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October 9th, 2014

Author Brian Doyle chats with former OSU Press intern Maya Polan about his passionate writing style, unusual obsessions, and why kids are “like the otters of human beings.” Catch Brian yourself at one of his upcoming readings promoting his latest book, Children and Other Wild Animals:

·       Fri., Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m.: Powell’s City of Books (Portland, OR)

·       Thurs., Oct. 16 at 7:00 p.m.: Broadway Books (Portland, OR)

·       Tues., Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m.: OSU Valley Library (Corvallis, OR)

·     Thurs., Oct. 30 at 7:00 p.m.: Buckley Center Auditorium, University of Portland (Schoenfelt Distinguished Writers Series)

Maya Polan: You write so ferociously and passionately about many a subject, creature, and scene that it’s made me want to ask you about obsession. (I love the scene “The Creature Beyond the Mountains,” where your wife says: “What is up with you and sturgeon?”) Do you consider yourself obsessive? Or does the “obsessiveness” (read: your ferocity, attention, passion, regard) happen primarily on the page, as you craft?


Brian Doyle: This made me laugh out loud, for I once answered a moppet who asked me Sum up your writing career? with Serial obsession (dead silence from muddled class). I suppose I get fascinated by something and then dive into it and away we go; and everything is fascinating (I mean, I have written about automats, hawks, basketball, noses, Van Morrison,  angels, dragonflies, crewcuts, portapotties…you get the picture); and so…



MP: When I read your writing, I am always struck by its humor—by your willingness to include the silly, delightful, and incongruous facets of your subject matter. Blue Jays as a “little blue biker gang” is a great example from Children and Other Wild Animals. But I have also heard you read on multiple occasions, and am always struck then by the raw emotion that accompanies your readings. Why do you cry as you read your work?


BD: Because stories just nail me, and when you tell a really piercing one, like about unbelievably brave firemen on September 11, or the two incredibly brave women who ran right at the rifle at Sandy Hook Elementary, or about little kids who are awfully terribly sick but they won’t quit, how could you not weep, you know? Plus more and more I think that tears are good, tears and laughter are windows opening in your usual dignified prison wall. I try to open all my readings now with true funny stories so we all start out giggling, which seems healthy, and laughter lets people drop their masks a little, and then you can more easily talk about pain and grace, I think.



MP: Do you ever reread books? Are there books you find yourself returning to?


BD: Dear yes. Stevenson, Conrad, Jan Morris, E.B. White, Annie Dillard, Barry Lopez’s essays, Steinbeck, Tim Robinson (I wish Tim Robinson would be reborn as Tim Robinson so he can have another sixty years to write more books about Ireland), the King James Bible. Books singular? Hmm. The King James, Kidnapped, Morris’ Pleasures of a Tangled Life. Alice McDermott’s Charming Billy and Someone and After This. I reread or re-dip into some writers as compass points, lodestars, refreshers; I mean, when I feel convoluted as a writer, clogged, I go cruise Gilead for a while and emerge cleaner and refreshed and attentive again to a sort of held note of music that some writers achieve – Robinson’s one, Jan Morris, David Duncan.



MP: One of the notes in Children and Other Wild Animals, “Fishering,” ends with the line: “Remember that.” This shivery direct address, both intimate and instructive, appears throughout these pages. Is there someone in particular you are speaking to?


BD: Us. You. Me. Us. Me as you as us.



MP: I noticed you often don’t use quotation marks for dialogue—why is that? (I was particularly interested in how “The Unspoken Language of the Eyes” morphs from a narrated anecdote to a monologue.)


BD: I really feel that they are mannerisms, generally, and if I write clearly enough I can avoid them. Also I love the way the lack of quotes allows me to slide between and among voices – spoken and heard, written and spoken, spoken and thought silently, spoken and thought by all sorts of beings. I dislike any filters between me and the reader and try to destroy them cheerfully where possible, as long as I stay clear in communication, and avoid self-indulgent self-absorbed writing. I suspect that’s partly why I like laughing in my prose – if we grin together, another filter fell down and died.



MP: I kept noticing your use of the word “salt” and “salty” as a descriptor—not just in “My Salt Farm,” but sprinkled throughout your writing: a salty soul, a salty song, “the salt of that feeling.”  What does that word in particular mean to you?


BD: Hmm. Tough, wry, bony, blunt, pithy, tart, painfully honest, a distilled grainy character, I guess. I have several times received letters from readers listing all the words I am addicted to.



