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October 11th, 2017

Today Ken Coleman talks with us about his new book Dangerous Subjects: James D. Saules and the Rise of Black Exclusion in Oregon. Dangerous Subjects is Ken’s first published book and explores the unique story of James D. Saules, a black sailor who settled in Oregon in 1841.

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OSU Press: Briefly describe your book Dangerous Subjects.

Coleman: It’s an account of what I refer to as the “Americanization” of Oregon centered around one person. The Americanization of Oregon was a colonial process that began when Anglo-American farm families began arriving in the region in large numbers in the 1840s. In some ways, it’s a story that’s been told many times before, but most historians have either focused on American settlers or—in recent years—indigenous or mixed-race communities. Instead, I was interested in how the arrival of the Oregon Trail immigrants coincided almost immediately with a series of laws banning black people from living in Oregon. I centered my narrative on one man, James D. Saules, someone whom historians have either ignored or treated as a peripheral figure in early Oregon history. Saules was a black man who settled in Oregon two years before the first major wagon trains arrived, and is most often cited as the man who inspired Oregon’s first black exclusion law. The book is not only about the local and national context of Oregon’s early black exclusion laws, but about how Saules coped with and adapted to massive social, political, and cultural shifts in Oregon.

OSU Press: What about James D. Saules’ life initially drew you in to his story? Why did you originally feel compelled to write this account of his life?

Coleman: When I began researching black exclusion in Oregon several years ago, I was struck by how often Saules appeared in the historical record. Truth be told, compared to white elites of the same period, it wasn’t much. But for a member of a racialized minority like Saules, it was significant. Secondly, Saules was a sailor. Oregon’s black exclusion laws and the rhetoric political figures used to support them often singled out black sailors as a particular threat to the nascent American settlement. Many suggested that black sailors would incite Native people to violence against white settlers. I knew Saules was actually arrested for doing just this, so I tried to find out as much as I could about him. It turned out he lived an extraordinary life, and the more I found out about him, the more his life took on an epic scope.

OSU Press: Why study the colonial and racial history of the Pacific Northwest through the eyes of this particular figure? What, if anything, does that do for the account of history? Are there concerns with limiting the perspective to one particular individual or does it provide a unique opportunity? If so, why?

Coleman: I don’t think it’s possible to “see” history through the eyes of a historical figure, since we only know historical figures through textual evidence. This is made more difficult since most of evidence about Saules was written by white elites, and I come to this subject as a privileged twenty-first century white male. That being said, once I narrowed my focus to Saules, ironically the story became much bigger and I was able to connect Saules to larger national and transnational historical processes. Saules was a free black man from Connecticut who had worked as a whaler in the South Pacific and later served as a cook on the United States Exploration Expedition, a naval voyage of discovery unprecedented in size and scope. This led me to research such topics as the nineteenth-century international maritime economy, merchant capitalism, U.S. and European imperialism during the Age of Sail, and the experience of black people who worked aboard sailing ships. These were all topics I doubt I would have encountered had I researched and written the book as a more local study of race relations in Oregon. For instance, by focusing on Saules, it became even more apparent that the United States was shifting from a maritime nation to one that looked to its own interior for economic resources. This fact would have a major impact in Oregon, and Saules was present when these changes occurred. I also learned that legislation targeting black sailors for exclusion was not unique to Oregon and was common in other parts of the United States, particularly the American South.

Historians who grapple with issues relating to race, class, gender, and sexual orientation often face a dearth of sources about the lives of specific people whose lives were affected by these axes of inequality. And as I mentioned before, most readily-available primary sources from the first half of the nineteenth century are written by white elites: government officials, military officers, journalists, missionaries, merchants, financiers, etc. Because of this, social historians have to read existing sources against the grain and often have to generalize to address silences in the historical record. I certainly wasn’t immune to this. As I wrote this book, I had to generalize, speculate, and engage in deductive reasoning to try to fill in the blanks. But when you focus on one person, I think you can keep generalization to a minimum and write about topics like black exclusion and white supremacy not as abstract historical processes, but as very real things that involved and affected very real human beings. For the reader, I hope this makes this account of history more intimate and less abstract.

OSU Press: Why publish this particular account today? What kind of impact do you hope this book will make? How do you hope this book to be received? What kind of audiences do you hope to reach?

Coleman: As I wrote this book, the phrase “black lives matter” and the activism around it entered into the American consciousness after the death of Trayvon Martin. My simplest answer is that I hope this book makes some contribution to the notion that the black lives mattered in the past as well.

When I began researching this project in 2011, certain political commentators were still describing the United States as a “post-racial” nation, that somehow the election of Barack Obama proved that white supremacy was a thing of the past. Obviously, this claim is belied by almost everything that has occurred since, not the least of which was the election of a president who made racial fear and scapegoating the centerpiece of his campaign.

On a more local level, my hometown of Portland, Oregon in the same Willamette Valley where Saules once resided remains one of the least racially diverse cities in the United States in a region—the American West—increasingly defined by its ethnic diversity. I insist this lack of diversity was by design, not happenstance.

The United States is a nation founded on the theft of indigenous land and the labor of enslaved human beings, and white supremacy and ethnic cleansing was central to U.S. imperial expansion. Yet I insist that racism is not an ahistorical aspect of human nature, and race itself is a social and historical formation. Because of this, I believe it can be overcome. But it can’t be eradicated overnight by the election of a president, and it won’t be overcome unless we begin by taking an honest and clear-eyed look at our collective past. Therefore, I think it’s essential that Americans in general and Oregonians in particular remember that they live in a colonized space. A phenomenon like the Oregon Trail should be viewed as more than the heroic trek of hardscrabble pioneers. It was also a tactic of American imperialism in which Anglo-American settlers imposed their own racial and social order with little regard for the Native, mixed-race, black, and Pacific Islander people who lived there.

Yet the task of a historian is to understand the past rather than pass judgment on historical actors. I think my account of Saules’ life and times complicates tidy narratives. Such as one of my central points, that Saules was both an agent of empire and a victim of it; for white settlers, he occupied a liminal state between colonizer and colonized. Furthermore, historical forces like colonialism, racism, and capitalism are multifaceted and dynamic, and historians need to track these changes.

As for an audience, I am trained as an academic historian, but I wrote the book to appeal to an audience beyond academia. I tried to keep jargon and esoteric references to a minimum in an effort to connect with readers of any background. In particular, I hope high school and college students could read the book and come away with a solid understanding of Oregon colonial past and present.

OSU Press: What insights do you have after publishing this book with the OSU Press?

Coleman: This was my first book. And I’m sure just about every first-time author has the same thought: If I ever have the opportunity to write another one, I would do just about everything differently. In particular, I eventually learned how crucial it is to not lean so heavily on digitized sources. It’s important to get off the computer, leave the house, hit the physical archives, and, most importantly, talk to a wide variety of people and actually listen. It was through these personal interactions that I had my biggest breakthroughs.

