Category Archives: Western History

UW Press at the Western History Association Virtual Conference

Meet UW Press’s History Editors

Three of the press’s acquisitions editors acquire in the field of the history of the US West, and each one has a particular specialty.

Mike Baccam (he/him) acquires in western history, critical ethnic studies, and Asian American studies. He is interested in projects that engage with race, gender, migration, imperialism, and labor and particularly welcomes interdisciplinary work. He accepts queries for the Emil and Kathleen Sick Series in Western History. He can be reached by email at mbaccam@uw.edu or on Twitter at @mikebaccam.

Andrew Berzanskis (he/him) acquires environmental history, geography, and books for general readers about the Pacific Northwest. Pitch him via email at andrewlb@uw.edu and find him on Twitter at @ABerzanskis. He also accepts proposals for our Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books series.

Larin McLaughlin (she/her) acquires in Native and Indigenous studies, women’s history, gender, and sexuality studies, and visual culture. She welcomes queries for the Indigenous Confluences series. lmclaugh@uw.edu.

We encourage you to reach out to the editor whose emphasis best reflects the focus of your work. And please visit the WHA virtual conference and stop by our virtual booth to learn more about new releases in western history, view series flyers, and access other information.

2020 WHA Award Winners

We are excited to share the news that two of our recent books have received awards from the Western History Association this year:

Becoming Mary Sully: Toward an American Indian Abstract by Philip J. Deloria has been selected for the 2020 Donald L. Fixico Award for best book on American Indian and Canadian First Nations history that centers on Indigenous epistemologies and perspectives.

Reclaiming the Reservation: Histories of Indian Sovereignty Suppressed and Renewed by Alexandra Harmon has been selected for the 2020 Robert G. Athearn Award for best book on the twentieth-century American West.

The awards will be formally announced during the Virtual Awards Ceremony on Friday, October 16, at 2:00 p.m. (CDT).

Grays Harbor Workers: Aaron Goings on “The Port of Missing Men”

History has not been kind to the Washington coast’s working class. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries thousands of the region’s workers toiled long hours in logging camps and lumber mills and in maritime trades—some of the country’s most dangerous industries. Those who acted collectively to improve their working and living conditions were targets of persecution, physically attacked by employers and their allies in the local, state, and federal governments. Vigilante businessmen beat, shot, and kidnapped activists, and deported them from towns, while police jailed them and raided their halls. Indeed, many of the most famous financially successful men in the history of the Olympic Peninsula and southwest Washington defended their wealth through a combination of violent anti-labor activism and support for anti-union legislation. Stories of vigilantes and cops brutalizing working-class women, men, and children fill early twentieth-century newspaper columns—providing potent reminders that the scenes playing out across the United States in 2020 are part of a long history of violent reactions against workers’ movements.

In the past forty years, many of the region’s workers have faced a fresh round of horrors: layoffs and mill closures, as parts of southwest Washington and the Olympic Peninsula began to resemble a Pacific Northwest “Rust Belt.” A recent gut punch came in June 2018 when the Aberdeen Museum of History burned. The fire destroyed priceless labor history collections—virtually the entire archive of Grays Harbor’s rich working-class history is now lost to posterity.

The archive told the important history of collective action in the heart of lumber country. Highlights included huge collections from the International Woodworkers of America and locals of the Cooks and Waiters’ Union—the latter an important source of women’s working-class activism before women won the right to vote. The fire also turned to ashes a collection of records from maritime unions—groups of workers that persistently fought for the types of work-life improvements Americans celebrate on Labor Day.

One of the most important (and certainly the most famous) labor activists from Washington’s coast was William “Billy” Gohl, subject of my new book from the University of Washington Press, The Port of Missing Men: Billy Gohl, Labor, and Brutal Times in the Pacific Northwest. Gohl served as agent for the Aberdeen branch of the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific between 1903 and 1910, when Grays Harbor ranked as both the world’s most prolific lumber port and Washington State’s most densely unionized area.

Gohl was the best-known and most effective union activist in Grays Harbor. His fellow unionists twice elected him president of the local labor council, and he led efforts to force ship captains to follow union contracts and workplace safety laws. Gohl’s activism extended well beyond the shop floor: he was also a community activist committed to improving the lives of maritime workers and making the local waterfront safer.

Not surprisingly for anyone who has done much reading in US labor history, Gohl’s lasting fame has nothing to do with his community activism. Instead, Gohl’s life has long interested journalists and true-crime junkies, because “Billy” is widely known as the “Ghoul of Grays Harbor.” Dozens of true-crime tales—and popular memory—blame Gohl for the deaths of dozens of working men whose corpses were found floating in the Chehalis and Wishkah Rivers. Journalist and popular historian Murray Morgan wrote, “These anonymous dead men, culled from the hordes of migrant laborers who had flocked to Grays Harbor to cut trees, came to be known as the Floater Fleet. Billy Gohl was credited with launching most of them. If he was responsible for even half of the floaters found in the harbor during his day, Gohl was America’s most prolific murderer. Over a ten-year period the fleet numbered 124.”

Arrested and charged with murder in early 1910, Gohl became the subject of a massive campaign by local employers and their allies in the mainstream press to pin the region’s entire history of violent crimes on him and “his gang.” On the day of his arrest the Aberdeen Daily World blamed Gohl “for many of the members of the ‘floater fleet,’ comprising more than 40 bodies.” Three months after his arrest, Gohl was convicted of one murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Gohl was not the only convicted murderer in early Grays Harbor history, and the jury had difficulty coming to a decision about his guilt. Yet by the time the jury convicted him of a single murder Gohl already had been convicted in the public mind of being a cold-blooded killer who spent seven years ravaging Grays Harbor. The case against him appeared to be “the dream of some dime store novel writer,” said Gohl, as employers and the state conspired to remove Gohl from his place in the labor movement. Media accounts of Gohl’s “crimes”—like subsequent stories about Gohl—omit the important historical context that shows employers acting collectively and often brutally to eliminate labor activists in Grays Harbor and throughout the United States.

