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Samish News

Winter 2021

by Cheryl Chatt, Samish Library Assistant | Nov 23, 2021

Hello, again, everyone, and once again, welcome to this edition of Reader’s Window!

Although we have been through (another!) challenging year, there is the feeling that it has just flown by. Luckily, we are heading into the winter season, and with blustery days ahead, it’s a great time to find a comfortable chair and enjoy a good book.

And…we have just the book to recommend! 

Sounding for Harry Smith: Early Pacific Northwest Influences by local Anacortes author Bret Lunsford.  Mr. Lunsford (who is the director of the Anacortes Museum) gives us a lot to absorb and think about with this remarkable book.

While this is a biography of Harry Smith, who lived part of his young life in Anacortes, this book is an absolute treasure trove of early Anacortes history, and it offers glimpses into the history of the surrounding areas, including Bellingham.

Harry Smith, born in 1923, was one unique individual, whose many interests included art, music, the study of local tribes and collecting artifacts. As a teenager, he began a “study and recording project involving Lummi, Samish and Swinomish tribes with collaboration of Julius Charles, Dr. Erna Gunther, Bill Holm and Dr. Melville Jacobs.”

The history contained herein is unique, unlike any other that I have read. Mr. Lunsford’s meticulous research includes interviews with persons still living who knew Harry Smith and could share personal memories of him, which gives this book a personal touch as well as adding color to the narrative.

In addition to the interviews, Mr. Lunsford uses historical photographs and maps to illustrate the time and place, and the people who are part of the tapestry of the early history of Anacortes and surrounding areas. 

You may recognize the name Harry Smith as the artist who created the painting depicting a Coast Salish ceremonial dance in a longhouse showing the two Samish house posts. One of these house posts resides at Samish today, in the great room of the main building at Summit Park. The original painting also resides at Samish and was a gift of Bill Holm to the Samish sometime around 2004.  

For anyone interested in early Anacortes history, some rare individuals who contributed to it, and to learn more about who Harry Smith was (as well as the people who influenced him, including local tribal members), I highly recommend this book as a great winter—or anytime—read.

The Samish Indian Nation Library is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. I look forward to sharing this and many other titles with you.

 

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