Yesterday the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture celebrated ten years of life as a non-profit, and a few months more of programming. Last year, at nine, we purchased the old log bank building that has been our home since the beginning. Anne Stephens, who first conceived of a new arts center in Joseph, was honored last night, as was Cheryl Coughlan, the Center director for over nine of our years. I too was thanked, and got to say a few words of thanks. And to report on a unique and wonderful gift from the Josephy family.Read Rich’s Post →
Many of you in this blog-land get other information about the Josephy Center and our programs through newsletters, press releases and letters—including fundraising letters. Thanks to those of you who have made donations, attended exhibits and workshops, and brought children to Josephy Center classes. Thanks to all of you who read the blog posts—and sometimes even comment on them.
What follows is a brief account of what the Josephy Library does beyond the blog—and a specific appeal for Library support.
First and most importantly, we live the legacy of Alvin Josephy. Every day we tell people that American Indians are still with us; that Indians have always been agents and actors, and not wooden standbys in American History; that the history re Indians we’ve been fed in school texts is incomplete at best and often wrong; that Indian treaty rights are real and legal; and that Indians continue to contribute to the common good with activism and hard work, especially in the fields of natural resources, but increasingly in healthcare, politics, and other fields.
Blog posts are a small part of these messages. At the Josephy Center we bring in Indian artists and historians—a current exhibit uses historic photos from the Nez Perce National Park and the University of Idaho to imagine the Indian past. Some of it will be used in a small permanent exhibit aimed at showing visitors, local school children and citizens “who lived here and how they lived.” Brown Bag lunches next week will feature Nez Perce Fisheries on Lamprey restoration, and Cece Whitewolf on the cradleboard. A college intern has just begun bibliographic work on Nez Perce materials—why does that story resonate in book after book published today?
And then the Big Dream Project—we’ve passed the first round in a grant competition—to invite a Plateau Indian artist to create a three-dimensional work on our property or the adjoining street with his or her vision of what we should know about this place. It is weird at best that the large, bronze statue of Chief Joseph on Main Street in Joseph was created by a white artist from another place imagining a Nez Perce Indian in this place. It seems to us that some corrective is needed.
Friends told me before this Josephy Library became a reality that “libraries don’t make money.” That is painfully true—but it is also true that libraries promote knowledge and understanding, that we help ignite interest and passion in young people and nurture professional writers and lay readers in their work and avocations.
Our Library budget is roughly $50,000 of a $290,000 budget. We get some grants, but bibliographies and talking Western and Indian history to visitors from Idaho and Israel isn’t grant-flashy, isn’t a “new” program every year (although it is new conversations every day).
About 400 of you get notices of these blog posts. If half of you could find $20 or $30 to further our work; if those of you who make it to the occasional Brown Bag could drop in a $10 bill in the offering plate; if a dozen of you came to the Center for a basketry or beading workshop this month; and if a few of you who share these passions could send us $500 or $1,000—if, if, if… we might raise half of that $50,000 and make the grant writing and overall fundraising for the Josephy Center a walk on a new Main Street with Indian artists helping to tell the story of Indians, salmon, game, agriculture and culture in this wonderful Wallowa place some of us are privileged to call home.
To make a donation now, go to https://josephy.org/support-the-josephy-center-for-arts-and-culture/
I wrote this and sent it out to people on my “blog list,” a couple of days ago, but forgot to put it up on the blog itself, so that those of you who find these musings by other means can know a little more about current doings and future plans. If you would like email notification of new blog posts, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. In any case, thanks for reading, and best of holiday seasons to you…….
So I understand it is “Giving Tuesday” and the tugs on your giving budget are many. And I know that many of you on my blog list also get emails and/or mailings from the Josephy Center—the big house that holds the Josephy Library and hosts music, exhibits, lectures, art classes and workshops. If so, you got a recent fundraising letter, and this Tuesday missive will just be more specific with a library pitch. If you have already donated this fall—and I know many of you have—thank you again! If you haven’t heard from us this fall, here is the Library pitch!
The Josephy Center for Arts and Culture is a four-year-old non-profit. It lives in a beautiful log building on Main Street in Joseph, Oregon (causing all amount of confusion: City of Joseph-Old Chief Joseph, Young Chief Joseph, Alvin Josephy). Library books (and soon journals) are cataloged on the SAGE Library System, hosted at Eastern Oregon University, linking over 60 Eastern Oregon libraries (https://catalog.sage.eou.edu).