The Port of Missing Men bears little resemblance to earlier writings about Gohl. I strove to avoid portraying him as a caricature, instead placing Gohl in his historical context. Unfortunately, like Billy the Kid, Gohl has reached the status of a legend. He is now a part of Wild West mythology that often casts imagined “monsters” like him—rather than larger forms of structural oppression—as responsible for violence.

The myth of Billy Gohl the mass murderer has proved remarkably resilient, and rare indeed is the person who, when asked about their knowledge of Billy Gohl, fails to mention the term “serial killer.” But Gohl was a militant labor leader and local bosses saw him as a dangerously effective enemy who needed to be silenced. My new book returns Gohl—the labor and community activist—to the center of a region’s working-class history, a history that, like the materials lost in the Aberdeen museum fire, often ends up in the dustbin.

 

Aaron Goings is associate professor of history and chair of the History and Political Science Department at Saint Martin’s University. He is coauthor of The Red Coast: Radicalism and Anti-radicalism in Southwest Washington and Community in Conflict: A Working-Class History of the 1913–14 Michigan Copper Strike and the Italian Hall Tragedy. His latest book, The Port of Missing Men: Billy Gohl, Labor, and Brutal Times in the Pacific Northwest, is available now.

A Newcomer to the Big Empty: Sam Waterston on Ellen Waterston’s “Walking the High Desert”

We’ve all noticed how sharp our sensations, perceptions and observations are when visiting a place for the first time, from the Grand Canyon to the manmade canyons of New York City. We take in the sounds, smells, and sensations more acutely, more vividly, before familiarity moves in on our guilelessness, bringing its partner, contempt, along with it, the deadening “taking for granted” of the inherent and unique beauty of a place.

My brother Sam has visited me at various locations in the high desert: when I was ranching on the Crooked River; in Bend, at the foot of the Cascades mountains where I run a literary nonprofit; and in the wilds of Oregon’s Outback, during my research for Walking the High Desert. His below comments illustrate his capacity for experiencing this grand space each time as if for the first time. He brings, as he does to all he does, a fresh eye, an open mind and heart, and then extrapolates to a bigger invitation, tuning in to the plea of the place or the circumstance. Covid-19 has upped our appreciation game as everything seems more precious, fleeting. The pandemic has reminded us to appreciate what is right in front of us, what, perhaps, we have heretofore taken for granted; and, as Sam’s generous comments advocate, to take action to protect what is “fierce, fragile, beautiful,” the high desert and the earth itself.

Ellen Waterston


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Ellen Waterston and her brother Sam Waterston in Washington, D.C. in a Fire Drill Friday rally in support of legislation that protects the environment. January 2020

The high desert is like the ocean or the mountains of the moon: by itself, the name calls up space, the vast sky, the nearby stars, the one-hundred-mile gaze, the place where things and people stand out. It’s amazing. Many born and raised in it know this and never lose their awareness. After a lifetime of living in it, some still have the cowboys’ long horizons in their eyes. Some others, working to make it yield and bend to their needs, temporarily or permanently lose their amazement . . . Even an amazing place can become commonplace, merely where you do what you do; even here, a person can forget where they are. And isn’t that the way of it for most of us, wherever we live?

Most visitors do feel the wonder of the high desert at first, like babes in the woods, and that astonishment can last and last. It has with me. I first came out here to see my sister Ellen, who wrote Walking the High Desert. There aren’t so very many places where a hay field is measured by the thousand acres, where your front yard is fifty acres of wild iris, and the view is of the moon.

My sister was a newcomer to the Big Empty once. Because of the life she led and the person she is, her amazement at the wonder of the place she had come to never left her…and she went deep, looked deep. She is a poet and a journalist. She spent a lot of her time out in the desert, recorded what she witnessed, and brought the place to second life in words. This book is one fine example. She has a lot to say about the high desert. The high desert has a lot to tell. Almost inevitably, the long walks Ellen Waterston took out there over all those years landed her on the Oregon High Desert Trail—and she brought out for us the gold, the story of the place, entwined in her own story.

The earth is like the high desert, a fierce, fragile, beautiful, amazing place. We can’t afford to take it for granted anymore. There are as many opinions about what to do with it and for it now as there are interested parties . . . and we are all interested parties where the fate of the earth is involved. At least, we need to be. There is no place left for bystanders now. We all have to put our heads into this. My sister’s book will get you in the right state of mind.


Sam Waterston is an American actor, producer, and director. Waterston is known for his work in theater, television and film as well as his environmental activism.

Ellen Waterston is author of Where the Crooked Desert Rises: A High Desert Home, a memoir, and four poetry collections including a verse novel. She is the founder and president of the Waterston Desert Writing Prize and the founder of the Writing Ranch in Bend, Oregon. Her latest book, Walking the High Desert: Encounters with Rural America along the Oregon Desert Trail, is available now.

While Making Other Plans: Ellen Waterston on “Walking the High Desert”

 

In 2012 the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) pieced together a 750-mile trail that starts at the Oregon Badlands Wilderness outside of Bend and continues to the southeastern Oregon canyonlands that flank the Owyhee River. I moved from New England to the high desert of central Oregon four decades ago. Though I now live in Bend, my love of this hardscrabble outback still informs me every day. So it’s no surprise that this new trail spoke to me, lured me back into the desert. No longer actively ranching, I decided I’d walk sections of the trail to bring attention to the ONDA’s Oregon Desert Trail especially as it underscored public and private land use issues. I would make a point of evenly and fairly presenting the conflicting points of view about repurposing open areas of public land. I prided myself that in so many ways I already knew the players: ranchers; Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, and Fish and Wildlife employees; schoolteachers in rural schoolhouses; merchants in remote outposts; American Indians on reservations in the high desert; law enforcement officials who, some years back, were kind enough to wave me on, despite my excessive speed, as I made my way along desolate Highway 20 back to the ranch with a station wagon full of fussy infants and sacks of groceries.

