Community Scholars in the Portland Metro at IRCO

Thanks to the diligent fieldwork of folklorists Nancy Nusz, Douglas Manger, and Makaela Kroin, OFN was able to invite several recommended community scholars from the Portland Metro for our first training workshop of its kind. Twelve of us gathered on Sunday, June 3, 2018 to talk about our traditions, our cultures, and how to document them. We learned about Asian Indian fashion and henna, Mexican ballet folklórico, and more.  After introductions and some pointers about ethnography, we paired off to interview each other about the meaningful objects everyone was asked to bring. After much intense conversation, curious questions, and laughter, the group created a wonderful collective pop-up exhibit, complete with labels. Sushmita Podar took charge of creating an aesthetically pleasing arrangement that showcased the diversity of backgrounds and the many things we all value.

Thanks to all who took part, including folklorist Tiffany Purn; OFN intern Brandie Roberts; historian Nikki Mandell;  business owner, Bollywood dancer,  and henna expert Sushmita Podar; librarian and community worker Rita Martinez-Salas; folklórico dancers Kenya Marquez, Gloria Vilchis, and Kelly Cowan; and Washington Co. Cultural Coalition members Sharon Morgan and Nancy Schick. This workshop was funded in part by a Folk & Traditional Arts grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Attendees group photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Willamette Valley Folklife Survey Project Folklorists, Spring 2018

Amy Howard

Amy Howard received a BA in Anthropology from Brigham Young University and an MA in American Studies and Folklore from Utah State University. Her love of folklore fieldwork began in 2007 on an undergraduate field study in Guatemala. Since then, she has interned at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, coordinated public programs, and worked on multiple documentation projects in Utah and Idaho. In 2013, she collaborated with other fieldworkers documenting and producing a book on quilting traditions in the Bear River Heritage Area. In 2015, she and two of her students documented artistic, occupational, and recreational traditions in the Southeast Idaho Snake River Plain for the Idaho Commission on the Arts. Together they created an exhibit and organized public performances at the Idaho Museum of Natural History. She is currently documenting traditional Mexican music in Southern Idaho, also for the ICA. She has worked at Idaho State University as an instructor since 2014, teaching courses in folklore, English composition, and Spanish. Contact: maxwamy@isu.edu 


 

Alina Mansfield

Alina Mansfield, OFN’s Program Coordinator, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Folklore and Mythology from UC Berkeley, and a Master’s Degree in Folklore from the University of Oregon. As a master’s student, Mansfield produced a documentary about material culture and costume making in Biloxi, Mississippi’s Mardi Gras festival. Mansfield served as OFN’s Summer Folklore Fellow, where she co-produced OFN’s 2017 publication, Oregon Traditional Arts Apprenticeship MasterArtists: 2012-2016, and managed OFN’s Oregon Culture Keeper’s roster. Mansfield holds a concurrent position as Archivist in the Randall Mills Archive of orthwest Folklore. Previously she was a Circulation Supervisor at UC Berkeley’s Doe/Moffitt Libraries. Contact:alinam@uoregon.edu


 

Thomas Grant Richardson

Thomas Grant Richardson (MA, Indiana University, ABD Indiana University) is an independent folklorist based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has done ethnographic fieldwork across the western United States, the American midwest, Appalachia, Canada, and Scandinavia.He has worked for New Mexico Arts, Museum of International Folk Art (Santa Fe), Utah Folk Arts Program, Missouri Folk Arts Program, and the Minnesota Arts Board. He previously served as the Curator of Education and Outreach at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol TN/VA. He is also currently working with the Vermont Folklife Center and a team of fieldworkers to re-launch a fieldwork gear review site aimed at the needs of ethnographers. Contact: tgrantrichardson@gmail.com

Update from Eastern Oregon

Josh Chrysler

As the contract staff folklorist for the Four Rivers Cultural Center in Ontario, Oregon, I’ve been busy this summer developing public programs celebrating the traditional culture and folklife of eastern Oregon.  Although very rural, expansive country, there is an incredible diversity of folklife in the region. Native American, Basque, European, Hispanic, and Japanese represent a few of the constant flow of people of varied ancestries who have relied on the four rivers that converge in the western Treasure Valley—the Snake, Malheur, Owyhee and Payette – for which the Four Rivers Cultural Center is named. Each of these cultural groups have contributed their own folklife to the culture of the region.

Kawa Taiko, traditional Japanese drumming group based in Ontario, performing in Baker City on August 6th, 2017

National Endowment for the Arts is funding the partnership between Four Rivers Cultural Center and the Oregon Folklife Network to hire a staff folklorist dedicated to supporting the folklife and traditional culture of eastern Oregon.  Back in March, I traveled across the 8 easternmost Oregon Counties, holding listening sessions with County Cultural Coalitions, museums, arts centers, and Tribes, to learn what kind of programs people would like to see.

