The lecture on Native American basketry at the History Center, Wednesday, May 12, brought a diverse audience out to appreciate and honor “Jennie’s Baskets: The Daggatt Family Collection,” the current temporary exhibit displaying baskets made by Jennie Michelle and Jennie Williams, as well as other North Coast Native Americans, in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Daggatt Family was in attendance, as well as the Dorsey family, direct descendants of Jennie Williams. Jennie Williams grandson, Marvin Dorsey, along with her great-granddaughter Heather Dorsey-Lopez, and her great-great grandsons Myeengan (6), and Phoenix (10), all looked on in admiration at their ancestor’s creations. See the picture of the family below, and enjoy this piece, written by Heather Dorsey-Lopez, about the family history of her Native American family. Thanks go out to Heather for taking the time to do this for us, and as always, we appreciate the ways our members and visitors contribute to keeping history alive!
My name is Heather Lopez, maiden name Heather Dorsey, and I am 32 years old. I live in Goldendale, Wash., with my husband Miguel and our sons, Phoenix (10), Myeengan (6) (meaning Wolf in Ojibwa), and Anahuy (2) (meaning Black Bear in Yakama). My father and mother, Marvin and Dixie Dorsey, have been married for 39 years, also live in Goldendale.
We live about 12 miles from each other, which means a lot to me; since the boys can grow up close to their grandparents, it means a lot to them, too. My husband Miguel is a Yakama tribal member working for Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. Our family does a lot of fishing on the river, and we have started a little family operated business of smoking and canning Salmon. My husband has nicknamed me Salmon Woman. We like to can salmon and make elk and deer meat for elders, and keep them well fed with traditional foods, especially my grandmother. This keeps us very busy, but enables me to have quality time with our children teaching them some of the old ways, as well as time with my mom, whom is my big fish helper.
My father, my other big fish helper, works in Alaska for a Native corporation called Nanuq, as a marine superintendent, working six weeks on, and three weeks off, which gives him a good amount of time to help us with all the smoking and canning of fish, spending quality time with the family, and teaching the grandchildren the old traditional ways of our Ancestors. My sister, Mechele Johnson, 37, maiden Dorsey, is the master baker of the family. She also has a little business, specializing in catering delicious homemade mouthwatering cupcakes, cakes, and unique homemade breads for parties and celebrations. She lives in Wilhamina, Ore., with her husband Tony Johnson, who works for the Grand Ronde Tribe as a cultural specialist and language instructor, restoring and bringing back our traditional Chinookan language. They live with their daughter Mary Raven (14), and sons Tahoma (10), Sam (10), Ferrill (4), and their new addition, coming in November.
My Father is the oldest of three children. He has a sister, Shelly Forsberg, maiden Dorsey-Shefler. She lives on the Long Beach Peninsula with her husband Roger Forsberg who works with my Father in Alaska. They have three children, Kaylee Sanchez, Justin Forsberg, and Jason Fournier. Robert Shefler Jr., my father’s youngest brother, lives on the Long Beach Peninsula near Oysterville, and is living with their beautiful 82 year-old mother, our grandmother, and our children’s great-grandmother, Lillian Shefler, maiden name Lillian Marie Salikie. She was the daughter of Mary Kekoanui, who came on a ship from Peahi, Maui, and Clayton Leighton Salikie, a full blood Tillamook and Clatsop, of Shoalwater, Bay Center area. He was the grandson of Bob Salikie and Jennie Williams. Lillian is the Granddaughter of Nina Lane, who’s mother was the one and only Jennie William’s, maiden name Jennie Telzan.
Jennie’s mother was a Salmon river woman and a full-blooded Tillamook, and her father was Telzan, a half-Tillamook and half-Clatsop. She had a brother named Thomas Telzan and a sister named Kate Telzan, later known as Kate Chickaman. They had other brothers with families, but unfortunately they all passed away from the great sickness. Jennie was first married to husband Joseph Lane, a full-blooded Clatsop whose father was Chief Washington, a signer of the 1851 Treaty, They had their son James Lane and Nina Lane. Joseph Lane died at the age of 50. After becoming a widow, Jennie later married Bill Williams, also a full blood; they had no children together.