In 2015, I began researching and writing this A to Z examination of land use issues in the high desert. But the January 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters by an armed group of far-right extremists changed all that. Life and writing projects are what happen while you are busy making other plans. The occupation was an invitation I couldn’t refuse to broaden the scope of the book, to examine how each section of the trail, in its own unique way, underscored issues that weren’t only regional but also national, if not international, seen through the optic of the high desert—issues such as water resources, climate change, protection of environmental habitat, recreational demands on open spaces, the rural-urban divide, economic inequities, and racism in the rural West.

Writing this book has led me to love the desert even more and to deeply apprehend how fragile it is socially and environmentally. With so many new people moving into this high and dry region, just as I did before them—there needs to be a commensurate commitment to care for it. I hope this book inspires people to engage in important conversations not only about the high desert but also about how these broader and seemingly unresolvable issues manifest where each of us live. As I encountered those issues, I confess I didn’t see any chance for resolution, but by the end of the book… well, I won’t be a spoiler.

 


Ellen Waterston is author of Where the Crooked Desert Rises: A High Desert Home, a memoir, four poetry collections, and four poetry collections including a verse novel. She is the founder and president of the Waterston Desert Writing Prize and the founder of the Writing Ranch in Bend, Oregon.

Walking Nearby History: Judy Bentley on “Walking Washington’s History”

Staying home and walking more in your neighborhood? There’s more underfoot than you may realize. Cities are rich in layers of history, some visible, some not.

Heading out my side door, I find a clothesline pole still standing between my house and the condo building next door, trailing vines instead of drying sheets. A half-mile away is a monument marking the landing of the Denny-Low-Terry party at Alki in 1851. Those are the obvious finds.

Less obvious is the median sloping downhill in front of our house, separating two narrow one-way streets. When we moved here 16 years ago, the hillside was overgrown with weeds. One lone plum tree drooped with fruit each fall. In the early 1900s children walked to the neighborhood school along a one-lane dirt road paralleling a meadow. “We frequently preferred the trail along Chilberg Avenue,” recalled one resident, “to enjoy some of the most beautiful wildflowers in the open fields and leading up into ‘the woods,’ the hillside forest.” Pleasant memories for troubled times.

Troubled times are nothing new. As I researched Walking Washington’s History: Ten Cities, I often found conflict. I had read about the Everett Massacre of 1914 when striking millworkers in the city were supported by Wobblies who arrived on boats from Seattle. The Wobblies were met with gunfire. The dock where the clash occurred is long gone, but as I walked the waterfront in 2017, I found wreaths made out of dried cedar hung on a wire fence, each commemorating one of the 12 men killed.

WA History 1

At the Chinese Reconciliation Park in Tacoma, the haunting figures of Chinese workers expelled from the city in 1885 are painted on stone, an attempt to remember and acknowledge.

WA History 2

There were moments of pleasure, too, when I found the cool bubbling spring behind the Bigelow House in Olympia, which supplied drinking water to the early residents. Vancouver has not just one but three statues of women: a pioneer mother, a Native American woman, and a World War II welder.

WA History 3

Where history is less visible, interpretive art recalls the work of ordinary people. A sculpted fruit-picker’s bag sits on a square in Yakima.

WA History 4

To find history underfoot, look closely as you walk, and ask why. Then visit the local historical society when it opens again; you may find an oral history or memories that recall experiences like a walk to school.

Today, the meadow along that old dirt road has been reclaimed by community volunteers with plantings of more fruit trees, native shrubs, and wildflowers. Some of the forest above remains, on a hillside too steep for development. Walkers passing the wildflowers on this relatively quiet street are in good historic company.


Judy Bentley is the author of fourteen nonfiction books for young adults and three books published by the University of Washington Press, including Walking Washington’s History: Ten Cities, Hiking Washington’s History, and Free Boy: A True Story of Slave and Master. She taught composition, literature, and Pacific Northwest history for more than 20 years at South Seattle College.

Lil Nas X is in Good Company: Cowboys Have Always Been Black and Gay

Country rapper Lil Nas X had a monumental summer. His hit song, “Old Town Road,” broke records with 19 weeks atop the Billboard’s Hot 100 list. A stunning victory for an African American singer in a music genre that has been persistently imagined as white, even as the music industry hotly debated whether or not the song should be considered country. While riding his groundswell of support, he also came out as gay in a series of tweets. His fans widely celebrated this revelation while the media heralded the news as groundbreaking.

In an era when the nation is divided along political and geographical lines, Lil Nas X’s desire to leverage his stardom into expanding the increasingly narrow definition of the cowboy deserves a deeper look. As I demonstrate in my book Outriders: Rodeo at the Fringes of the America West, the cowboy has always been a contested figure in the American imagination and many groups of people have claimed cowboy identities despite being written out of the popular narrative. For many, the cowboy has always been black and gay.

Working cowhands in the 19th century were often working-class men of color. Influenced by the mounted herding traditions of Mexican vaqueros, American cowboy culture emerged along the cattle trails of former slave states. Enslaved and free black men, alongside Native, Creole, and Mexican people, made up a significant portion of the cattle industry both before and after the Civil War.

These were not solitary heroic figures—they were wage laborers in a rapidly industrializing country. They spent much of their time forming long-lasting relationships with other men whom they depended on for safety and companionship. They worked seasonally in sparsely populated areas in order to drive meat on the hoof towards industrial centers, but they also spent a great deal of time in the West’s rapidly expanding cities.