Another major lesson I learned through working with OSU Press is that regardless of the fact that my name is on the cover, writing a book is a deeply collaborative process. Once my rough manuscript began passing through the hands of various readers, reviewers, and editors, it kept reemerging as something different and far stronger. This can be a painful process, especially when criticism strikes a raw nerve, but it improved the book significantly.

October 10th, 2017

The impetus for Larry Lipin’s most recent book, Eleanor Baldwin and the Woman’s Point of View, came while researching his previous book. Like an earworm that couldn’t be shaken, Larry kept coming back to Eleanor Baldwin’s story as a radical female journalist from Portland, Oregon. His book takes a nuanced and complicated look at Baldwin’s compelling, and at times seemingly paradoxical, intellectual journey in the previously forgotten account of Portland’s Progressive Era. Below, Larry gives us a glimpse into the contradictions within Baldwin’s character that made her so worth writing about.

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I first came across Eleanor Florence Baldwin while researching my book Workers and the Wild (University of Illinois Press, 2007) that explores Oregon labor and its changing relationship with nature. Baldwin had written a letter to the editor of the Oregon Labor Press (OLP) defending the right of poor working people to augment their wages and to provide some healthy leisure outside of the degradations of the workplace by fishing; she came out in support of measures that would limit the commercial take of salmon on the Willamette River.

A little later I came across a few other of Baldwin’s letters that spoke to some of the more divisive issues that made their way into that newspaper’s pages, notably defenses of the Bolsheviks and the anti-Catholicism that would be associated with the KKK. The OLP’s editor, Clarence Rynerson, had denounced the Klan as an anti-labor organization when it first appeared, but as the Invisible Empire grew more powerful in Oregon, the OLP grew more silent. It became evident that the solidarities of the trade union movement, like those of Oregon in general, had been rent apart by the Klan. Yet, Baldwin’s simultaneous support for Bolsheviks and Klansmen caught my attention. Enough so that while waiting for some materials at the Multnomah County library, I used their extensive card index (as quaint as that sounds) for individuals who appeared in the local press to seek out some information about this odd person. That led me to her obituaries.

It was then that I learned that Baldwin had been a female writer who for three years put together a daily woman’s column that had appeared on the editorial page of the Portland Evening Telegram between 1906 and 1909, that she honored the abolitionist memory of her minister father, and that she was a monetary theorist of sorts who brought nineteenth century greenbackism and anti-banker sentiment into the early twentieth century. This made her seem all the more interesting, as this Klan supporter had continually honored her family’s abolitionist stature.

Yet, there were things holding me back from committing to this project. Noting that her monetary tract—and a subsequent unpublished sequel—were held in the special collections department of the University of Oregon library, I drove from Portland to Eugene to read her tract. In it, Baldwin sought to convince her readers that money was a “force” and not a mere medium of exchange; I duly noted the argument, but came away unimpressed. The cultural use of electricity as a metaphor for both the human body and mind were familiar to me, but not that interesting. Still the contradictions of her biography bothered me and would not let me completely leave it at that. I decided I needed to read the columns.

After taking notes on many of them, I decided that this project was not worth the time that would be needed to read all nine-hundred columns, so I began to photocopy them off the microfilm reader. I knew I had a sabbatical coming up in the next couple of years and that I could use that to make sense of them. Desiring searchable data, I found a student of mine to transcribe them into word documents. That student, Caty Prechtal, soon came to know Baldwin better than I did; some of her email messages with transcribed documents came with exclamations of how interesting she was. As Ms. Prechtal had taken my Victorian gender and sexuality course at Pacific University, she knew the context in which Baldwin had lived and these expressions of interest were reasonably grounded. Her emails slowly but surely caught my attention, and so I began to read the columns in earnest.

What I found was a remarkably progressive woman, which did nothing to blunt the contradictions that I had originally found and which continued to perplex. But other things came into sharper focus. The columns made clear that Baldwin was an adherent of the emerging “New Thought” religious tradition, and Portland, I soon learned, had been a center for women who had moved into this religious belief system from spiritualism. New Thought came out of mind-cure circles in New England; it was significant enough to capture the attention of William James who wrote about it in his Varieties of Religious Experience. The gist was that the focused mind could not only cure the body, but that the collective mind could cure society of its illnesses. Though the tradition would eventually move towards the kind of mainstream religion as offered by Norman Vincent Peale or what some call “prosperity gospel,” in Baldwin’s day it nurtured a number of socialists who believed that the mind could bring forth a socialist utopia. This tradition was evident in many of her columns, as was her friendship with other local practitioners like Lucy Rose Mallory who published a monthly newspaper that melded together spiritualism, left-wing populism, and New Thought for decades, and the woman’s right activist, Clara Colby. I was pretty much convinced that I needed to write about Baldwin, if for no other reason than to alert others to the vitality of this tradition.

And, thus, I was motivated to return to Eugene to one more time go through her papers regarding the nature of money, and what I had previously thought had been incoherent became much clearer: Baldwin had been translating greenback labor theory into New Thought language. Her final and unpublished manuscript, written in the early 1920s as she was writing her defenses of both Bolsheviks and Klansmen, sought to reinvigorate the socialist possibilities in New Thought against the more individualistic and consumerist direction to which it was inevitably tending. All of a sudden, the incoherent and uninteresting was transformed into a fascinating, if unsuccessful attempt to adapt nineteenth century religious and political traditions into a meaningful political and spiritual statement for the developing mass consumer society of the twentieth century.

And in this way I committed to Eleanor Baldwin and the writing of this book.

August 17th, 2017

Dangerous SubjectsLast week’s events in Charlottesville serve as a chilling reminder of why it is essential for us to tell, and keep telling, the story of slavery in America. Oregon entered the union in 1859, just before the Civil War, under a cloud of deliberate racial exclusion that casts its shadow to the present day. These books from OSU Press confront, each in its own way, the legacy of slavery in Oregon.

BreakiBreaking Chainsng Chains: Slavery on Trial in Oregon by R. Gregory Nokes

The Color of Night: Race, Railroaders, and Murder in the Wartime West by Max G. Geier

Dangerous Subjects: James D. Saules and the Rise of Black Exclusion in Oregon by Kenneth R. Coleman (available October 2017)

A Force for Change: Beatrice Morrow Cannady and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Oregon, 1912-1936 by Kimberley Mangun

Lincoln and Oregon Country Politics in the Civil War Era by Richard W. Etulain

Remembering the Power of Words: The Life of an Oregon Activist, Legislator, and Community Leader by Avel Louise Gordly with Patricia A. Schechter

Outsiders in a Promised Land: Religious Activists in Pacific Northwest History by Dale Soden

Race and Science: Scientific Challenges to Racism in Modern America edited by Paul Farber and Hamilton Cravens

 

 

 

August 14th, 2017

What does it mean to conduct research while still being respectful to the population being studied? For Renee Pualani Louis, this was a question she faced when studying Hawaii cartography for her new book, Kanaka Hawaii Cartography: Hula, Navigation, and Oratory. Louis had signed up for classes at Aunty Margaret Machado’s Hawaiian Massage Academy, where she met Aunty Moana Kahele. She had entered the classes purely with the intent of learning lomilomi, Hawaii massage, but also had an interest in the place names and stories of the area surrounding them. In this excerpt from Kanaka Hawaii Cartography, Louis illuminates the research process she used with Aunty Moana and the relationship they built from their time together.