Based on those meetings, I developed four programs collaborating with different host organizations and traditional artists spread across eastern Oregon in Ontario (Malheur County), Pendleton (Umatilla County), Frenchglen (Harney County), and Baker City (Baker County). Highlights from these programs include a community conversation with James Dionne (Chippewa and Cree), a Native powwow dancer and sweat lodge leader in Ontario; demonstrations with various traditional artists like rawhide braider Dan Fowler, cradleboard and basket maker Sara Barton (Mono Lake Paiute and Yosemite Miwuk) during the Frenchglen Jamboree; a performance and conversation in Baker City with Ontario’s traditional Japanese drumming group, Kawa Taiko, and a community conversation with Native bead worker Margaret Johnson (Crow/Chippewa/Cheyenne, whose children are enrolled Umatilla) in Pendleton. Read a first-hand account of these programs in Riki Saltman’s article below.

Sara Barton demonstrating willow preparation technique for use in a  cradleboard in Frenchglen (Harney County), on August 5th, 2017.

Next year, we plan to focus on buckaroo and ranching folklife, including functional traditional arts such as silversmithing, saddle making, twisting mecates, and more. Keep your eyes open for next year’s exhibit exploring these traditions, and an all-day celebration with demonstrations of traditional arts, alongside performances of cowboy poetry and music. Stay tuned for more information as this project develops!

Detail of a spur made by silversmith Forrest Fretwell of Jordan Valley, Oregon.

OFN Roadtrip, Eastern Oregon

Riki Saltzman

From August 4-7, 2017, I had the privilege of traveling about a thousand miles through eastern Oregon—to Burns, Frenchglen, Baker City, Pendleton, and back through the Gorge. I’m always struck by the vastness of our state, its overwhelming beauty, and the diversity of its terrain and eco-systems. In a few hundred miles, I passed through many national forests, mountains (Cascades, Blue, and Steen), high desert, sage prairie, great basin, hot springs, some surprising wetlands, and lava beds. A smoky haze hung over all, due to the fires raging throughout the state.

What brought me out of Eugene was the opportunity to attend two of a series of folklife programs that Four Rivers Cultural Center (Ontario) put together with cultural partners in Harney and Baker Counties.

My family and I had a long drive Friday night, broken up by a wonderful dinner at Diego’s Spirited Kitchen in Redmond. Douglas Manger, one of OFN’s contract folklorists, introduced me to Diego’s during his folklife survey fieldwork in 2016. It’s been a staff favorite ever since, especially the tacos de pescado with sautéed halibut.

We arrived in Burns that evening, and the next morning my family and I set off for Frenchglen and the traditional craft demonstrations that Josh Chrysler, Four Rivers staff folklorist, had planned alongside the Frenchglen Jamboree taking place at the Frenchglen Hotel State Heritage Site. Read about the full scope of Eastern Oregon Folklife programs that Chrysler designed elsewhere in this newsletter.

An hour’s journey through the mostly arid basins, along twists and turns, and over dramatic basalt ridges led us to Frenchglen, located on the edge of the Steens Mountain. Frenchglen Jamboree, complete with a youth rodeo, included barrel racing, roping, and a spoon race as well as a Dutch oven dessert cook off, and live music. The folklife demonstrations took place on the side lawn at the Frenchglen Hotel, which was also hosting a cribbage match and a barbeque dinner.

 

 

 

Under shady tents, we visited with Native beadworker, cradleboard, and basket weaver Sara Barton; rawhide braider Dan Fowler; and leather worker John O’Connor of the Steens Back Country Horsemen. Both Barton and Fowler are part of OFN’s Culture Keepers Roster.

 

Barton, who is of Mono Lake Paiute and Yosemite Miwuk heritage, lives at the Burns Paiute reservation, where she makes and teaches folks how to make cradleboards for babies of different ages and sizes as well as a variety of baskets.

          

Dan Fowler, a long-time rancher and cowboy, is known throughout the region for his fine rawhide braiding. Each of the buttons—the intricately woven bumps on mecates, lariats, and comals—take hours to complete.

I was particularly charmed by the miniature reins that he had displayed, which are about 1/6 scale.

O’Connor (on Fowler’s right), also a rancher and horseman, makes a variety of leather vests. Both he and Fowler regaled everyone with stories about horses (Fowler’s favorite “Old Strawberry”), rattlesnake dens, and more.

We also took a few breaks to sample the tasty food at the Hotel; the homemade raspberry crisp was a perfect ending to a meal of salads, burgers, and fries.

After a full day in Frenchglen, we traveled through the stunning lava beds of Diamond Craters and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge wetlands to Crystal Crane Hot Springs. Soaking in the seven-foot deep hot springs pond, which hovers around 100 degrees, amidst the quiet, star-filled evening, was a true Oregon experience.

