365 Days of Earrings

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Whales and Whaling Ships

I wore this amazing pair of Jabebo earrings honor of whales. Many of the Northwestern American cultures we're studying in 3rd grade Social Studies took to the sea in small boats to hunt for whales. Small boats, not at all like the multi-masted sailing vessels of the 18th century Massachusetts whaling industry--like the ship in a bottle on my other earring. 

Small wooden boats, powered by human paddlers. My students and I marveled at the ability of native peoples to survive in harsh climates, hunting animals that were much larger and stronger than they. 

During recess this morning, one of my colleagues spied my other earring and said, "Ships for Columbus Day?"
I'd forgotten that October 12th was the day that Columbus set foot in the New World. And I wouldn't have worn this ship to represent the Nina, the Pinta, or the Santa Maria--it's way too large.

To my way of thinking, Columbus and his crew were just as brave as those Tlingit whalers, when they boarded these tiny sailing vessels for a cross-Atlantic voyage. Today we tend to focus on the disease, cruelty, and destruction that Columbus left in his wake. But I admire his bravery and determination as much as I did when I learned about Columbus as a small child.

This afternoon, my students began to draw their designs on the spirit shields that have been drying since Friday. This Haida drum is one of the designs that I shared to inspire them.

The children's images are pretty amazing, too!

1 comment:

Beth O said...

I'm reading Michener's "Alaska" right now. He paints word pictures of those whale expeditions. And have you ever seen the drum that I have hanging in our den? It's very similar to your picture. Marianne had it made for me in Metlakatla. But mine has he salmon on it.