Thursday, May 19, 2005

Subjects of Northwest Native American Art Returning To Mt St Helen

Mt. St. Helens erupted 25 years ago which resulted in the devastating volcano blast killing 57 people and an overwhelming amount of plant and animal life. Many of these animals were significant in the region's Northwest Native American art. As the blast destroyed everything in its path, it also carried seedlings from the south side which landed and began to grow over time. More seeds continued to arrive via animals returning to the area. Today, the once-barren landscape is scattered with green and diverse wildlife in a much different habitat than before. "There was nothing out here. It's easy to forget it was like that," said Peter Frenzen, scientist for the U.S. Forest Service. "The next forest is essentially here. We just have to wait for it all to grow up."

Different trees are growing in the blast zone and about 130 new ponds have been created providing a new habitat for amphibian life. Larger animals such as elk, bears and mountain goats have returned. Bears are especially significant since the Northwest Native Americans connect the bear to the land (see the article Northwest Native American Art Bear). About 70 species of bird have also been drawn into the new habitat. This includes hummingbirds, another popular subject of Northwest Native American Art (see the hummingbird carving in Free Spirit Gallery eCards).

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