"Beach Harvest, Puget Sound"
Original acrylic 24" x 36" by Bill Holm © 1988
Collection of Karen Holm

A young Salish woman rests for a moment after an afternoon of hard digging for clams near present-day Richmond Beach, on Puget Sound. Her flattened forehead and cedar bark skirt indicate that the scene is no later than the early historic period, since European dress was widely adopted in the region by the middle of the nineteenth century. Although working at a common task, this is a women of means, shown by her copper bracelets and dentalium shell ear pendants. Her yew-wood digging stick has unearthed nearly a canoe load of clams, which she loads into an open-work basket of spruce root for carrying to her graceful little cedar craft. Light and fast, and easily managed by one or two paddlers, Salish canoes like this one were ideally suited for the relatively sheltered waters of the channels and islands of the sound, but in the hands of experienced paddlers they were seaworthy enough to handle rougher conditions. Paddle, cedar bark bailer, and cat-tail mat complete her travelling gear.

Across the sound, over present day Point Jefferson and silhouetted against the foothills of the Olympic Mountains, can be seen the faint, drifting smoke from the Suquamish village on Agate Pass. Glaucous-winged gulls gather to search for scraps when the clam digger slides her canoe into the surf and paddles for home.

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