Monday, February 28, 2011

Music Man Pictures

Okay, I just had to post a few more pictures from Music Man. They don't follow any particular order; they simply represent a certain visual appeal for me. Generally, I take hundreds, if not thousands of photographs during a single CYT production. Most of them are too dark or blurry, but a certain percentage turn out just right.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


During yesterday's performance of Music Man, I recorded a low-quality sample of the song and dance: Shipoopi. CYT asked me to post a short video as a way to generate interest in the show. Tickets are still available.

You can see future performance dates and purchase tickets online by clicking HERE.

In this scene, Jacob Sok plays the part of Marcellus Washburn. He sings the opening lines of the song:

Well, the woman who'll kiss on the very first date
is usually a hussy.
And a woman who'll kiss on the second time out
is anything but fussy.
But a woman who waits 'til the third time around,
head in the clouds, feet on the ground!
She's the girl he's glad he's found-
She's his shipoopi.

After the show, I told Jacob his performance was 'adequate,' but I lied. Well, actually it was kind of a joke to help him keep a little humility. In all honesty, I loved his performance - I always do. And they always give him the best lines. Don't tell Jacob, but he's one of my favorite actors in all of CYT Spokane.

By the way, two of my children as dancers in this video. When everyone dances, look for Dakota toward the left side of the screen wearing the red quartet blazer. Whitney is one of the two little girls on the front row, right side. She's wearing a light blue dress with a blue bow in her hair.

Music Man

The Music Man "Professor" Harold Hill and Winthrop Paroo.  
Christian Youth Theater's production of Music Man opened Friday night at the Bing Crosby Theater in downtown Spokane. 

Music Man tells the story of con man "Professor" Harold Hill who starts a fake marching band in River City, Iowa in 1912. He convinces the local citizens that the band will prevent youth corruption and "keep the young ones moral after school," but Professor Hill has no real musical training. He uses a combination of flattery, evasion, and personal charisma to swindle the unsuspecting town's folk. His deception begins to unravel when local librarian Marian Paroo suspects a scam and in turn, Professor Hill falls in love with her.

My three children each have a role in the play, Dakota as quartet singer Jacey Squires, McKenna as Margie Parsons, and Whitney as the mayor's daughter Gracie Shinn.  

Show times are still available. Purchase tickets now by clicking HERE.

"Professor" Harold Hill and Marian Paroo.
Professor Hill convinced Eulalie Mackechnie Shinn to lead an interpretive dance.
When confronted by questions or doubts, Professor Hill turns on the flattery and charm. He nearly gets away with his scheme by convincing the citizens of River City that they possess some extraordinary talent.

Professor Hill sang "Marian the Librarian."

The finale of "Shipoopi."
My family will be singing the songs for many months to come. The music and choreography are phenomenal. It's amazing what these kids can do in just a few short weeks of rehearsal.  

The "Pick-a-Littles" wear really big hats from 1912.
The play is set in the American Midwest in 1912 when women wore extravagant dresses with large feather hats. CYT did an amazing job with the costumes by capturing the grandeur and elegance of the times.

The quartet sand "Good Night Ladies" with Dakota as Jacey Squires.
My son sang high tenor in the men's quartet. I'm always amazed at his talent. I'm especially amazed that he can still hit those high notes.

Whitney as "Gracie Shinn" accompanied by her stage parents Mayor Shinn and Eulalie Mackechnie Shinn.

The Shinn family sang "Wells Fargo Wagon."
Whitney took the stage during several of the large dance performances. The thing I love the most about watching Whitney is that she always stays in character and always maintains a high level of energy and stage presence.

McKenna wore a yellow dress as "Margie Parsons" while singing "Wells Fargo Wagon."

The quartet.

Tommy Djilas performed in the marching band at the beginning of the grand finale.
CYT's Music Man is a delightful show. If you haven't seen it, I encourage you to get your tickets now.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Close Call

My family lived through a harrowing experience this evening.

