The Josephy Center—Tenth Anniversary

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 →

Alvin Josephy papers at U of Oregon Library

The Josephy Library, here at the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture in Joseph, Oregon, has a good share of the books from Alvin and Betty Josephy’s home libraries in Greenwich, CT and Joseph, OR.  This includes personal copies of most of the books and journal articles he wrote over his long career as a journalist and historian. We even have a smattering of WW II audio recordings, and a few clippings and “ephemera” related to history, and especially to the Nez Perce.  
The books are cataloged on the SAGE library network– — and we are working to annotate the books Alvin wrote and edited, and those he has forwards or chapters in,  and to relate them to the journal articles, the book reviews, articles about Alvin, etc. into a system so that you can easily retrieve information on  “Alvin, Nez Perce, and Salmon,” or “Marine Corps, WW II, and Alvin,” or on “Nez Perce and fish,” etc.
Meanwhile, Alvin sent boxes of materials–correspondence, book and article drafts, research notes, discarded chapters of books, etc to the Knight Library at the University of Oregon over more than three decades. They have all now been professionally cataloged, and here is the link to what is in the collection with detailed notes on where in the collection it is located. The librarians at U of O have been very helpful in locating materials, and I am sure they will do so for all of you who need a closer look at the extensive work that Alvin Josephy did over his long career. I was in awe as I scrolled the pages:

The Josephy Library

I had the privilege of writing a piece on the Josephy Library for the latest edition of the Oregon Library Association Quarterly. Here’s a bit of info and the link to the journal. Mine’s the last article. You can click on a link to a pdf of it–or the whole thing. Here it is from the OLA President:

The latest issue of the OLA Quarterly is now available!

The theme for this issue is Small Libraries, BIG Ideas, and the Guest Editor is OLA President Buzzy Nielsen. From Buzzy’s introduction:

“The Oregon library community consistently amazes me with its innovative, enterprising, and patron-focused activities. Indeed, we hear about these many activities through Libs-Or, OLA conferences, and this journal. While certainly not by design, many of the voices we hear come from libraries along the I-5 corridor. Cool things happen in those libraries, of course, but this issue of the OLA Quarterly amplifies voices we hear less frequently: the rural institutions that constitute the majority of the libraries in Oregon.

Please feel free to share this issue widely! We hope you like it.

Reading tip: The text and images are more clear if you download the issue and articles all the way to a .pdf reader, and if you do so, the links will be clickable. 

The Josephy Library at the Josephy Center

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

Giving Tuesday

Dear Friends,

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 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 (

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— 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– –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–Summer Intern Erik Anderson

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. 

Take it away, Erik!
“Interpretations of the phrase ‘usual and accustomed place,’” I told Rich during my initial interview, “was normal dinner conversation growing up.”  My father used the language of treaties every day during his work, advocating and managing the treaty fisheries of Western Washington. I grew up in the shadow of the Northwest Fishing War.  The pictures of  a young Billy Frank being arrested on the banks of the Nisqually stood outside of Dad’s office, a reminder of history that I studied every “take your child to work day.” Apparently, the study and practice of advocacy for American Indians runs in the family.     
However, my childhood absorption of the politics of Indian rights did not fully prepare me for this work.  Before coming to the library, I was under the illusion that there was a divide between the histories of American Indians and a history of (white) America, that the history of the interactions between Anglo-Americans and American Indians could be summarized by a simple timeline: first there were diseases and massacres, and then treaties were signed by both parties, and after that most of the  treaties were broken, and finally in 1974 Judge Bolt gave a surprise court ruling.  More generally, I assumed, like the general public, that settling of the west was a steady and stable process, the interaction between whites and Indians limited to army skirmishes and missionizing attempts. 
Yet as I catalog the collection, handling each book, taking special notes of inscriptions by the author or notes scribbled in the margins, I realize that the history of American Indians cannot be separated from any other part of American history, or indeed, any part of our culture.   
According to the Library of Congress System, books related to Indians are located towards the beginning of American History:
E 51-73……….Pre-Columbian America
E 75-99……….Indians of North America
E 81-83……….Indian wars
E 99……….Indian tribes and cultures
However, for example, I can pick out a book from HE (transportation and communication) that deals with the development of railroads in the West and find new information about the often excoriating history of large railroad corporations’ abuse of local tribes, or how surveyors for the railroads were some of the first to conduct ethnographic surveys of the tribes; ethnographies which are now essential for historical and cultural documentation.   
All the books are related. One citation leads to another, until, stepping back, it is possible look at the broad and interconnected history.
The Josephy Library, though built around the personal collection of a historian who is primarily concerned with the affairs of American Indians, is not an Indian library. That would require an impossible separation.  Instead, the books are records of complex and compelling interactions between cultures.  