But before winding down, we drove back into Burns for the annual Burns Paiute powwow at the Harney County Fairgrounds. There we enjoyed a variety of traditional powwow dancers and their stunning, hand-crafted regalia. I found out later that some of the dancers had been part of OFN’s Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, which funded Burns Paiute elders, Betty Hawley, Myra Peck, Phillis Miller, and Ruth Lewis, to teach moccasin making to children ranging in age from 3 to 6.

One of the benefits of attending a powwow is the yummy food. While we missed out on the meat and potato stuffed frybread, we did inhale some “rez dogs” (a hotdog wrapped in frybread dough and deep fried) as well as chili rez dogs (a rez dog topped with chili, cheese, and condiments).

As we strolled around the powwow grounds, we even found some Oregon Ducks.

The next day, we enjoyed a morning soak in the hot springs before a filling breakfast at Ed’s Fast Break & Grille at the edge of Burns.

After breakfast, we journeyed north and east through the dramatic terrain of the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness as we made our way to Baker City and a performance and community conversation with Janet Komoto and the Kawa Taiko Drummers of Ontario, Oregon.

Komoto and her Taiko drummers have long been a mainstay of eastern Oregon’s performing arts circuit. With the able assistance of Josh Chrysler, this traditional Japanese drum group performed and engaged with a crowd of about 100 on Sunday afternoon, August 6, at Geiser Pollman Park. In 2000, several members of Ontario’s Japanese American community came together to practice the traditional Japanese art of taiko. Komoto became part student, teacher, and group leader. Thanks to Base Camp Baker for posting this video of the Kawa Taiko Drummers.

These programs were made possible by the Four Rivers Cultural Center, the Harney County Cultural Coalition, Crossroads Carnegie Arts Center, the Oregon Folklife Network, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Josh Chrysler, Staff Folklorist at Four Rivers Cultural Center in Ontario, developed this series of programs and exhibits that celebrate the traditional culture and folklife of eastern Oregon.

 

2017 Community Conversation, Vernonia, Oregon

Makaela Kroin

On Tuesday, May 2nd, a crowd of people packed the Vernonia Public Library to join in a community conversation with retired timbermen Don Webb and Fred Heller. The event was one of a series of public presentations that wrapped up OFN’s folklife survey of the Portland Metro Area. Folklorist, Makaela Kroin, launched the conversation asking Webb and Heller to talk about their families’ long histories in the timber industry. But soon, the multi-generational audience of community members were engaging the men with their own questions. The attendance and enthusiasm at this event demonstrates the deep significance of Vernonia’s logging heritage. Many thanks go to Shannon Romtvedt of the Vernonia Public Library, Scott Laird of the Vernonia Voice, and Tobie Finzel of the Vernonia Pioneer Museum for their support of the program, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts for funding our regional folklife surveys.

“PDX Culture Keepers Festival”: Check out our Mini-Festival of Folk Artists and Performers at the Oregon Historical Society

Makaela Kroin

OHS has a festive afternoon planned for June 11th, 2017, 2-4 pm. Five featured Portland Metro Area folk artists will perform or demonstrate a variety of cultural traditions, from traditional Kenyan cooking techniques to Estonian folk dance. Rounding out the program will be interactive demonstrations of Oaxacan weaving, Coquille/Coos canoe paddle carving, and intricately woven nautical rope mats. The featured artists were identified by fieldworkers Nancy Nusz, Douglas Manger, and Makaela Kroin during the 2016 Portland Metro Folklife Survey.

This free, family-friendly open-house event is brought to you by the Oregon Folklife Network and is part of the Oregon Historical Society’s “Second Sunday” series.

Featured artists include:

Francisco Bautista is a fourth-generation weaver from Teotitlán del Valle, a village near Oaxaca City, Mexico, known for its weaving tradition. Bautista, who sells his stunning hand-loomed rugs at Portland’s Saturday Market, will show how he weaves colorful designs on his five-foot loom. He’ll also talk about his family’s traditional dyes and their natural sources.

Dennis Best, a retired US Coast Guard Chief Officer and Surfman, travels the world in his sailboat and makes traditional nautical rope mats of manila rope and seine net twine. Best will demonstrate his knotting techniques and invites guests to tie a few themselves.

Wambui Machua, Kenyan chef and business owner, teaches African cooking classes, caters, sells food at markets, and funds charitable projects through her Beaverton-based business, Spice of Africa. Machua will prepare typical Kenyan dishes including ugali, a corn meal based dish, and samosas.

