With all of the fear and uncertainty of recent weeks, we had a blessing fall into our laps. We had commissioned a video account of our Main Street sculpture project last summer, and we now have the completed 4-minute video.Read Rich’s Post →
First off, thank you for reading my blog posts, coming to Brown Bag programs, stopping by to talk about books, Indians, treaties, wild foods, dams, fish, art, and the state of the world.
It’s been a fine year at the Josephy Center: wonderful exhibits featuring “Women on the Edge,“ “Art and Words of the Lostine,” “The Wallowas in Historical Photos,” and “Nez Perce Music.” The Josephy Center took on and managed the annual Wallowa Valley Arts Festival to great applause. The clay studio hums, and we teach special art classes for the Joseph school along with regular Friday student classes. For those of you in blog land, do visit the web site—josephy.org—and take in some of our shows and events when you come to town. Or click on https://josephy.org/video-audio/ to see or listen to some of the Brown Bag programs, exhibit openings, and goings on here at the Center.
My role at the Center is to run the Josephy Library and take the lead in Indian programming. It’s been a good year: a couple of small grants and two hard-working volunteers have caught us up with cataloging—check https://sagelib.org to see our holdings, and to begin making the non-book holdings accessible to the world. Our “Nez Perce Ephemera” and “Manuscript” holdings will soon be visible online.
|She “Returned from a hard journey”– ‘etweyé·wise
But the biggest triumph—and the most rewarding event I have been involved with for many years, was the installation of ‘etweyé·wise, the story of Nez Perce return told in bronze and granite by Nez Perce artist Doug Hyde. At the installation of the first sculpture by a tribal artist on Joseph’s Main Street, we had drummers from Lapwai and Umatilla, singers and speakers from Nespelem. There were tears as Joseph Band descendants talked about this “homeland” and a long-ago Chief Joseph Rodeo queen unwrapped a mortar and pestle, found and held by her white family, and returned it to the Nez Perce. Then we—tribal people, local people, and curious visitors from everywhere—sat down and ate salmon together.
Things have changed in the Wallowa Country—on the installation of the sculpture, the Wallowa County Chieftain editorialized “Welcome Home.” There’s a Nez Perce art show coming in January (Opening January 5, 2:00—4:00 pm, with Kevin Peters, John Seven Wilson, Carla Timentwa and more) and another series of talks by elders in the spring. The Josephy Center is one of many organizational and individual partnerships expressing new relationships with descendants of the Nez Perce who long called this place home.
In this season of gift giving, when the family and good cause demands on you are many, think about a gift to the Josephy Center and its Library so that we can continue this good work.
(You can send a check to PO Box 949/ Joseph, Oregon 97846, or donate through the web site at https://josephy.org/donate/ )
I thank you for your support, and wish you all the best in the coming year.
Here’s a holiday book recommendation—a gift to yourself and then to pass on to others: The Beadworkers, by Beth Piatote.
|Cover art is beadwork
by artist Marcus Amerman
I got an early copy weeks ago, and sped through the poems and stories quickly, but for some reason stopped at the play that ends the collection. This morning I read it in a sitting, and wondered why I had left it so long.
“neti’telwit / human beings” gathers the stories of Indian Wars, of legal and physical mistreatment of Indians, loss and recapture of language; competing notions of getting along in the American world and hanging onto traditions and meanings passed on by elders; the interrelationships of museum and tribal holdings, family and communal pasts. And it weaves and works the script—present and past, now and hereafter—with the loom built in Antigone, by the Greek tragedian Sophocles. It’s a tour de force that holds up the tragedies, disappointments, complexities and the hopes of Indian America, then turns them deftly for our consideration–and importantly allows us, the readers, no easy answers.
Beth Piatote came to Fishtrap almost 20 years ago. We honored Indians that year, calling it “Circling Back.” One of the guests was Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock journalist from Idaho with a long history of work for tribal and mainstream newspapers. He brought Beth along—my recollection is that their history went back to southern Idaho, where Beth grew up.
She was working on a multi-generational novel at the time, and teaching at the University of Oregon in journalism and, maybe, Indian studies. We loved her writing, and invited her to be a writer in residence at our local schools. She did, and we loved her more. But then she went back and went on with her life, almost out of our reach and thoughts.