These classed and racialized realities of working cowboys were present in early versions of western performance, even as the figure of the cowboy steadily became whitewashed by Jim Crow segregation and mythologized in dime novels, Wild West shows, and early rodeo. Black cowboys, whether popular individuals like Bill Pickett, a respected African American rodeo cowboy, or entire black communities, like Boley, Oklahoma, carved out places for themselves in western performance. Feeding an ever growing number of black riding associations and rodeo circuits, like the Anahuac Saltgrass Cowboys Association and the Bill Pickett Invitational, the Boley rodeo helped inspire black cowboys across the country. Likewise, white women, many of them first generation Americans, competed in bronc riding and trick riding in mainstream rodeos in the early twentieth century and formed the Girls Rodeo Association in the 1940s.

During the Cold War, the idea that a cowboy was and had always been a white, heterosexual man solidified in the American imagination. Still, many groups of people, from civic leaders in Oakland to incarcerated people in Texas, used cowboy performance to assert their belonging in the nation. Some of these groups, like the International Gay Rodeo Association, explicitly used the language of civil rights to urge for the reimagining of the cowboy icon. Officially formed in 1985 after a decade of successful gay rodeos in Reno, Nevada, this association tapped into the cowboy craze of Reagan’s America. Gay cloggers, line dancers, two steppers, and rodeoers worked to create spaces where many men and women who had fled rural places in fear could find a connection to the lifeways of their childhoods. Today the association still struggles to normalize the existence of queer cowboys, despite thriving for nearly forty-five years.

Lil Nas X has handled backlash from homophobic fans well. He explained that he understood the consequences of his decision to come out, stating “I know the people who listen to [‘Old Town Road’] the most, they’re not accepting of homosexuality.” Yet as this young man is inundated with both praise and vitriol, told that he is either destined to be forgotten or represents the future, he should not be made to feel alone—the history of the cowboy is the history of black, gay cowboys.


Rebecca Scofield is assistant professor of American history at the University of Idaho and author of Outriders.

If you are attending the 2019 Western History Association conference in Las Vegas, please join us for a special book signing at the University of Washington Press booth (No. 30) on Friday, October 18th at 3 p.m.

Photo Essay: ‘Razor Clams’

What is the ultimate Father’s Day gift? Is it buried treasure, or is it spending time with loved ones? Why not both? This year, give Dad a guide to a hobby you can enjoy together.

In Razor Clams, David Berger shares with us his love affair with the glossy, gold-colored Siliqua patula and gets into the nitty-gritty of how to dig, clean, and cook them using his favorite recipes. In the course of his investigation, Berger brings to light the long history of razor clamming as a subsistence, commercial, and recreational activity, and shows the ways it has helped shape both the identity and the psyche of the Pacific Northwest.

Project Razor Clam
Washington State has many symbols – a state song, a state bird, a state tree – and now a move is underway to designate the Pacific razor clam as the state clam. Coastal legislators Brian Blake, Joel Kretz, Steve Tharinger, and Jim Walsh introduced House Bill 3001 in February and they plan to reintroduce the non-partisan bill again during the next legislative session. Rep. Blake, a razor clammer since childhood, says the Pacific razor clam well deserves the official title of state clam for its significance to the state’s history, identity, and economy.

Learn  more about the Pacific razor clam and celebrate the publication of Razor Clams at this event:

July 10 at 1 p.m., Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau, Redmond Senior Center, Redmond, WA


What drives thousands of people to Pacific coast beaches every year, regardless of the season or the weather? The unique activity known as razor clamming: chasing after the delectable Pacific razor clam, endemic to the West Coast and especially numerous in Washington, Oregon and south-central Alaska. When I first moved to Seattle, I had heard something about the near-mythic activity of razor clamming, and one year I finally tried my hand. I was startled to find a horde lined up on a sandy beach near Ocean Shores, Washington, lanterns and headlamps bobbing in the pre-dawn darkness like so many fireflies, waiting for the low tide. I only managed to get one clam that dig, but I became an aficionado. Over time I learned that razor clamming is sometimes challenging, sometimes cold and wet, but always fun. My wife and I eventually had many questions about the activity and the razor clam itself, which led to writing Razor Clams: Buried Treasure of the Pacific Northwest.

In researching the book I discovered just how important the resource has been for the region’s history and identity. The clams were an important food source for coastal Northwest Native Indians and early settlers. Large-scale commercial exploitation began after 1900 with canned razor clams becoming a cupboard staple. Following WWII, commercial canning petered out, but the undertaking as recreation continued to grow, and today razor clamming regularly attracts folks of all ages armed with shovels, tubes, buckets, nets and a shellfish license. For many people it is their favorite outdoor pursuit, a profound family-centric experience, part ritual and part way of life. Other natural resources have fallen by the wayside, but razor clamming and its time-honored rhythms endure.

The photos below show key aspects of the modern recreational fishery as well as iconic moments from the past.

Digging for Pacific razor clams near Copalis Beach in Washington state. A good low tide and favorable weather can bring out a horde of people. Razor clamming is a quintessentially Northwest phenomenon.

Credit: David Berger

This woman is using the tube to remove a coring of sand and, with luck, a razor clam as well. While the Northwest is famous for shellfish such as oysters and mussels, most of these are farm-raised. Pacific razor clams, by contrast, are only available as a wild food.

Credit: David Berger

An old-timer puts his razor clams in a vintage wire basket once used for gathering eggs. Razor clamming attracts folks of all ages and gender. It’s not too unusual to read in a coastal obituary that “so and so loved to razor clam, and took pride in always getting a limit.”

Credit: David Berger

A family heading to the surf with aluminum tubes and buckets. Razor clamming is a family-centric activity, one of the qualities that make the undertaking so special.

Credit: David Berger

Some people are darn serious about getting their legal daily limit of clams. This gentleman is using a special narrow-bladed shovel to dig for clams. Razor clams are wily and can move down quickly in the soft sand near the water. Shovel diggers by the surf must be quick about their business.

Credit: David Berger

The quarry, the Pacific razor clam. A variety of clams around the world are called razor clams, but this species, Siliqua patula, is only found on the West Coast on certain beaches from northern California to south-central Alaska. It is a large, meaty clam prized for the table. To prepare, razor clams are removed from the shell, cleaned of sand and viscera, and then fried, sautéed or made into chowder.

