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Native Americans

Spring 2007

Foraged foods: Serving up a traditional meal from the Columbia plateau

In a wooded spot a half-mile from Washington State University’s Pullman campus, an older woman with long braids and an apron emblazoned with the words “got buns?” tended an alderwood fire. Geraldine Jim, a salmon expert from the Warm Springs Reservation in Oregon, used the back of a pickup truck as her staging area. She threaded the salmon halves lengthwise onto long, stripped sticks of dogwood and ironwood. While the fish roasted, she circled the fire, running her hand up the skin side to feel for doneness. She pointed out how a half-section of the fish is threaded down the stick, the thin tail end … » More …

Spring 2007

Just like it was yesterday

“We were living a good life,” said Albert Redstarr Andrews in a meditation concluding the second Plateau Conference, “and we were disturbed.” What might be taken as gracious understatement also resonated with profound loss.

In spite of a generally liberal sensibility and Native great-grandmother, I confess there have been times upon hearing Native Americans speak of the injustices of manifest destiny and conquest, I’ve wondered when they will finally accept, no matter the past injustice, that this is simply the way things are. Having attended the conference in October, however, I find I am still capable of learning.

The focus of this year’s conference was … » More …

Summer 2007

She's home

When her husband-to-be Michael Pavel took her home to the Skokomish reservation in the summer of 1996, it was revealed that Susan Pavel (photo, center) couldn’t cook.

“The attitude,” she says, “was, well, let’s teach you some useful trade. Like weaving.”

And with that, Susan Pavel (’99 Ph.D.) joined the revival of Coast Salish weaving.

Susan and Michael, a Washington State University faculty member in education, were living with his uncle, Bruce Miller, a master weaver.

“He started me at the beginning, carding the wool, spinning the wool, dyeing the wool, working up the loom. Actual weaving was maybe a third of the process.”

Susan … » More …

Spring 2003

Sherman Alexie: "It's all good"

It may look the same today, but as Sherman Alexie walked down the aisle of the Kenworthy Theater in Moscow, Idaho, he realized his last memory of the place was, well, a little bit hazy.

“I was just recalling with a friend of mine who I went to school at Wazzu with that this is the first time I’ve been in this theater sober,” Alexie said, glancing around the old theater at the Palouse premier of his second movie, The Business of Fancydancing, last September. “And I’ve been sober a long time.”

Eleven years, actually, he says with pride, urging other young tribal members in … » More …

Winter 2002

Lone Star Dietz left a football legacy

“That was the game which was to change the face of New Year’s Day in the years to come.” —Rose Bowl historian Rube Samuelsen

In the first four decades of the 20th century, hardly a week went by during football season when the name of William H. “Lone Star” Dietz’s didn’t appear in the nation’s sports pages. Today it’s rarely heard in Pullman, or anywhere else. In spite of that near silence for 60 years now, the one-time Washington State College football coach (1915-1917, 17-2-1 record) left a legacy that could land him in the College Football Hall of Fame next year.

He began his … » More …

Spring 2004

Author Sherman Alexie receives Regents' Distinguished Alumnus Award

Sherman Alexie likes to remind people that attending Washington State University presented him with a real challenge. As a Spokane Indian, a liberal, and a writer, he did not fit the prevalent mold of students attending WSU in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Regardless, on October 10, 2003, WSU president V. Lane Rawlins presented Alexie with the University’s highest alumni honor, the Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Since leaving WSU in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in American studies, Alexie has published nine books of fiction and poetry and has written and directed two award-winning movies. Widely popular, his short stories appear in the nation’s … » More …

Winter 2005

Being Sacagawea

For the past two years historian Jeanne Eder has been traveling in Sacagawea’s footsteps. Donning a traditional dress as well as another woman’s persona, Eder has toured the West performing her interpretation of an older and wiser Sacagawea who, years after the Journey of Discovery expedition, has time to reflect.

Eder (’00 Ph.D. Hist.) teaches at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. A Dakota Sioux who grew up on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in northeast Montana, she researches the lives of historic Native American women and portrays them in Chautauqua-style performances.

Playing the most famous woman of the 1800s has its challenges, says Eder. “People … » More …

Fall 2005

Camp Larson—a heritage reclaimed

For the first time in maybe a century, ceremonial songs of the Coeur d’Alene tribe floated across Cottonwood Bay on Lake Coeur d’Alene last spring. The Coeur d’Alenes were reclaiming a portion of their ancestral lands, a place where they can connect with their past and create a future of education and counseling programs for their children and families.

The site, Camp Larson, was an educational venture started by a group of Washington State University instructors nearly 50 years ago, when Roger Larson and several colleagues found the picturesque property for sale at the south end of the Idaho lake. Through the University they created … » More …