As my entire family drove home from the Bing Crosby Theater in downtown Spokane, we followed Monroe Street to the north side of town. A few blocks past Garland, I saw something moving on the street perhaps only 20 or 30 yards ahead. At first I thought it was an animal, but as we got closer, I realized it was a person lying on the road! I stopped the car and turned on my hazard lights. Then I got out of the car and shouted, "Are you okay?"   

A woman wearing all black - high heals, a short skirt, and a black coat - was struggling to stand, but repeatedly slipped on a solid sheet of ice and fell flat onto her back. She was crying and apologizing. "I'm sorry," she sobbed, "I got into a fight with my husband, and I was trying to walk home."

"Are you hurt?" I asked.

"I fell onto my back side," she said, "I think I've had a little too much to drink." The smell of alcohol and the slur of her speech confirmed her statement.

After checking that she didn't hit her head or sustain any serious injuries, I attempted to help her stand. Unfortunately, her feet continued to slip on the ice, even despite my support. At that point, Rhonda and Dakota came to help, and between the three of us, we lifted her to her feet and helped her back to the car. We drove several blocks and helped get her safely inside her home.

As we drove away, Rhonda and I were deeply shaken.

We realized that the woman could have easily died if circumstances were only slightly different. She was lying on the road, having fallen squarely in the path of my car, but she was wearing all black. She was also lying in the shadow of a large snow embankment, so it was especially difficult to see her. If she had not moved in that exact moment, I'm not 100 percent certain that I would have noticed in time. I shudder to think that we could have driven right over the top of her. Or if not us, somebody else could have hit her. Dozens of other cars passed in those few moments, many of them driving much faster than us on the compact snow and ice. No one else paused or even looked in our direction.

And even if she survived the cars, how long would she last as she lay there intoxicated and semi-conscious on a sheet of ice? The air temperature hovered around nine degrees with a significant wind chill. I'm not a medic, but I think hypothermia would happen fairly quickly under those conditions.

As we said our family prayer at the end of the evening, we gave thanks to God for helping that woman out of a potentially deadly situation. We also gave thanks for this gift of life. We realize now, more than ever, that life is fragile. We can lose everything in a split second, and yet here we are. I end this day with an overwhelming sense of humility and gratitude.

Snow Day

Rhonda woke me up at 6:00 this morning to say, "Spokane is closed for the day. More than a foot of snow fell overnight." Sure enough, everything closed: Spokane Public Schools, Mead Schools, Community Colleges of Spokane, Institute for Extended Learning, Eastern Washington University ... the list goes on and on.

In my mind, I was already gearing up for an early spring, but a snow day gives us a welcome break from the monotony of our daily routine.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fashion Show

The Institute for Extended Learning sponsors a yearly fashion show to highlight the proper way to dress during a job interview. But first, the faculty members take the stage in outfits that demonstrate how NOT to dress in a professional setting: sweats, pajamas, sports jerseys, black leather, etc. 

A few weeks ago, I was recruited to model my own "inappropriate" outfit.

When I took the runway this afternoon, I wore a black t-shirt and saggy jeans. I also wore my hair down, complete with a cigarette hanging from a bandanna headband. The announcer jokingly told the audience that I looked like I had just come in from work release at Geiger Correctional Facility. My colleagues got a good laugh at my expense, but I suppose it's all for a good cause.

Some asked if we can now put "super model" on our resumes.

Taking the runway was a nerve racking experience. When I agreed to model, I had no idea that 250 people would pack the house. Everyone cheered, so that made my task a little easier than expected.

After the faculty model the inappropriate interview attire, the students model the correct outfits. It's a great way for students to practice professionalism and to build their confidence.  

At the end of the event, the students receive a professional outfit that has been donated by the community. The IEL Fashion Show is a fun, educational event that also creates tremendous value for our students and the community. It makes me proud to work for such a great organization.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bow Making

As mentioned in my previous post, my mom and I attended a bow making workshop in Clark Fork, Idaho, sponsored by Twin Eagles Wilderness School.