MP: One wildly unfair question. In “Mascots,” you write about the thrill we derive from even the removed representation of a wild animal—a cougar or a wolverine or a boll weevil—how “even wearing one on a shirt, or shouting the miracle of its name in a stadium…gives us a tiny subtle crucial electric jolt in the heart, connects us somehow to what we used to be with animals…” so, on that note, if you had to chose one animate mascot for this collection of writing—right at this moment—what would it be and why? 


BD: Haw – probably an otter, one of the all-pro cool animals – no real enemies except us, a nutty sense of humor, bad-ass musculature and maritime skills. Otters rock.



MP: In another essay in Children, “Otter Words,” you say: “sometimes I feel like the eyes in my heart close quietly without me paying much attention…and then wham a kid, it’s always a kid, says something so piercing and wild and funny and unusual that wham my heart opens again…” Why is it, finally, “always a kid” for you?


BD: Because it’s all about kids. Whatever else we say and do in life it’s about kids – protecting them, teaching them, being taught by them, laughing your ass off at them, listening to them, being saved and salved by them, roaring at them, dimly remembering when you were them, quietly hoping that you might get another chance, even if it’s being an otter kid in Scotland. Kids are like the otters of human beings, quietly the coolest of us all, with total respect for oboe players and Kevin Durant.




Brian Doyle is the author of many books, including the recently released Children and Other Wild Animals, a collection of short vignettes.  Other works include the novels Mink River and The Plover; The Grail, his account of a year in a pinot noir vineyard in Oregon; and The Wet Engine, a memoir about his infant son’s heart surgery and the young doctor who saved his life. He edits Portland Magazine at the University of Portland.



October 2nd, 2014

He teaches creative writing in public schools.  He's a dad.  And most recently, a novelist. Author Mark Pomeroy joins us to share how a kid from northeast Portland, Ore. found vivid and lasting impressions in the forests of Vietnam and shadows of Mount Hood.  His debut novel, The Brightwood Stillness, is available now.


I was raised partly by a Vietnam veteran stepfather whose anger and silences over the war both terrified and intrigued me. What had happened to him in that mysterious far-off land? What had he done? What was so difficult for him to talk about?

 Later, I started reading about the war. Watching documentaries. Then, toward the end of high school, I began tutoring Vietnamese refugees, whole families in some cases, often going into their apartments or houses and hearing stories about their lives in Vietnam, their escapes, and their adjustments to the United States. Here were actual Vietnamese people, offering me cashews and tea, sitting across from me, trying to sound out strange vocabulary words.

 After college, I put on a backpack and traveled for six months with a friend through Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, India, and Nepal. I kept a journal, and nearly every evening I would record what I’d seen, smelled, tasted, or heard that day. Scabby dogs nosing through trash alongside a Balinese rice paddy. Papayas, barking deer, and raw meat in a Bangkok open-air market. The soot-covered awnings along Calcutta’s avenues.

Ngoc Ha Market Hanoi                          

 When I was thirty-two, I journeyed with my wife to Vietnam. I had to see it with my own eyes, finally. Had to smell it. Here were the places I’d read about, seen on TV, heard about from Vietnamese students and from veterans willing to share their stories. Hanoi’s old quarter. The seared wasteland of the former DMZ. Saigon, where hundreds of blank-faced people on motorbikes were stopped at each red light, jammed in, awaiting the surge.

 My wife and I went to the mountains for a walk through one of the few remaining forests. At one point, I took a couple of minutes to myself, wandering off into a dim thicket. This was the land, and yes, this was the heat. Sweat in the eyes, sweat trickling into the mouth, streaming down the back. Insects alighting on my neck. A chaos of native hopea trees, imported acacia, bamboo, and shadows.    


 Everything could become an enemy in this forest, fast. Yes it could. And yet, of course, for other human beings it was home.



 Meanwhile, back in Oregon, my grandparents went on living in Brightwood, a village at Mount Hood’s western base, where they’d bought a cabin in 1972. My grandfather, a World War II veteran, had adored that green, mossy, shadow-strewn land ever since he was a boy; after a long career at the phone company in Portland, he managed to convince my grandmother to move up to Brightwood. My mother and I would drive up there often to visit, and from the time I was three years old, that mountain land began to seep into me. The moist woods, the Salmon River, the small dark cabins built at the turn of the twentieth century. The shadows.


Many years later, Brightwood would feature in my first novel, one written over the course of 17 years, The Brightwood Stillness. As would certain journal entries from that 1992 backpack journey through Asia. As would classroom stories that I’d heard from other schoolteachers. And as would the experience of Vietnam—both the place itself and the war—for American soldiers and their families, and for the Vietnamese and theirs.


We are all walking wounded.  Yet so often, of course, walking helps the wounds. At least a little. Walking, traveling, facing old enemies now and then. To say nothing of reading and writing, those ever-daring acts of imagination in a beautiful scarred world. 


