Home Community DESTINATIONS:::Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

DESTINATIONS:::Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

By David Yamaguchi, The North American Post

Tlingit and Haida tribal lands Southeast Alaska and British Columbia respectively The isolated largely islandic locations of these communities have helped them survive the onslaught of western civilization Images Wikimedia Commons

The UW’s Burke Museum, newly rebuilt and opened to the public in October 2019, is a local attraction that had been “on my list” to visit, but which got postponed owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally getting there on Nov. 12, I was stunned to find that the museum, which had been a dusty forgotten corner of campus for my entire life, has been transformed into a first-rate museum suitable for the major urban center that Seattle is becoming.

Adult readers of this paper may find the Burke’s displays of Northwest Native American cultural artifacts its main attractions. Many of these resemble those of the Ainu, the native people of Japan.

Nonetheless, to provide balanced coverage of the Burke, above I share four of its best large-animal skeletons and stuffed animals. Each of these has its own Japan-related backstories. For example, a scientific website describes people following mammoths to Hokkaido (akarenga-h.jp/en/hokkaido/nature/n-01/).

Whalehouse interior Tlingit Klukwan Alaska 1895
Queen Johnny of Masset BC Haida 1888
A dress by Evelyn Vanderhoop Masset Haida
Ish ishwar awmcpheevia via Wikimedia Commons Photos of Burke displays DY

Baird’s Beaked Whale. Whales led to the start of US-Japan relations, for it was the US’s need for provisioning its whaleships offshore of Japan that prompted it to seek diplomatic relations there.

“If that double-bolted land, Japan, is ever to become hospitable, it is the whale-ship alone to whom the credit will be due; for already, she is on the threshold.” — “Moby Dick” (1851)