Jennie lived to be 90 years of age, starting in 1839 and ending in 1929. She experienced many changes that came to the Native American people, their ways of life, culture, language, traditions, diseases that took many of the Native peoples lives, relocation, Villages being destroyed and moved, Treaties being signed among her people and other tribes, their traditional names changed to English names, Indian boarding schools, and so many other changes that tried to break our Native people’s spirit but have not yet succeeded.
Although I never got to know Jennie in person, I know her in spirit. We know her spirit is always with us, living on inside, guiding, watching over us, teaching, and helping us to bring back the old ways of our people. If she were alive today, I feel she would be honored that her beautiful baskets were on display to share with others. She was a strong, proud woman. I feel she would want to let others know how our people lived and our customs, and that these customs are still being used today. Traditions are so important to carry on: clamming, fishing, smoking fish, drying fish, weaving baskets and hats, the songs and dances, the Canoe Ways and what it means to be a part of the canoe, our language and keeping it going, our stories and legends, even superstitions. It is all about living and breathing the sacred way to pass down from generation to generation so it will never be lost. Her baskets are her legacy, keeping her spirit alive, for people to come and admire, and for her great-grandchildren to come and stand proud and say, ”Those are my Grandma Jennie’s baskets.” I know she is standing right behind us smiling, shedding joyful tears, and proud as can be that she is being lived on with outstanding PRIDE.
A traditional lifestyle of our people was the Way of the Canoe. The Way of the Canoe is a sacred way of life. Canoes were used for means of transportation, burials, fishing, whaling, gathering, and even wars. The canoes have brought back healing through tradition to thousands of our Indigenous Americans from Coastal Nations – rediscovering our ancestral roots as People of the Water. In 1989, during Chief Seattle Days, 13 traditional canoes did the Paddle to Seattle. Each year to follow, more and more canoe families gathered every summer for the Tribal Canoe Journeys. Each year a different Tribe will host, and their Native land is our final destination.
In the summer of 2009, Tribal Canoe Journeys celebrated 20 years with the Paddle to Suquamish. Over 100 canoes came together to celebrate our traditional ways by paddling the highways of our Ancestors. My family has been a part of the Canoe Journeys now for six years, paddling with the Chinook-Grand Ronde Canoe Family in our traditional tribal canoes, teaching our children the old ways, roots, and traditions. My father is a skipper, my mother is a puller and helps on the ground crew, my husband and I are both pullers, our oldest son Phoenix is a lead puller, and my 6-year-old and 2-year-old have been living this way of life since birth. My sister and her husband are both skippers and their oldest daughter Mary has been a strong puller since the beginning, along with their sons as well.
We have about 80 people active in our Canoe Family, and it is a lot of hard work to prepare for each year. As they say, it takes all year to prepare for the next one. We have come together with many tribes of the Pacific Northwest, including tribes in Alaska, and British Columbia to bring this sacred way back for our people, the children, and the generations to come, to keep the path of our Ancestors going on. When you become a part of the Canoe Way, you live it and breath it, you must follow the rules, and be drug and alcohol free, respect others, respect your elders, respect the water, and the traditional songs and dances, and respect yourself. There is such a powerful, healing, and spiritual feeling when your out on that sacred water, in our traditional canoes, our paddles digging deep, with each pull a prayer, hearing and singing our songs – the feeling is pride. I know these traditions of our Ancestors will continue to go on, because they are listening and answering our prayers……The 2010 Tribal Canoe Journeys will be hosted by the Makah Tribe, in Neah Bay from July 19-23. May our Ancestors guide each and everyone of these sacred canoes on this sacred journey….We are the People of the Water…..HayuMasi (Great Thanks)
You can go on you tube.com and search Tribal Canoe Journeys for more info.
Also you can go on www.canoeway.com and that will tell you some history on the Canoe Journeys.