This might be dangerous. Many of you—Alvin Josephy’s friends and followers—might not be political at all, or are primarily interested in Alvin as a historian and advocate for Indian peoples, and don’t care about his politics outside of Indians. But I am reading Alvin material every day, and he was so bound up in the major issues of his times—from the Depression through World War 2, from dignity and self-determination for Indians to a concern for the physical world that he learned from Indians and carried with him to the pages of Audubon Magazine and Congressional Testimony—that it is impossible to look at Alvin Josephy without thinking about politics.
I am going to lean on material from interviews with Alvin’s friend, Jack Loeffler. Most of the interviews occurred in 1995, but there is some later material too, from 2001. In their rambling conversations Alvin recounts some of the major events in his life—in 1995 he was deep into writing the Read The Article
This is from the transcript of an interview that Jack Loeffler did with Alvin in August 1995, File 3, page 37, 38, 40 in the Josephy Library at Fishtrap archives.
Several times in the interview Alvin refers to subjects that he will or will not address in his memoir (A Walk Toward Oregon, published in 2000). Here he describes his conversion from being a “pro-development guy,” who wanted to see the West–the “other half of the country”– developed as the East had been, to seeing the country in an ecologically sounder and more sustainable way. You have to read A Walk Toward Oregon and know something of his extensive work on Indians to get the whole picture, but here is the shorthand: companies and government agencies were screwing the Indians–and oh, they were screwing a lot of other people too in the name of development and profit. At least some environmentalists were taking a longer view of things, Read The Article
Welcome to the first Library Blog! Actually, I am sending the text in a regular email, as I have been doing for the past year or so, but it will now be posted on the the Josephy Library blog, where you are now!
This is all new ground for me, so patience please—and I will appreciate your suggestions.
Jack Loeffler celebrated his 74th birthday in a hotel room in Baker City on his way to Fishtrap this July. He’d been as far as Joseph before, sat on Alvin Josephy’s deck and interviewed him, but he had never made it as far as Wallowa Lake. He was thrilled with the first sight of it..
On Monday morning we began a conversation that seemed like it had started ages ago, and the time between the phantom conversations of the past and today melted away. From time to time Jack Read The Article