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History

Bison (Photo iStock)
Winter 2018

Bison

The day the bison herd swam across the river says it all.

About 80 of the legendary mammals, known for hardiness and stubbornness, decided to cross the half-mile wide Pend Oreille River in 1994—bulls, cows, and even calves—and all survived the crossing, recalls Ray Entz, natural resources director of the Kalispel Tribe of Indians in northeast Washington.

That same rugged strength of the wooly North American bovines—whether you call them bison or buffalo—helped the entire resilient species survive. Although bison are now the national mammal of the United States, they once balanced on the cliff of extinction … » More …

Book cover of Spirit in the Rock
Winter 2018

Spirit in the Rock: The Fierce Battle for Modoc Homelands

Book cover of Spirit in the Rock

Jim Compton

WSU Press: 2017

 

Descending a great bluff towering above an endless sea of black in early 1873, the militiamen clench their rifles tighter as they wade into a thick gray fog among southern Oregon lava beds. A deafening crack and the flash of gunpowder pierces the dense mist. War paint-clad Modoc snipers poke their muzzles out between cracks in the blackened rock and fire unseen upon their adversaries. The bewildered U.S. troops search frantically through the … » More …

Book cover of Complexity in a Ditch
Winter 2018

Complexity in a Ditch: Bringing Water to the Idaho Desert

Book cover of Complexity in a Ditch

Hugh T. Lovin ’56 MA History

WSU Press: 2017

 

Growing up on a farm near Inkom, Idaho, the young Hugh Lovin would engineer ways to divert water to the crops he produced for his livestock. Later in life, after years of writing histories of labor, Lovin turned his attention again to irrigation. In a number of articles, collected for the first time in this volume, he traced the history of the “dreamers, schemers, and doers” who brought water … » More …

Book - Briefly Noted
Winter 2018

Briefly Noted

 

Freedom’s Racial Frontier: African Americans in the Twentieth-Century West

Edited by Herbert G. Ruffin II and Dwayne A. Mack ’02 PhD History

University of Oklahoma Press: 2018

Between 1940 and 2010, the black population of the American West grew from 710,400 to 7 million. With that explosive growth has come a burgeoning interest in the history of the African American West—an interest reflected in the range and depth of the works collected in Freedom’s Racial Frontier that link past, current, and future generations of African American West scholarship. The West is revealed as a place where black Americans have fought—and continue to fight—to make … » More …

Woman's dentalia cape (Courtesy Plateau Peoples' Web Portal)
Winter 2018

Fabric of Washington

Stories, photos, paintings, and belongings like baskets and tools tell the rich history of Plateau tribes of the inland Pacific Northwest, a history now shared online.

The Plateau Peoples’ Web Portal, a gateway to those cultural materials, is maintained by Washington State University’s Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation (CDSC) in partnership with WSU’s Native American Programs.

The materials have been chosen and curated by tribal representatives from the Spokane Tribe of Indians, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe of Indians, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the Nez Perce Tribe, and … » More …

Fall 2018

Two river poems

Washington State University landscape architecture professor and poet Jolie Kaytes reflects on the complex emotions and rational considerations about the Columbia River watershed through poems that give new ways to consider our part in the stories of the River.

 

Fishhook Park

A tongue stopping “f”

with a soft “ish,”

tied to a tight lipped “h”

caught on “ook.”

Hard to swallow.

Where the Palouse Band gathered,

homed their family bones

now buried by the Snake River’s

stopped up waters, slow and dumb.

First Words
Fall 2018

Influence

Abraham Lincoln, when nominated for president in 1860, apologized for his lack of formal education. No apology was necessary from the articulate orator and voracious reader whose desire to learn and improve himself continued into his adulthood. Even without school, Lincoln had teachers, people who influenced his education. He moved to New Salem, Illinois, in his early 20s and studied grammar and debate under the tutelage of his mentor, remarkably named Mentor Graham, who wrote about Lincoln: “No one ever surpassed him in rapidly, quickly and well acquiring the rudiments and rules of English grammar.”

Gladys Cooper Jennings ’48 similarly served as a mentor … » More …

Fall 2018

A river rolls on

After thousands of years of use for food, transportation, and trade, the Columbia River’s dynamics have changed, resulting in unforeseen consequences and deeply mixed emotions.

 

Once there were Five Sisters. Because they loved to eat salmon, the sisters kept a dam at the mouth of Big River to prevent the fish from swimming upstream. Every night they feasted on a wonderful, fat salmon. This didn’t suit Coyote, who thought that the salmon need the people and the people need the salmon. Or maybe he was jealous and wanted some of that fat salmon for himself. So Coyote tricked the sisters to get into their … » More …

Irrigated water in the Columbia Basin. Photo Zach Mazur
Fall 2018

Three economists on the Columbia river

Retired Washington State University economist Norm Whittlesey is sitting at his kitchen table with two other retired economists, Walt Butcher and Ken Casavant. They are reminiscing about the collective 150 years they have worked on and around the Columbia River.

“We used to catch steelhead on the Snake River before the dam,” says Whittlesey. “I’ve got a picture of Walt with, what, a 25 pounder?”

Walt Butcher chuckles and says, “That fish might be up to 25 pounds by now.”

Casavant adds, “It’s been growing, even after being eaten.”

With a sweep of his hand across a map of the Columbia River watershed on the … » More …

Gay Pride flag in front of Mt. Rainier
Summer 2018

Out West

We make so many assumptions about gender expression and identity, and sexual orientation, that it’s sometimes a shock to realize that ideas about them have changed over time. Take pink and blue.

Pink is for girls, blue is for boys—except when it wasn’t. A Ladies’ Home Journal article from 1918 clearly states that “the generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”

A decade later, Time magazine repeated the … » More …