December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays from the Burke

On behalf of the Burke Museum, we would like to wish all of our Burke Blog readers a happy holiday season. How do we celebrate the holidays at the Burke? With natural history and cultural themes, of course!  Please enjoy these holiday and winter-related mini-posts from some of our writers.

"The 12 Days of Christmas Island" By Winifred Kehl

On Christmas Day in 1643, the Royal Mary sailed past an uninhabited island near Indonesia. The captain named it Christmas Island - although today, most of its 1,493 residents are Buddhist. Because humans arrived only recently to the island, many endemic plants and animals (plants and animals that are found nowhere else on Earth) survive … making the wildlife of Christmas Island rather unique.

Colored versions to come soon!

On the first day on Christmas Island, I went out and saw... the largest land-living arthropod (alternate lyrics: "a coconut crab in a palm tree")

On the second day on Christmas Island, I went out and saw... 2 endemic bats, and the largest land-living arthropod.

On the third day on Christmas Island, I went out and saw... 3 endemic birds, 2 endemic bats, and the largest land-living arthropod.

On the fourth day on Christmas Island, I went out and saw.... 4 local molluscs, 3 endemic birds, 2 endemic bats, and the largest land-living arthropod.

On the fifh day on Christmas Island, I went out and saw.... 5 whaaaaaaaaaaaale shaaaaaaaaaaaaarks...

On the sixth day on Christmas Island, I went out and saw.... 6 manta rays...

On the seventh day on Christmas Island, I went out and saw.... 7 native reptiles...

On the eighth day on Christmas Island, I went out and saw.... 8
migrating sea birds...

On the nineth day on Christmas Island, I went out and saw.... 9 native butterflies...

On the tenth day on Christmas Island, I went out and saw... 10 coral species...

On the eleventh day on Christmas Island, I went out and saw.... 11
kinds of reef fish

On the twelfth day on Christmas Island, I went out and saw....43.7
million red crabs migrating, 11 kinds of reef fish, 10 coral species, 9 native butterflies, 8 migrating sea birds, 7 native reptiles, 6 manta rays, 5 whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaale shaaaaaaaaaaarks... 4 local molluscs, 3 endemic birds, 2 endemic bats,and the largest land-living arthropoooooooooooooooood

 
"Pleistocene Epoch Haiku" by Andrea Godinez

Pleistocene Epoch
Glaciers carried loose rocks, soil
Carving Puget Sound

And another one for fun:

Seattle under
Three-thousand feet deep of ice
In the last ice age


Maximum advance of ice into the Pacific Northwest. A lobe of ice has dammed the Glacial Lake Missoula in Montana. Periodically, the ice dam breached, sending the largest floods ever recorded through the channeled scablands of Washington and down through the Columbia Gorge. Image: Ice Age Floods Institute.


"Oh, the weather outside is frightful…" By Christy Hansen

The winter season is surely upon us—besides the immersion of our daily activities amid the twinkling lights of the holiday season, Seattle’s days and nights have now (statistically speaking) dipped into their coldest average temperatures for the year. With our coldest and darkest times of the year upon us, I am finding myself admittedly unprepared to bear the elements as the thermometer begins a slow dive and the chilling winds lash out at my face. Upon flipping through binders containing historic photographs depicting Alaskan Natives in the Ethnology Archives, I marvel at the content and deftness by which the Native people of the Arctic flourished in their daily activities amidst the extreme bitter weather—and immediately I am envious of the lavish and toasty winter gear handcrafted of caribou (or reindeer) and other animal skins donned by the Native Inupiat and Yup’ik peoples. Gaze upon a few choice examples from the Ethnology Archives:


Native Alaskans have been surviving in harsh and severe environments for millennia. 
Resourcefulness wasand has been strategic and a light-weight shell or parka constructed 
from the intestines of seal or walrus provides a universal waterproof protection against 
the elements for all activities. This photograph taken in the commercial photography 
studio of the Lomen Brothers of Nome, Alaska documents a Native man—either Yup’ik 
or Inupiat—wearing such a parka at some point in the first three decades of the 20th 
century. Gut skin parkas were universal all along the Alaskan coast, and were especially
useful for hunting and fishing out on the water.   
(Courtesy of the Ethnology Archives of the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, L-3731, 
Catalog No. A1.2/27.)

A young Yup’ik woman, captured circa 1917-1936 by the Elite Studio of Juneau, is shown wearing her traditional fur parka made of caribou, seal or other animal. The parkas with the attached hood trimmed with a ruff of Arctic fox tail, wolf or wolverine fur would protect her face from the extreme cold. Some scholars assert that the insulation derived from such time-tested skin clothing is paramount to modernized synthetic materials. (Courtesy of the Ethnology Archives of the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, Catalog No. A1.2/89.)

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