A different Oregon history


We don’t know how things will turn out in Egypt, Libya, or Syria, don’t know where the Arab Spring will take the people who are in the midst of it, or, for that matter, what impacts it will have on us, living thousands of miles away but connected by war, trade, and the long threads of family and friendship.  At the same time, we assume an inevitability in our own national history, which we are taught to see as a series of iconic events marshaled and mastered by iconic men—yes, mostly men. 
Our textbooks start with Columbus and give us Washington, Jefferson, Lewis and Clark; Lincoln, Grant, and Lee; Carnegie and Rockefeller; the Roosevelts, Kennedy, and Martin Luther King. There is “discovery,” then pilgrims, frontiersmen, and the Revolutionary War; The Oregon Trail, The Civil War, Manifest Destiny, the Great Depression, “world” wars, etc. etc. etc.
Our friend Alvin Josephy spent a
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Alvin and Grace: Nez Perce and settlers in the Wallowa Country

Grace Bartlett left Reed College in 1932 to marry a Wallowa Country rancher. She worked on the ranch, raised children, and apprenticed with Harley Horner, the unofficial county historian at the time. With Horner and on her own, she wrote for the Oregon Historical Quarterly, the Wallowa County Chieftain, the Walla Walla Union Bulletin, and once, on the sockeye salmon, for Sunset Magazine.

When Alvin’s big Nez Perce book came out, Grace quibbled with his descriptions of early people and events in the Wallowas. Alvin told her to “write it,” and she did. In the wonderful and, I am beginning to believe, unique, The Wallowa Country 1867-1877, published in 1976, 11 years after The Nez Perce Indians and the Opening of the Northwest, Grace detailed the 10-year transition of the Wallowa Country from Indian to white occupation.

We learn about the early “open” winter (much like this one) when the whites first brought stock into the Read The Article