Saturday/ the Tlingit whale

Here is a Tlingit whale carved into stone by the artist Ron White.

I ran some errands in downtown Seattle on Friday, and stepped on a Seattle City Light manhole cover (below) as I waited for the traffic light to change. Ok, I thought : I recog- nize this American Indian style of art, but I’ll be darned if I can figure out of this is an eagle or a bear or .. what? Turns out it’s a Tlingit whale.

[From Wikipedia] The Tlingit are an indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. Their name for themselves is Lingít, meaning “People of the Tides”. They are actually not whale hunters. Delineating the modern territory of the Tlingit is complicated because they are spread across the border between the United States and Canada, they lack designated reservations, other complex legal and political concerns make the situation confusing, and there is a relatively high level of mobility among the population.

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.. so let’s see if we can figure this picture out. Looks to me as if the tail is right above ‘Seattle’ and then clockwise around from it, is the head and the jaws of the whale. These hatch covers have been around for awhile. Artist Nathan Jackson was commissioned in 1976, and produced a Tlingit whale relief, originally carved in wood and later cast in iron. Thirty-two of these were made.


2 Replies to “Saturday/ the Tlingit whale”

    1. I’m not sure now, since it’s been awhile since I took the picture. Best I remember it is on the corner of Fifth Ave and Madison/ Marion/ Columbia .. one of those.

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