by Karen Polinsky
Publication date: May 2017
Spanning the latter half of the nineteenth century, this coming-of-age novel unfolds in the form of a historian’s notebook. Protagonist and narrator Millie Langlie (daughter of a S’Klallam maiden and a Norwegian mariner) is an adventurous girl with a curious mind. Guided by the gift of a pair of silver fish earrings, she unearths an anomalous Indian-on-Indian massacre and confronts her mother’s secret love affair. Journeying from the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Port Townsend and back again, Millie discovers how knowledge of the past can teach us to love, forgive, and forge a new path.
Why we signed Dungeness . . .
True Native American tale of the Northwest. Influence of the white traders and settlers. We like the resilience of the protagonist and her family.
From the Author . . .
The forest and peaks and straits of the Olympic Peninsula are majestic and magical. The misty moss seems to curtain a hidden reality. The three bands of S’Klallam are insightful interpreters of this unique world. Mary Ann Lambert has shared the voice of her people with us by writing down their stories. There are other primary sources available to us, all of them fairly obscure. Delving into this research, I created Millie Langlie (inspired by S’Klallam historian Mary Ann Lambert’s example) as a guide to the past for modern readers at the high school level and above. Today, many of us cope with more than one ethnic identity. Many of us find ourselves trapped between contradictory worldviews. Things are never quite what they seem. Can we allow our curiosity to take us behind the misty green curtain?
About the Author . . .
Karen Polinsky is a high school English teacher and writer from Bainbridge Island, Washington. Twenty years ago she drove to the Pacific Northwest from Boston with her three children in a beat-up Toyota station wagon. Not long after, she encountered the nineteenth century S’Klallam historian Mary Ann Lambert in a book of primary documents gifted to her by the director of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Cultural Resources. Her fascination with Lambert, a woman-of-vision, eventually turned into, Dungeness, a revisionist-history coming-of-age novel inspired by her life. Also a playwright, she has had a half-dozen one-acts produced on Bainbridge Island and in Seattle, and has written scripts for two short films. Polinsky was recognized with the Patsy Collins Award for Environmental Educators in 2012.