*  *  *
To access our catalog, go to, then scroll down the right hand drop down list of libraries to Wallowa County Special Libraries – Josephy Library of Western History and Culture. You can also search for books at all SAGE libraries–over 70 libraries in Eastern Oregon.

Notes on Library holdings

Our volunteer cataloger, Shannon Maslach, is getting some help. Whitman college student Erik Anderson is our summer intern—and he is flying! We are concentrating on cataloging books from the Josephys, but sneaking in books from other sources that are important to Indian and Pacific Northwest history. There are hundreds  books still in boxes, but Erik is moving fast. And we are part of the SAGE network of libraries in Eastern Oregon, administered out of Eastern Oregon University, so you can go to  to mark his progress and check our holdings.
Alvin Josephy subscribed to and collected many journals having to do with Western and Indian history and affairs. We are—slowly—processing them, putting each journal and our holdings on its own Excel spread sheet. But I thought people might like to have a general idea of what we are putting on the shelves.  You might also have recommendations as to which journals it will be important to “fill in” missing volumes, and which ones we should be subscribing to (knowing that we have a tight budget). 
One other note: it is sometimes obvious that Alvin collected a particular journal—e.g., The Colorado Magazine—as he worked on a particular book—in this case the Civil War in the West. There I found Alvin’s fine pencil highlights in articles by Harry Kelsey on the Sand Creek Massacre. As we move forward, I will be looking at all of those interesting individual journals—e.g. the ones from Canada having to do with the fur trade—and trying to capture particular issues addressed. 
So here is a first sort of our periodical holdings (we have some indexes, for OHQ and Amer Heritage):  
Alberta Historical Review—1956-59. Some
American Heritage—1957-2003. Most
American West—1962-89. Most
Arizona and the West—1963-86. Many
Artifacts—1972-78. Some
Audubon—1969-83. Most
The Beaver—1972-78. Most
California History—1965-81. Some
The Call Number, Library, U of Oregon—1959-69. Most
Century Magazine–1882– vols 1-6
Chronicles of Oklahoma—1950-60. Some
Colorado Magazine—1962-68. Some
Fortitudine: Bulletin of the Marine Corps—1982-90. Most
Great Plains Journal—a few
Idaho Yesterdays—1957-81. Most
Journal of American History—1974-77. Some
Journal of Arizona History—1987-90. Most
Journal of the West—1964-96. Most
Kansas Historical Quarterly—1962-72. Most
Missouri Historical Bulletin—1954-80. Most
Montana: The Magazine of Western History—1953-2005. Most
Oregon Historical Quarterly – 1908—present.  Most
Quarterly: Northeastern Nevada Historical Society—1985-86
The Record: Friends of Washington State College Library—1956-65. Most
Western Historical Quarterly—1970-2005. Most
Western History Association Newsletter—1965-69. Most
Western Writers of America’s Roundup—1966-88. Most
The Westerners Brand Book (New York Posse of Westerners)—1954-72. Most
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A Day in the Josephy Library

