Apologies–and Resilience Through Writing

I have had this book, Resilience Through Writing: A Bibliographic Guide to Indigenous-Authored Publications in the Pacific Northwest before 1960, on my desk for over a year! It was sent to me by its editor, Darby C. Stapp, a publication of the Journal of Northwest Anthropology, with which he has long been associated.

I remember when I got it, opening to a random page and reading—and writing immediately to Darby Stapp that it was like reading a novel. I put it on a back shelf, thinking that I would sit down and do a thorough examination of the text and write a real review. That didn’t happen. Opening it now, I remember why. There is too much!

I stumble on to Ralph Armstrong, “born to a Nez Perce mother and Delaware father,” I find that he recorded songs for Edward Sheriff Curtis in 1909, and wrote letters to the Enterprise Record Chieftain in the 1920s and 30s, and wrote pieces on religion and healing practices collected by the anthropologist Ella Clark in the Oregon Historical Quarterly. I go to find that reference on our shelf, and we are missing the Spring 1952 Quarterly, but right next to the hole is the 1953 Spring Quarterly, with another piece by Clark on “The Mythology of the Indians of the Pacific Northwest.” There, in Alvin Josephy’s distinct penciling, are side notes on “creation,” “fire,” and ”flood.”

Which could send me back to Alvin’s big Nez Perce book to see how he used that research. But that would lead to another chain of inquiry, and while I am looking at this book, the Bibliography, I decide to go to McWhorter, because we just had the donation of Adventures in Geiser Land, a 1935 publication of the 1878 edition of Frank D. Carpenter’s account of being captured by the Nez Perce while camping in Yellowstone Park as the Tribe was moving to evade General Howard. McWhorter co-edited this edition, with Heister Dean Guie (and where have I recently seen that name?), and he signed it! I stopped long enough to see that this book in better condition is available online for $125. I wonder if that copy is signed by McWhorter?

Not wondering long, I find McWhorter’s editing of Mourning Dove’s novel, Cogowea, published in 1927. Compiler Robert Walls gives a summary of the novel, and a fascinating brief biography of Mourning Dove, with stories of political activism and her plans to write more of Father DeSmet and a history of the Okanogan Valley. Of Cogowea, Wells writes that it is “one of the earliest novels written by a Native American woman in North America, and is now considered foundational to indigenous writing on the continent.”

I’ve just taken a deep breath. I have a budget to develop and a tribal research application to fill out for our Ethno-Earth-Sciences project. And I still have pieces to pull together for the upcoming exhibit on “Native Sport.”

But I wanted—no needed—to get the news of this marvelous new resource on Northwest Indian history and culture out there. Historians, novelists, poets, tribal members tracing family stories—you need to look in this book, Resilience Through Writing: A Bibliographic Guide to Indigenous-Authored Publications in the Pacific Northwest before 1960.

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