The Josephy Library is rich in Indian and Western American history and culture, and is growing with donations from collectors and heirs of collectors. We don’t have everything, but we have almost everything that Alvin wrote or edited, and gems of books and articles about Nez Perce War survivors and fine art books featuring the signature artists of the Plains and Plateau tribes. I am buying gloves to handle the portfolio of photos by D. F. Barry of Plains Warriors, Chiefs, Scouts, and Frontiersmen, and putting John W. Powell’s 1891 categorization of North American Indian languages in an acid free box.
We’ll also add a small permanent Nez Perce exhibit, explaining briefly who lived here and how, to the Josephy exhibit built at the Library’s door in 2015. You can now see and read that exhibit on-line— http://josephy.org/library/alvin-josephy-exhibit/. Most of the money for the new exhibit is already raised, and we are talking with Nez Perce elders about its contents. It too will be on the second floor with the Library.
There are rare books and autographed books in the Library, but most of our books and journals should be moving across the land, into hands like yours so that we can all learn and know more about Indians and the country we share. That’s my goal for the next year: figure out a way to make most of this library circulating. I’m told that we can expect 50-100 interlibrary loan requests a month, and at least that many local checkouts. I’m told that we might be able to do it with another $15,000 in our Library budget.
That, in addition to my half-time salary (part of which is paid for by work on overall Josephy Center programming), a small book and journal budget, dues to SAGE, and miscellaneous expenses, will make the Library about a $45,000 item in the $220,000 Josephy Center budget.
You can donate on line– https://josephy.org/support-the-josephy-center-for-arts-and-culture/ –or send a check to the Josephy Center/ PO Box 949/ Joseph, Oregon 97846. Again, if you have already made a fall donation to the Center, Thank You! We appreciate your gifts, look forward to your visits, and look forward to putting real—or digital—books and journals in your hands sometime soon.
Guest blogger today is Erik Anderson, our Josephy Library Summer Intern from Whitman College in nearby Walla Walla, Washington. For those of you out of the area–not in the “Inland Northwest,” Walla Walla was the place where Marcus and Narcissa Whitman established their mission in 1836, the site of the Whitman Massacre in 1847, and of Governor Isaac Stevens’ treaty making in 1855. Walla Walla, Washington is about a two hour drive over the Blue Mountains from Joseph, Oregon, and Whitman College is a fine institution with its own great archival treasures relating to the history of the West–Indian, non-Indian, and the more inclusive histories of the region.
Century Magazine–1882– vols 1-6
|Father Pierre-Jean De Smet|
|Rich and Josephy Center Director Lyn Craig at the shelves|
|Lyn Craig and Rich at the Josephy Library shelves|
First off, thanks to all who have followed and responded to postings on the Josephy Library blog this year.
The deeper into Josephy I dig, the more I learn, and the more prescient his early writings in Western and Indian history become. I guess if I had to distill a year’s reading and digging to a sentence, it would be that Josephy learned and declared in the 1950s that Indians have, against all attempts to kill them and/or to assimilate them, survived; that Indians have history that has been ignored and maligned; and that Indian history and culture have things to teach us still.
Alvin gathered Indian writers and scholars and produced America in 1492: The World of the Indian Peoples Before the Arrival of Columbus, on the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s landing. My favorite read this year was Charles Mann’s recently published 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus, which picks up the argument.
Alvin’s writings on Indians and salmon, Indians and the Kinzua Dam, Indians and the Four Corners, Indians and water rights, Indians and sacred sites, played their roles in moving public policy and perceptions at the time—and they are still timely.
So long-time publisher and friend of Alvin’s, of mine, and of Fishtrap, Marc Jaffe, and I are working on an anthology of Josephy writings—published and unpublished—that could move beyond this blog and contribute to the current idea exchange. We will keep you posted.
And I am, with friends at the U of Oregon Library and Cliff Trafzer at the U of California, Riverside, trying to find an unpublished Josephy manuscript on the Sioux. It might be publishable still.
And a weekly, three minute radio program, “From the Archives,” will begin running on KPBX, the public radio station in Spokane, in January.
And our amazing volunteer librarian, Shannon Maslach, continues to put books and interesting ephemeral material on the shelves and into the SAGE Library cataloging system. I will have a piece on the ephemera and manuscripts out soon. This is material that some of you will find useful.
I wish you the very best in the New Year, in your vocational and avocational work in history and Indian affairs, and in your personal lives. I wish friends in Indian country continued success in bringing your stories and contributions to all of America.
Most of all, I wish you—and me too!—good luck in dealing with a world that is often overwhelming. Remember that Alvin kept harping on those 1950s themes till the end, often in the face of indifferent audiences and Indians who felt defeated, but he kept after it, and we are here to say that his words mattered then and matter still.
Happy New Year!