Tulehoidjad, Portland’s Estonian folk dance troupe, has kept the Estonian language, dances, and other Baltic traditions alive for four generations in Oregon. Liina Teose leads the troupe that her mother, Estonian immigrant Lehti Merilo, founded in 1950. Both the adult and youth troupes will perform, and visitors are invited to learn some steps and join in!

Shirod Younker (Upper Coquille and Miluk Coos), is one of the keepers of his Tribe’s cultural knowledge.  A recipient of the 2017 Native Arts and Culture Foundation’s Mentor Artist Fellowship, he manages the only pre-college artists-in-residence program for Native American teens in the United States. Younker will demonstrate his canoe paddle carving and discuss the interconnectedness between spiritual wisdom and Native art aesthetics.

This event is free and open to the public—all ages are welcome—no registration required. The Oregon Historical Society is located at 1200 SW Park Avenue, Portland, OR 97205.

For more information about the Oregon Historical Society, visit http://www.ohs.org/.

This event is the culmination of the Oregon Folklife Network’s Portland Metro folklife survey, the fourth in a series of regional surveys to identify and document folk and traditional artists in Oregon. The survey was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works, Folk & Traditional Arts Program.

OFN is administered by the University of Oregon and is supported in part by grants from the Oregon Cultural Trust, Oregon Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

To join the Twitter conversation about this event, please use #Oregonfolk. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, go to arts.gov. Follow OFN on Twitter @OregonFolklife and follow us on Facebook at Oregon Folklife Network.

Portland Metro Fieldwork Survey Reflections

The 2016 Portland Metro Folklife Survey is the fourth in a series of OFN’s regional surveys to identify and document folk and traditional artists in Oregon. We are grateful for funding from a Folk & Traditional Arts Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as for additional support from the Oregon Historical Society. Click on the links below to read reflection essays by folklorists Nancy Nusz, Douglas Manger, and Makaela Kroin.

Multnomah County Survey Reflections

Traditional Weavers in Clackamas and Yamhill County

Washington and Columbia Counties Survey Reflections 

“Folkcraft embodies shared knowledge, passed from the wellspring on to succeeding generations. As experience is gained the emerging folk artist becomes ever more adept at accomplishing the intricacies of the work. What sets folk artists apart? In my experience their “gentle fervor” is the distinguishing factor. How many times have I left an interview deeply moved, newly enlightened, or utterly transformed. With the emphasis on excellence, adherence to form (with room to grow), and honoring those who came before them, a model for universal living is at hand for all to benefit. It is these noble attributes that allow folkways to sustain from one generation to the next. Perhaps it is for these reasons, as well, that OFN’s Folklife Surveys have brought such a positive public response.”

–Douglas Manger

 

Eastern Oregon Survey Reflections With Douglas Manger and Joe O’Connell

In the spring of this year, folklorists Douglas Manger from Texas, and Joseph O’Connell from North Carolina, took to the highways and byways of Eastern Oregon to carry out OFN’s third year of our multi-year statewide folklife survey. Thanks to funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Oregon Historical Society, Douglas and Joe visited the Eastern Oregon counties of Union, Wallowa, Baker, Grant, Wheeler, Crook and Deschutes. Through this fieldwork, the OFN identifies and documents traditional artists who might later apply for our Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program or be recommended for the Oregon Culture Keepers Roster.

02_1Douglas Manger has been working as a folklorist for twenty years. Early in his career, Manger served as director of the Northern Tier Cultural Alliance in Pennsylvania, where he documented folk artists and curated exhibits and other programs. Manger later managed the folk and traditional arts program at the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation in Baltimore overseeing initiatives across nine states and jurisdictions. At Mid Atlantic, Manger project managed the award-winning publication, From Bridge to Boardwalk: An Audio Journey Across Maryland’s Eastern Shore. In 2007, Manger returned to his home state of Texas and founded HeritageWorks, which has been responsible for multi-year regional folklife field surveys in South and East Texas for the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio, in Baton Rouge and vicinity for the Louisiana Folklife Program, in Eastern Oregon (Malheur and Harney counties in 2014; Deschutes, Crook, Baker, and Union counties, spring 2016) and the Portland Metro (fall 2016) for the Oregon Folklife Network.

Joseph O’Connell,02_2 who received an MA in Folklore from the University of Oregon in 2009, works in public folklore, public media, and independent music. After leaving Oregon, he joined the staff of Traditional Arts Indiana (TAI) as the program’s primary fieldworker.  O’Connell led several region- and topic-driven survey projects at TAI, including the first extensive cultural documentation of Indiana’s architectural stone industry.  Now living in Raleigh, North Carolina, O’Connell contributes to projects of the North Carolina Folklife Institute, local NPR affiliate WUNC-FM, and the folk-rock band Elephant Micah. He spent several weeks during April and May of 2016 working with Douglas Manger to document folk artists in Wallowa, Grant, and Wheeler counties. Continue reading