Credit: David Berger

A razor clam festival in Long Beach, Washington in 1940. A highlight was cooking the “world’s largest clam fritter,” in a giant skillet. The fritter required two hundred pounds of razor clams and twenty dozen eggs.

Credit: Pacific Shellfish Ephemera/Matt Winters Collection

Like salmon, razor clams are an icon of the region and part of cultural identity. In Long Beach, WA, visitors love to take pictures next to a wooden razor clam sculpture as well as the original pan from the 1940s razor clam festival. The razor clam squirts on the hour and is squirting here if you look closely.

Credit: David Berger

A cup of razor-clam chowder at the Razor Clam Festival chowder competition in Ocean Shores. Acknowledging the razor clam’s importance and enthusiastic supporters, Washington state has two razor clam festivals each spring, one at the city of Long Beach, the other at the city of Ocean Shores.

Credit: David Berger

Women and men in 1910 collecting razor clams and Dungeness crabs. The clams are in the wire-wheeled cart in the middle of the photograph. Razor clams have been popular for as long as there have been people on the coast including among the original Native American inhabitants.

Credit: Museum of the North Beach

Commercial clammers with surf sacks harnessed to their bodies. They were collecting primarily for the razor clam canning industry and could easily gather several hundreds of pounds on a good low tide. The canning of razor clams faded away in the post-WWII 1950s era.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the number of people digging razor clams recreationally swelled as folks realized they could drive to the beach with the family, enjoy the seashore, dig some clams, and have a fine meal of the tasty bivalve.

Postcard. Credit: Alan Rammer collection

In Washington and Oregon people are allowed to drive on the beaches. Utilizing a vehicle helps make the activity easier to undertake regardless of the weather, which is sometimes cold, wet, and windy.

Credit: David Berger

Father with his son and a net full of clams, in 2014. Despite the emergence of “nature-deficit disorder” and such distractions as professional sports teams and video games, razor clamming remains a living tradition in the Northwest that attracts many tens of thousands every year.

Credit: David Berger


David Berger has been a contributor to the food feature, “Northwest Taste,” in the Pacific Magazine, and is former art critic for the Seattle Times. He is a recipient of a Metcalf Fellowship for Marine and Environmental Reporting.

Happy 100th birthday, Gordon Hirabayashi!

April 23, 2018 marks what would have been Gordon Hirabayashi’s 100th birthday. As a young man, Gordon learned the hard way that without a vigilant and engaged citizenry, our Constitution is little more than a scrap of paper. He took a stand and became one of the best known resisters to World War II incarceration—and we have much to learn from his example today.

Just days after his 24th birthday, Gordon challenged the government’s right to target and forcibly remove Japanese Americans without due process of law, and turned himself in to the FBI rather than going along with the forced removal. He paid a high price for his act of civil disobedience, spending the next nine months in a jail cell while awaiting trial and appealing his conviction, before being sentenced to prison when the Supreme Court ruled unanimously against him. It would take more than 40 years to correct that injustice–but Gordon never gave up, and instead continued to fight for the rights of himself and all Americans.

In this excerpt from A Principled Stand: The Story of Hirabayashi v. United States, Gordon talks about how he arrived at the decision to disobey curfew orders and, later, exclusion orders:

Returning from New York, I became one of the leaders of the UW student conscientious objectors group right after the first peacetime conscription law [Selective Training and Service Act of 1940] was passed. . . . As for confronting the government, with all the information I had, I thought, “They’re wrong!” For me, my position was a positive one, that of desiring to be a conscientious citizen. It was this desire that prevented my participation in the military as a way of achieving peace and democracy and other ideals for which we stood. How could you achieve nonviolence violently and succeed? War never succeeded before. War has always caused more problems than it solved. I can’t say it’s wrong for everybody, but I can’t approve of it for myself. I couldn’t put my life on the line and put my efforts toward war with how I feel.

I wanted to work toward justice and peace in my own way. And there were others with whom I could do that, namely, liberal members of churches and political parties. We had a lot of protection actually. If we had to go to prison, treatment was all right, since the concept of conscientious objection was not ipso facto disloyal.

On Sunday, December 7, 1941, I went to the Quaker meeting as usual. After the meeting, a student came down from an apartment across the street: “I skipped the meeting this morning. Japan bombed Pearl Harbor! We’re at war!” It didn’t sound real. It was unbelievable, but it slowly sank in.

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, acting under his emergency war powers, issued Executive Order 9066, which delegated broad powers to the secretary of war as well as U.S. military commanders to protect the national security. That protection included the right to remove any suspect individuals from military areas.

A proclamation, generally referred to as the curfew order, was issued on March 24, 1942, restricting the movement of certain individuals. General John L. DeWitt, who was the top military man in charge of the Western Defense Command, issued the curfew. It was applied to all enemy aliens—Germans, Italians, Japanese, plus non- aliens of Japanese ancestry—confining them to their residences between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., and restricting their travel to areas within a radius of five miles from their homes. The government and military kept using this term “non-alien” in identifying the second-generation Japanese Americans, who, after all, were actually U.S. citizens by birthright. The military seemed to feel more comfortable carrying out these orders if they didn’t have to think about applying them to other Americans. At first I responded as an ordinary citizen and obeyed government orders.

As I thought the situation over, however, I reasoned that a citizen is a member of a state: a person, native or naturalized, who owes allegiance to a state and is entitled to protection from it. An alien is someone who is not a citizen. What, then, is a “non-alien”? I felt forsaken as a citizen to be included in this strange kind of categorization. It appeared that the federal government was more interested in suspending citizens’ rights than in protecting constitutional guarantees regardless of race, creed, or national origins.

