Thursday, August 11, 2005

What Lies Beneath... Or Not

Oregon's quarter came out this year, and I've finally had a chance to look at it, even spend it. I'm still disappointed.

Like most Oregonians surveyed, I wanted this design to be chosen:
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But Governor Kulongoski went with this one:

He said this about the process of choosing a quarter design: "This is a unique opportunity for Oregon," said Edwards. "Our quarter will communicate to the nation and the world our values and Oregon´s natural beauty."

I think this one falls short.

I have to admit, in it's final minted form it's a rather pretty design:
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But despite my love for Crater Lake, it really doesn't convey the significance of the Oregon Trail design. The Oregon Trail was the single most defining event in the history of this state, and indeed, one of the most important events in the history of the NATION. It's that significant.

The rationale behind Kulongoski's decision was at least in part a desire to avoid upsetting Native American groups. And while I understand that the colonization and settling of this continent by Europeans is a sore issue for First Peoples, pretending it didn't happen isn't going to make things any better for anyone. There's more to this state than pretty scenery. There's history here, there are stories to be told.

In a way, the image on the quarter itself suffers from the same lack of depth in portraying Crater Lake as it does in portraying the depth of this state. You see a shiny, flat surface to the lake. What it doesn't -- indeed what it CAN'T portray, is the fact that Crater Lake, at over 1,400 feet, is the deepest fresh water in North America. It's also some of the cleanest, clearest, bluest water anywhere in the world.

So come visit this state. When you do, go see Crater Lake -- it's worth the trip, and the quarter doesn't do it justice. The sight will take your breath away.

And while you're at it, see the rest of the state too. Take in all the beauty about which I've blogged. Visit Fort Clatsop, where Lewis and Clark spent their Pacific winter. Visit the Oregon Trail museums (we have 2), and the Brownsville Pioneer Museum. learn about our culture, our history, as well as our scenery. The quarter doesn't do them justice either.

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