The Dark Forest Ranger


The Brightwood Stillness is OSU Press' second novel in its fifty-three-year history. Order your copy here.

Mark Pomeroy lives with his family in Portland, Ore. A recipient of an Oregon Literary Fellowship for fiction, he earned his MA in English Education from Columbia University, where he was a Fellow in Teaching. The Brightwood Stillness is his first novel.

August 14th, 2014

This month marks the two-year anniversary of the first national conference on citizen science, held in Portland, Oregon in August, 2012. Nonfiction writer and citizen scientist Sharman Apt Russell, whose book, Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World comes out this fall, was in attendance. Russell, a native of New Mexico, joins us on the blog to reflect on her time here in Oregon, and on the lessons she carried with her back home.

In August, 2012, I attended the first national conference on citizen science in Portland, Oregon. Portland. That Harry Potter city with rose gardens, light rail, independent bookstores, ten thousand restaurants, and all the secret signs of wizards in training. Over three hundred professionals in the field of citizen science had gathered together at the Conference Center on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard to discuss the newest trends and best practices—to forge a vision of how the ongoing revolution and renaissance of citizen science could get even better.

Among the policy makers and directors of programs and ambitious graduate students, I may have been the only actual citizen scientist there—something of a groupie come to admire the rock stars of this world. There was the creator of Galaxy Zoo, which allows amateurs help catalog the 200 billion galaxies in the universe! And over there, the supremely successful Fold-it program, where video-gamers synthesize protein molecules! I even spotted the genius behind Cornell Lab of Ornithology, with its over 200,000 participants out watching birds—their data used in an impressive number of scientific papers and studies!

In two days of speeches, free coffee and pastry, what impressed me most, however, was the growing role of citizen science in environmental activism. Ben Duncan, a policy analyst at Oregon’s Multnomah County Health Department, talked about bucket brigades. Community volunteers measure air quality using a plastic bucket with a simple pump system and send these air samples to labs where they are tested for gases and sulfur compounds. The Louisiana Bucket Brigade, one of many such projects around the world, has a ten-year record of documenting toxic emissions in neighborhoods near oil refineries and chemical plants. Their team of citizen scientists begin complaints to officials with: “I know you say that billowing black smoke outside my window is harmless, but I’m getting a high reading of benzene that violates state standards.” Increasingly, the point is not how citizens can serve science—but the other way around.

Since the conference, citizen science has continued to explode (in the nicest possible way). In Oregon, you can join state programs like Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey, Willamette Riverkeepers, CoastWatch, Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network, and Blue Water Task Force. National programs co-sponsored with Oregon State University include Plankton Portal (identify plankton from photos posted online) and Community Collaborative Rain and Snow Network (report precipitation data). Researchers at OSU are even now building a new, larger network of trained citizen scientists to help monitor the environment—go here for more information. The Xerces Society, based in Portland, has citizen science programs in which you can helpfully chase after butterflies, dragonflies, ladybugs--and mussels. In Project Budburst and Nature’s Notebook, you can track climate change by monitoring plants and animals in your backyard.

After the excitement of the convention, and more than a few good restaurants later, I went back to my home in southwestern New Mexico to continue my own citizen science research on the Western red-bellied tiger beetle. You can imagine me there now, walking the banks of the Gila River, collecting net in hand. Catching tiger beetles typically requires the stalking movements of a great blue heron—or Tai Chi master. Sometimes it is necessary to crouch, inching forward so as to not frighten the beetle, angling the body so as to not let one’s shadow signal one’s approach. Think pure thoughts. Think flow. And be prepared to slam the net down before the high-energy Type-A tiger beetle suddenly flies off in pursuit of prey or water or some private exultation. (Click the link for a demonstration!) I have found my own exultations in my pursuit of citizen science, knowing that I am not alone in my efforts, but part of something much larger.

—Sharman Apt Russell

Diary of a Citizen Scientist is now available for pre-order here, and will be in print this October.

Sharman Apt Russell lives in the Gila Valley of southwestern New Mexico. As well as Diary of a Citizen Scientist, she is also the author of Standing in the Light: My Life as a Pantheist, Hunger: An Unnatural History, An Obsession with Butterflies, Anatomy of a Rose, and other books. Her work has been translated into Spanish, German, Swedish, Portuguese, Italian, Turkish, Korean, Chinese, and Russian. More information on her books can be found at www.sharmanaptrussell.com. She welcomes emails and news about your own thoughts and experiences in citizen science.

