First Peoples

Why Does the Biggest Fir Tree Matter?

It’s alive. Here is the Lake Quinault Douglas Fir. You are looking at the bodies of thousands of salmon rising into the sky.

That matters, but what also matters is that our words for our bodies come from trees: beam, bow, branch, belly, and body itself. These are all expressions of what the Germans call the Baum (tree) or Bauch (belly) of the beam. So, look again:

This is your ancestor. If you want to know who you are, you need this body. Otherwise, you’re guessing at vague forms in the dark. But it’s not just a tree. Herons, too.

And funereal islands, such as this one at Ozette, which hold up trees into the air, and you and your ancestors, too.

If you don’t want to know who you are, don’t even look at this stone on the North Ozette beach.

But if you do want to know, then be assured: your body already knows this. And be well.

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