Tatoosh Island is owned by the Makah Native American Tribe. Cape Flattery Lighthouse which is located at the top of Tatoosh Island was built in 1857, and is now maintained by the Coast Guard. For many years during and after the Lighthouse was built on the Island there was strife between the Makah's and the Lighthouse Service.
|When John Merrill COWAN became Head Keeper of Cape Flattery, good relations insued. The Makah's and the COWANS became good friends. Mrs. Mary Emily Mosher COWAN became midwife to many of the Makah Woman. During the Summer months when the COWAN children were home from going to school in Portland, OR. the Makah Children became their playmates, as my grandfather, Alvah Gregorgy COWAN would say.|
One story my grandfather would tell us from time to time was when he and a Makah Indian boy would go swimming in the pools near the Island. There was always a Makah Woman at the top of the Island watching the children swim. One day as they were swimming, my grandfather noticed a shark coming in where they were at, he was so frightened he lost his voice, and couldn't warn the Makah Indian boy. The Woman up on top of the Island saw what was happening and yelled down at the boy. He turned just in time to be missed by the shark.
I have learned many things about what life was like on Tatoosh Island from what my grandfather has told me and from an interview I had with an old playmate of my Grandfather named Helen Peterson, both now are deceased. I have copies of the Lighthouse logs for Cape Flattery Lighthouse which also tells many stories.
When John Merrill COWAN retired at the age of 70 from the Lighthouse Service he became a blood brother of the Makah Tribe. Over the years of the COWANS being on the Island, the Makah's would give them many Native American Artifacts which they hand made. Such as: pottery, grass skirts, canoes, baskets... etc. All of these have been handed down to each of the COWAN children, including my grandfather. I personally have a bow that was made by the Makah's.