Oregon Folklife Network is hiring!

2 Contract Fieldworker Positions Starting July, 2013

The Oregon Folklife Network seeks to hire two professional folklorists to conduct folklife field surveys and documentation of traditions in the southern Oregon counties of Malheur, Harney, Lake, and Klamath (fieldwork regions will be divided up based on the experience and backgrounds of the folklorists selected). Work for this project may begin any time after July 15, 2013 but must be completed by June 30, 2014 (including all paperwork). Fieldwork days need not be consecutive, and, in fact, two field trips would be ideal.

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16th Annual FisherPoets Gathering, Astoria, Oregon

Riki Saltzman, OFN Director

The annual FisherPoets Gathering happens in the dead of winter—the last weekend in February. While this may seem an odd time for most of us to go traipsing off to the wet and windy northwest coast, it’s downtime for salmon fishermen. As poet, fisherman, and teacher Jon Broderick has noted, however, crabbers and longliners are still hard at it. Regardless, this event warms and renews all who take part. Oddly, it’s about everything but the food, which is, admittedly, the end product of what these folks do. As this event makes clear, fish do not become food until fishermen catch them, canneries process them, grocers sell them, and we lucky consumers get to buy and eat them.

Back in the late 1990s, a few commercial fishermen (preferred term by men and women) decided to create a gathering to share their songs, stories, and poetry. FisherPoets was based in part on the highly successful Cowboy Poetry Gathering (Elko, Nevada), which celebrates, presents, and preserves the various cultural traditions around raising range animals. While FisherPoets involves similar kinds of public presentations, it is a way for commercial fishers to renew their ties, catch up on news, and connect with each other. As marine historian Hobe Kytr told me early on, “This is a celebration of commercial fisheries by and for by commercial fishers.”

At the FisherPoets Gathering, working fishermen come together to celebrate who they are, mourn their losses, laugh at their mistakes, tease each other, talk about politics, regulations, and the economy, and then write movingly in poetry and prose about who they are, what they do, and—oh yeah—the fish they catch. Besides the fact that those men and women who produce and perform excellent and moving art have amazingly dangerous and hard jobs, what surprised and delighted me was how many women were and are involved—as deckhands, fishermen, and such—and as excellent writers and performers.

To hear some of the performers, check out “In the Tote” on the FisherPoets Gathering website.

Warm Springs Audio Preservation Project

Emily West Afanador, OFN Program Manager

Warm Spring tribal members have been preserving their heritage through audio recordings of songs, legends, oral histories, and Tribal Council meetings dating back to the 1950s. With the help of a grant from the Oregon Heritage Commission, Oregon Folklife Network staff Emily West Afanador and Sanna Parikka accompanied University of Oregon Librarian Nathan Georgitis on a trip to Warm Springs Culture Department to work together on making these recordings stable and accessible for future generations. Georgitis installed new digitization equipment and trained Warm Springs staff and volunteers, Valerie Switzler, Dallas Winishut, and Greg Arquette in best practices for sound preservation. Meanwhile, Afanador and Parikka documented the process with photos, video, and interviews. The OFN website will soon feature an online audio digitization training module to make this preservation process available to all Oregonians.

It is a privilege to work with the Warm Springs Culture Department, where projects like this are just one of the many efforts to revitalize cultural knowledge and practices that were forbidden during the boarding school assimilation era just a generation or two ago. Arquette is eager for the knowledge he will gain by listening to tapes of elders; Winishut will build curriculum with the native language recordings for use in Warm Springs language immersion classrooms; and Switzler is confident that the voices of tradition-keepers on those recordings will serve as important cultural role models for today’s tribal youth.

Traditional Artist Spotlight: Kelli Palmer

Sanna Parikka, OFN Intern

Kelli Palmer and her apprentice, Joy Ramirez, create American Indian cornhusk baskets and bags by combining the traditional materials, cornhusk and buckskin hide, with colorful rayon raffia ribbon. Traditionally, cornhusk baskets were used for food storage and during wedding trades. Since then, the craft has developed to include purses, side bags, and horse regalia for show.

Cornhusk weaving is a labor-intensive art form. The husk needs to be handled wet, and an experienced weaver can take up to an hour to complete just one row of a basket. Nevertheless, Palmer strives to use real cornhusk as much as possible; she adds colored rayon raffia because its colors last much longer than the hues of colored cornhusk. For her designs, Palmer sometimes pre-draws the pattern, but she also enjoys creating the images as she weaves without a predetermined design in mind. This inspires her to create novel designs, and that that’s how the patterns were traditionally being created, too.

According to Palmer, cornhusk weaving is currently gaining in popularity, and her classes fill up very quickly. She is happy to be able to teach the intricacies of the skill to Ramirez, so that eventually they can start teaching weaving classes together, preserving and passing on this skill for yet another generation.

OFN Open House and Artist Panel Discussion: Thursday April 18

The OFN staff invites you to a panel discussion with OFN traditional arts masters and an Open House on Thursday, April 18 to celebrate Oregon’s cultural heritage and our new office space!

