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The impending decision

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posted by alias axemstr69 on Thursday 25th of June 2009 05:14:47 AM

Visual Anthropology: Social Networks Capitol Lake, A contrast of users both present and past; day and night. Questions which were researched during the project: Estuary or Lake? Does the use of Capitol Lake’s trail today differ from the past? Why do some prefer to use the trail at different time periods (i.e. Daylight or Evening)? Long before the Europeans arrived in the Pacific Northwest or the United States for that matter; the First Peoples (Native Americans) lived on the continent for thousands of years. Some Native Americans even refer to this period as “Time Immemorial”. Their lives had virtually remained unchanged residing in the same place for generation upon generation, sometimes for thousands of years; but never owning the land they lived upon. Unlike the European concept Native Americans “idea of private property and ownership of land” (Hultman, n.d.) sometimes resulted in the borders of the tribes overlapping and resulting in skirmishes. But few died as a result of fighting and normally the tribe would relocate to avoid further conflict. Native Americans never abused the land for their own desire, they were a society which worshiped the spirit of the earth and were thankful for what they took. Their practice was to take only what they needed to survive and in return they honored the spirits through prayer and ceremony. The communities of Native Americans lived on islands, plateaus or valleys and to them this was their homeland; but “each community had responsibilities and obligations to care for the natural resources.” (Hultman,n.d.) Tribes used resources sparingly; managing them so that their children, grandchildren and even others far into the future can enjoy them. As the Europeans advanced westward they forced the Native Americans to surrender their lands causing them to change the way they survived; but it never changed their beliefs. Like many cities in the Pacific Northwest, Olympia has a history which is rooted in the Europeans who journeyed west for gold or land. But there is also a history which was borne by the First Peoples who resided here before the European migration. For more than 12,000 years, Olympia was the site of an ancient city “called Steh-Chass (stu-chus), and the descendants of those people are known today as the Squaxin Island Tribe, or People of the Water.” (City of Olympia, n.d.) As a hunter gatherer society, the tribe utilized the beaches and forests in the area to fish for salmon, harvest shellfish, and to pick roots & berries along the coves of Budd Inlet and the shores of what is now Capitol Lake. Their use of the land was to survive and recreational uses were not even a concept then (at least none show on record). In 1855 the Treaty of Medicine Creek allocated the tribes amongst some other things a reservation which was to provide residence for them. One of the tribes listed in the treaty were the Squaxin who were eventually relocated from the Budd Inlet area to an island in the Puget Sound named after them. Resources on the island were sparse and survival of the tribe would be almost impossible; contained in the treaty was a clause which gave them the rights to “fish in their usual and accustomed to areas” as they had for thousands of years. Still to this day the Squaxin people harvest food for their families reaffirming the important ties to both the land and water. Although Capitol Lake is only a few decades old; its history contains a long chain of events which date back to 1855. Its start began when the territorial legislature “accepted an offer of 12 acres of land by Olympia’s founder, Edmund Sylvester, for the site of the capitol.” (Washington State Department of General Administration, 2007) The location was perfect for the capital since it overlooked the bluff and was bordered by tidelands. A special commission from the legislature selected building plans from Wilder and White; the landscaping was done by the Olmsted brothers. The plans called for a fine boulevard to connect the “three distinctive ridges contained in the city limits, and giving access to the coast towns.” (Washington State Department of General Administration, 2007) The idea for a planned lake created a lot of support at the time because it was seen as a way to improve the community but had to be put on hold at the onset of World War II. After the war, approval of the “Deschutes Basin Project” was again completed and in 1947, the Governor declared an emergency to get bonds started funding the project and remove “Little Hollywood”, Olympia’s version of the Hooverville shantytowns of unemployed men and women. The settlement resided on the mudflats in the shadow of the capitol dome and was long considered “an eye sore” to the people. On October 10, 1951 the lake was finally created with the completion of an earthen dam which blocked Budd Inlet and submerged the mud flats. The popularity of the lake was evident early on and created many leisurely activities which include among them swimming, walking and even the creation of waterfront parks. Many of the residents and tourists who frequented the area appreciated the other recreational amenities which were either owned by the state or part of the capitol campus. The attractions included Olympia’s “Lakefair” which began in 1957 and was held in the former Capitol Lake Park. Another amenity was the creation of a park