Take it away, Rosanne!
When the Makah signed their treaty with the US they gave up 300,000 acres of timber in order to secure the right to hunt whales in their accustomed waters. But following the First World War, industrial whaling decimated gray and humpbacked whales all along the Pacific coast. The Makah will not hunt an endangered resource, so even though the whaling was their entire economy and the cornerstone of their spiritual life, they gave it up. They story of how you go on being the people you are when the thing that so defines you is gone, is a cultural survival story that I think will speak to many people beyond Native American communities.
Beyond that I chose the year 1923 because it is a year before Native Americans were given American citizenship. Even after thousands of Indians from nearly every tribe fought in World War I, they were not allowed to vote. Everyone knows women gained the vote in 1920, but most people don't know that Indian's were denied the vote until 1924.
By great coincidence, three other authors from Portland also have books out this year set in the 1920s. If you enjoy this era you might also enjoy:
Whistle in the Dark by Susan Hill Long
Born of Illusion by Teri Brown
In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
Thank you, Rosanne. The Makah tribe regained their whaling rights in 1999 when numbers of gray whales increased in Pacific Coastal waters.
On a related subject, did you see the photos of the world’s rarest whale sighted several weeks ago near Victoria, B.C.? Scientists believe only 500 right whales remain and the last confirmed sighting of one in Pacific Canadian waters was in 1951. Check out the photos and story here, and let me know what you think.