Sunday, June 17, 2012

"Human Skulls Hurled Into Air"

Today's post is a bit macabre but intensely interesting:

Spokesman-Review, June 16, 1912,  p. 1
Our local newspaper does an excellent job with local history, including a This Day in History column by Jim Kershner in which he explores old news stories usually from 100 years ago. The other day he made reference to the above article, which interested me enough to wrestle with the Google News Archive to find the full story:

This sort of casual disrespect of native remains was too typical of that time (and of our own) and the case of the exploded graves is a snapshot of an era when Indians were being forced out of Spokane and onto diminishing reservations. What jumps out at me, however, are some of the details:
  • The workers, led by Otto Hansen, did rebury the disturbed remains somewhere "nearby." This is admirable, though I wonder if this newspaper article did not serve as a notice to grave robbers who might have disturbed the reburials. 
  • The reference to "brass bands" indicates that the graves were likely from the historic period, as natives on the Columbia Plateau did not possess brass before contact (thought they did have some sheet copper, so there is a possibility the graves were precontact).
  • It might be worth carefully reading through the Spokesman, and other Spokane newspapers, for a week or two after this story to find further references. 
It is tough to wrestle with the Google News Archives. They are difficult to navigate, hard to read, and have surprisingly limited search features. And yet they are an incredible resources for just this sort of illuminating historical nugget. 

1 comment:

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Very interesting post. That must have thrown everybody off when it happened, and it is too bad about those who were buried.

I wanted to let you know that I found a few more Spokane postcards and posted them this morning. Here is the link, though you might need to copy and paste it to get it to work:

I really like your blog, and have a bunch of catching up to do. I also appreciate your search resources on the sidebar.


Kathy M.