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American West

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 …

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 …

Book - Briefly Noted
Spring 2018

Briefly noted

 

On the Arctic Frontier: Ernest Leffingwell’s Polar Explorations and Legacy

Janet R. Collins

WSU Press: 2017

Arctic explorer and geologist Ernest deKoven Leffingwell(1875–1971) helped determine the edge of the continental shelf—the first solid evidence that searching for land north of Alaska was likely futile. He also left detailed, accurate maps of Alaska’s northeast coast, groundbreaking permafrost studies, and charted the geology and wildlife of the region. Collins, a Western Washington University librarian intrigued by Leffingwell’s work, reveals a relatively unknown, meticulous, and detailed explorer devoted to the Arctic.

 

Re-Awakening Ancient Salish Sea Basketry: Fifty Years of Basketry Studies in Culture and Science

Ed … » More …

Cover of Losing Eden: An Environmental History of the American West
Spring 2018

Losing Eden: An Environmental History of the American West

Cover of Losing Eden: An Environmental History of the American West

Sara Dant ’91 MA, ’00 PhD

Wiley: 2017

 

The 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition welcomed millions of people to Chicago to celebrate the rise of industrial America, the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival on the continent, and the romanticization of the “frontier” West. Historian Frederick Jackson Turner presented his thesis that the western advance into a wild and savage frontier defined the American spirit, and … » More …

Green and Roughshod cover
Winter 2017

Green and Roughshod: I Should’ve Stayed a Montana Cowboy

Green and Roughshod cover

Dan H. McLachlan ’66, ’69 MA

Aventine Press: 2016

 

The dream of a little boy to become a cowboy came true for Dan McLachlan. He read a 1927 text, All in the Day’s Riding, as an eighth-grader in Palo Alto, California, and became enamored with the vision of a wide blue sky viewed from horseback. After earning enough to buy two horses and tack, he eventually ended up in Montana for … » More …

Trout Culture cover
Spring 2016

Trout Culture: How Fly Fishing Forever Changed the Rocky Mountain West

Trout Culture cover

Jen Corrinne Brown ’12 PhD

University of Washington Press: 2015

With help from Hollywood and even popular beer labels, the Rocky Mountain region of the American West enjoys an iconic reputation for wild and natural fishing. It’s where rugged individualists reconnect with nature through timeless traditions.

Missing from the customary narrative are the generations of human intervention, environmental manipulation, and social transformation.

Brown, who earned a history doctorate from WSU in 2012, calls … » More …

Astoria Bridge
Spring 2015

The West in the words of Washington Irving

“The broad and beautiful Columbia lay before them, smooth and unruffled as a mirror … .

“About thirty miles above Point Vancouver the mountains again approach on both sides of the river, which is bordered by stupendous precipices, covered with the fir and the white cedar, and enlivened occasionally by beautiful cascades leaping from a great height, and sending up wreaths of vapor.” —Astoria