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“Aia i Hea Au? Nānā i ka Wā ma Mua” (Where Am I? Look to the Space/Time in Front/Before)

Summer 2003—Dreams

 

I conducted our discussions in English, and at times, Aunty Moana would say a few phrases in Hawai‘i language, asking if I understood what she said. Most of the time I did understand her, but responded with my limited language skills and usually finished off in English. This naturally set the tone for our rapport. It did not stop her from using Hawai‘i language phrases; she just did not expect me to respond in Hawai‘i language. I am certain that a researcher with more confidence in their Hawai‘i language skills would have received a different depth of sharing to which I was not privileged.

 

Although I initially set out to digitally record our discussions, both audio and video, Aunty Moana preferred that our sessions be conducted without being taped. Instead, she referred me to another video done by Kamehameha Schools Land Asset Division. In one instance, I was told specifically that the stories being shared were for me to remember and not for others to know on a tape. I was able to get a copy of both the report done by Kumu Pono Associates and the video done by Nā Maka O Ka ‘Aina.

 

As Aunty Moana spoke of different places, she weaved in genealogies and personal experiences. After three or four sessions, I started asking if the person she was talking about was the same one from a different story, stating, “You know, the one where…”, finishing the sentence with the story she had told me. Occasionally, she corrected me, emphasizing points I was certain I hadn’t heard before. It was about this time that I shared with her two dreams I had about Kealakekua and Kapukapu.

 

Although having a well-known and very deeply respected person willing to share the stories of Kapukapu could be seen as reason enough to conduct this research, I acknowledge that, for Native people, the search for knowledge is much more than a physical task. It is also a spiritual learning. I continue to hear many stories of academics doing research on Indigenous people or in Indigenous communities for research’s sake, without bothering to ask if either the people or the place could benefit from the research. I didn’t want to be one of those people, and while I knew Aunty Moana wanted to work with me and wanted to share her knowledge, I just wasn’t sure the place was ready to share itself with me. So, I did what came naturally. I prayed for a sign, a vision, a dream, anything that would let me know that it was pono, meaning proper, righteous, virtuous, to do this research and learn about the intimate details of Kapukapu. Thankfully, the answer came in the form of several dreams over several weeks. These are two of the dreams I shared with Aunty Moana.

 

In the first I was a young girl running, playing with a young Kanaka Hawai‘i boy in a forest. I was chasing him on a worn path, both us laughing as we took turns hiding with the chance of surprising the other unawares. We decorated each other with flowers and ferns picked along the way. We climbed trees, made birdcalls, picked and ate fruit. By and by we reached a community near the shoreline. I observed many structures, men fixing fishing nets, women picking seaweed. Although the people noticed us, they returned to their work speaking to each other… in Hawai‘i language.

 

That was certainly strange, because although I passed my language requirement by taking a third year of Hawai‘i language, I still didn’t feel confident in my ability to speak Hawai‘i language and was still only somewhat confident in my ability to comprehend oral communication. So, hearing them speaking Hawai‘i language and understanding them in my dream was strange, in retrospect. Nonetheless, no one stopped either the boy or me from playing. No one scolded us for making too much noise. No one warned us not to go over the ridge.

 

I remember feeling like this was a new place to me. Like I was the new kid and this young boy was from this village. I felt that he must know the right places to go and not to go, because I certainly didn’t feel like I knew. We continued to play, winding our way up the mountain playing hide-and-seek in empty caves. The higher we got, the funnier the air began to taste, and all of a sudden we were at the ridge, and we were very quiet. The little boy’s eyes were in distress as he motioned for me to meet him on the summit. I slowly joined him and saw the reason for his anguish. On the other side of the ridge was the modern development Kona has become, with houses, roads, industrial warehouses, and an ocean filled with motorized fishing boats. Gone were the trees, gone were the birds, gone were the places for the practices of the people of old.

 

Without saying a word, he communicated to me with a long hard glare, and I knew what I was supposed to do. As he returned to his village, his time, I stood and walked the summit toward the ocean, the village on one side, the modern development on the other. These two incongruent cultural landscapes were separated by this ridge that I walked like a fence until I reached the ocean. I sat on the cliff pondering what this all meant as the sun began to set.  I realized I was at a juncture in space/time. I knew what was coming fro the village. I knew the cultural landscape that celebrated a Hawai‘i understanding of life would soon be engulfed and could quite possibly be forgotten… unless some people chose to remember, and not just remember but remind others of what existed here before it became thoroughly swallowed up.

 

Becoming or being one of those people is a tall order, a hefty responsibility that I was not sure I was chosen to carry out. So I did the unthinkable. I dove off the cliff into the ocean below, even though I somehow maintained my fear of the ocean in the dream. I remember thinking that if it was the right thing to do, I wouldn’t die. I had heard somewhere that if you die in your dreams you are quite possibly dying, and I didn’t want to die. I just wanted to know for sure that this was right.

 

I didn’t die. I remember surfacing rather relieved. I was treading water when I saw probably my greatest fear approaching, the huge dorsal fin of a shark. I began thinking now I was going to die. But then I didn’t panic or feel like fleeing. I remember thinking if this was it, there was nothing I could do. Then I realized I was surrounded by all the creatures in the ocean, turtles to the left of me, dolphins to the right, and various fish scattered between them, including rays and eels. As the shark slowed and settled in front of me, the circle was complete. The awe I felt for all these ocean creatures to surround me as such was so great, the meaning too much for me to comprehend, the power too immense to perceive. I awoke, but as I did I remember looking down seeing it all: the circle, the village, the modern development, and me.

 

By the time I had my second dream, I had a chance to speak with someone about my fears of the ocean. I expressed the reasons and the rationale for my fear and was given very good advice from committee member Manulani Aluli Meyer in a personal email communication. She said fear lives in our minds. When it is shaped by experience, it becomes a conception that is difficult to change by just thinking about it. To remove this kind of fear, I had to get out of my mind and return to my body. I had to go into the ocean and deconstruct the fear that I had created in my body by retraining my body to change my response to the ocean.

 

I did just that. I started taking small steps to get over my fear and began visiting the ocean more often and staying in the water longer with each visit. At first the slightest touch of any object would send a bolt of terror through my body. Eventually, I got over the terror of things touching me in the ocean and started working on feeling comfortable treading water. This is a good place to tell you about the second dream, because it starts with me treading water in the middle of Kapukapu.

 

In this dream I have no idea how I got to be in the middle of the bay. There are no boats around me, no kayaks, and no people, just the calmly lapping sounds of the ocean all around me as I tread water looking west into the Pacific Ocean. In this dream I am not afraid of the ocean or of not being able to feel the earth under my feet. As I turn to my right, I see the flat of Ka‘awaloa and imagine the ali‘I, Hawai‘i leaders, that made their residences there. It seems like an excellent place for affairs of the government. It’s near a permanent aquacultural food supply, has access to agricultural fields up mauka, has easy, quick access to launch an attack or flee from one, and has several brackish water holes.