But she came back. Somehow a couple of years ago I found her teaching and writing at UC Berkeley. She was learning the Nez Perce language and making contact with Nez Perce elders at Nespelem, where she was enrolled, but had not grown up. A short time after that she told me how she had brought Nez Perce language elders from Nespelem, Lapwai, and Umatilla to Berkeley, where they met with Haruo Aoki, compiler of the acknowledged Nez Perce-English dictionary.
This summer, as we readied Nez Perce artist Doug Hyde’s sculpture for the Josephy Center courtyard, I reached out to Beth and those language elders. Beth brought Aoki himself into the conversation, and together they named the Doug Hyde sculpture. They named it ‘etweyé·wise—“I return from a hard journey.”
Beth came back to Fishtrap this summer to read and teach, and struck a new cohort of Fishtrap faculty and attendees as she had struck us those years ago. (She’s already invited back for this summer.)
And then The Beadworkers came in the mail.
By the way, don’t skip the poems and stories on the way to neti’telwit / human beings.
Like many Natives, Doug Hyde was born off-reservation, is of mixed tribal descent, and is a veteran of the Vietnam War. Unlike most, but still a significant number of talented Native artists, Doug was sent from his reservation to the Indian Art School at Santa Fe as a young man. It was there, between growing up on the Nez Perce Reservation at Lapwai, Idaho and serving in Vietnam, that his training as an artist began, and there that he later returned to teach.
Doug is in his 70s now, a mature artist with a large body of work in galleries, museums, and on reservations across the country. But he has no intention of leaving the work and world of a Native artist.
|Nez Perce Tribal exec Ferris Paisano III and artist Doug Hyde
A recent sculpture project brought Doug and his work, ‘etweyé·wise—“The Return,” to the Josephy Center this June. The project began with a grant to the Oregon Community Foundation. We said that Joseph’s bronze streetscape boasted 11 sculptures, four of them depicting Indians; none was the work of an Indian artist. We got the grant, and Doug got the job. And “Return” was his idea, a telling in stone and bronze of Nez Perce removal in 1877 and their gradual and growing presence in the Wallowa Homeland today.
On June 22 there were powwow drums from
|walwa’ma band from Nespelem sang old songs from Wallowas
Lapwai and Umatilla, and a bell and songs of the walwa’ma band—Joseph’s band—from Nespelem, Washington. There was salmon and there was friendship, a coming together of Tribal people—who were often related but now living far apart—and of local people in this new Wallowa Country where, we hope, we
shall all be alike – brothers of one father and one mother, with one sky above us and one country around us, and one government for all. Then the Great Spirit Chief who rules above will smile upon this land, and send rain to wash out the bloody spots made by brothers’ hands from the face of the earth.
Those are words of Chief Joseph, of course, and in the ceremony dedicating Doug Hyde’s sculpture and in talking with him afterwards they came back to me. Doug could easily retire and be satisfied with a fine and large body of work, but he has no intention of doing that. Art is what he does; artist is what he is. And there is work to do. More healing to do in Indian country; more Indian stories to tell to non-Indians and to the young Indians who are stepping into elders’ shoes.
|Nez Pece woman returns
There is something in the stone and bronze, and in the rounded forms that characterize Hyde’s sculpture, that says healing. My mentor, Alvin Josephy, said that the Anglo-colonists who came here conquered by dividing, tribe from tribe across the continent. And then the dividing and cutting continued—cutting hair, cutting language and culture, dividing children from parents with boarding schools, tribes from roots with missionary work.
Doug’s full-figured Nez Perce woman, dressed traditionally, walks back confidently to the granite block of Wallowa mountains where the empty space shows her long ago removal. She’s a woman, as Tamastslikt director Bobbie Conner pointed out, another powerful symbol of healing and wellness in a public sculpture world long dominated by men on horses with tools of war.
Doug lost words when describing a work he has in mind, something round and coming together—and his arms waved and body turned—that would show healing of old Tribal divisions—something I will see one day articulated in stone or bronze.
Qe’ci’yew’yew’ –Thank you Doug Hyde. And good work to you.
