Big History

I’ve been thinking about the way history brings us all our great stories no matter how fantastic and supernatural. Consider the mythic legends from Native American stories told in our part of the world. How the force of the powerful Changer character moved oceans, created mountains, scoured out canyons and directed gigantic predators through a frigid landscape. How lakes are footprints left by monsters. How humans once confronted the forces of a nature impossibly huge and usually lost. How humans are tiny beings arriving on a stage where a monumental drama has already been played out by gods.
Now consider that none of it is fiction. That the origins of the most unimaginable stories are true. That what real people witnessed 10,000 years ago has traveled across time in the form of stories. Here’s an album of what investigators now know to be true about the world Pacific Northwesterners lived in “before everything”. When the mysterious “people who came before” watched an ice dam fail cataclysmically at the Strait of Juan De Fuca and a fresh water lake covering most of the Puget Sound area drain in a day into the sea. When doomed travelers might have watched in horror during their last moments of life, as a 10 story floodwall of water came at them across the flatland of eastern Washington. When a group of hunters with their domesticated wolf dogs chased down mega fauna many times larger than any creature alive today except for whales- and they hunted them too. Lions and tigers and bears. Rodents the size of grizzles and man eaters with teeth and horns so terrifying that early archaeologists thought they came from dragons.
Anyway just thinking about where good stories come from …..


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This site is about the way history, in this case of a city and it's surrounds, is remembered or recorded in stories and small bits of memory. It's also about the way images and stories go together, how they inform and enrich each other and how we as thinking people fill in the content between a narrative and a visual document. So here is my city in time past, the way it looked and the people and events that create its character. For more than 20 years I have taught a 5 credit course on the History of Tacoma at the University of Washington Tacoma. With an average of 30 or 40 students a year, each doing a research paper as their primary focus for the course, I have benefited from many paths of inquiry and many researched and assembled stories. Here are some of them in the retelling along with the treasures of photographs and images in the collections of the Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma Public Library, University of Washington Digital Archives, Washington State Archives at the Office of the Secretary of State, Library of Congress, Washington State University, Alaska State Library, and many other archives, libraries and private collections.

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