Wade and Patrick Greene / Makah from Neah, Washington
The tiny Makah reservation is located up on one of the prettiest, most remote corners of the continental U.S. It sits out on the tip of land in Washington State that reaches further west and north than any other point in the lower 48. The coasts are rocky, the sea a shining expanse, and the land rough and beautiful.
Mary Greene’s house, where we met Patrick and Wade, is literally a stone's throw from the Pacific Ocean. Wade and Patrick laugh a lot. Patrick is the older of the two and was born in 1953. He and his wife, Nikki, have four children. Wade is Patrick’s nephew. He was gone from the reservation for many years but returned and embraced the culture totally.
Wade is the main composer of songs for the family. The songs, he says, just come to him from some unknown source. When asked what he would like people to know about his culture, Wade just said “Everything!” and that “there is nothing in this universe that compares to native culture.”Patrick went to school at the State Patrol Academy but is currently a fisherman and commercial diver.
The Makah Reservation is 47 square miles of coastal land at the farthest northwest tip of the lower United States and includes Neah Bay, an ancient port. The reservation still contains four of the five original villages of the Makah people. The Makah Tribe is the only tribe of the Wakashan language group in the United States.
As early as the 1700’s, this point of land was a busy place. The coastal waters drew ships from Spain, Britain, Russia and later, the Americans. The Hudson Bay Company turned an area once scattered with numerous tribes into a major trading center. This contact with outsiders altered the economic structure of the many native tribes that lived there from that of subsistence living to trading and commerce with others.
The Makah were sophisticated fishermen, hunting the whale and other large marine animals in slick canoes designed to take a battering from sea or beast.
Listen to a sample of the show here