On Saturday, June 22, 2019, we dedicated a new sculpture at the Josephy Center on Main Street in Joseph, Oregon. Two years of preparation and the artisanship of Doug Hyde gave us a work he calls ‘etweyé·wise—which is an old word meaning “I return from a hard journey” in the Nez Perce language.
|Sculptor Doug Hyde and the Returning Nez Perce Woman
The walwa’ma band of the Nez Perce was forced out of this country in 1877, leading to a war in which the Indians fended off government armies for almost 1400 miles through some of the most rugged country in the West. They were within 40 miles of Canada when the armies caught the cold and hungry people. A promised return to the West became eight years in exile in Kansas and Indian Territory—what the Nez Perce still call the “hot country.”
The Nez Perce War survivors were allowed to return to the West in 1885, but not to the Wallowa Valley. Some went to Lapwai in Idaho, others, including Joseph and his close followers, went to the Colville Reservation in Washington, where descendants remain in exile today. Other descendants are scattered on the Umatilla Reservation in Oregon, at Lapwai in Idaho, in Canada, and on reservations and towns and cities across the country.
Artist Doug Hyde is of Nez Perce, Assiniboine, and Chippewa descent. He grew up in Oregon and in Idaho and studied and eventually taught at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, and now lives in Arizona. His “Chief Joseph” is at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. and the Clearwater Casino in Idaho. Doug has worked and is working with many tribes to tell tribal stories in art.
On the dedication day we had big drums and tribal members from Lapwai and Umatilla, and others from the Colville Reservation in Washington. They–the walwa’ma band descendants, sang and prayed to open the dedication ceremony, the big drums played, there were speeches and tears–a local women, a Chief Joseph Days rodeo queen from 1952, came with a small object wrapped in cloth which she wanted to return to tribal members. It was a mortar found somewhere along the Snake River years ago. She thought it rightfully belonged to the Nez Perce people. And then, as is customary in Indian country, we shared a meal, including salmon of course.
As we ate salmon and watermelon and enjoyed each other’s company, people–native and non-native–went to stand by the bronze Nez Perce woman and have their pictures taken, or stood back from the granite slab where her cutout welcomes her home to get their own image of ‘etweyé·wise, this return from a hard journey.
Please, if you are in the territory this summer, come by to see us–and to look at the Nez Perce woman as she steps back into her ancestral home.
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(Uh oh! Sounds like he is going to ask for money—yes, but nicely.)
First, I want to tell you what a privilege it is to work at the Josephy Center. Exhibits are fun—and fun to be a part of. Seeing classes and students, from pre-schoolers to adults, trying paint or clay for the first time can make my day.
And the opportunity to work with the books, papers, and people that are all part of the Josephy Library is just too good. It is humbling to listen to Nez Perce elders who remember their War and exile generationally, as if it were yesterday. It is exciting to hear an elder tell us that some of the kokanee in Wallowa Lake—“The ones trying to get out at the base of the dam”—will find their way to the ocean if given a chance, that a sockeye salmon run, gone for 130 years, is possible again with fish passage at a rebuilt Wallowa Lake Dam. And it is thrilling to see sisters from California and Wisconsin meeting here to celebrate their grandmother’s 1918 climb of Eagle Cap with the Portland based Mazamas.
Research, I’ve come to know, is not just the book writer or movie documentarian’s province, but what we all do when we explore the past and the world around us. It’s elementary kids reading books out of our “Nez Perce Teaching Box,” and the people coming in now with faded photos to give us for the January-February “Wallowa Country, pre-World War II” exhibit. It’s Allen Pinkham figuring out how to build a Nez Perce dugout canoe.
And sculptor Doug Hyde finding the right Nez Perce word for “The Return,” the name he wants for the stone and bronze piece that will go in our front yard this spring. We actually got an answer to his question from Haruo Aoki, the 90 year-old linguist who has spent decades saving and cataloging the Nez Perce language. I can’t make the marks on my computer to show you the Nez Perce word—but I’ll figure it out by the time the sculpture is installed this summer. (We have it in the Nez Perce Dictionary on our shelves.)