 

As I continue to turn to my right, Kapaliomanuahi rises from Ka‘awaloa flats and becomes Nāpalikapuokeoua. The sight is immense, and I realize that where I’m treading water, the ocean floor is probably as deep as those cliffs are high. I continue to turn to my right, facing east looking toward the beach. I imagine the shore once lined with sand and small structures for the kāhuna, master practitioners, who lived and practiced here. Still turning to my right I see Hikiau Heiau and realize it would have been the tallest structure on the beach, but is now dwarfed by modern homes that continue to line the coast as I turn to the south. It is at that moment that I sense the presence of another. It was the shark, Kua, from Ka‘ū, an ancestor for many families from Ka‘ū and the namesake for Kealakekua, according to Aunty Moana’s story.

 

I turn to face him. It seems as though I know that this is the reason I was there treading water. I was waiting to meet him. In retrospect I am really not surprised I was not afraid of treading water or the arrival of a shark or meeting such an important ancestral entity. I turned completely toward Kua and said, “Ah, there you are.” He swam by, nudging me, and I took it as a sign to hold on, which I did. It’s amazing that you can breathe underwater in your dreams. He gave me a tour of the bay, showing me the many crevices and underwater caves. It was beautiful. When it was time to go, he looked me in the eye. I recognized that look. It was the same glaring look the little boy gave me at the summit. They were one and the same.

 

It was after this dream that I finally felt this research was the right thing to do. I, of course, shared these experiences with Aunty Moana, and our talks became more intense. She would still take quite a few minutes talking about the demands others were placing on her time, but she more quickly moved on to telling me personal stories and experiences she had in connection to the spiritual landscape of Kapukapu and its surrounding areas. I literally felt myself transported into the stories she told—and I didn’t even have to close my eyes to imagine them. As I sat on the floor of Aunty Moana’s living room, I had no idea there was actually a pattern being revealed. She began with the story of Kealakekua as she had heard it passed down from generation to generation. She then elaborated on the misrepresentations of seven names that have been changed and circulated in textual and cartographic sources. Lastly, she breathed life into Kealakekua, revealing nine intimate stories of sensual geographies.

 

She would always give me a few days between sessions and encourage me to spend that time in those places I learned about. She said we remember better when all our senses are engaged in the learning process. That way the place and the story fused without na‘au, small intestines, and metaphorically, the seat of thought, intellect, affects, and moral nature (Andrews 1865). Our minds record everything, but our recall is usually limited to those things on which we focus. By experiencing the world more sensually, we allow our minds to make more subtle connections with each place. A practiced mind associates smell, temperature, humidity, wind direction, and the rhythmic movement of plants with the precursor of bad weather and will automatically bring a jacket to work without even thinking twice.

 

I spent many, many hours learning dozens of stories from Aunty Moana that summer. Stories that became a part of my being as I sensually experienced as many places as I could access. I was sad for my summer of learning to come to an end, because I knew I had only scratched the surface of knowledge maintained by this respected community elder. After each one of our discussions I wrote down as much as I could remember in personal journals. However, I remember thinking that I didn’t want my writing things down to take away from the experience of remembering the narrative, from experiencing the performance. I reminded myself that these notations were not meant to be a substitute for the performances. They were meant to aid me in writing this manuscript.

 

On my last day that summer with Aunty Moana, I wrote down the place names of all the stories she had shared with me and asked her which ones I could share in my dissertation. We discussed the reasons for each selection, and just before I left she handed me a handwritten copy of her manuscript, “Clouds of Memories.” She explained that she wrote all these stories down as she grew up listening to friends and family “talk story.” Since it was her last and only copy, I refused to take it and later acquired a copy from a friend to whom she had given a copy some years earlier.

 

I continued to call and visit Aunty Moana regularly after I returned to O‘ahu. The phone calls became fewer and farther apart, mostly because she was very busy working on other community matters. However, I was beginning to write up the work we had done together and wanted to present it at different conferences and needed to share that with her before turning in an abstract. When I did get through to her, she asked me where the conference was being held, who would be attending, and why I thought it was important to share the information. I asked before each conference and each article that referenced any information she shared with me. Although these conversations were the most tedious, they were also the most liberating because I knew I had received her blessing. This may seem excessive from the perspective of an academic code of ethical conduct, but it was the right thing to do. I continue to honor Aunty Moana at any presentation that contains any information from our work, or rather my training, together. Sometime later Aunty Moana was checked in to the Kona Hospital when she could no longer care for herself. Thereafter, I visited with her at the hospital, bringing her my latest chapters or articles. By then, she had grown to trust my representation of the information she shared with me, and most of our time together was filled with retelling stories. In the last few months of her life, I discovered someone had stolen Aunty Moana’s handwritten copy of her then-unpublished manuscript. On what was to be my last visit with her, she asked me to make copies of the manuscript I had acquired from a friend so she could give them to her adopted son and daughter. I gave her my “field” copy that day, knowing I had another “clean” copy at home. I told her I would bring the other copy next time, when I got back from a conference. At that moment, I realized there would not be a next time.

 

That was one of the hardest visits of my life, second only to being present at the death of my maternal grandmother. I asked if I could scan and include some of her stories in my dissertation, and she agreed to six of them. Of the twelve other stories she shared, she agreed I could transcribe seven of them from her then-unpublished manuscript, “Clouds of Memories.” She asked me to recount the other five stories from my recollection and, after careful consideration, agreed I was ready to share them from my own voice. Aunty Moana may not be in this world, but she is still part of my reality. I know those stories I share from my own voice carry with them the weight of her ancestors. To this day, I do not share them without first asking permission. I did not want to leave her bedside. I did not want this journey to end. But the nurse came in and said visiting hours were over. I kissed Aunty Moana goodbye on the cheek, and told her I would remain “open” to her continued guidance. She was calm and composed and graciously reminded me, “This is important work.”

August 9th, 2017

Henry Zenk, co-translator with Jedd Schrock of My Life, by Louis Kenoyer: Reminiscences of a Grand Ronde Reservation Childhood, is here to explain the complicated and painstaking process he and Jedd Schrock undertook when translating the reminiscences left by Louis Kenoyer. Kenoyer was the last known speaker of Tualatin Northern Kalapuya, the language in which he dictated his memoir, describing life and recounting his childhood o n the Grand Ronde Reservation in Oregon in the late 19th Century. Zenk and Schrock were confronted with what many may have found to be an overwhelming obstacle: the linguists whose manuscripts they worked from left them with an incompletely translated text, but did not provide them with a usable description of the language’s grammar. The illustrations below sample the record left by the three linguists whose manuscripts Zenk and Schrock worked from: first, a typescript-page with interlinear and free translations; next, a field-notebook page with field translation; and finally, a field-notebook page minus translation.