July 30th, 2014

New non-fiction from Justin Wadland, Trying Home: The Rise and Fall of an Anarchist Utopia on Puget Sound, explores the historical realities of Home, Washington’s turn of the century “practical experiment in anarchy,” and an array of colorful former residents, whose experiences ranged from practicing free love, spying for a detective agency, defending free speech at the Supreme Court, and for one couple—who resided in a tree house that doubled as a popular dining spot—an elf-life existence.

On the blog, Wadland continues his present-day exploration of Home—and his conversations with current residents—that set Trying Home apart from a conventional history narrative. Wadland writes of a recent return to Home: how, even after he’s completed his book, he still searches out Home’s mysteries—including the former site of that storied tree house.

Want to explore Home yourself? On August 23rd, the Key Peninsula Historical Society will host Justin Wadland for a book event and ice cream social at the lovely Cape E Farm & Vineyard.


For many years, Sylvia Retherford, or Stella as her friends called her, served as the local historian of Home. As the granddaughter of founders George and Sylvia Allen, she came by her passion honestly. The six volumes of her Compilation of Writings and Photos Concerned with the History of Home, Washington can be found in several nearby libraries, and it is a treasure trove for anyone interested in the practical experiment in anarchism that once existed on Joe’s Bay.

I acknowledge my huge debt to Sylvia in Trying Home, but while I was working on the book, I was unable to meet her in person. I had heard that she had Alzheimer’s and sadly, could no longer remember the history she loved so much. So I was deeply gratified to receive an email from Sylvia’s daughter, Leila Luginbill, telling me that her mother, who has since passed away, would have approved of my book. Leila had purchased her parents’ house and was now living there, and she asked: Would I like to visit and see her mother’s collection? Of course, I would.

We met a few weekends ago, and Leila had spread out the binders and photo albums on the bed upstairs. She asked whether I was looking for anything in particular. I was hoping to see a photograph of the “famous” tree house that Joe Kopelle and Franz Erkelens resided in for several years. She remembered a big photograph, one which was colorized, and it didn’t take long to find it in an album, along with another from a different angle.

Just like utopia, there is something alluring about a tree house. At the book launch, a man approached me who had done a considerable amount of research on Home and published it in a zine. He wanted to know if I had ever found the site of the tree house. Since I had written a short chapter about it, I could say that it was on the outskirts of the settlement, but I had never been to the exact spot. I put the question to Leila as we were looking over the photos. Sure, she could show me the general location—she had grown up visiting Joe Kopelle and his wife.

After we finished looking at and talking over the binders, we walked up 6th Street, away from Joe’s Bay, then turned left on C Street, which we followed down to the Key Peninsula Highway. There, we cut through the parking lot of Lulu’s Homeport Restaurant and Tavern, crossed the highway, and walked down a road into Happy Valley, a slight depression in the land. At the lowest point, a blue and white sign with a picture of salmon identified Home Creek, and we could hear the water burbling out of the culvert below the road. Surely this was the one where Joe and Franz used to wash their dishes and in which the trout would nibble off the remains of the food.

We strolled a little past the creek and Leila pointed to a stand thick with what looked like birch trees. “Their house was somewhere in there,” she said but admitted that it was hard to tell because so much had changed. Apparently, even though Joe moved to the ground out of consideration for his wife, the couple’s residence remained rustic: they lived in a lean-to against a giant stump, a stove inside to keep them warm. Joe would point to another stump nearby as the site of his tree house.

Speaking of Joe and his wife, Leila continued, “I loved to visit them. They looked like little elves, with round little cheeks. They were small people, coming up to about here.” She held her hand up to just below her shoulder.

Even though the book is done, I am still learning about Home from the descendants of George and Sylvia Allen.

—Justin Wadland

Justin Wadland works as a librarian at the University of Washington Tacoma Library. He holds an MLIS from the University of Washington and an MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific Lutheran University. His reviews and creative writing have appeared in Rain Taxi Review of Books, The Believer, Crab Creek Review, and other publications. After growing up in Michigan and Vermont, he now lives with his wife and two sons in Tacoma. To learn more, visit his website.



OSU Press is grateful to Leila Luginbill for providing these photographs.

July 2nd, 2014

Award-winning author Barbara J. Scot's new memoir, The Nude Beach Notebook, is steeped in the landscape, history, and culture of Sauvie Island. Lovers of Sauvie Island, and lovers of exquisite prose, can hear Scot read from and sign copies of The Nude Beach Notebook in Portland next Tuesday, July 8th, 7 PM, at Broadway Books and Saturday, July 12th, 7 PM, at St. Johns Booksellers.

But first, Scot joins us on the blog to reflect on the origins of her place-based narrative.


