National Register of Historic Places Highlights Recent Additions During Heritage Month

    U.S. Forest Service    Lawetlat'la (Mount St. Helens), spiritually significant to the Yakama and now on the National Register of Historic Places since September 11, 2013. It is shown here before its notorious 1980 eruption.

U.S. Forest Service
Lawetlat’la (Mount St. Helens), spiritually significant to the Yakama and now on the National Register of Historic Places since September 11, 2013. It is shown here before its notorious 1980 eruption.

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

It is no secret that many of the officially designated national parks of the United States are thinly disguised Sacred Places for American Indians, and for this year’s Native American Heritage Month, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is highlighting that connection.

“The National Register of Historic Places is pleased to promote awareness of and appreciation for the history and culture of American Indians and Alaska Natives during National American Indian Heritage Month,” the government agency says on its website.

Highlighted in particular this month are some new additions: Lawetlat’la, known to many as Mount St. Helens in Washington State, and 
Wassillie Trefon Dena’ina Fish Cache, 
in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region.

Lawetlat’la was officially added to the National Register on September 11, 2013, because of its spiritual and cultural significance to the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and the Yakama Nation. It is “directly associated with the traditional beliefs of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and the Yakama Nation regarding origins, cultural history, and nature of the world,” the National Register said on its website, recognizing that “those beliefs are rooted in tribal history and are important in maintaining the cultural continuity of the tribal community.”

It was a designation that took several years to obtain and came about through the joint efforts of the Cowlitz Tribe and staff at the Gifford Pinchot Forest, the Yakama said in its September newsletter. It is one of 23 sites on the National Register of Historic Places that are labeled as Traditional Cultural Properties, and Mount St. Helens is just the second one in Washington, the Yakama said. The first was Snoqualmie Falls in Snohomish County, the tribe said.

“The listing of Lawetlat’la as a Traditional Cultural Property honors our relationship with one of the principal features of our traditional landscape,” the tribe said. “For millennia, the mountain has been a place to seek spiritual guidance. The mountain has erupted many times in our memory, but each time has rebuilt herself anew. She demonstrates that a slow and patient path of restoration is the successful one, a lesson we have learned long ago.”

For its part, the Wassillie Trefon Dena’ina Fish Cache, placed on the National Register on June 5, 2013, is “the last best example of the traditional Dena’ ina Athabascan fish cache in the Lake Clark-Iliamna area,” the NPS said, adding that it’s possibly the best example of a southwestern Alaska Native log cache extant in the region surrounding Bristol Bay.

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“While this kind of log fish cache formerly was ubiquitous in Dena’ina and inland Yup’ik villages, hunting and trapping camps and summer fish villages they have now largely disappeared from the scene,” the NPS said. “The elevated log fish cache was very common in nineteenth century Bristol Bay upland villages for the preservation of large numbers of dried salmon many of which were dog fish which meant they were for consumption by sled dogs. The species of this kind of salmon was the most common Oncorhynchus nerka also known as red or sockeye salmon.”

Wassillie Trefon Dena'ina Fish Cache (Photo: Courtesy National Register of Historic Places/National Park Service)
Wassillie Trefon Dena’ina Fish Cache (Photo: Courtesy National Register of Historic Places/National Park Service)

The craftsman, Wassillie Trefon, is as famous as the type of structure. He “was acknowledged to be a master woodworker by his peers and the present generation in Nondalton in the art of traditional Dena’ina woodcraft,” the NPS said. “Wassillie Trefon built all his own log houses and caches for his family at Miller Creek, Tanalian Point, Old Nondalton and Nondalton.”

The National Register of Historic Places is an outgrowth of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, created to help identify and protect historic and archaeological sites. Much more information about the National Register and its relationship to Native American Heritage Month, including a teaching guide, can be found at the NPS web page devoted to the topic, National Register of Historic Places Program:  National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month November 2013.



St. Helens’ tribal significance marked

Mt S

Mount St Helens

Mountain given status of Traditional Cultural Property

By The Chronicle (Centralia)

September 19, 2013


For its significance to the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, Mount St. Helens on Sept. 11 was designated a Traditional Cultural Property and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

According to the Forest Service, Mount St. Helens’ qualified for listing in the register because of its position as a cultural landscape central to local tribes’ oral traditions and identities.

