As far as I can make out, Seattle Public Library’s “Seattle Reads” program began in 1998 with Russell Banks’ “Sweet Hereafter.” The NEA–National Endowment for the Arts–began the Big Read program in 2006, and Fishtrap and Wallowa County were one of the first, pilot projects. We read Ray Bradberry’s “Fahrenheit 451.”
I just found out that Western Washington University did a campus-wide read of Alvin Josephy’s “The Patriot Chiefs: A Chronicle of American Indian Resistance,” in 1969!
The information came from Makah filmmaker Sandy Osawa (“Pepper’s Powwow,” “Usual and Accustomed Places”), who sent a press release which included the following:
“Western Reads will also be commemorating the 50th Anniversary of “The Right to Be Indian” Conference, which took place at WWU in 1969. In that year, representatives of tribes west and east of the Cascades came to Western Washington State College to support indigenous youth culture. The entire campus read a common book in conjunction with the conference, The Patriot Read The Article