Rustication in the Wallowa

I have a piece in the current Oregon Humanities Magazine on tourism in the Wallowa–intertwined with the Nez Perce story. It’s called “Rustication and Return.” One of their editors helped with the title, but the word, “Rustication,” was given to me by David Weaver of the Wallowa History Center.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the gentry from nearby towns in Eastern Oregon often came to Wallowa Lake to rusticate, to camp in wall tents–they could bring their own or rent one already set up, to swim, fish, cook outside, and so rusticate away from their more modern homes.

The Nez Perce place in all this weaves with the national attitudes towards Indians and local friendship, hostility, and commerce. The town was named Joseph just a few years after Joseph and his people were forced out. Old Joseph’s remains were interred at Wallowa Lake–after his original burial place was ransacked–at a big ceremony in 1926 that Weaver says was promoted out of some concern–and also some conviction that the Nez Perce story was already good for tourism in the valley. And the rodeo is Chief Joseph Days, etc.

Today, some people from Idaho move here for our fine health care system and arts scene, while some people here want to join the state of Idaho. (And remember that just a couple of years ago Idaho governor Brad Little wanted to claim Chief Joseph as an Idaho native…)

We live in confusing times, but maybe it’s always been somewhat that way. Here’s the link to Oregon Humanities Magazine and my “Rustication and Return” story. Enjoy!

1 Comment

  1. Be sure to click through to the full article. A wonderful piece of writing and reflection.

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