Tuesday Brown Bag lunches at the Library are gaining traction—bigger and more diverse audiences each week—and one never knows who will show up or what the conversation will be. 
This week the theme was the “Nez Perce Homeland Project” in Wallowa. New staffer Mary Hawkins came with brochures and powwow raffle tickets, and Homeland board members Joe McCormack, Ralph Swinehart, and I chipped in with some history of the project.
The project is a 320 acre site just east of the city of Wallowa. We started forming a non-profit about 1990, bought the first 160 acre chunk in 1995 with monies from the Oregon Trail license plates issued on the 150th anniversary celebration of that event and an additional 160 a few years later. Joe and Ralph and I pieced together bits of the story as we went: A powwow and friendship feast at Chief Joseph Days that began in the late 80s—for maybe the first time, Indians from all of the major Nez Perce places, the Colville, Umatilla, and Nez Perce reservations, had been asked how they would like to participate in the event named after their most famous leader; a powwow in Wallowa spearheaded by Umatilla tribal member Taz Conner, who carried strong Nez Perce heritage, and Wallowa school teacher Terry Crenshaw; the expansion of the Nez Perce National Historical Park to sites in Oregon and Washington; the appointment of Paul Henderson  as the Park Ranger for non-Idaho sites, and his attendance at Oregon Trail commemoration meetings. Joe remembered Paul telling the Oregon Trail folks that the Nez Perce Trail was the only one that took people “out” of Oregon. Ralph remembered Paul having meetings in Enterprise, Joseph, and Wallowa, and the folks in Wallowa being the ones who stepped up to embrace the idea of commemorating the local Nez Perce presence—and their leaving.
We all remembered hunting for land for an interpretive site—and finding one rancher who was ready to sell until his neighbors heckled him; and then looking seriously at an old sawmill site full of chemicals and concrete that would have been hell to work with. And then Norman and Mimi McCrae stepped forward with an offer to sell us 160 acres. We didn’t remember how that happened—but we should. Their action—and the later sale of an additional 160 acres—made the project happen.
Now there is a powwow each summer in a wonderful dance arbor, a longhouse kitchen and the infrastructure for the longhouse is built, and we have about $50,000 towards the longhouse. There is also a trail to the top of Tick Hill, from which the original burial site of Old Chief Joseph is visible, and horse corrals go in this month. And a handful of tribal members have chosen to be buried in their old homeland.  This has all been done largely with volunteer labor and a non-profit board consisting of local people and tribal members from Umatilla, Lapwai, and Colville.
In addition to Homeland project history, the Tuesday discussion touched on Indian—white majority relations in general, from treaty period through wars, Dawes Act and other efforts at assimilation, and the Indian reorganization act of 1934 through the second siege of Wounded Knee and more recent instances of Indian empowerment. In 1900, the locals in Wallowa County would not “sell” a piece of land to a returning Chief Joseph with government money in his pocket, and he went back to Colville, Washington to “die of a broken heart.”  A hundred years later there are attempts at reconciliation.
We were joined on Tuesday by a handful of students from an Indian Studies class at Willamette University on a “listening project.” They are looking at 12 school communities in Oregon who must give up Indian related mascots and names, and were in nearby Enterprise interviewing faculty members, current and former students, and community members about Enterprise school’s giving up the name and image of “Savage” a few years ago. How did that go? What were the issues then, and what lingers? They participated in our discussion and stayed on to interview several Brown Baggers for their project.
Our Josephy Library is not just a place for old books and documents; the library—and the Indian peoples and western themes on its shelves and pages, are still much alive in current conversation and the issues of the day.
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Browsing and Black Robes