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The subject matter of My Life, by Louis Kenoyer is a long autobiographical narrative told in Tualatin Northern Kalapuya, the indigenous language of one of the founding tribes of the Grand Ronde Reservation community. The narrative was dictated to three linguists by that language’s last known speaker, Louis Kenoyer, who died in 1937. Jedd Schrock and I undertook this task without the benefit of a proper formal description of the language’s morphology and syntax. While the three linguists who worked with Kenoyer left us an abundance of texts and word lists, they apparently devoted little attention to ferreting out subtle variations of linguistic form, as visible notably in the many permutations of recurring elements constituting its verb prefixes. This seems a good time to pause and reflect on just how we managed to understand Tualatin well enough to translate it into English, lacking a formal description of the language’s grammar.

The main key to our translation resides in the three linguists’ field translations, given by Kenoyer himself as the linguists read back the Tualatin text they had just transcribed from him. There are some complications, however. For one, the last quarter of the narrative (60 pages of bilingual English-Tualatin text as published) lacks a field translation, being preserved only as a Tualatin-only phonetic transcript in the field notebooks of Melville Jacobs, the linguist to whom we owe the final form of the narrative. For another, the field translations are rather free. To some extent, this reflects the fact that Kenoyer was quite comfortable using English, in which he was not only fluent but also literate (owing no doubt to a youth spent largely in government boarding schools, one of the main subject-matters of his narrative). In common with all Grand Ronde Indians of his generation, Kenoyer had also used Chinuk Wawa from childhood, a circumstance of some significance I believe. I was fortunate to have heard Chinuk Wawa from some of the last fluent elderly speakers of Kenoyer’s home community of Grand Ronde, among them Kenoyer’s step-niece, Clara Riggs. This experience has enabled me to recognize not only Chinuk Wawa words that Kenoyer used as part of his Tualatin (and there are quite a few of those), but also, what I take to be evidence of deeper influence affecting his Tualatin word orders.

The main difficulty confronting any attempt to use Kenoyer’s field translations to decipher his morphology is that his field translations are not literal. When translating his dictations as they were read back to him, Kenoyer was clearly more concerned to produce an intelligible, colloquial English, than he was to register minute differences of morphological form. What we really need is a living, fluent speaker, with whom to explore such fine distinctions in an experimental spirit. Through a process of trial and error, we might hope to tease out the nuanced meanings lent by a speaker’s selections of particular prefixes and suffixes to express particular meanings in particular contexts. While that can be quite a long drawn-out process, it leads to the most trustworthy results. If you have any such speaker for the indigenous language you are studying, take very good care of that speaker—he or she is gold! We don’t have that for Tualatin, nor for any of the other Kalapuyan languages.

What we can do, and what Jedd and I indeed did do in preparing Kenoyer’s narrative for publication, is to use the field translations of the translated parts of the narrative as a basis for translating its untranslated parts. In the process, we each developed our own working hypotheses for identifying and interpreting contrasting word-forms in Jacobs’s transcriptions (unfortunately, we have no audio of Kenoyer from which to form our own judgments). These hypotheses were informed by available linguistic work on Kalapuyan languages, primarily analyses conducted on the neighboring Central Kalapuya language. We tested our individual
working hypotheses against the untranslated text, then took them back to the translated text to see how they stacked up against Kenoyer’s field translations. This created a mutually reinforcing feedback loop, the ultimate result of which is that we must take the main credit—or blame—for the final form of the finished translation. Our independent translations of parts of the untranslated text came out looking very similar in all cases, giving us a high degree of confidence in the final product. While we must grant that an improved control of the morphology would permit a further sharpening of the translations, we feel that our translations compare favorably on that score to Kenoyer’s own field translations.

Speaking for myself, I would describe the translation process as a kind of gestalt exercise. This was most true, not surprisingly, for the untranslated sections of the narrative. Fortunately, a full 99% of the word-stems appearing in these sections were identifiable from the translated sections. But it isn’t enough to take a segment of untranslated text, and simply string together glosses (readings) pulled from the translated sections of the narrative. While we may not grasp all of the nuances conveyed by variations in the form of, for example, the verbal prefixes, we do have non-literal English glosses from Kenoyer’s translations to go with practically every recorded variation. For more frequently used forms, we have a range of such glosses. Moreover, with respect to the verbal prefixes in particular, those in Kalapuyan languages are characteristically multi-functional. A particular prefix or prefix complex typically combines reference to the subject of the verb action with its temporal and modal characteristics (tense and aspect, actuality or potentiality of realization, etc.). The decision of which gloss from the range of recorded glosses to apply to a particular form in a particular case requires close attention to the narrative context.

In some cases, it would be virtually impossible to divine the intended meaning of a form or expression, lacking clues from the field translation. For example, among Kenoyer’s many borrowings from Chinuk Wawa is the noun “pipa.” Usually, “pipa” carries the same range of

meanings in his Tualatin that it does in Chinuk Wawa: “paper, letter, document, book”; only Kenoyer uses it in some sections of the narrative with the extended meanings “reader” (that is, lesson book) and “grade level” (referring to which graded reader a student in the reservation boarding school is up to). The untranslated text segment describing daily lessons in the reservation boarding school would be very opaque indeed, had we not a preceding translated section in which “pipa” is used explicitly with reference to students’ grade levels.

The relevance of Chinuk Wawa to Kenoyer’s narrative is apparent not only with respect to borrowings used to express key concepts, as in the above example. One of the things that struck me personally is how suggestive Kenoyer’s Tualatin word orders are of Chinuk Wawa word orders: grammatical subjects precede the verb; grammatical objects usually follow the verb, but can be fronted for focus; temporal adverbs and adverbial phrases usually come clause-first, or occasionally, appear in clause-final position; there is a single universal preposition. While subject-verb-object order is equally characteristic of English, the other features are less so. By contrast to his highly uniform and predictable word orders, Kenoyer’s verbal morphology reveals many indications of inconsistency and irregularity: prefixes are usually, but not invariably present, and come with many variant forms; productive suffixes are few, and appear only sporadically. We need more comparative work on Kalapuyan to tell how unique Kenoyer’s Kalapuyan is in these respects. My own experience was that upon immersing myself in his Tualatin narrative, I began finding it surprisingly readable, a development that I am inclined to attribute to its uniform (and, significant to my mind at least, Chinuk-Wawa congruent) word orders. By the time we got to the final stages of preparing the narrative for publication, I was able to sit down with the Tualatin text and proof it without reference to the translations. This has left me in the rather peculiar position of having achieved a real feeling for this language—only please don’t ask me to explain (in too much detail, anyway) exactly just what are all those prefixes doing!

July 28th, 2017

New Strategies for Wicked Problems explores the various wicked problems-- problems that may be impossible or difficult to solve-- that impact our world today. Many of these issues are in need of democratic, creative, and effective solutions. Edward P. Weber, Denise Lach, and Brent S. Steel, professors here at Oregon State University, sought out the essays of other scholars in science, politics, and policy to address the challenges at hand. As a result, New Strategies for Wicked Problems gives a wide variety of alternative solutions to many major contemporary issues. Today readers will get an inside look at one of the Pacific Northwest's bigger issues: the decline in salmon runs and the secondary issues that arise from addressing such a significant problem.

