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New book helps preserve Mt. Rainier’s cultural past

PULLMAN — WSU Press has announced the release of a new book, Takhoma: Ethnography of Mount Rainier National Park.

The imposing volcanic tower had kept its secrets for eons, but in 1963, Washington State University anthropologists partnered with the National Park Service to investigate the pre-history of Mount Rainier National Park. The research team conducted an exhaustive search of pre-existing reports and literature, completed a preliminary physical survey by hiking up the mountain’s river corridors to the sub-alpine level, and combined those results with an ethnographic field study of neighboring aboriginal tribes. It was an important first step toward unraveling the area’s cultural past. Now, four decades later, the two organizations have again cooperated to publish participant Allan H. Smith’s report as Takhoma, making his collected data and analysis accessible to the general public.

Smith’s goals in the initial prestudy, which is often undertaken prior to beginning archaeological field work, were to help uncover potential sites for excavation, assist with the meaningful interpretation of materials that might eventually be unearthed, help demonstrate what could be accomplished through longer-term ethnographic research, and finally, test the hypothesis that native land use patterns were extensive, even when the terrain was rugged and remote. Tribal usage of the park expanse by the Yakima, Taidnapaum, Nisqually, Puyallup and Muckleshoot was explored, yielding details on place names, boundaries, village sites and structures, food gathering locations and practices, trails and more.

Available in paperback, Takhoma is 6″ x 9″, 208 pages, and has a list price of $22.95. It is available at bookstores or can be ordered directly plus shipping from WSU Press by calling 800-354-7360 or online at

Washington State University Press is associated with Washington State University and is located in Pullman, Washington. WSU Press publishes scholarly books with a cultural or historical relationship to the Pacific Northwest.

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