Bow making might seem like a strange mother-son activity, but we share an interest in traditional skills. My mom has attended other workshops where she made traditional arrows with sinew, tree sap glue, and steam-straightened branches. She has also taken a class in flint-knapping. For my part, I am drawn to indigenous skills like plant medicine and pit cooking. Bow making just seemed like a natural way to connect while creating something unusual and worthwhile.    

The bow making workshop was led by a team of brothers, Tim and Dan Corcoran.

At the beginning of the session, Tim read an inspirational quote from the Traditional Bowyer's Bible:

“When two or more wood bowmen find themselves together, whatever conversation ensues is largely veneer. Their most important conversation is subterranean and wordless. It’s a shared sense of the bow’s mystery, of its ties to an ancient, authentic world, of quiet kinship. Become a woodbow man and you join a band of brothers stretching back in an unbroken line to your 500th grandfather. A time when, unlike our present competitive world, your life and the life of those close to you depended on the sharing of knowledge, goods, and danger. Become a woodbow man and you see that ancient spirit resurrected, other bowmen offering you their secrets, their help, even wood and tools. And maybe more surprising, you note that without calculation or conscious will you yourself becoming such a person too. If this evokes even a whiff of primal familiarity, then it’s entirely proper that you step at least tentatively onto that ancient path: make your first bow and see what happens.” 
I have to admit that the quote did stir something within me. How many generations ago did my ancestors use the bow as a primary means of survival? Considering that rifles did not become common among the Spokane until the mid-1800s, I imagine that I have a closer genetic tie to bow making than most European Americans.

The bows were made of hickory planks that were pre-cut to the approximate size and shape of a long bow. My mom was given one marked "elder" that was slightly thinner than the others, requiring less physical exertion in the later stages of bow making.

In this photograph, my mom is consulting with Dan regarding her bow.

As mentioned in another post, bow making requires a fair amount of focused attention and physical effort. We clamped the bows to a sturdy table or saw horse and then shaved away thin layers of wood using a variety of tools like rasps, knives, and cabinet scrapers. As we removed the wood, we had to constantly check to ensure that each limb of the bow maintained an equal amount of flexibility. If one limb bent more than the other, we would have to remove more wood from the stiffer limb. If a limb bent in the wrong place, we worked to correct the imbalance. The entire process requires constant attention to the smallest details.


At all stages of the process, Dan and Tim provided guidance and support.

I'm sad to say that I did not finish my bow. Even after two days, I had a few setbacks. First, I had to start over when we discovered that my original bow had several cracks. Then I used the wrong rasp for removing sufficient quantities of wood. At first, I was very disappointed, but then I realized that my commitment is simply extended beyond the weekend workshop.

My friends Graham and Ethan posed for this picture after the workshop. I'm not sure what Ethan was trying to communicate with the scowl. I think perhaps he must have felt a surge of  manliness after constructing an awesome bow.

Dan posed with two brothers who participated in the workshop. 

At the conclusion of the weekend, Tim and Dan gave the participants the opportunity to share parting words. After several others spoke, I said that I volunteered for the bow making workshop because it stretched me beyond my comfort zone. On many levels, this was not something I would normally do, and yet the more we stretch ourselves, the more whole we become as human beings.

In the end, Tim and Dan did more than offer a set of skills. They created a connection to our indigenous past and brought us closer to the traditional knowledge of our ancestors.


Allely, S., Baker, T., Comstock, P., Gardner, S., Hamm, J., Lotz, M., et al. (2008). The Traditional Bowyer's Bible, Volume Four. Guilford, CT: First Lyons Press.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Clark Fork

My mom and I spent the weekend in Clark Fork, Idaho to attend a bow making workshop sponsored by Twin Eagles Wilderness School. Bow making requires a fair amount of focused attention and physical effort, so I can't say that our time in Clark Fork was especially restful. However, the natural environment surrounding the workshop was spectacular. Pure white snow capped the mountain peaks and contrasted with the vibrant green trees of the lower valley. 

The beautiful surroundings deserve their own post.

I'll comment later on the bow making.  