 

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Chapter 3: Science and Salmon Recovery
"Policy Context"
Robert T. Lackey

The striking decline of salmon runs in California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho has been typical of those that have occurred elsewhere. In other regions of the world where salmon were once plentiful, increasing human numbers, their activities, and consequent alteration of the landscape have coincided with decreasing salmon abundance. Thus, what has happened-- and is happening-- to wild salmon in California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho is the latest example of a pattern that has played out numerous times in other regions of the world for salmon (Lack et al. 2006) and other fish species (Limburg and Waldman 2009; Limburg et al. 2011).

Prior to the 1800s, large spawning migrations (runs) of Atlantic salmon were found in many coastal rivers of western Europe and eastern North America (Montgomery 2003, National Research Council 2004). By the middle to late 1800s, many of those runs were drastically reduced, concurrent with human population increase and economic development (Limburg and Waldman 2009). Overall, salmon runs continue to be much reduced on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The largest remaining Atlantic salmon runs, although diminished by historical standards, occur in eastern Canada, Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, and the northern rivers of Norway, Finland, and Russia, locations with relatively few people and limited human impact on the aquatic environment. Nevertheless, Atlantic salmon are readily available in the retail market because commercial aquaculture provides an ample and consistent supply.

As with Atlantic salmon, Pacific salmon (Chinook, coho, sockeye, chum, pink, and steelhead) were historically abundant across a large region (Augerot 2005). Nevertheless, Pacific salmon, found on both sides of the North Pacific, have also declined substantially from historical levels, especially in the southern portion of their distribution, although not as dramaticaly as Atlantic salmon (Nehlsen 1997). Hatchery production has been used to maintain most runs in southern portions of the range (e.g., Japan, Korea, California, Oregon, and Washington). Today, in California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, runs that are sufficiently large to support commerical, recreational, and tribal fishing almost always comprise mainly hatchery-produced salmon. Runs of wild salmon in the northern portions of the range (e.g., Russian Far East, Alaska, Yukon, and northern British Columbia) are in better condition, though large hatchery programs exist in these regions as well (Nehlsen 1997). There are indications that salmon numbers are increasing in Arctic habitats, presumably caused by an overall warming trend (Nielsen et al. 2013).

The discoveries of gold in California (1848) and elsewhere later resulted in substantial adverse effects on many salmon runs (Lackey et al. 2006c). Efforts to protect and restore salmon populations in California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho began in the early 1850s, and such efforts have been technically challenging, socially contentious, and politically painful (National Research Council 2012). Overall, past recovery efforts for wild salmon (in contrast to salmon bred and raised in hatcheries) have been largely unsuccessful (National Research Council 1996, 2012). Over many decades, thousands of scientists have been involved with salmon recovery efforts, but prospects for recovery of wild salmon remain elusive (Scarce 2000, National Research Council 2012).  Of the nearly 1,400 distinct Pacific salmon populations that occurred prior to 1848 in California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, an estimated 29 percent have been extirpated (Gustafson et al. 2007). The remaining populations of wild salmon are greatly reduced, with almost all at less than 5 percent of their historical levels (Schoonmaker et al. 2003). Twenty-eight evolutionary significant units (i.e., a group of salmon populations considered to be a "species" for purposes of regulatory protection) are formally listed as either threatened or endangered as defined by the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Salmon recovery efforts are costly, though deciding which specific expenses should be deemed recovery costs is complicated and the subject of debate. Just within the Columbia River Basin, for example, salmon recovery costs have totaled approximately $10 billion since 1978 (Northwest Power and Conservation Council 2013), though part of this estimate reflects lost electricity sales (i.e., "forgone revenue") when the hydropower system curbed generation to meet constraints imposed by salmon recovery requirements (e.g., passing water downstream, but bypassing turbines that harm salmon).

As a public policy case study, wild salmon recovery in California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho is characterized by many apparent conundrums:

  • For well over a century, both scientists and the public have recognized the dramatic decline of wild salmon runs, but consensus remains elusive on a regional recovery policy that would actually work.
  • At least several billion dollars has been spent to restore wild salmon, but their overall, long-term downward trajectory continues.
  • Many populations of wild salmon are listed as "threatened" or "endangered," yet wild salmon are available seasonally in grocery stores-- and farm-raised fresh salmon are sold year around.
  • The various species of salmon are among the most thoroughly studied fishes in the world, but the failure of recovery efforts is often attributed to a lack of scientific information (Naiman et al. 2012).
  • Thousands of scientists and other technological experts are employed to facilitate the recovery of wild salmon, but, over the long term, salmon populations have rarely responded positively to these recovery efforts (Lackey et al. 2006c).
  • The Endangered Species Act, arguably the most powerful US environmental law, has been extensively used by some policy advocates to impose federal authority by listing various salmon species as either threatened or endangered; however, this approach has been insufficient to achieve salmon recovery (Lack 2001b).
  • The overarching goal of the ESA is to protect at-risk species and the habitat on which they depend, but this law, counterintuitively, may impede recovery of wild salmon in watersheds where the chances of recovery are the greatest (Lach et al. 2006).
  • To offset the effects on salmon runs of certain dams constructed for hydropower, irrigation, and other purposes, federal, state, and tribal governments are required to operate salmon hatchery programs to supplement runs to sustain fishing, but these programs may actually weaken wild salmon runs (Lichatowich 1999).
  • Federal and state agencies are mandated with protecting and restoring wild salmon runs, but they are also tasked with promoting harvest (i.e., fishing), which can work, by definition, against recovery.
In sum, the salmon recovery issue is a classic example of the difficulties of effectively addressing wicked problems. Scientists engaged in salmon recovery issues tend to depict the policy debate as a scientific or ecological challenge, and the "solutions" they offer are usually focused on aspects of salmon ecology (Naiman et al. 2012). Even though there is an extensive scientific literature about salmon (Quinn 2005, Lackey et al. 2006a), experience thus far suggests that the future of wild salmon will largely be determined almost entirely by factors outside the scope of science (Williams et al. 1999, Montgomery 2003, Lackey et al. 2006b). More specifically, to effect a long-term reversal of the downward trajectory of wild salmon, a broad, interdependent, and complex suite of important public policy questions must be considered and effectively dealt with to successfully recover wild salmon to significant, sustainable levels:
  • Hydroelectric energy. How costly and reliable does society want energy to be, given that wild salmon ultimately are affected by providing the relatively cheap, carbon-free, and reliable energy produced by hydropower?
  • Land use. Where will people be able to live, how much living space will they be permitted, what activities will they be able to do on their own land, and what personal choices will they have in deciding how land is used?
  • Property rights. Will the acceptable use of private land be altered, and who or what institutions will decide what constitutes acceptable use?
  • Food cost and choice. Will food continue to be subsidized by taxpayers (e.g., publicly funded irrigation, crop subsidies), or will the price of food be determined solely by a  free market?
  • Economic opportunities. How will high-paying jobs be created and sustained for present and subsequent generations?
  • Individual freedoms. Which, if any, personal rights or behavioral choices will be compromised or sacrificed if society is genuinely committed to restoring wild salmon?
  • Evolving priorities. Is society willing to continue substituting hatchery-produced salmon for wild salmon, and, if so, will the ESA permit this?
  • Political realities. Will society support modifying the ESA such that salmon recovery expenditures can be shifted to those watersheds offering the best chance of success?
  • Cultural legacies. Which individuals, and groups, if any, will be granted the right to fish, and who or what institutions will decide?
  • Indian treaties. Will treaties between the United States and various tribes-- guaranteeing Native American fishing rights and comanagement (with US states) of salmon stocks, and negotiated more than 150 years ago-- be modified to reflect today's dramatically different biological, economic, and demographic realities?
  • Population policy. -- What, if anything, will society do to influence or control the level of human population in California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, or indeed the United States as a whole?
  • Ecological realities. Given likely future conditions (i.e., an apparently warming climate), what wild salmon recovery goals are biologicall realistic?
  • Budgetary realities. Will the fact that the annual cost of sustaining hatchery and wild salmon runs in California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho exceeds the overall commerical market value of the harvest eventually mean that such a level of budgetary expenditure will become less politically viable?
These are all key policy questions germane to the public debate over wild salmon recovery policy, and they highlight how scientific information, while at some level relevant and necessary, is clearly not at the crux of the policy debate. In short, scientists can provide useful technical insight and ecological reality checks to help the public and decision-makers answer these policy questions, but science is only one input among many (Policansky 1998, Scarce 2000, National Research Council 2012). 