A few years ago, Tom Booth, one of my editors at OSU Press, suggested that it might be time for another book about Sauvie Island. Did that pique my interest at all? I did, after all, live on the island, or rather, lived moored to the island in our houseboat that floated on the Multnomah Channel of the Willamette River. And my emails to him concerning the book we were working on then often included details of the island’s natural history I had observed that day; the wing-beats of low-flying cranes in the autumn, a sea-lion surfacing with a salmon outside my window in the spring. 

I’d give it some thought, I said, and I spent one winter reading and taking notes from old island histories and on-line editions of explorer’s journals, but in all honesty, I was thinking of other things. I had one last family mystery that wanted solving now that I was nearing my biblical allotment of three-score years and ten. Where was my brother, lost thirty years to alcoholism? Why had this brother, to whom I had been so close as a child, wasted his life? Or had he? The physical part of the search was the easiest; more difficult tasks were to define what family meant, the extent of family responsibilities, and what constituted a meaningful life.

The Nude Beach on the Columbia River side of the island where I walked my dogs at first light each morning started the process, the mists rising in spiral columns like dancing ghosts. I walked the island, past oak trees with 600 growth rings, through aisles of Oregon Ash. I noted the arrival of purple martins in the spring, the day when the osprey came back. 

But it was the ghosts of the past culture of Sauvie Island that offered the most helpful metaphors for my own understanding: fog canoes, an onomatopoetic language with the sound of wind, a brother who carried his sister’s body on his back.

I emailed Tom Booth. “I think I’ve written a book about the island,” I said. “It isn’t exactly what I set out to do but it seems to be about the importance of place in understanding one’s own life. And my place is Sauvie Island.”

“I’ll take a look,” he said.                                                          —Barbara J. Scot

In addition to The Nude Beach Notebook and Child of Steens Mountain (with Eileen McVicker) Barbara J. Scot is the author of The Violet Shyness of their Eyes: Notes from Nepal, a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Book Award winner; Prairie Reunion, a New York Times Notable Book; and The Stations of Still Creek. She taught public school for twenty-six years and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal.

To hear more from Barbara Scot, check out her author interview in The Oregonian. You can order a copy of The Nude Beach Notebook online here.

June 6th, 2014

Katrina-Ann R. Kapā‘anaokalāokeola Nākoa Oliveira, Native Hawaiian scholar and author of the recently published Ancestral Place: Understanding Kanaka Geographies, joins us on the blog to reflect on the multiplicity and complexity of what is often reductively referred to as “a Hawaiian sense of place.”


As a Kanaka (Native Hawaiian) geographer, I have long been fascinated by the notion of “a Hawaiian sense of place.” I have seen this phrase employed at airports, development project sites, and institutions of higher learning in Hawaiʻi as a marketing strategy to entice visitors, potential homeowners, and students seeking a unique Hawaiian experience.

Yet, as a Kanaka growing up in ka pae ʻāina Hawaiʻi (the Hawaiian archipelago) my understanding of this concept is not tied to material gain; rather, it is a form of environmental kinship in which the Kanaka is genealogically and spiritually linked to the ʻāina (the land; that which feeds).

I wrote Ancestral Places: Understanding Kanaka Geographies to give readers snapshots of various geographic Kanaka practices. While each chapter of the book represents a different snapshot in place and/or time, collectively, these images form a collage of key aspects that inform a Kanaka geography. The book explores:

•    Ancestral cartographic performance methods that Kānaka used to “map” their ancestral places and retain their moʻolelo (historical accounts)

•    Fluidity of place; how Kānaka transform space into personalized place

•    The capacity to receive and perceive stimuli from environment; sensory stimuli informing collective understanding

•    Mele koʻihonua (cosmogonic genealogies)

•    Genealogical connections Kānaka enjoy with the ʻāina, (land) akua (gods), and all living organisms in their environment

To reduce Kanaka geographical practices to a singular “Hawaiian sense of place” is impractical and impossible. As Kānaka, each of us have our own intimate connections to our one hānau (sands of our births) and the final resting places of our kūpuna (ancestors). Our senses of place vary from ʻohana (family) to ʻohana and from place to place. Thus, I make no assertions as a complete guide to all Kanaka understandings of place and geography; rather, I offer my manaʻo ( thoughts) as a way of addressing some of the major themes of Kanaka geography for anyone seeking to better understand Kanaka relationships to place.

—Katrina-Ann R. Kapā‘anaokalāokeola Nākoa Oliveira

Purchase Ancestral Places here.