at the base of Tumwater Falls, it has a historic theme. As time went on, unanticipated problems began to surface which included water quality and the ever diminishing depth of the lake. It was estimated in 1974 that an accumulation of 1.8 million cubic yards of silt had been deposited in the lake since its creation; this resulted in a loss of 25% total volume of the lake. This reduced depth allowed both noxious weeds and invasive plants to take over both the water and shore. But attempts to dredge partial areas of the lake did nothing to correct the problem and as a result water quality suffered which led to eventual closure of the swimming areas and loss of habitat for the native life. Something had to be done before another environmental “eye sore” resulted like “Little Hollywood” in the 1930’s. So in 1997 the planning process known as CLAMP began; its mission was to come up with an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate the various sediment options and adopt a plan of action. But during the committee meetings and the many reports which were completed, differences of opinions surfaced on how to address the issues of water quality and the method of correction. Some believed that the lake should have been dredged yet some believed the lake should have been reverted to its original state as an estuary. Initially the plan was to be a two year study but after many meetings it ended up to be a 10 year plan with different areas to address. Several representative groups identified fourteen areas which focused on things such as water access to the port of Olympia, invasive species and public recreation. Later a fifteenth area, cultural & spiritual values was added, which addressed those values identified by individuals or held as groups on the cultural or spiritual values which currently exist or were historical in nature. Representatives from a variety of stakeholders were interviewed and their viewpoints identified; St. Martins University’s representatives Mary Beth Falkner and Mary White were interviewed because of the Dragon Boat Festival sponsored by the University and the Squaxin tribe because the basin was identified to contain the ancestral homes from many of the tribes’ members. But unlike other groups, it was not a representative who spoke for the tribe; viewpoints were conducted through the telling of stories by elders, legends, teachings, and personal stories. Four alternatives were developed to address the lakes issues; each plan has their own advantages and disadvantages, along with their share of supporters and opponents for each. One plan details the idea of leaving the lake the way it currently is and what could happen. Another plan details reverting it back to an estuary, this was the popular plan of action due to the tribal use of the area before the lake was installed, they had used it for thousands of years, but like other plans it also had its consequences. The study which was adopted in 2002 was not implemented until 2003 and won’t be complete till 2013. Current visitors use the lake for things like walking, running, biking, and other socializing events; far different from what the Native Americans used the area for. Whatever the committee does come up with as a plan of action will have far reaching consequences in way and the effects of our usage could be long lasting. The research project on the Capitol Lake Trail started with a basic question. What is the difference between the individuals who use the trail during the daylight hours and those who use the trail in the evening hours? Well not so basic but as my research went deeper so did my questions and after a few revisions, I settled upon three. My contextual data was located by using the university library, the online databases, and web searches on Yahoo and Google. I have even referenced some from personally retained information. Most of my information was taken from four primary sites; the Washington State Department of General Administration, Washington State Historical Society, The City of Olympia and The Thurston County Regional Planning Office. Observations were conducted during both day and evening hours; a camera was used to capture images and a notebook & pencil were used to take notes on other information useful to the project. The camera was mounted on a tripod which allowed me to take copious notes without trying to multitask too much. With the camera mounted on a tripod pictures could be taken without any distractions or onlookers staring into the camera; this allowed for more natural actions. Sound was experimented with but due to the amount of gravel on the trail and walking around the area, quality suffered and voices were hard to understand over ambient noise. I was able to interview three people during the project although I approached many while I was there. During the interviews I tried to get photos of them but those who were willing to answer the questions did not wish to be photographed. One even stated she did not take well on a photograph; I did get their first names though. Their names were Terrie, Charles, and Marie. A premade sheet was used with the questions I would ask and handed to the participant. They were also given a notebook with sheets of paper to write their answers. The questions were open ended so that the participants could write down more than yes or no questions. It was even told to them that you can write more than what is asked or depending on person less. The following questions were asked during the interview; Are you from this area? If not