How Indigenous People’s Stories Help Scientists Understand Earthquakes in The Pacific Northwest – The Atlantic

This is a great article from The Atlantic about how scientists and historians have begun to use the myths of the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest to inform their understanding of earthquakes and tsunamis.

In each of the indigenous communities, scientists found incidences of stories retelling a particular earthquake in 1700.  This has helped to solidify the notion that this region is ripe for another such natural disaster. While the myths don’t necessarily give solid advice for survival or preparations, they do offer a sense of the peoples’ resilience, especially when you consider how they have been orally transmitted from generation to generation. For example:

Younker thinks his uncle told him that story partly so that Younker could tell even younger people how to prepare, and partly to say, “make sure you keep your ropes long and your connections to home are well-maintained so you can pull yourself back to home. Because you really can’t separate the past from the present.”

If you teach about indigenous religions, you undoubtedly talk about myths and how they help reveal the ways in which a culture understands the world. What I like about this article is that is shows myths being used in a meaningful way by current researchers (not just as a quaint relic), and also that it offers some reasssurance about cultural and physical survival, in the face of natural or human-induced disasters.

Read more here: How Indigenous People’s Stories Help Scientists Understand Earthquakes in The Pacific Northwest – The Atlantic

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