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Winter Moon

I came home from work tonight and saw a fresh covering of snow on my street. Meanwhile, the moon cast a cold blue glow as the end of winter clings to the land.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The State of Education

Our dean at the IEL recently sent this video to all the faculty in our division. It certainly shows the institution of education in a new, though-provoking light.  This  video resonates deeply with me as an individual, and yet I'm at a loss for how to implement these ideas on an organizational level.

What do you think?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Company I

During the late 1800s, the United States embarked upon a misguided social experiment to "civilize" the Indian people by creating special military units comprised entirely of Indian recruits. Government officials hoped to solve what they called the "Indian problem," and expected that Indian soldiers would learn to live as whites under the discipline of military commanders.

At Ft. Spokane, the US Army recruited a handful of Spokane Indians under the direction of Captain George O. Webster, and named the unit "Company I."

My great great grandfather Steven Moses enlisted in "Company I" and was pictured above. The Indian members of the unit were (standing, left to right): Oliver Lott, Louie Peone, Peter Martin, Steven Moses, and Jesse Metou. (Sitting left to right): Jim Fry, Peter Joe, Que-pa, and Joe Roos.

Regarding the Indian recruits, Captain Webster once remarked, "I could talk to you for two hours upon this subject and then leave many interesting facts about the experiment untold. The men I have so far enlisted are from Chief Lot's tribe. At first they were very averse to enlisting as soldiers, but Chief Lot was anxious that his son should become a soldier and made him and a little band of his followers a speech in which he earnestly entreated them to join the army. Finally Lot's son consented and a number of young Indians present at once consented to follow.

"Lot speaks a little English, but the others understand hardly a word of the language and consequently we labor under great disadvantage in teaching them the military exercises."

Captain Webster later described the recruits as "exemplary and obedient in every respect," but historians would later disagree. In the book The Spokane Indians: Children of the Sun, authors Robert H. Ruby and John A. Brown wrote, "Official records show that most all, in turn, were AWOL, causing them to forfeit portions of their pay. A number deserted. The experiment was such a failure that the company of seventeen, twelve of whom were Spokanes, was discharged by special order on August 2, 1893."

Historians called the Indian company a failure, but in this case, failure is a good thing. It means that our ancestors retained their Indian identity in the face of extraordinary pressure to assimilate. Ultimately, their failure is our success as a people.


Our Redskin Recruits. (1891, November 27). Spokane Daily Chronicle.

Peltier, J. (1981, January). A Brief Historical Sketch of Fort Spokane. The Rawhide Press , p. 18.

Ruby, R. H., & Brown, J. A. (2006). The Spokane Indians: Children of the Sun. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Shooting of Jacob Dalager

As mentioned in the previous blog post, I am descended from Mathias Ferslev Dalager through his daughter Caroline. Mathias was born in Greenland and was the son of the Danish merchant C.C. Dalager and an Inuit woman named Juliane Marie. Mathias studied art in Copenhagen and later settled in Trondheim, Norway.

Many of the Dalager family remain in Greenland to this day.

In the course of my research, I discovered a most unusual and tragic account regarding my ancestor Juliane. Her son Jacob became "bewitched" or possessed of a spirit that demanded his death. Otherwise, Jacob would ultimately kill his family and devour his own children. Under the direction of the bewitching spirit, Juliane shot her son through the heart and killed him. The terrible ordeal was first recorded by Greenland historian Fin Gad and later quoted on a genealogy page written in Danish or Norwegian.

The experience was also quoted extensively in the book "Mental Disorders of Greenland."  

"The 'Dalager murder' of 1805 took a different course. Jacob Dalager, the son of the late Danish merchant C.C. Dalager and a Greenlander by the name of Juliane, was taken ill with a fever and violent pains in his head, and after a few days he became severely confused. He had the idea that he ought to die, for otherwise he would kill all his family and eat his children. He had been told this in a dream, and the sign was to be that he started eating his own tongue. He first asked his family to nail him into a large barrel, but on his way to the barrel he fled back to the house, where he fell into convulsions, during which he bit off a piece of his tongue; this was seen as a sign that his prediction was correct. He asked his family to kill him. His mother fetched the gun and put it on his brother’s lap, so that it was pointed towards him. She put some priming on it, after which it went off without anyone knowing how. It did not kill him, but he whispered to them asking them to shoot him again and now personally made sure the gun was pointing towards his heart. His mother then pulled the trigger, and he died on the spot.