At my YMCA dormitory, there were about fifteen of us, mostly locals, but some from different states and a few internationals: one or two Chinese, a Filipino, and some Canadians. They became my time- keepers. “Gordon, it’s five to eight,” and I would rush back from the library, which was about two blocks from my UW dormitory, Eagleson Hall. And then it happened. One night, I thought to myself, “I can’t do that. I have to change my philosophy or I can’t do this, or I’m not true to myself, and if I’m not, I’m not a very good citizen to anybody. Why am I dashing back and those guys are still down there, and I could stay longer and get some more work done, too?”

So I went back to the library, and the first dorm mate who saw me said, “Hey! What are you doing here?”

I said, “What are you doing here?” “Working,” he responded.

I retorted, “Well, I’ve got work to do, too, same as you. Why should I be running back if you’re not running back? We’re both Americans!” My dorm mates never turned me in. They could have. I never was arrested for curfew violation or caught as I was roaming around the University District. If I had been living a half a block away at the Japanese Students Club, I would have been one of the forty or so residents who would be returning at five to eight. If that had been the case,I wonder whether openly confronting the racist curfew order would have occurred to me?

Members of the University of Washington Japanese Students Club in 1941. Courtesy of the UW Nikkei Alumni Association.

If I were to maintain my integrity in terms of my belief that I am a first-class American citizen, but then accepted second-class status, I would have had to accept all kinds of differences. But how is it that I could raise a question about being a first-class citizen when every day I experience differences that restrict my rights because of my ancestry?

The curfew and exclusion orders were issued, making the Nisei subject to those restrictions purely on the grounds of ancestry, but many Nisei found it possible to find a way to accept those orders in the name of loyalty and patriotism. I heard various reports from the Japanese community. Nisei came to have their lunch at the YMCA, and I dropped over to the Japanese Students Club from time to time. I heard that the Issei leaders were being picked up.

Among the community, all sorts of rumors were rife, and the concentration camp fever hit us all. Others will be picked up. There was a kind of resignation among us that because the Issei were prohibited from naturalizing, they were still Japanese subjects. And with war, they were technically enemy aliens. Therefore we expected that some restrictions would fall on them, that they would all be put into some kind of confinement. I remember trying to assure the Issei that, at worst, some things like that could happen, but if they did, we Nisei would look after their needs.

Shortly after the curfew order, the government posted an official proclamation on telephone poles and post office bulletin boards: NOTICE TO ALL PERSONS OF JAPANESE ANCESTRY, BOTH ALIEN AND NON-ALIEN. Civilian Exclusion Order No. 57 commanded all Japanese and Japanese Americans out of their homes and into special, totally segregated, camps.

In response to the Army’s Exclusion Order Number 20, residents of Japanese ancestry appeared at Civil Control Station in Sacramento. Photo by Dorothea Lange, Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Soon enough, the districts of Seattle were on a deadline to move all persons of Japanese ancestry, “both alien and non-alien.” All this time I was thinking that when the last bus came, I would probably be on it. About two weeks before my time came, I said to myself, “If I am defying the curfew, how can I accept this thing? This is much worse, the same principle, but much worse in terms of uprooting and denial of our rights, and the suffering it’s going to cause.” While I had to agonize over that for a couple of days, the answer was inevitable. I found it necessary to keep myself internally intact.

I was a senior at the University of Washington. At the end of winter term in March 1942, I dropped out of the university. It was clear to me that I would not be around long enough to complete spring session. I volunteered for the fledgling local American Friends Service Committee, with Floyd Schmoe as my boss. [. . . .]

The top priority was to sensitively respond to needs arising among the Japanese Americans. The Quakers were responding to calls for help. My assignment involved helping those families with little kids whose Issei fathers had been picked up and interned immediately after Pearl Harbor because they were leaders of the community. The mothers were busy closing the houses, arranging for storage, and preparing young children to carry their things on the trek to camp. Gosh! Something seems wrong; helping people to go behind barbed wires and into flimsy shacks. What a mixed-up life this is—the American way. It really horrified me to help these families pack up their belongings, drive them down to the temporary camp at the Western Washington Fairgrounds in Puyallup, and leave them behind barbed wire.

Japanese Americans from Seattle arrive at the Puyallup detention facility, which was also known as “Camp Harmony” (a euphemism coined by army public relations officials days before the first Nikkei arrival and a name in common usage by camp survivors). Courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry.

Those who saw me waving goodbye expected to see me within a few weeks, a prisoner myself. Then, somewhere in a period of a few days, it occurred to me that if I can’t tolerate curfew, how can I go with this camp deal, which is much worse? As long as I had come to this stage, I thought I couldn’t do it. It was only about a week before the last evacuee left, but by then, I knew I wouldn’t go! [. . . .]

My parents, who still lived in Thomas, were expecting to be uprooted sometime in May, and because we lived south of Seattle, the family was initially going to be sent to the center for Japanese Americans erected at Pinedale, California. They thought that I would be home in time to join them for the exodus. I had to explain what was happening to me and tell them that I would not be joining them. Because of travel restrictions and demands on my time by the Quaker service work, I had to telephone home to give my parents the unpleasant news.

My mother pleaded, “Please, put your principles aside on this occasion, come home, and move with us. Heaven knows what will happen to you if you confront the government. You are right and I agree with you, but this is war. We’re all facing unknowns. We are going to be moved, but we don’t know where or for how long. The worst of all would be that if we are separated now, we may never get together again.”

That was quite a concern to her if I continued to defy the government. My brother Ed heard Mom crying and begging. She had read The Count of Monte Cristo, and as that was her only reference to jails and prisons, she worried about the consequences of my decision. I might face the firing squad or something like that. I told her, “If I change my mind because of your pressure, it wouldn’t be good. I need to retain my own self-respect, because when I take this stand, I am following what I think is right. I can’t change my views, since I’d rather remain true to my beliefs and be true to you as your son.”

After the war, my brother Ed observed, “Once they had done all they could do to dissuade Gordon and saw they couldn’t change his mind, they became his greatest supporters and were proud of him, in spite of the terrifying thought of his being in prison.”

