SAUVIE ISLAND

Suave Island is the largest island in the Columbia River Basin, it occupies 20,959 acres and is larger than Manhattan Island. There are nine distinct habitats on the island which have changed greatly due to land management practices and human influence. Historically, Suave Island was home to 15 tribes of Wapato Flathead Indians. The island was abundant with Wapato root (an edible tuber), which provided sustenance to inhabitants of the island during winter months when fish was scarce. Due to its abundance, Wapato root was harvested and traded heavily among the Columbia and Willamette river valley tribes and served as a conflict reducing resource to both river valleys.

Investigation of 18th and 19th century history reveals a time period when hunter-gatherer people and Native Americans were on the edge of transition into cultivation based societies. Native American contact with European cultures presented disruptive and catastrophic cultural and paradigm shifts to the Wapato tribe and those living in the Columbia River valley and its tributaries.  Post European contact, the Northwest tribes peaceful rhythmic way of life, which mimicked nature, was quickly substituted for a cultivated and capitalistic European model of living.  During this time, the harvesting and use of Wapato root all but vanished and was replaced by cultivated crops introduced by European settlers. Suavie island's prevailing and current land use is still agricultural with little evidence of life that existed on the island prior to European settlement. This series of work is about human intervention in nature. 

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