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Cultural studies

Spring 2005

Conference Brings Plateau Tribes and WSU a Few Steps Closer

To get here, most elders at Washington State University’s conference honoring the Plateau Tribes had to pass by places defined now only by what they used to be.

From Oregon and Washington, they drove along the Columbia, past dams where once abundant fish runs sustained them as “salmon people.”

From Idaho and Montana, they passed land that belonged to no one, by root-digging prairies and camas fields now gated and signed, “no trespassing.”

“As I traveled up here, I pointed out things along the river to my son,” said Wilfred Jim, a 67-year-old enrolled Yakama who lives in Warm Springs, Oregon . . . this … » More …

Fall 2009

“Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing…”

“Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing…”

—Henri Cartier-Bresson

In 1948 20-year-old photographer Don Normark walked up a hill in Los Angeles looking for a good view. Instead he found Chávez Ravine, site of three ramshackle Mexican-American neighborhoods tucked into Elysian Park “like a poor man’s Shangri-La,” he thought. He spent much of the next year photographing this uniquely intact rural community. Accepted by the residents, he returned often with his camera to witness a life that, though limited by poverty, was lived fully, openly, and joyfully.

In 1950 the people received letters telling them that they must sell their homes to the government … » More …

Winter 2007

Language lessons

When Saad Alshahrani came to graduate school at Washington State University, he didn’t speak a bit of English.

Addled by the long flights from Saudi Arabia, he tried to walk out of the airport in Seattle. He didn’t understand that his new home was still 300 miles to the east. The airport officials put him on a small plane to Pullman, which left him in a near-empty airport just after midnight.

“Imagine that,” he says. “I didn’t know anybody. No taxi, and no hotel.”

Fortunately, Devon Anderson, who works for the WSU Foundation, saw Alshahrani get off the plane. She understood that he was a … » More …

Ozette Art and the Makah Canoe

Many questions remain concerning the contents of the longhouses  excavated at Ozette. One of the most intriguing is the nature of its art, which was pervasive. More than 400 artifacts stored at the Makah Cultural Center might be considered art. Although a few pieces, such as the well-known carved whale saddle, are (presumably) ritualistic, most are everyday objects, combs, bowls, clubs, embellished with designs.

Jeff Mauger (PhD ’78), an archaeologist at Peninsula Community College in Port Angeles, earned his doctorate from WSU, analyzing the shed-roof style of the houses at Ozette and their relation to the style throughout the Northwest coast. Since then he … » More …

Winter 2008

A reburial eases a clash of culture and science

On a bluff above the Snake River, a few miles upstream from the Tri-Cities, people are gathering on a July morning to bury their dead. Or rebury, actually. The bones that fill the ordinary cardboard boxes sitting next to a deep open grave have spent decades in a laboratory storeroom. On one box is printed in neat letters, “woman and child.”

A warm breeze rustles the sage and wild rye, as people approach the grave in small groups, people of the Yakama, Colville, Nez Perce, Umatilla, and Wannapum. Although the identities of the remains are uncertain, they are certainly ancestors of many of those gathered … » More …

Spring 2006

What I've Learned Since College: An interview with Rebecca Miles

Last May, Rebecca Miles became the first woman and, at age 32, the youngest person to be elected chairman of the Nez Perce tribe. In her one-year post representing the 3,000 members of the tribe, Miles has traveled the country speaking on issues like salmon recovery and the 150th anniversary of the Nez Perce treaty. She has also worked hard at home to address local issues, raise her two sons, and serve her community. A 1997 criminal justice graduate of Washington State University, Miles went on to earn a graduate degree in organizational leadership from Gonzaga University. She spoke with Hannelore Sudermann November 15, 2005, … » More …

Winter 2004

Chicana Leadership: The Frontiers Reader

This collection of inspired and thoughtful articles, originally published in Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies from 1980 to 1999, examines not only Chicana leadership, but also Chicana activism, history, and identity. According to the primary editor, Yolanda Flores Niemann, chair, Department of Comparative Ethnic Studies at Washington State University, Chicanas are virtually invisible to U.S. society and oftentimes even to their own communities. Nevertheless, from leading boycotts, challenging injustice, and shaping the creative and performing arts to carving out sexual, cultural, political, and national identities in public and not-so-public ways, Chicanas are ubiquitous.

The problem is that we do not see Chicanas’ work, their … » More …

A new memorial in Neah Bay, built on land donated by Ed Claplanhoo '56, his wife Thelma, and two other Makah families, commemorates area veterans and the presence of Spain on the Northwest coast as early as 1774. Photo Zach Mazur
Fall 2008

A memorial and a blessing

At the western edge of the Makah Nation village of Neah Bay sits a tidy new park. It marks the spot where 216 years ago Spanish explorers built the first European settlement in the continental United States west of the Rockies and north of San Francisco.

Fort Núñez Gaona–Diah Veterans Park, dedicated in May, was built on property donated by Ed Claplanhoo ’56, his wife Thelma, and two other Makah families in a unique partnership amongst the Makahs, the state, and the Spanish government.

Claplanhoo, a former Makah Tribal chair, had known of the historic significance of his property for many years, even marking it … » More …

Summer 2002

The Cayton Legacy: An African American Family

Set in Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York, The Cayton Legacy chronicles the evolution of a remarkable African American family. From the Civil War to the present, generations of the Horace and Susie Cayton family helped illuminate the black and white experience and the troubled course of race relations in the United States.

The Caytons sought to define themselves in relation to their family traditions and to society as a whole. In the process, the distinguished family attained financial success and influence, both regionally and nationally. Family members published newspapers, wrote books, and were elected to public office. They worked for civil and human … » More …