OFN Artist Panel Discussion:
Collaboration Center
Room 121 Knight Library
2:30pm – 3:30pm

OFN Open House:
Oregon Folklife Network
Room 242 Knight Library
4:00pm – 6:00pm

Come snack, socialize, and enjoy performances by three of Oregon’s Traditional Arts masters:

Esther Stutzman (Kalapuya/Coos): Blessing and Kalapuya traditional story;
Daniela Mahoney: Slovak/Ukrainian egg decorating demonstration and talk; and
Mark Ross: Traditional old time/folk music string performance.

Preceding the Open House, we offer an Artist Panel Discussion with our master artists as an added treat for folk arts enthusiasts. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to engage with three of Oregon’s celebrated tradition bearers.

Traditional Artist Spotlight: Mildred Quaempts

Piecework with denatalium shell can elaborately decorate a dress, hair pieces, earrings, or hats. Mildred most often creates hairpieces and wedding veils for brides. She enjoys making the veils because they each one is unique. She stays as traditional as possible when she make the veils. Brides are not given the veils until the day before or day of the marriage.

Mildred first observed dentalium work from her grandmother, Annie Joe (better known as “Tquannanmy”), while she was applying the shells on medallions and dresses. She used to travel with her grandmother to Indian wedding trades and saw other young girls wearing hairpieces made from dentalium.

Mildred Quaempts (Yakama/Cuyuse) was born and raised on the Umatilla Indian Reservation where she has resided all of her life.

Self Documentation Toolkit: “Telling our Stories”

Project Update by Emily West Afanador, OFN Program Manager

Oregon Folklife Network (OFN) with University of Oregon Journalism Professor, Gabriela Martinez, received a grant from the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies at University of Oregon to develop a web-based tool kit equipping the general public to document their own communities, families, and grass-roots organizations. The tool kit, tentatively called “Telling our Stories,” will be used by families, culture groups, and in classrooms from middle school through higher education to try everything from acquiring information with interview techniques and photography tips, to archiving and self-publishing stories on the web. OFN will give a public presentation on the collaborative development of this tool on Thursday, March 14 at the University of Oregon campus.

March 14
4:00-5:30pm
Knight Library Collaboration Center (Room 122)
University of Oregon

The 72nd Annual Western States Folklore Society (WSFS) Meeting: April 19-20, 2013

Location: University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, California, 92093. All conference proceedings will be held in the Cross-Cultural Center in Price Center East on the UCSD campus. Please view the campus map for details.

Conference theme: “Folklore in a Digital Age.”
The conference planners note:

Rather than disappearing, folklore is gaining new significance in the 21st century. Digital technologies, such as the Internet, smart phones, and digital photography, are changing our society and our discipline. Our society in the digital age embodies the global as it reasserts the local. Folklore plays a vital role in this process. Meanwhile, new media are altering the way folklore is performed, collected, and disseminated. This conference seeks to investigate the significance of folklore today by inviting papers on topics such as the role of folklore in the building of transnational communities, the development of cultural revitalization programs, and the emergence of indigenous movements. In addition, we invite papers addressing the impact of digital technologies on folklore, including topics such as digital folklore genres, virtual folklore archives, and intellectual property rights. We also seek papers examining folklore research, ethnography, and theory in a digital age.

Archer Taylor Lecturer: Prof. Carol Silverman, Professor and Department Head, Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon, Eugene, will give deliver the Archer Taylor Memorial Lecture for 2013.

Registration fees: Registration fees for regular members are $45; for non-members $70. Registration fees for student/retired members are $25; for student/ retired non-members $40. Registration checks should be sent to: Western States Folklore Society (WSFS), P.O. Box 3557, Long Beach CA 90803-0557.

Traditional Artist Spotlight: Michael Johnson

Umatilla Cornhusk False Embroidery

Sanna Parikka, OFN Intern

Artist Michael Johnson and his Apprentice Melinda Broncheau from the Confererated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation practice traditional cornhusk twining, creating unique cornhusk hats, baskets, and bags. Johnson’s art combines traditional twining techniques and designs with modern materials, including wool-based yarns. He learned this traditional art form from various elders who all have inspired him to pass the tradition on. The craft is called “false embroidery” due to the special technique of tying the husk ends.

For his apprenticeship, Johnson taught the intricate method of twining a traditional cornhusk hat. The creation of the hat included numerous steps from the design and twining of the base and the bear pattern to the finishing touches of decorative pearls and feathers, inside lining, and buck skin edging. The twining is the most tedious part of the process. It can take up to one hour for an experienced cornhusk twiner to finish just one row of a larger piece – working two to three hours per day, it took Melinda Broncheau nearly 70 days to complete the hat.

Cornhusk hats are often used in ceremonial namings, food gatherings, and traditional dancing. This particular hat will be a gift to Melinda Broncheau’s daughter.

All Aboard: Railroading and Portland’s Black Community: Exhibit, Programs, and Events at the Oregon Historical Society

This new exhibit and accompanying programs will focus on the work and lives of African American railroad workers in Portland in the 1800s to 1940s and the community that grew up around Union Station during that period. Content will include the evolution of work for blacks on the railroads and in black-owned businesses in Old Town, the context of this time period in Oregon’s racial history, the stories of the railroad workers and porters, and how their lives and communities were shaped by their work.
-From www.ohs.org

The exhibit will run until April 21st, with two panel remaining Panel Discussions on Sunday, February 10th, and Sunday, March 10th.

Click here for more details.