In a 1999 interview with Densho, Gordon reflected on his mother’s support, and his decision to take a stand:

Excerpt from A Principled Stand: The Story of Hirabayashi v. United States
By Gordon K. Hirabayashi
With James A. Hirabayashi and Lane Ryo Hirabayashi

This post originally appeared on the Densho Blog.

#TinyDeskContest Staff Pick: No-No Boy’s “Two Candles In The Dark”

I am a huge National Public Radio nerd (I know), and from late February through the end of April you’ll often find me watching and listening to the wonderful submissions from unsigned talent to the annual Tiny Desk Contest.

I was especially thrilled to see the 2018 submission from No-No Boy, the amazing multimedia project of Brown University doctoral students Julian Saporiti and Erin Aoyama that takes inspiration from the oral histories of World War II incarceration camp survivors and aims to shine a light on the Asian American experience, including Saporiti’s family’s history living through the Vietnam War and Aoyama’s grandmother’s incarceration in Heart Mountain, Wyoming. (Their submission, “Two Candles In the Dark,” is a featured staff pick this week on the All Songs Considered blog.)

I’ve been a fan of their music and other work for a while now, and my little publicist heart is especially excited that their contest submission video features not only No-No Boy by John Okada, but also Nisei Daughter by Monica Sone, Desert Exile by Yoshiko Uchida, Years of Infamy by Michi Nishiura Weglyn, and A Tragedy of Democracy (Columbia UP) by John Okada coeditor Greg Robinson, among many other scholarly books on the Asian American experience. Can you spot any other university press titles?

I hope you’ll join me in rooting for No-No Boy for Tiny Desk Contest (the winner will be announced in late April). In the meantime, check out the project on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Soundcloud. You can (and should) also listen to interviews with and songs by No-No Boy on Order 9066, an eight-part series podcast from APM Reports and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and anywhere else you are able.

—Casey LaVela, Publicity Director

November 2017 News, Reviews, and Events

News

University Press Week is November 6-11 (next week!) and we can’t wait to celebrate the value of our books and expertise of our authors with this year’s theme, #LookItUP: Knowledge Matters.

Find a run-down of online and offline events on the UP Week site and join in with the #ReadUP and #LookItUP hashtags on social media.

In huge literary news, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Seattle as a City of Literature in the Creative Cities Network. Please join us in heartily congratulating all involved in the bid, with a special mention to UW Press staffer and Seattle City of Literature cofounder Rebecca Brinbury! Find more from UNESCO, Seattle City of Literature, and the Seattle Review of Books. Read and write on, Seattle!

Monthly Giveaways

Reviews and Interviews


The Atlantic interviews Pumpkin author Cindy Ott in an article about what counts as a pumpkin. WDEL also interviews the author about the connection between pumpkins and fall.


Tell Me Something I Don’t Know with Stephen J. Dubner features Smell Detectives author Melanie Kiechle in a recent podcast episode all about the senses.
High Country News reviews The Tao of Raven by Ernestine Hayes: “As with Blonde Indian, Hayes blurs the boundaries of genre in The Tao of Raven, which braids sharp grandmotherly meditations and gripping personal history into the fictional storyline of another troubled, typical family. . . . Her prose is as insistent as it is lyrical.”—Rob Rich


Inquirer.net USA reviews A Time to Rise edited by Rene Ciria Cruz, Cindy Domingo, and Bruce Occena: “A Time to Rise comes out at an opportune time as another fascist regime emerges in the Philippines. As in the past, former KDP activists have responded to the call to fight back.”—Boying Pimentel


International Examiner also reviews: “This nearly 20-year project is a remarkable documentation of one of the leading revolutionary Asian American Movement organizations. . . . A Time to Rise provides much greater complexity to teaching and learning about both Filipino American and Asian American movement history. . . . More than lessons of the past, A Time to Rise illuminates the way forward to complete unfinished revolutions.”—Tracy Lai


KING 5 Evening features Razor Clams author David Berger in a new series on Wild Food. Langdon Cook (James Beard Award-winning writer and author of books including Upstream and The Mushroom Hunters) reviews the book on his blog: “For the uninitiated, David Berger’s Razor Clams is just the ticket to understanding what all the fuss is about. Berger is a lively guide to Siliqua patula‘s ecology, culinary lore, and historical importance in the region. . . . Readers looking for such nourishment will find much to savor in this account of a beloved bivalve.”


CASSIUS publishes an article by author David J. Leonard about the Las Vegas shooting, white male terrorism, and how race shapes our reaction to gun violence. Playing While White gets a byline mention. The Undefeated also publishes an adaption from the book. The Seattle Times publishes an opinion piece by the author on WSU football coach Mike Leach using his platform to thwart conversation on racial equity rather than advance it, where the book gets a byline mention.


The Seattle Times reviews “Witness to Wartime” and prominently mentions The Hope of Another Spring: “The book and exhibition, together, shed a powerful new light on a troubling chapter in U.S. history. . . . Compelling as both artwork and history.”—Michael Upchurch


The Everett Herald reviews Territorial Hues by David F. Martin (dist. Cascadia Art Museum): “If you love the Northwest and Northwest regional art, be sure to check out Territorial Hues.”—Gale Fiege


Asia Pacific Forum interviews Queering Contemporary Asian American Art editors Laura Kina and Jan Christian Bernabe.


Publishers Weekly interviews author Ingrid Walker in an article about the recent Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association fall tradeshow. High gets a mention.


The Eureka Times-Standard features Defending Giants by Darren F. Speece in an article about the 40th anniversary of the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC). Truthout reviews the book: “Eloquent, inspiring, eminently readable nonfiction with precious lessons for those fighting the ever-greater environmental destruction wrought by corporate greed. . . . A tale fully relevant to here and now.”—Robert James Parsons

New Books

Seismic City: An Environmental History of San Francisco’s 1906 Earthquake
By Joanna L. Dyl
Foreword by Paul S. Sutter

Combining urban environmental history and disaster studies, this close study of San Francisco’s calamitous earthquake and aftermath demonstrates how the crisis and subsequent rebuilding reflect the dynamic interplay of natural and human influences that have shaped San Francisco.


