand Porter - United Country Real Colorado Properties. 970-261-1248, $425K
  • FORMER RETREAT CENTER/CONSERVATION PROPERTY FOR SALE
    57 acres in Skull Valley, AZ, 17 miles from Prescott, year-round creek, swimming holes, secluded canyon, hiking/meditation trails, oaks, pines, garden, greenhouse. House, office building,...
  • ARIZONA PUBLIC LANDS ORGANIZER
    Title: Public Lands Organizer About the Arizona Wildlife Federation (AWF) The AWF is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating, inspiring, and assisting individuals and organizations...
  • HISTORIC RANCH HOME W/ 20 ACRES
    Historic 1893 Ranch Headquarters. 4 Bdrm, 3.5 Ba, 4000 ft2. Remodeled 2002. Includes 2 studio apts, stables, arena, workshop, 5 RV hookups. Chirachua & Peloncillo...
  • VICE PRESIDENT OF RETAIL OPERATIONS
    The Vice President of Retail Operations will provide overall leadership and accountability for purchasing, product development, merchandising planning, visual merchandising, retail operational excellence, oversight and...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners seeks an experienced fundraiser with excellent communication and organizational skills.
  • MS ACCESS DATABASE PROGRAMER
    Looking for an access programmer. Contract position. Send resume with references and rates to: [email protected] www.prospace.biz
  • PROGRAM MANAGER
    position in Phoenix with the Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy.
  • ROADS END CABIN NEAR YELLOWSTONE
    Vaulted ceilings, two fireplaces, two bedrooms, loft, jetted tub, wifi. Forest, mountain views. Wildlife. [email protected]
  • ACCOUNTING CLERK
    Our director is seeking to employ the services of an Accounting Clerk to assist with various accounting and administrative tasks. This is a great opportunity...