Katrina-Ann R. Kapāʻanaokalāokeola Nākoa Oliveira is a Native Hawaiian scholar. She was born on the island of Oʻahu and raised on the islands of Maui and Oʻahu. She is an Associate Professor of Hawaiian and the Director of Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language within Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She earned dual Bachelor’s degrees in Hawaiian Language and Hawaiian Studies as well as a Master’s and a PhD in geography.

May 23rd, 2014

Chemawa Indian School in western Oregon, one of the nation’s oldest federal boarding schools and the longest still in continuous operation, is an emblem of a system that has intimately impacted countless lives and communities. In her new book, To Win the Indian Heart: Music at Chemawa Indian School, out last month from OSU Press, Melissa Parkhurst records the history of the school’s musical life. As Parkhurst worked on the book, she serendipitously relocated to Forest Grove, Oregon, Chemawa Indian School's original location.

Today on the blog, Parkhurst reflects on this unique experience—what it was like encountering her research in her day-to-day experience, as well as in the historical fabric of her community.


Chemawa alumnus and musician Max Lestenkof (Aleut, class of 1969) articulated: “you make a complete circle in life, when you do music.”

One of the full circles I personally traveled happened by accident. While working on the research for To Win the Indian Heart, I took a job teaching in the Music Department at Pacific University, in Forest Grove, Oregon. Forest Grove, a small city in the Willamette Valley, about 25 miles west of Portland, was the original home, 1880-1885, of the school that would become Chemawa. Several catastrophic fires shaped Forest Grove’s early history, and it was a fire that destroyed the girls’ dormitory, causing enough damage to bolster the case to move the school to its current location, just north of Salem, Oregon. 

Walking the Pacific University campus and the streets of Forest Grove, I wondered, what remnants of the original campus might still be present? Would the residents of Forest Grove have any sense of the Indian school as part of their community’s history? And if the earliest students of Forest Grove Indian School could talk with us today, what might they say of their experiences of music and the school?

Lecture notes from Rick Read (an esteemed former archivist at Pacific, now deceased) suggest tantalizing evidence that a single building from the original campus existed as late as the 1990s and may still be standing today. Despite many hours spent with town historians, plat maps, and the streets themselves, I’ve become convinced that the original campus is likely gone.

Some town residents, particularly members of the Friends of Historic Forest Grove, are keenly aware of Forest Grove’s role as the original site of the school. Early school newspapers are kept in the archives of FHFG and of Pacific University, as are transcripts of locals’ remembrances that span the early 20th century.  

Of the students themselves, we see the early “before and after” photos circulated to suggest the students’ profound transformations at the hands of the school’s assimilationist campaign. More privately maintained were the records of many students’ early deaths while at school, as they faced new diseases while living in a foreign setting. Also, we know now that—despite the photos—most of the school’s early attendees already had some familiarity with Euro-American culture, through their interactions with settlers, missionaries, and Indian agents in their home communities.

In the early campus newspapers, which served as promotional materials for the school, we see administrators’ accounts of school bands, though we do not know the extent to which membership in the early bands was compulsory or voluntary. Letters from alumni who proceeded to work at other Indian schools as music teachers are perhaps the first evidence that music could be life-giving for some students, offering a source of joy, competence, and sometimes even a livelihood.

Despite the school’s attempts to erase all aspects of the students’ Indian identity, the story of music at the Forest Grove Indian School involves both strength and agency, with some students using their musical training to bond with each other, sustain themselves, find teaching jobs, and share their craft with other young Indian people. In my book, I chronicle the subsequent phases of music instruction, as the school moved to its current location in 1885 and came to enroll as many as a thousand students at a time.

Chemawa Indian School stands today as the nation’s oldest continuously operating Native American boarding school. It has abandoned its assimilationist mission, becoming instead an institution that encourages Native American students to take pride in their heritage. By engaging in school bands, choirs, dances, pageants, garage bands, and powwows, students mine sources of resiliency that help many to survive and bounce back from the hardships of school and life after Chemawa. 

—Melissa D. Parkhurst

You can order To Win The Indian Heart here.

Melissa D. Parkhurst is an instructor of music at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, where she teaches courses on World Music and Music History. She earned a doctorate in ethnomusicology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her current research interests include First Nations music in the Pacific Northwest, how music promotes personal and community resilience, and the role of music in cultural revitalization.


Photographs courtesy of Pacific University Archives. For more images from the early Forest Grove Indian Training School, please visit the university's digital exhibits.

May 22nd, 2014

The OSU Press is seeking a highly qualified and motivated undergraduate or graduate student intern. This paid internship provides an outstanding introduction to scholarly book publishing, an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the general operations of a university publishing house, and the opportunity to work with publishing and library professionals. The OSU Press intern plays a vital role in the Press’s success and is an indispensable member of the OSU Press publishing team.