Father Pierre-Jean De Smet
One of the great pleasures of being in a library (or a bookstore, where I spent a dozen wonderful years) is browsing. Your eyes scan shelves not with anything particular in mind, but with a lifetime of general interests and a number of current curiosities. A book—or journal or magazine—jumps at you with its shape, color, title, or the image on its cover. You pick it up and, almost unconsciously, look at front and back and open or don’t open and put it back or stick to it a bit longer—sometimes you keep reading. Interests and curiosities are strengthened and changed as you browse, and off you go again, maybe this time searching specifically for a title or subject matter. 
Add continuous reading of Josephy texts and you have my current life at the Josephy Library! This week it was the cover of the Spring 1996 Oregon Historical Quarterly with a photo of Father Pierre-Jean De Smet and a number of long haired Indian men, and the announcement of articles on “Catholic Missionizing in the West.” So I was soon reading about the Black Robes in Montana in 1841, about a Jesuit mission that lasted just a decade and collapsed amid cultural misunderstandings—the Indians quest to learn and incorporate Christian teachings; the Jesuits insistence on conversion and replacement of traditional beliefs and ritual—about  the missionaries, traders, and Indians who were part of the drama. And I was marveling at the illustrations of Father Nicolas Point.
Point and his art work, De Smet and his travels—he made 19 trips across the seas raising funds for his missions! The Iroquois Catholics, the relationships between Catholic and Protestant missions, President Grant’s effort to administer Indian agencies with missions; I have a bundle of new topics in my bucket of things to browse and learn.
I sometimes imagine grouping books and specific journals in the Library by Josephy interest areas: fur trade, Civil War, Mormons, treaties, transportation routes, expedition artists and art work, and the ideas of white superiority, Eurocentrism, discovery, nature, progress, etc. etc. etc. Alvin’s curiosities were many, and my browsing is now constrained and strengthened by a growing familiarity with them.
Maybe some of you out there—historians and poets, followers of Indian affairs and Western themes, have similar or related curiosities, and, in your browsing have found the book or article that brought clarity—or inspired further curiosities. Please tell us—and consider our new Library another shelf for your own browsing.  I’m happy to keep my eye out for the topics that occupy your mind, to do a little research by browsing on your behalf. And of course welcome everyone to come into the Library when you are in town and have the pleasure yourself.
notes: The OHQ is Vol. 97. No. 1; and a portfolio of Nicolas Point art work is available at
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The Josephy Library, January 30, 2013

Rich and Josephy Center Director Lyn Craig at the shelves
The Josephy Library of Western History and Culture is part of the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture in Joseph, Oregon. It is based on over 2000 books, journals, artifacts, manuscripts, and miscellaneous pieces from Josephy home libraries in Greenwich, Connecticut and Joseph, Oregon. It honors Alvin’s work as a historian of and advocate for American Indians, and Alvin and Betty’s commitment to literature, history, the arts, the West, and to the men, women, and children of all colors and backgrounds who have lived in and loved the West.
Alvin M. Josephy Jr. was the author of The Nez Perce Indians and the Opening of the Northwest, The Indian Heritage of America, 500 Nations, and several other books and scores of magazine and journal articles on Indian and Western history. He was the founding board chair of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.
January 30, 2013:
1       Over 400 books are cataloged and on shelves. We catalog on the SAGE system of Eastern Oregon Libraries: 
2     Hundreds of journals—long runs of Oregon Historical Quarterly, American Heritage, Western Historical Quarterly, American West, etc. , and shorter runs of more obscure journals—Annals of Wyoming, Okanogan Historical Society Report, Northeastern Nevada Historical Society Quarterly, etc. are being entered on a spread sheet, which should be available on line in a couple of weeks.
3      We have begun to index articles written by Alvin Josephy. Eventually, we will have a spread sheet with this information, and will gradually add abstracts. As Josephy’s journalism includes hundreds of pieces written during student days at Harvard, as Marine journalist in the WW II Pacific, ten years at Time Magazine, etc., this will be an ongoing activity.
4     The Original maps from the Nez Perce book are being digitized and will soon be available.The plan is to put them up on the Josephy Center web site at low resolution. Print use of high resolution images will be by permission.
5     We are beginning to organize material in “pods” by subject area. These reflect significant areas of concern in Josephy’s work. For instance, materials on the fur trade and the Civil War in the West,
6       Our second class, “The Wallowa Country: 1855-1900” will begin on February 19. This four week, non-credit class is aimed at local history buffs and will include several Joseph High School students.
7       Saturday morning sessions for middle school students are in the works
8     A “children’s corner” is being developed by volunteers. It will include children’s books, toys, etc.
9     Although the main collection is non-circulating, we have extra copies of Josephy books and other material of special local interest that is being organized into a very small lending section.
We appreciate your questions, suggestions, and assistance. Libraries, I am learning, are sustained by love. There is no way that this work “pays its way,” but, as friend Kim Stafford reminds me, it was Benjamin Franklin who said that community is dependent on three strong public institutions: a fire department, post office, and library. The fire departments are still here, the Post Office is under attack, and small non-profit libraries like ours join the great public libraries in maintaining culture—and community.