Chinook Resilience: Heritage and Cultural Revitalization on the Lower Columbia River
By Jon D. Daehnke
Foreword by Tony A. Johnson

A collaborative ethnography of how the Chinook Indian Nation, whose land and heritage are under assault, continues to move forward and remain culturally strong and resilient. Chinook Resilience offers a tribally relevant, forward-looking, and decolonized approach for the cultural resilience and survival of the Chinook Indian Nation, even in the face of federal nonrecognition.

Queer Feminist Science Studies: A Reader
Edited by Cyd Cipolla, Kristina Gupta, David A. Rubin, and Angela Willey

The foundational essays and new writings collected here take a transnational, trans-species, and intersectional approach to this cutting-edge area of inquiry between women’s, gender, and sexuality studies and science and technology studies (STS), and demonstrate the ingenuity and dynamism of queer feminist scholarship.


Living Sharia: Law and Practice in Malaysia
By Timothy P. Daniels

What role does sharia play today in Malaysia? Drawing on ethnographic research, this book traces the contested implementation of Islamic family and criminal laws and sharia economics to provide cultural frameworks for understanding sharia among Muslims and non-Muslims in Southeast Asia and beyond.


Mobilizing Krishna’s World: The Writings of Prince Savant Singh of Kishangarh
By Heidi R. M. Pauwels

Through an examination of the life and works of Savant Singh (1697-1764), this remarkable study explores the circulation of ideas and culture in the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries in north India, revealing how the Rajput prince mobilized soldiers but also used myths, songs, and stories about saints in order to cope with his personal and political crisis.


The Rebirth of Bodh Gaya: Buddhism and the Making of a World Heritage Site
By David Geary

This multilayered historical ethnography of Bodh Gaya—the place of Buddha’s enlightenment in the north Indian state of Bihar—explores the spatial politics surrounding the transformation of the Mahabodhi Temple Complex into a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2002.


The Jewish Bible: A Material History
By David Stern

Drawing on the most recent scholarship on the history of the book, this beautifully illustrated material history shows how the Bible has been not only a medium for transmitting its text—the word of God—but a physical object with a meaning of its own.

Events

NOVEMBER

November 1 at 6:30 p.m., Linda Carlson, Company Towns of the Pacific Northwest, Dungeness Valley Lutheran Church, Sequim, WA

November 2 at 6 p.m., Paula Becker, Looking for Betty MacDonald, Washington Athletic Club, Seattle, WA

November 2 at 7 p.m., David B. Williams, Jennifer Ott, and staff of HistoryLink, Waterway, King County Library System – Mercer Island, Mercer Island, WA

November 4 at 1 p.m., David Berger, Razor Clams, Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau, Seward Park Audubon Center, Seattle, WA

November 8 at 6:30 p.m., Linda Carlson, Company Towns of the Pacific Northwest, Dungeness Valley Lutheran Church, Sequim, WA

November 9 at 6 p.m., Zoltán Grossman, Unlikely Alliances, Orca Books, Olympia, WA

November 9 at 12:30 p.m., David Biggs, Quagmire / War in the Land (forthcoming 2018), University of Washington, Southeast Asia Center, Thomson Room 317, Seattle, WA

November 9 at 7 p.m., Ingrid Walker, High, King’s Books, Tacoma, WA

November 10 at 7 p.m., James Longhurst, Bike Battles, BikePGH and Healthy Ride, Pittsburgh, PA

November 10 – 13, Emily T. Yeh, Mapping Shangrila, 2017 Machik Weekend, New York, NY

November 11 at 10 a.m., David Biggs, Quagmire / War in the Land (forthcoming 2018), Seattle Asian Art Museum, Saturday University, History Flows from the Mekong Mud, Seattle Art Museum, Plestcheeff Auditorium (SAM), Seattle, WA (Get tickets)

November 12 at 4 p.m., David B. Williams, Jennifer Ott, and staff of HistoryLink, Waterway, Eastside Heritage Center, Bellevue, WA

November 14, Geeta Patel, Risky Bodies and Techno-Intimacy, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA

November 16 at 7 p.m., Melanie A. Kiechle, Smell Detectives, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, MA

November 16 at 6 p.m., Zhi LIN (dist. for Tacoma Art Museum), Tacoma Art Museum, Artist Talk: Conversation with Zhi LIN and Chief Curator Rock Hushka, Tacoma, WA

November 17 at 10 a.m., David E. Wilkins and Shelly Hulse Wilkins, Dismembered, Symposium on Tribal Citizenship, San Diego State University, Scripps Cottage, San Diego, CA

November 18 at 3 p.m., Seattle7Writers Holiday Bookfest with Kathleen Alcalá (The Deepest Roots) and David B. Williams (Seattle Walks), Seattle, WA

November 19 at 2 p.m., Linda Carlson, Company Towns of the Pacific Northwest, Snoqualmie Valley History Society, King County Library System – North Bend, North Bend, WA

November 22 at 7 p.m., Cindy Domingo, A Time to Rise, with Vincente Rafael (Motherless Tongues), Duterte’s War: The Current Crisis in the Philippines and Beyond, Third Place Books – Seward Park, Seattle, WA

DECEMBER

December 2 at 11 a.m., Zoltán Grossman, Unlikely Alliances, Hoquiam Timberland Library, Hoquiam, WA

December 10 at noon, Shelley Drake Hawks, The Art of Resistance, Full Circle Bookstore, Oklahoma City, OK

December 14 at 7 p.m., Shelley Drake Hawks, The Art of Resistance, Concord Free Public Library, Concord, MA

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