Friday, October 26, 2012

10 Facts from Betty Goerke's Choris Lecture

If you were unable to join us last night at the Betty Goerke lecture Louis Choris: Views of Native Life at Mission Dolores and San Francisco Presidio in 1816 then you missed out, so we would like to share 10 fun facts from the lecture:
  1. Choris is one of three people to have documented the native people of the Bay Area. Not only did he produce the most images of native life, but they are also the most accurate.
  2. Clam shell necklaces were the original Mission Dolores"bling". Wearing one indicated status and wealth.
  3. How one wore their hair communicated to others many things, including gender (men wore top knots, ponytails at the crown of the head) or marital status (widows and widowers cut their hair short and wore it down).
  4. Poison oak was used in many native traditions. One of which involved a young woman's grandmother carving a pattern into her face and rubbing poison oak into the wounds, tattooing her. This signaled to others that she had achieved marriageable age.
  5. How did the natives deal with poison oak? Possibly by rubbing either dirt or banana slug mucus on the irritated area. Maybe both (dirt to absorb the oil of the poison oak and the slug slime to act as an anesthetic.)
  6. Choris was not only a talented artist, but a musician as well. Thanks to his documentation, songs which were described as "melancholy" still survive today.
  7. While Choris was very talented, when he tried his hand at lithography he just wasn't very good at it. The Didot printing firm produced Voyage Pittoresque Autour du Monde, Choris supervised the process.
  8. Betty Goerke makes a strong case that Marin county is named after Chief Marin.
  9. Betty has met "Ötzi the Iceman" and explained that his tattoos were in locations where he likely suffered from arthritis. 
  10. Betty Goerke was this year's Milley award recipient for literary arts.

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