# # #

On libraries and generosity

Lyn Craig and Rich at the Josephy Library shelves
On Friday I picked up two boxes from the Post Office for the Josephy Library—bookends sent me by a Portland law firm library that is remodeling and no longer needs them. The bookends were advertised on a listserv sponsored by the Oregon State Library—I now get regular notices of meetings, grants, and questions and answers about libraries and librarianship.  And occasionally something like this—notice of 70 metal bookends (worth $300-$400) for donation to another library in need. When I replied, librarian Julie said she’d pack them up and send immediately—and consider the shipping costs a donation.
As I have said before, this learning to be a librarian is an engaging business, with lessons in history, the social sciences, research practices, and new technologies coming at me daily.  I’d like to add another lesson—or theory: libraries, librarians, library patrons, and even the taxpayers who support libraries are testament to the spirit of human generosity—a trait that doesn’t get much play these days.
Years ago I was at a meeting in Seattle and got a tour of the new downtown Seattle Public Library. I was struck by the attention to needs of patrons, and especially to the needs of people with multiple problems and few resources. The restrooms were built knowing that some used them for basic hygiene, and a large computer room served men and women of varied ages and modes of dress. Some read papers and books and passed time, I’m sure, on long rainy Seattle days; others fought through genealogical records or, I imagine, imagined some grand explication of scientific theory or a great American novel. I remembered Ray Bradbury in the bowels of an L.A. library tapping away at Fahrenheit 451 on a two-bits per hour public typewriter, and hoped there might be another Bradbury among the 30 or 40 in the Seattle library computer room.
And I thought about books and libraries from the founding fathers to the present, and how we Americans have made libraries a place for everyone and every idea. The fact that libraries have survived through depressions and recessions, through good times and bad, is testament to our better natures. Individually, we might not like welfare or the good legislative deals handed to some business or institution, but we have room in our hearts for this one institution that is an even playing field for college professor and homeless novelist. We fund libraries publicly, and we fund public libraries and specialty libraries with donations and volunteerism. And those of us who accumulate books, papers, films, paintings, photos and related resources in our lives often want them to reach broader audiences and the next Ray Bradbury when we pass, and do all possible to make it happen.
Which brings me back to the Josephy Library of Western History and Culture in Joseph, Oregon. For years volunteer librarian Shannon Maslach has been quietly, on her own time and dime, cataloging our books and papers. She is now joined by Kay Denney, who grew up in Wallowa County, went away to teach and work in school libraries, and recently retired home. She has jumped in to join Shannon and help me in making this library work. Other friends are putting together a kids’ corner, and a local photographer came in to shoot the original maps from Josephy’s Nez Perce book for digitization. And archivists from the University of Idaho have been generous with technical assistance and suggestions for library design.
The generosity began of course with Alvin and Betty, who provided the first books, and to their children, who have stuck with me as I began figuring library things out at Fishtrap and then moved the collection to the new Josephy Center for Arts and Culture in Joseph. Daughter Allison Josephy Wolowitz recently sent us the wonderful oil portraits of her parents (they deserve and will get their own blog post), and along with her siblings made financial contributions to get us going. And now their children, Alvin and Betty’s grandchildren, are doing the same. Others have written checks to make it possible for us to remodel the library space and purchase library furniture, and contractor Charlie Kissinger made cuts on that bill.
And did I mention Lewis and Clark College—special collections librarian Doug Erickson arranged for his college to donate several hundred dollars worth of library shelving, which now hold Josephy books cataloged by volunteer librarians held together by the new bookends.
So thanks to all for contributions and support—and welcome all to see and use, to pass the time of day, chase down quirky family stories, or to write the next great American novel.
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Happy Thanksgiving