July 10th, 2017

Barbara Mahoney, author of The Salem Clique: Oregon's Founding Brothers, joins us today with an introduction to her book and an excerpt taken from Chapter One, "Bring all your guns to bear and reach Oregon."

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Politics in the Oregon Territory was dominated by a group of young men known to their contemporaries and to historians as the Salem Clique. Members organized the territory's Democratic party. They served in legislative, executive and judicial offices. They were the major impetus for Oregon's pursuit to statehood, key members of its constitutional convention, and a powerful influence in keeping Oregon in the Union when the Civil War broke out. Their story is also the story of the newspapers of the era, in particular the Salem Oregon Statesman and the Portland Oregonian. The absence of a detailed study of the Clique and [my] interest in Oregon's history led [me] to research and write The Salem Clique: Oregon's Founding Brothers.

 

Chapter One: "Bring all your guns to bear and reach Oregon"

In February 1846, the Oregon Territory reached another important milestone when members of the Oregon City Pioneer Lyceum and Literary Club formed the Oregon Printing Association in order to found the Oregon Spectator. The first newspaper west of the Missouri River, preceding the first in California by seven months, was published in four pages twice a month. Its editors made their intentions clear: "It will be our object to give foreign as well as internal news. Our means of obtaining news at present are limited. But as the country improves, facilities for obtaining news will improve. Our columns will be open for the reception of literary productions, and all scientific gentlemen are invited to contribute to enable us to give as much general information as possible." The caveat about the difficulty of obtaining news of distant events reflected the isolation of the Oregon country, which through the 1850s had neither direct cross country telegraph nor rail connections. That isolation made many, both in Oregon and in the East, continue to question whether it could ever be a real part of the United States.

Few "scientific gentlemen" responded to the Spectator's invitation. The newspaper consisted largely of commentary and advertising. It championed economic development and the construction of roads and railroads. Its first editor was W. G. T'Vault, a lawyer and an officer of the Oregon Printing Association. While the association had early disavowed the newspaper's use "by any party for the purpose of propagating sectarian principles or doctrines, nor for the discussion of exclusive party politics," T'Vault printed his own political opinions and was soon dismissed. Two other men, H. A. G. Lee and James Fleming, took charge for a few months until the editor's post was passed to George Curry. Originally from Philadelphia and only twenty-six years old, Curry had just arrived in Oregon after a short time as editor of a newspaper in Saint Louis. He took the Spectator position with a disclaimer about his lack of experience along with an expression of his pride in being the editor of the only paper in the Oregon country. Curry pledged that the paper would have a "consistent American tone" and would promote "temperance, morality, science and intelligence." But less than two years later, he too was dismissed, an outcome he attributed to his resistance to Governor Abernethy's demand that the paper serve his own partisan interests.

Abernethy's concerns about his political future were certainly heightened by Curry's role in efforts to get Congress to pass legislation formally establishing the Oregon Territory. If Oregon became an official Territory, its governor would be appointed by the president of the United States, rather than elected by the people. Abernethy was well aware that it was highly unlikely that the president would appoint him to the office. Despite his opposition, an organized campaign gained strength within the Oregon country. But its supporters found winning congressional support for territorial status for Oregon a challenging process. The Organic Act's provision against slavery provoked the opposition of southerners who feared that it would set a precedent for other Territories including the recently acquired Texas. After considerable argument, the House of Representatives passed the Oregon bill on January 16, 1847, by a 133-35 majority, only to have it tabled in the Senate. When word of the standstill reached the territory, the pressure from Oregon heightened. George Curry was one of three signers of a Petition to Congress formulated by a convention of delegates from throughout the Territory and dated October 2, 1847. Proclaiming the desperate need for an effective government, it appealed to Congress for "magnanimity and justice." The petitioners lamented the reality that "we, a small, distant, and poor community of few citizens in Oregon, shall be the sole, solitary victims of our country's neglect and injustice-- it was this that pierced our heart.... Our forefathers complained that they were oppressed by the mother country, and they had a just right to complain. We do not complain of oppression, but of neglect. Even the tyrant has his moments of relaxation and kindness, but neglect never wears a smile."

Before the petition could arrive in Washington, the House sent a second bill to the Senate. Senator Calhoun led the opposition, convinced that if Congress outlawed slavery in Oregon it was declaring slavery wrong, and claiming the right to address that wrong anywhere in the country. In his argument, he rejected the cardinal premise of the Declaration of Indepence, that all men are created equal, and instead asserted that "All men are not created. Only two, a man and a woman, were created, and one of these was pronounced subordinate to the other.... Instead of liberty and equality being born with men, and instead of all men and classes being entitled to them, they are high prizes to be won-- rewards bestowed on moral and mental development."

Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, who had also vigorously supported the Buchanan-Pakenham Treaty, parted company with Calhoun on the Territory issue. Such was his advocacy that Jesse Applegate acclaimed him as "the one who had more influence in the matter of securing this country to the US than all other men put together." An enthusiastic expansionist, Benton was knowledgeable about the Oregon country and concerned about the wellbeing of the settlers in light of Native American hostility. In his view, a territorial government afforded the best defense. Although he represented a slave state, he dismissed that issue in the case of Oregon which he thought poorly suited to slavery.