where are you originally from? What is your knowledge about the history of Capitol Lake? Do you know why it was created? Do you think it was a good project? Who were the original inhabitants of the area before the European settlers? Are you aware of any Native Villages in the area? Have you ever seen Olympia without Capitol Lake (age)? What was it like in your opinion? If not, what would you think if it were not here? How would this affect you or your opinion of the area? What initially brought you to use the Lake? Which activities do you use the trail for? How often do you use the trail? Do you use the long route or short route for your selected activities? Is there any other time you might use the trail? Do you attend any events that are put on at the lake? Are you aware of the Capitol Lake News (stories which impact the Lake)? The question of whether to leave the lake as is or to revert it back to an estuary could be best answered by the other two questions which follow; those being the idea whether the use of the lake is different today from that of the past and whether people use it between the daylight or nighttime hours differently. I answered these by looking at the aspects in which people use the lake, what hours they use it the most and also what activities they would be doing during their usage. If the lake were to be reverted back to an estuary and the design were not modified to allow a full path around the lake, usage of the trails might dwindle to non-existent; I did overhear someone during my observations state “it is easy to run around the path since it is only like 1.5 miles”. If the Native Americans did use the area for more than just a place of survival, home and worship, evidence did not turn up otherwise. One would think that if the people were to walk up and down the beaches at night in their time would have had to worry about bears and mountain lions, no security there. People of today need not worry as presented in the study there are ways to enhance the safety of others. I think this research is very relevant to other anthropologists, this shows both contextually and visually, the activities and levels of socialization which happen around the lake currently. This study could even be utilized today to help decide whether to continue the lake in its current condition or just to revert it back to the estuary in which it was before the Europeans took control of the area. The data contained herein could show the differences in social activities between lakes which are wild and rural in nature compared to those who are in a cityscape and the importance of them. Preserved indefinitely the photos give a visual story on the types of socializing and culture of the people who use it, the notes and interviews which accompany it are an integral part of official documentation and describe all the actions which are taking place and also those which are unseen by the camera eye. The questions also contain a personal level which gives a stronger meaning to the nature of usage and people who use the lake. If I were to undertake this research again, I think one issue would be to allow more time to accomplish a deeper search. With only a few weeks, it is hard to gather complete information on the other aspects of use that the area provided for the Native Americans before the arrival of the Europeans. Some of this was due to the idea that documentation of the Native Americans was sparse or non-existent unless it involved some skirmish or “savage action” done by a tribal member. In this case it was recorded as a crime and the perpetrator was classified as a savage. Also their cultural practices were handed down by verbal means rather than documenting in some type of way. This resulted in an abundance of historical and generational data being compromised and eventually lost, state archives were used but could have been researched a little more, but time was not as permissive as I had thought. With a little more time I would be able to gain the permission of audience with some tribal members to acquire verbal documentation of that which was told to them from their forefathers. What worked well was the research that I did get accomplished, I personally enjoy research into the cultural aspects of the different peoples, I have my own library of information at home in the field of anthropology. I was able to get the information I did need in a short amount of time to accomplish my project but of course there was most likely more that could have been found. A good follow up to this study would be one after the lake has been either modified or dismantled. This would show the social value of the lake, and then one could contrast historically its value over a period of years, from beginning to possible end? Resources Hultman, S. (n.d.). The Treaty Trail. Retrieved June 14, 2009, from Washington State Historical Society: City of Olympia (n.d.). Historical Documents. Retrieved June 13, 2009, from City of Olympia: Preservation/AssessmentandAction Plan/Docs/04_PresPlan_Sec2_HistoricResourcesOlympia.pdf Washington State Department of General Administration (2007). History of Capital Lake. Retrieved January 12, 2009, from General Administration State of Washington: Morrision, S. W. (2005). Estuary Feasibility Study for Capitol Lake. Retrieved January 12, 2009, from Thurston County Regional Planning Council: ABHL, (2009, January 5).\&I2.Y=3#Page=16. Retrieved June 14, 2009, from Washington State General Administration:\&I2.Y=3#Page=16

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