That will be a great event, with drums and song and salmon to celebrate—and you will be invited.
The Library and I have been with the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture for seven years—from the beginning. The board is concerned about the future: “What are the Library succession plans?” “How will it be funded?” Current board chair Jeff Costello says the Library is “in our DNA.” But how does that carry into the future?
Good questions. I just turned 76, and although I have no plans to quit this wonderful gig anytime soon, I have to admit that I won’t go on forever. But I know more than ever that the Library and the Josephy Center will go on—we’ve become an important part of this Wallowa Community, and, in my mind, an important window between Indian and non-Indian, urban and rural, present and past. It will be a great job for the lucky man or woman—maybe one of you out there with a passion for the past and its importance today—who steps into it. For now, I want a few more good licks myself on the way to retirement.
Help me do that! Your donation now will support the Library and help keep this wonderful organization and fine building lit and alive with art and learning, words, music, sculpture, pots, glazes, a printing press and blog posts about Coho salmon, seven drums, dugout canoes, and the work of my old mentor and our namesake, Alvin M. Josephy, Jr.
Rich Wandschneider, still learning to be a librarian–and loving it!
American Indians have little reason to trust the written word. They are buried in broken treaties and false history texts—words, as Chief Joseph said and Alvin Josephy reiterated 100 years later, spoken with “forked tongue.” Alvin also said that Indians have been and are still disserved by the omission of words, by historical accounts that omit the Indians who were here, and contemporary accounts that forget that they are here still.
Our Josephy Center sculpture project aims to right a local omission, that of an Indian artist on Main Street in the town of Joseph. Four bronze statues in our town depict Indians—none of them the work of an Indian artist.
We selected Doug Hyde—or Doug Hyde selected us! Doug was born in Hermiston, grew up in part at Lapwai, Idaho, was packed off to the Indian art school in Santa Fe when he was 17 after a high school teacher sent a portfolio to the school.
The road wasn’t all smooth. There was Vietnam, combat wounds, and work in Lewiston carving cemetery monuments, but now he is an established artist in bronze and stone across the country. He’s past 70, but working hard from his Arizona studio—because he loves what he does. And what he is doing now for us in Joseph is what he is doing for people and tribes across the country—telling stories without words, without forked tongues.
|Nez Perce Removal and Return
Artist Doug Hyde was born in Hermiston, Oregon, and traces Nez Perce, Assiniboine, and Chippewa tribal ancestry. He attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and the San Francisco Art Institute in the 1960s. While recuperating from serious injury after a second tour in Vietnam, Doug learned to use power tools to cut and shape stone. Sculpting in stone and bronze became the passion and focus of his life.
Plateau Indian Art on Main Street is a project of the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture, funded by a generous grant from the Oregon Community Foundation. The Josephy Center’s namesake, Alvin Josephy, Jr,, helped bring the Nez Perce story back to American attention with his classic history of the tribe, The Nez Perce Indians and the Opening of the Northwest, published in 1965.
The grant is part of OCF’s “Creative Heights” initiative, which encourages non- profits, artists and citizens throughout the state to test new ideas, stretch creative capacity, and provide unique opportunities for Oregonians to experience innovative arts and culture. The initiative has thus far invested more than $945,000 through 13 Oregon nonprofits, part of a $4 million, four-year investment by OCF in arts and culture around Oregon.
Hyde will receive a $25,000 artist award in three installments over a year-long period, with additional grant money available for artist travel and expenses, and artwork production. The second finalist for the project was Yakima artist Toma Villa. Each finalist had time to draft a proposal for jurors from tribal and local communities. Doug’s proposal deals with Nez Perce removal and return to the Wallowas. He will visit the city and meet with local artists and Josephy Center and city officials in the near future before developing a final plan.
In 1998, one of Hyde’s sculptures was installed at the White House. In 2008, his bronze, Little Turtle, was purchased for the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s Cultural Resource Center. Hyde has focused most of his efforts in the past decade to help Native American tribes tell their stories.
The Josephy Center and Oregon Community Foundation are proud to give Doug Hyde the chance to tell the Nez Perce story in the town named for its most famous leader.
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|Daybreak Star–a Nez Perce Woman