Sasquatch is my friend. I don’t know him in the way that he comes to my house and eats dinner with me, but he’s with me in spirit. I have a 4×6 postcard depicting him walking in the forest, weaving around rich green trees. He sits near my computer — looking at me with piercing blue eyes on a face drawn in Coast Salish artistry.
I purchased this simple image at the Jamestown S’Klallam Art Gallery, located within the tribal center on the outskirts of Sequim, Washington. The hamlet is positioned at the horseshoe-shaped round of iconic Highway 101 — the main way to travel between Seattle and the beautiful Olympic Peninsula. The complex also contains the Longhouse Store, where I’ve stopped to buy gas and firewood on a few occasions, as well as a casino and hotel, both adorned with beautifully ornate totems.
My journey leading to Sasquatch began by noticing the brightly colored totems while passing the casino. When next in the area, I decided to refuel my vehicle at the Longhouse. Another visit helped me look closer at the community — stopping in to visit the Art Gallery, which is also a wonderful shop selling creations by native artists. After several visits I felt inspired to purchase the postcard of Sasquatch and sit him next to me at my desk.
You see, Sasquatch is the keeper of the forests that I love to explore. He helps me grow in understanding that my connection to nature, especially the trees, adds to my power. If I can allow the forest to welcome me, and let all the other noise of our modern times fade away, I can hear my true self.
I think Sasquatch asks us to authentically see ourselves, something that can be very difficult for many — especially in today’s frenetic world that screams at us from all directions. The yearning to find Sasquatch in the forest is really our own yearning to find our true selves.
Indiginous people all around the world have embraced nature to see themselves, and their environment, in ways that modern day culture seems to forget. While my global travels have helped me understand this common theme, I still needed a little push toward truly expanding my awareness in my own backyard.
My visits to the Jamestown S’Klallam tribal community whetted my appetite to seek out information on other Coast Salish tribes. My search has included museums, artwork and especially the important history of our area — which was sometimes uncomfortable for a white person to embrace. Unlike my experiences in places like Chernobyl or Cambodia, this isn’t learning about some atrocity that happened across the globe. This is the story of the land beneath me.
Native American Day in Washington State (and elsewhere in the USA) is today, Friday, September 24. My own calling inspired me to share a rudimentary roadmap for others wanting to learn more about the local Coast Salish People — particularly in the area around Seattle.
I invite you to read this article with an open heart and mind to dream up new ways to embrace humanity and the healing that comes through nature. The way we might learn about a new country on a trip to Thailand should be the same way we search curiously for our own local cultures. And no matter where in the world you are, stories yearn to come through, from people that existed for thousands of years before the “modern age” of colonialism.
I welcome you to join me as a traveler to the indigenous past of the land we occupy. And remember, Sasquatch and the forest are always there to help you see yourself.