On August 13, 1848, after months of argument and legislative maneuvers, the Senate finally passed the bill by a narrow margin and sent it to President Polk who signed it despite Calhoun's pleas for a veto. The law directed that a territorial government be formed with members of the executive and judicial branches chosen by the president of the United States. The territorial legislature, elected by white, male, adult settlers, was made up of a nine-member council with three-year terms and an eighteen-member assembly serving one-year terms. The legislature was to hold annual sessions. Also to be elected by the people was the delegate to Congress who would represent the Territory in Congress although he would not have the right to vote on measures before that body. The organization of the Territory's government had hardly gotten underway when word arrived of the discovery of gold in California. As many as two-thirds of the able-bodied men left Oregon for the mines. The absence of so many men frightened the remaining settlers who saw themselves as more vulnerable to Native American attacks. They also feared that "reckless, vicious and abandoned men" would come to Oregon and that their presence would constitute yet another threat to the Territory's peace and stability. The solution to both hazards, proposed in the columns of the Oregon Spectator, was that "the importation into, and manufacture and sale of intoxicating drinks in Oregon, should be prohibited by law, and that such a law would contribute more to the rapid, permanent, and healthful settlement of the country than any other conceivable statute." No such law was passed, but sentiment in favor of the temperance movement remained strong throughout the territorial period and beyond.

 

June 27th, 2017

Michael Helquist, author of Marie Equi: Radical Politics and Outlaw Passions, is joining us today in celebration of Pride Month. His biography of this little-known woman received the 2016 American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book Award. Marie Equi was one of the first women physicians in the West. She received a medal from the US Army for her help to San Francisco earthquake victims in 1906. Throughout her career, she leveraged her professional status to fight for women's suffrage, workers' rights, fair pay, and reproductive rights. She was eventually imprisoned in San Quentin for her protest of World War I.

To get better acquainted with Michael Helquist and Marie Equi, make sure to check out his website.

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Powerful Stuff: Reading Your Book for a Live Audience

Actor and author Jeffrey Tambor recently exalted the effect of authors reading their books out loud in a bookstore. "It's theater," he remarked in a New York Times interview of May 18, 2017. "Different venues-- same goal-- as E.m. Forster wrote, 'Connect! ... Only connect.'"

The connection between author and readers can be powerful and transformative. I've presented my biography of the early woman physician and political radical Marie Equi for dozens of gatherings. Each time I feel that I'm performing with the words, phrases and rhythms that survived a steady stream of revisions.

I get an extra charge from knowing I'm presenting the life of a remarkable but little-known woman. Audiences often allow me privileged access to their own inner lives-- their appreciation for my protagonist or their disinterest, their sharing a laugh with the person next to them or their close following of the obstacles my character encountered. Sometimes I witness eyes widening, smiles broadening, and heads nodding with affirmation.

Often the Q and A is the best part of an author event. This is a time when the connection between author and reader becomes more immediate, spontaneous, and personal. I can embellish my story-telling, and I gain insight into what intrigued listeners. I often wait for a question never before asked. At my most recent reading in an Oakland, California bookstore, an older woman inquired how I felt as a man writing the biography of a woman and why I was drawn to do so. This was the question I expected to be asked at an author event sooner or later.

I explained that Marie Equi did not leave extensive journals-- or they were discarded by others soon after her death. I would have relied heavily on those to understand her experiences as an individual and as a woman. Instead, I wrote about what she did and what was known about her beliefs and thoughts. I avoided inserting my thoughts of how she "must have" felt. And I came to believe that Equi's actions revealed much about what was important to her. I also disclosed more about myself, how I identified with Equi's outsider status and her overcoming many obstacles.

Interactions like these with listeners and readers make the theatrical connection more intimate and powerful, and I look forward to more.

June 7th, 2017

On June 4, Kirk Johnson wrote a piece in the New York Times spotlightling Oregon's racialist recent past in the wake of the fatal stabbing May 26 of two men on a Portland Max train. The victims of that attack were stabbed when they defended two teenage girls, one black and one muslim, from hate speech. R. Gregory Nokes, author of Breaking Chains: Slavery on Trial in Oregon, offers a bit of historical context in today's blog post.

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The New York Times has suggested that the harassment on a Max train of two persons of color, and the stabbing of three good Samaritans, two of whom died, was a legacy of the racial prejudice and animosity that prevailed in Oregon’s early history.

While that might strike some Oregonians as a stretch, the racism that scarred Oregon’s history is an uncomfortable fact. Beginning in 1844, Oregon had exclusion laws on its books banning African Americans from the region for most of its early history. An exclusion clause was written into Oregon’s Constitution, and not removed until 1926. The laws were generally not enforced, but they served to discourage African Americans from emigrating to the region. This explains, in part, why there are so few people of color in Oregon.

Oregon had a history of sundown laws, red-lining of residential neighborhoods, and accommodations and restaurants closed to blacks well into the mid-20th century.

Slavery, although not legal, was tolerated in Oregon until the Civil War, and Oregon actually voted in 1857 on whether it should be a slave state, although the proposal was defeated. While Oregon sided with the north during the Civil War, there was considerable pro-South sentiment in the state, reflected in how the Legislature dealt with the amendments that resulted from the war. The Legislature promptly ratified both the Thirteenth Amendment banning slavery and the Fourteenth Amendment granting citizenship and equal rights to African Americans. But the Legislature rescinded its ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, and didn’t re-ratify it until 1973. The lawmakers declined even to consider the 15th Amendment granting voting rights to African Americans, and didn’t actually approve it until 1959. The votes were symbolic, of course, as by this time blacks had citizenship and voting rights under federal law.

For more on the early Oregonians’ attitude toward blacks, Chinese and other people of color, including the 1852 trial that was the only slavery trial held in Oregon, see my award-winning book, Breaking Chains: Slavery on Trial in the Oregon Territory, published by Oregon State University Press in 2013.

R. Gregory Nokes, June 7, 2017

June 1st, 2017

Brian Doyle - photo by Hob Osterlund

Brian Doyle
November 6, 1956 - May 27, 2017

It is with tremendous sadness that we say goodbye to Brian Doyle, who died on Saturday, May 27, of a malignant brain tumor at age 60. OSU Press was privileged to publish four of Brian's books, each remarkable in its own right, but surely none more memorable than his debut novel, Mink River (2010). In prose and in person, Brian Doyle was unfailingly compassionate, generous, and kind. He was a tireless champion of the Press and a treasured friend to the Oregon literary community. We mourn the books he would have written had he lived longer, and we deeply mourn the man who brought so much light and joy to our work.

Brian Doyle - photo by Tom Booth

Please consider making a contribution to the Brian and Mary Doyle Family Fund. Proceeds will be used to help retire the mortgage on the family home.

Read The Oregonian’s tribute
http://www.oregonlive.com/books/index.ssf/2017/05/brian_doyle.html

Read Oregon Public Broadcasting’s tribute
http://www.opb.org/artsandlife/article/brian-doyle-oregon-author-dies-at-60/

Read additional tributes on the Mink River Facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/MinkRiver/

 

(photo at top right by Hob Osterlund. Photo at left by Tom Booth.)

 

 

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