Native Americans have resided by Puget Sound for thousands of years and must have witnessed many geologic & events. They described these events using their own cultural concepts, and incorporated the stories into their oral tradition.
Traditions about the A.D. 900 Seattle earthquake, handed down by storytellers for 1,100 years may survive in stories about water-serpents near the Seattle fault. A horned water serpent was said to have its home in Seattle by the shore of Lake Washington, near landslides dated to the A.D. 900 earthquake. Another story, about an earthquake- and landslide-causing horned water-serpent on the eastern shore of Puget Sound in the Fauntleroy neighborhood of West Seattle, is close to a large undated landslide visible in LIDAR images but not easily seen on the ground. Finally, on the west side of Puget Sound, a story about the deepening of Agate Pass (located on the downthrown side of the Seattle Fault) tells of an underwater battle between a water-serpent and a mythic bird, resulting in ground shaking, churning of the waters, and permanent ground level change.
The last few years haqse seen ct r€-dssessment of the k,nu,tiledge hetdby the indigenuts peopl”es of the world, and a desire to understand traditional ways of Life md the wisdom they contain. One oJ the mast exciting possibilities to emerge from this reaiaal is of a synthesis, mtd a real dialogue, between mtcient and.contemporary mades of latowl”edge. In the following articles, we introduce two wa;ys in which this possibility is currently being presented to us.
DR PAMELA COLORADO was born an Oneida Indian, meaning ‘people of reality’ (called by white settlers the ‘Iroquois’) of the tribe of Ongwehahwe (‘the people of the long.standing rocks’), and was brought up on a reservation in the state of ‘STisconsin. She was one of the first Indian women to attend an American university, taking a degree in Social Sciences at the University of lTisconsin in Milwaukee, where she was the only native person in a student body of over 20,000. She went on to do doctoral work at Harvard, studying alcoholism in the native communities. It was during her doctorate that she began to take an interest in her indigenous culture, and to attempt to integrate within herself native and Western systems of knowledge.