The Shaman Tree is the story of the Tillamook people seen through the eyes of Tuckwoca, a young Indian woman. The novel begins in 1788 with Tuckwoca’s spirit search and her marriage to Swohas, and ends with her death seventy years later. The portrayal of this one life shows the tribe’s intimate relationship with nature, taking only what they needed and nourishing the earth with what they didn’t use. The story reveals the culture and traditions of these native peoples who had no written language, and how the coming of the explorers changed their lives forever. As the medicine woman during those turbulent times, Tuckwoca seeks to heal her people physically as well as emotionally.
This imagined tale was written to enliven the relics and research of Tillamook history and customs. Hopefully, the next time you see a hummingbird you will pause and think of Tuckwoca and her people.
The Shaman Tree still grows on the headland overlooking the Pacific Ocean more than two hundred years after Tuckwoca searched for her guiding spirit. The woodland celebrity is living testimony to Sitka Spruce’s usual longevity of over five hundred years. Heavy stands grow in the narrow band of coastal forests that extend between Kodiak Island, Alaska, and Northern California. Now limbs of the misshapen tree sprawl haphazardly as much as twenty to thirty feet from the base. The diameter measures more than ten feet, and each of the six main branches is a foot or more thick. However, the name has been changed to the Octopus Tree in reference to the tentacle-like branches.
The land surrounding the aged tree is now an Oregon state park and the old spruce is protected by a rambling rail fence. The park and the cliff are named to honor John Mears, a British explorer and geographer who sailed the northwest Pacific Ocean in the late l700s. Cape Mears State Park is located about ten miles south of Tillamook on a well-marked paved road and is open all year. Cape Mears Lighthouse is within the park. On the headland where Tuckwoca had her vision, the federal government built a tower in l890 to guide ships at sea. The area is a favorite viewing place for bird watchers. Cape Mears National Wildlife Refuge protects the cliffs where many kinds of ocean birds nest. Just offshore, Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge is the site of Oregon’s largest seabird colonies.
The Tillamook name is well remembered because it identifies many features in northwestern Oregon, but the people and their culture are all but forgotten.
The author, JANE SANSREGRET, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and later moved to Champaign, Illinois, where she graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Floriculture. She moved to the Pacific Northwest after World War II and developed a deep interest in the beginnings of the Oregon Territory and its native inhabitants.
Jane was a garden writer for the Oregonian newspaper in Portland, Oregon, in the 1970s and 80s. In later years, and after much research, including working on an archeological dig, the idea for the book, The Shaman Tree, was born. A lifelong lover of words, Jane worked on her book until her death in 2011. With the help of Carla Perry from Dancing Moon Press, family members pursued publication, making Jane’s dream a reality. We hope you enjoy the book.
The Shaman Tree: A Tale of the Tillamook is available from the author’s family. Send an email to: TheShamanTree@gmail.com.