The listed area encompasses 12,501 acres of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

“The Forest Service has profound respect for the cultural significance of the area,” Gifford Pinchot National Forest Supervisor Janine Clayton said. “This formal recognition further validates our deep and long-standing relationships with our tribal partners.”

The mountain is of particular importance to the Cowlitz Tribe; it falls within the area of their land claims made during treaty negotiations with the federal government in the 1850s.

An image of the volcano appears on the official seal and emblem of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe.

“For millennia, the mountain has been a place where Tribal members went to seek spiritual guidance,” Tribal Council Chairman William Iyall said. “She has erupted many times in our memory, but each time has rebuilt herself anew. She demonstrates that a slow and patient path of restoration is the successful one.”

The National Register is part of a program intended to coordinate and support efforts to protect America’s historic, archaeological and traditional cultural resources.

Mount St. Helens’ nomination process took several years and was a collaborative effort between the Gifford Pinchot and the Cowlitz, the Forest Service said in the news release.

Formal listing was recommended earlier this year.

This is the second Traditional Cultural Property listing in Washington State and one of the very few Traditional Cultural Property listings nationwide, according to by Allyson Brooks, Director of the Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.

Taking to the Sky to Better Sniff the Air

On a cool spring morning in the mountains of southwest Washington, 12-year old Cathy Cahill helped her dad plant scientific instruments around the base of trembling Mount St. Helens. A few days later, the volcano blew up, smothering two of his four ash collectors. When he gathered the surviving equipment, Cathy’s father found a downwind sampler overflowing with ash laced with chlorine.


Cathy Cahill holds a carbon-fiber AeroVironment Raven she will use to sample plumes of hazy air. Photo by Ned Rozell

By Ned Rozell | Geophysical Institute 

Alaska Native News

July 23, 2013

Tom Cahill of the University of California, Davis, wrote a paper on this surprising result; editors at the journal Science were impressed enough to publish it.

Tom’s teenage daughter was not a co-author on her dad’s Mount St. Helens paper in the early 1980s, but her name has appeared next to his in a few journals since then. Now 44, Cathy continues to stamp her own mark on the field of atmospheric science. The University of Alaska Fairbanks professor has captured and examined the particles floating in air breathed by U.S. servicemen and woman in far-off deserts. She has invented an air-sensing system that alerts pilots they are encountering volcanic ash particles. She also spoke on a national radio program about the bitter, smoky midwinter air of her adopted home of Fairbanks, Alaska.

And she now commands a fleet of 161 unmanned aerial vehicles. Cahill will fly 160 AeroVironment Ravens (which have a wingspan, at 55-inches, more like a sandhill crane’s) and one Boeing Insitu ScanEagle (which weighs 10 times more and has the 10-foot spread of a California condor). She will use them to sniff the air around volcanoes and inside wildfire plumes.

Cahill will also enlist the drones to expand her ground-based studies of air from Afghanistan, Djibouti, Kuwait and other regions in which Americans are stationed. For years, she has helped officials with the U.S. Army Research Lab see the tiny particulates wafting in the air above urban battlefields.

“The military has a healthy population, but we’re still seeing increases in respiratory diseases in soldiers that are coming home,” she says in her office that overlooks the flats of the Tanana River valley, home to both an Army post and an Air Force base.  “They call it ‘the Iraq crud’ — you come back hacking. We’re trying to find out what might be responsible for some of these respiratory ailments.”

Along with the health of men and women, military officials have also asked Cahill what particulates are doing to their machines.

“A lot of soils behave like volcanic ash,” Cahill says. “That’s part of the reason engines tend to get destroyed in Saudi Arabia. The soils there can melt in the engines. And soils in high enough concentrations also abrade. If you have high concentrations and you fly through them again and again, you’re going to wear out your aircraft.”

Geophysical Institute machinist Greg Shipman and an electronics specialist, David Giesel with the unmanned aircraft program, helped Cahill convert her ground-based air samplers from a 40-pound Pelican case to an eight-pound unit that fits in the nose of an unmanned aircraft. Her air samplers will lead the way into volcanic ash clouds and choking plumes of singed black spruce.

Going airborne is just another step in the life of the little girl who followed her father’s footsteps over a volcano many years ago.

“My entire career’s thread is aerosols — the sources, atmospheric transformations, transport and impacts,” she says. “If you’re studying the atmosphere, you want to be able to go up in it.”

Since the late 1970s, the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute has provided this column free in cooperation with the UAF research community. Ned Rozell is a science writer for the Geophysical Institute