Documenting Tradition in Klamath and Lake Counties

Documenting Tradition in Klamath and Lake Counties
By LuAnne Kozma, contract folklorist, Southern Oregon Folklife Survey, funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

I returned to southern Oregon for the Oregon Folklife Network’s Southern Oregon Folklife Survey and traveled the high desert, along Lake Klamath, and in the downtowns and storefronts of Klamath, Lakeview and other smaller places on the map, always meeting interesting and talented people.

Meats and outdoor cookery seem to go together here, with the Lakeview Locker providing sausages, smoked meats and fresh cuts. Meals cooked over an open fire by dutch oven cooks Patty and Keith Barnhart are the special attraction of  their Willow Springs Guest Ranch outside of Lakeview. Longtime horsepeople, the Barnharts began dutch oven cooking over 25 years ago, sharing their culinary talent with friends on trail rides, which eventually led to their home-based business.

Traditional arts are the basis of several other occupations in Lake County, such as saddlemaking, rawhide braiding, leatherwork, and silversmithing. Well known in western art circles, Ricarda McCleary Clause, of Lakeview, has been silversmithing for decades, making bits and spurs, western silver jewelry and belt buckles. Her work has been noted by the Western Folklife Center and public television, and she is appreciated locally as well. Two Lake County saddlemakers were a part of the survey–Len “Peanut” Babb III, from a three-generation saddlemaking family and newer resident Mario Hanel, originally from Sublimity, who has been building western “California” style saddles for over 10 years. Husband and wife team Bill and Teresa Black, from Plush, work together in their backyard workshop full time making western gear, Bill making hackamores and horsehair stitched items and Teresa on leather goods, while learning the horsehair hitching from Bill. Another horsehair hitching artist is Becky Tocol, also president of the Christmas Valley Chamber of Commerce. Becky worked on ranches and studied the art with other horse hair hitchers, and has made thousands of beautiful horsehair stitched items such as quirts and stampede string lanyards.

Old-Time Fiddle music is alive and well in both Klamath and Lake counties, with Phil Fry making fiddles and keeping the local jams going there with wife Sheila, and the McLain family of Lakeview. Old Time fiddle monthly jams take place in Lakeview and Klamath and an upcoming regional jamboree in Merrill. Newcomers bring their instruments and are invited to join in the sharing of songs and  tunes, as every musician joins in. RosaLee McLain’s vocals, accompanied by her sons rhythm guitarist Larry McLain and fiddler Terry McLain and joined by others in the group, are an evening not to be missed.

In all, over 60 individuals were documented in 39 recordings and about 2,000 photographs. For more information about the project, contact Riki Saltzman and the OFN staff.

All photos by LuAnne Kozma.

Southeastern Oregon Folklife Survey in Malheur County

Southeastern Oregon Folklife Survey in Malheur County
By Douglas Manger, contract folklorist, Southern Oregon Folklife Survey, funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts 

Scratch the surface a bit in Malheur County–the second largest in Oregon–and you’ll discover a wealth of folklife traditions, from the buckaroo rodeo, to the Mexican American panaderia (bakery), to Native American sweat lodge rituals.

To experience one of the most revered traditions in the county, look to the 100 year old Vale 4th of July Rodeo. There you are sure to catch Dan and Robin Fulwyler in the team calf roping competition. As horse trainers, rodeo competitors, and helping hands on area ranches at branding time, the Fulwylers’ live and breathe Western ranch traditions passed down through the generations. Not to be outdone, since the age of five their two daughter have rode and roped, as well.

From the Rodriguez Bakery in Nyssa, it’s just a short walk down the street to the home of Eva Castellanoz. Of Aztec/Otomí ancestry, Eva is a practicing curandera, or traditional healer. Eva attends to her patients’ needs in a variety of ways. Medicinal herbs, along with ritual limpias (smudgings or cleansings), are used to address both physical and emotional issues. Words channeled through her by the Holy Spirit help Eva provide wise counseling.

Native American sweat lodges in Ontario? Yes, the tradition lives on with James Dionne, a Chippewa/Cree born on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in North Dakota.One night, in a dream, James was called to lead the sweat lodge circle. “The sweat lodge is a time to honor the Creator,” James explained. In the circle, James serves as the interceder praying that those in the circle will get answers. Apart from overseeing the sweat lodge circles at his home, for six years James served as the volunteer leader of the sweat lodge at the prison outside of Ontario.

With the exception of the Fulwyler image, all photos by Douglas Manger.

Announcement: NEA-funded Folklife Survey of the Columbia River Gorge

The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded the Oregon Folklife Network funding to identify and document cultural traditions in the Columbia River Gorge counties of Hood River, Wasco, Jefferson, Sherman, Gilliam, Morrow, and Umatilla as well as with the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

As Oregon’s designated Folk & Traditional Arts Program, the OFN is dedicated to finding excellent performers, demonstrators, and speakers for our Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, local festivals, school and library programs in order to preserve and celebrate folkways throughout the state. Folklorists Debbie Fant and Nancy Nusz will be conducting the fieldwork, which involves interviewing and photo documentation. Fant will be in Morrow and Umatilla counties and at the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla starting in September with the Pendleton Round-up and throughout the year until June 2015. Nusz will be in Hood River, Wasco, Jefferson, Sherman, and Gilliam counties and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs from March to June 2015. They will be documenting people involved with traditions related to hunting, farming, commercial, sport, and subsistence fishing, ranching, logging, and mining, as well as river work, trapping, tanning, food preservation, and beekeeping. They are also particularly interested in the ethnic heritage traditions of the regions’ residents, such as Native, Asian, African American, Latino, European, and more.

Nancy Nusz (MA, Western Kentucky University) began her folklore career at the Bureau of Florida Folklife, serving as Folk Arts in Education coordinator & conducting fieldwork (maritime, ethnic urban communities, agriculture, circus). In 1991, she came to the Oregon Folklife Program (previously housed at the Oregon Historical Society), first as coordinator & then director, conducting fieldwork & programming, curating exhibits, & developing curriculum. She has worked for UNESCO and is very excited to be meeting with old friends and interviewing new ones in Oregon’s Gorge region.

Deborah Fant (MA, UT Austin) has been a public folklorist for over 20 years, first as a fieldworker for the Bureau of Florida Folklife. She has worked as the Idaho state folklorist, Manager of the Cowboy Poetry Gathering (Western Folklife Center), Deputy Director of Northwest Folklife, and now for the Washington State Parks & Recreation Commission. Fant has conducted fieldwork, directed festivals, edited publications, and curating exhibits and is thrilled to be investigating traditions in eastern Oregon.