"…During the investigations, both the inspector for North Greenland and the local missionary were far more understanding. The mother expressed the conviction that God had commanded her to kill her son through the son’s own words to her. She was afterwards very much in doubt as to whether the son was safely in heaven, and whether it was a sin she had committed. The missionary refrained from adopting an attitude, and he managed to comfort her" (Gad 1974: 165-171).

This account fascinates me on many levels. The story is tragically sad, but it also shows a blend of colonialism and indigenous thinking. What were the underlying spiritual beliefs that created and supported this experience? What personal or family events led up to Jacob's illness? Were there no doctors or spiritual healers to lend assistance to Jacob and his family? How did this event affect future generations of the family? Does anyone in Greenland today still practice indigenous forms of spirituality? Who can understand this event from an Inuit perspective?

As often occurs in family history research, we are left with more questions than answers.


Lynge, I. (1997). Mental Disorders in Greenland, Past and Present. Meddelelser om Gronland: Man & Society , 16-17.

Caroline Dalager

Recently I have been in communication by email with two distant relatives in Norway (Terje Ofstad and Lars Ofstad) regarding our common ancestor Mathias Ferslev Dalager. Terje sent this copy of the "klokkerbok," a corrected duplicate church book from Orkdal, Norway. The book recorded the birth of my ancestor Caroline Dalager on March 24, 1823.

The father's name was originally written as Captain Stabel, but later corrected to Captain Dalager. When I asked about the apparent change, Lars responded that it was common to keep two books, and that changes were sometimes added if more reliable information became available. He believes that this birth record proves beyond doubt that Captain Mathias Dalager was indeed the father of my ancestor Caroline Dalager. I agree with Lars, and I now fully accept that my ancestry stretches back from Norway to western Greenland, just as I suggested some time ago here.

Much of my initial confusion probably stems from the fact that Caroline Dalager was born out of wedlock. According to Lars, children born under those circumstances in early Norway often lacked clear church records.

Sunday, February 06, 2011


I've watched this short clip from Survival International more than a dozen times, and I still find myself haunted by the images of the "uncontacted" people of the Amazon. When I look into their faces, I see a shadow of my own family. After all, the tribes living along the Spokane River were "contacted" by Europeans only 200 years ago, hardly a blink within our 11,000 year history. And yet these last two centuries have produced some of the most radical changes imaginable. Catastrophic disease, warfare, and forced assimilation have forever altered the fabric of our culture, and it's difficult to know what has been lost.

Perhaps in some ways, the "uncontacted" people of the Amazon are standing where my ancestors stood 200 years ago. If history provides a model, it's overwhelming, terrifying even, to imagine what changes they may encounter if the outside world finally succeeds in pushing through. I agree with Survival International when they say that "uncontacted" peoples should be free to choose the conditions and the timing of meeting the outside world.

A statement from their website is worth repeating:

"The 'development' of tribal peoples against their wishes - really to let others get their land and resources - is rooted in 19th century colonialism ('We know best') dressed up in 20th century 'politically correct' euphemism. Tribal peoples are not backward: they are independent and vibrant societies which, like all of us always, are constantly adapting to a changing world. The main difference between tribal peoples and us is that we take their land and resources, and believe the dishonest, even racist claim that it's for their own good. It's conquest, not development."

Survival International 

Saturday, February 05, 2011


Since the beginning of the week, I dropped off the blogosphere because of a triple-whammy illness. The doctor diagnosed a sinus infection and bronchitis, which would have provided sufficient misery on their own, but I also suspect strep throat. A couple nights ago, I woke up with a searing pain in my throat, like razor blades cutting into my flesh. Simple things like breathing, speaking, or swallowing became major ordeals.  

Lately I've able to catch these things before they get too serious, but this time I got bulldozed.


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