I watched a film on PBS last night, “The Thick Dark Fog.” It is the story of a Lakota man named Walter Littlemoon and his struggle to reclaim his humanity, stolen from him at a boarding school as a five year old on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The man’s a poet—a simple and eloquent speaker, and I will now order his book, They Called Me Uncivilized
And while I wait for the book, I will puzzle over two things. First, as we recovered from the horror of the Holocaust in Europe and watched another again with a sideways glance at Cambodia, cultural genocide was going on under our noses in our own country. Oh, by the mid-sixties, as I came of age, we were probably no longer kidnapping Indian children, cutting their hair, and beating the Indian out of them so that we could make them men and women, but the products of our years of doing so were serving in Vietnam and stumbling around Los Angeles and Portland and other American cities after Eisenhower era “termination” policy do-gooders had put them on Greyhound buses and dropped them off with a few bucks and a charge to join the mainstream. 
Why didn’t we—good white college students at state universities and the best private colleges, Civil Rights workers risking harm registering black voters, Peace Corps Volunteers standing up for and with poor people in over 100 other countries—know what was really going on in our own? Some few of us did, I guess, but mostly we were only half-educated, knew that Indians were mistreated but wanted them to get what black people were getting, their civil rights. Not many of us were talking about getting Indians the rights to lands and resources stolen from them and the rights treaties had supposedly granted them as Indians, as pre-white inhabitants of the country.
Now I live next to a couple of reservations in the traditional homeland of Nez Perce people, and I am learning—slowly—their stories and the stories of Indian peoples across the continents, the New World. “Thick Dark Fog” is not the first documentary on Indians I have watched. I’ve seen “Smokin’ Fish,” a Tlingit story, and know Sandra Osawa and her films, “Pepper’s Powwow,” about the great Indian jazz musician, Jim Pepper, and “Maria Tallchief,” the story of the Osage prima ballerina that Sandy did with help from Maria’s daughter, the poet Elise Paschen. And of course I have seen “Smoke Signals” more than once.
After watching the film tonight, I went to and found logs of radio and TV broadcasts, notice of Native radio stations, filmmakers, producers, etc. And it occurred to me that we still live in two parallel worlds. That yes, Indian stories creep across the lines, and some of us go to powwows and tribal and national museums and read books by Sherman Alexie and James Welch, Scott Momaday and Debra Earling, but that for the most part our schools still omit Indians and their 500 year history of dealing with the “nation of immigrants” that have and continue to descend on the Americas.
That’s the other puzzle. Custer and the Big Horn are, as the late novelist James Welch claimed, subjects of more books and movies than just about anything in American history. There are statues of the “Red Napoleon,” Chief Young Joseph, across the land. But the real stories of Crazy Horse and Joseph are still locked away from the mainstream of American history and affairs. And the Sierra Club doesn’t much ask Indians how they were able to live in this land for 20,000 or 30,000 or more years before Europeans arrived.
There are breeches, tears in the wall and points of connection between the Nation of Immigrants story and the Indian story, and I guess it is our job at the Josephy Library to keep finding them.
Which gets me back to Thanksgiving. How many of us were taught how or even puzzled over how the Indians got the corn and squash and beans that they supposedly fed the Pilgrims in the cold northeast all the way from their origins in warm  Mesoamerica? One world to another?
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Josephy blog in 2012

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!