The position includes a focus on digital book publishing and online and traditional book marketing. Projects may include: researching online marketing trends and best practices; implementing preparation of backlist titles for various digital formats; and implementing social media campaigns and other marketing strategies for digital and print books.

Position length: Average 12 hours per week; full academic year position starting September 2014 (summer 2015 negotiable)

-Demonstrated interest in book publishing and/or marketing
-Basic computer skills (Word and Excel experience required; Experience with Photoshop and InDesign, Drupal and other Web page creation software, new media, and social media highly desirable)
-Excellent writing and verbal communication skills
-Meticulous attention to detail
-Ability to work independently and as a strong team member
-Ability to lift boxes up to 40 pounds
-Must currently be an enrolled student at OSU

Application deadline: May 28, 2014.

To apply, please send a résumé, name and contact information for at least two references (one on-campus reference is preferable), and a letter of application that addresses the following:
• your interest in the position
• the skills you would bring to the position
• the skills you would hope to develop in the position

Please deliver the materials by email to:

*Photo courtesy of Pete Scavenger

May 12th, 2014

Today on the blog, Barbara Wilson of the Carex Working Group and co-author of Field Guide to the Sedges of the Pacific Northwest, Second Edition, available from OSU Press, chronicles how the group of botanists carried their methodology out of the field, through the publication process, and into the pages of their guide.

C. lacustris

We Carex Working Group members were excited that OSU Press agreed to publish a second edition of our Field Guide to the Sedges of the Pacific Northwest. This would be an opportunity to revise the identification key, update nomenclature, modify a few maps, improve some of the photos, and make minor updates and corrections in the text. And clarify the Carex subbracteata confusion. Definitely clarify that.

The process became more exciting than we intended.

Our first big concern was adding Carex species recently discovered in Oregon or Washington.  Each species needed a page of text plus a page of pictures. We needed to keep the number of pages constant. Additions included natives Carex eburnea from northeast Washington and C. subbracteata from the coast, as well as introduced C. distans, C. divulsa, and C. hirta. (Fuzzy C. hirta was collected in Portland a century ago, rediscovered in 2010.) 

C. lacustris

We decided to go with the split in Carex capillaris, which meant adding native C. tiogana from Steens Mountain. Let’s see . . . six added sedges meant twelve added pages. We saved two pages by recognizing only Carex heteroneura, not its two subspecies that couldn’t really be distinguished. That left ten pages to find. Where?

We cut “Excluded, Extirpated, and Not (Yet?) Discovered Species” from five pages to two since most of the species covered there had been found or never would be. Reformatting “Sedges with Distinctive Traits or Habitats” gained a couple more pages. Using a smaller font in the index helped, too. We sacrificed the ethnobotany section; much though we liked it, it didn’t help people identify sedges and we needed its four pages. (We tucked as much ethnobotany into individual species accounts as we could.)C. lacustris

Updating the key was simple because we had been revising our personal version of it all along. Improving the text was fun. Finding photos of the new sedges was harder, especially since we wanted to be sure the identifications were correct. We ended up corresponding with botanists from Michigan, Illinois, Germany, and Romania to get the photos we needed. 

Sorting out Carex subbracteata and C. harfordii took a lot of correspondence and much looking at specimens, but we did it. We hope. Both species have full treatments now.

C. lacustrisIn late summer 2013, as we neared the end of our rewriting, we learned that Chris Reidy and Kathy Pendergrass from the Natural Resources Conservation Service had found Carex hirsutella, native to eastern North America, on a farm in Linn County. We went out to investigate and confirmed the report. This was a very interesting find, but our main concern was “Two more pages! We need two more pages!”  Fortunately, we discovered that we had misidentified Carex projecta. Removing its account freed up the needed pages.  

At last the revision was completed. We took a jump drive with the text and photos to OSU Press. There, our wonderful editor Jo Alexander told us exactly what she thought of the hundreds of changes we had made. This was supposed to be a revision, not a new book! Yes, of course she would make the changes, but we were asking a lot! Finally we got proofs and carefully read through it again, of course finding small errors we had missed. 
C. lacustris
Then Rex Crawford and Joe Rocchio of the Washington Department of Natural Resources reported that they had found Carex lacustris in far northeast Washington. Aaaargh!!!!! We had heard that C. lacustris probably grew in northeast Washington but there were no specimens to confirm its presence there. We’d mentioned it in the first edition, even put it in the key, but since no one found it we omitted it from the second edition to save space. 

When photos confirmed that this new report of C. lacustris was accurate, we just had to include it. We timidly phoned Jo Alexander and explained. This was a native plant. Could we add it to the key and put a photo and a paragraph somewhere? Anywhere? Please? After a pause, Jo said, “You really want to give it two pages, don’t you.” Well, yes. “I’ll find a way. Get the text and photos to me as quickly as you can.” And so Carex lacustris made it into the book.

C. lacustris

We can honestly say that the second edition of the Field Guide to the Sedges of the Pacific Northwest is up to date. We hope that it will be at least as useful as the first edition for those dealing with the Carex sedges of this area.    

—Barbara Wilson

Field Guide to the Sedges of the Pacific Northwest is available here


The Carex Working Group is made up of Oregon botanists fascinated by sedges, grasses, willows, and other difficult-to-identify plant groups. In addition to writing about and photographing sedges, CWG teaches plant identification workshops; completes botanical inventories, rare plant surveys, and natural resource planning projects; and conducts taxonomic research on plants of the western United States.

Images by Joe Rocchio. All images are Carex lacustris, by and used with permission from the Carex Working Group.

April 21st, 2014

Jay T. Johnson and Soren C. Larsen are the editors of A Deeper Sense of Place, released by OSU Press last fall, and the recent recipients of a collaborative fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies to begin their next book project, being-together-in-place. Jay Johnson is also a recent recipient of the Association of American Geographers Enhancing Diversity Award.

On the blog, Johnson and Larsen use their own experience to reflect on the evolution and intricacy of collaborative research as a whole—and, like A Deeper Sense of Place itself, put academic work within Indigenous communities and the process of collaboration into conversation.


When Soren Larsen and I proposed a session at the 2010 Association of American Geographers annual meeting in Washington DC on the topic of research collaboration, we had no idea how many of our colleagues would have such extraordinary and moving stories to tell about their transformative experiences of working within Indigenous communities. Our call for papers asked authors to present the “real stories of academics—some Native, others not—who have worked collaboratively with Indigenous communities and in so doing have had their own geographical understandings questioned, challenged, and finally expanded into deeper senses of place.” We were overwhelmed by the volume and enthusiasm of the response. The call attracted so much attention that we ended up with three sessions at the conference, and the clear impression that a shift had occurred in the academy towards a new way of thinking about and doing collaborative Indigenous research.

When Native culture became a topic of formal academic study in the nineteenth century, most fieldworkers simply took collaboration to mean finding a way to gain access to the community or identifying the best cultural informants—if, that is, they thought about it as collaboration at all. Much of the research from that time was extractive, manipulative, or “salvage” in nature. The nature of collaboration changed—albeit slowly—over the course of the twentieth century. Institutional ethics statements and procedures guarded Indigenous rights in the research process, and legislation began to protect their control of material culture, ancestral remains, and cultural knowledge. Protocols for the return of research materials emerged and research activity itself focused increasingly on the social, political, and environmental concerns of Indigenous peoples. Perhaps most notably, some Native people became professional researchers themselves. A distinctively Indigenous geography came to fruition, one that eschewed the abstract and conceptual aims of the academy and grounded research instead within Indigenous ways of knowing and learning.

While the academy was taking research with Indigenous communities much more seriously by the 1970s, much has been written since then questioning the depth, quality, and process of collaboration. Are researchers really including the community and its leaders as collaborators with decision making power over how or even if the research will take place? Are the academics taking the time to build the relationships needed to understand the needs and perspectives of the community? Do collaborative projects really accommodate the radically different ways Indigenous people think about and do research? Or are they just “old school” research projects under the guise of collaboration? What are the interpersonal elements of the research process that don’t ever get talked about (at least not in research journals and formal reports), but are nonetheless critical to successful and meaningful collaboration?

The authors in A Deeper Sense of Place reflect on their own collaboration experiences to explore these and other questions. These highly personal stories come from Native and non-Native practitioners who are doing work in communities all over the world. They don’t just describe the challenges and joys of doing collaborative research, but instead trace the transformative process of a kind of research that draws together emotional, interpersonal, and geographical ways of knowing within the more conventional pursuit of conceptual knowledge and tangible outcomes like reports, databases, and articles. These are stories about the complex and awkward process of negotiating the inexorable relationships of power that infuse all collaborative research. These are stories about the reality that research always takes place, and that where research happens is just as important as why or how it happens. Finally, these are stories about finding a new sense of place—a new way of thinking about and doing research—that brings the art and practice of collaboration more fully into the fold of Indigenous geography.

—Jay T. Johnson & Soren C. Larsen

You can order A Deeper Sense of Place here. More information on the First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies series is available here.

Jay T. Johnson is an Associate Professor of Geography and Indigenous Studies at the University of Kansas and Soren C. Larsen is an Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Missouri. 

Member of AAUP