Media Corner: Folklife Fieldwork in Northwest Oregon, Student Photo Essay

UO Folklore graduate students Christal Snyder and Iris Teeuwen conducted fieldwork in Clatsop County with OFN Director, Riki Saltzman, and contract folklorist Douglas Manger (August 23-25, 2019). Christal Snyder also accompanied Saltzman and contract folklorist Joe O’Connell (UO Folklore alumni) in Lincoln County, August 9-11.

In Clatsop County, we observed Finnish traditions, foodways, and seaways, while in Lincoln County we experienced chainsaw carving, the Siletz Pow-Wow, and waterways traditions. Those interactive and behind-the-scenes experiences that folklorists in the field get to experience are priceless. We are most grateful to the UO Folklore and Public Culture program, which funded our graduate student fieldwork internship travel expenses.

Lincoln County: August 9-11

Christal and Riki met up with Joe in Seal Rock (Lincoln County), where we interviewed Karl Kowalski, a second-generation chainsaw carver. Karl’s shop was rich with history and fun to photograph. He quickly warmed up to us and had an engaging sense of humor. By way of explaining how he got started in this business, Karl told us that his father managed a sideshow attraction behind a shop full of whimsical chainsaw carvings. While Karl devotes most of a room of his shop to his father’s carvings, his own designs possessed a character of their own. Everywhere you look, there are carved bears of all shapes and sizes as well as other critters scattered throughout the shop. Each of Karl’s creatures has a personality of its own.

Second-generation chainsaw carver Karl Kowalski in front of his shop – photo by Christal Snyder

Father and son wooden carving in front of Kowalski’s shop – photo by Christal Snyder

Carved Viking couple – photo by Christal Snyder

Wooden bears welcome visitors to Kowalski’s – photo by Christal Snyder

Inside the shop are shelves full of different types of bear carvings – photo by Christal Snyder

The next day Christal, Riki, and Joe got an early start and attended the annual Nesika Illahee Pow-Wow, which began with a parade. Members of the Confederated Tribe of Siletz Indians wore their traditional handmade regalia, walked or rode in artfully decorated cars, and threw candy and other treats to the crowds stretched along the parade grounds.

Veterans traditionally lead pre-Pow-WOW parades – photo by Christal Snyder

Siletz Pow-Wow princesses wave to the parade-goers – photo by Christal Snyder

Young women and children in traditional regalia – photo by Christal Snyder

Next, we headed to the Pow-Wow. The rich smell of fried, grilled, and stewed food drew us to the vendor area that encircled the Pow-Wow grounds. We had to try out the local Indian tacos, made of fresh fry bread piled with sautéed ground beef and topped with chopped onions, salsa, and tomatoes. Craft vendors were interspersed with food booths, and folks from tribes near and far sold jewelry, hand-tooled leatherwork, traditional clothing, and more; a Navajo woman was selling intricate beadwork.

The afternoon’s formal events opened with a salute to the flag; veterans lead the procession as the Pow-Wow MC asked everyone to stand and remove their hats. A series of different dances for different age groups and genders followed.

Young boys participate in the Pow-Wow – photo by Christal Snyder

A group of young adults and children enter the Pow-Wow – photo by Christal Snyder

Several drum groups took turns accompanying the dances and setting the rhythm.

A drum with several men or boys who simultaneously sing and drum– photo by Christal Snyder

A young woman in her jingle dress – photo by Christal Snyder










On our last day in Lincoln County, we strolled along the fishing docks and then visited the Pacific Maritime Heritage Center in Newport. There we wandered through a fascinating exhibit on shrimping, a larger room that detailed the heritage of Oregon’s northern coast, halls full of local paintings, and a beautiful space for public events and screenings. It also allowed us to learn more about the region, and we found out that surfing has a long history in the area. We connected with executive director, Steve Wyatt, who was as enthusiastic as we were about developing future partnerships.

Newport Harbor and bridge – photo by Christal Snyder

Newport fishing docks – photo by Christal Snyder

Astoria – Clatsop Co: August 23-25, 2019

Iris Teeuwen and Christal Snyder accompanied Riki Saltzman to Astoria (August 23-25), which is situated at the mouth of the Columbia River. We met up with folklorist Douglas Manger, who had been contracted to document traditions in Clatsop County, among others. Our time with Douglas was packed with hands-on opportunities.

View of a harbor and the Astoria-Megler Bridge – photo by Iris Teeuwen

Our first stop was the Columbia River Maritime Museum, where we met with assistant curator, Matthew Palmgren. Palmgren gave us historical background on the region and took us through a huge warehouse full of historic fishing boats.

Columbia River Maritime Museum – photo by Christal Snyder

The “Duke” awaits repair in the Columbia River Maritime Museum boat storage unit– photo by Christal Snyder








After a tour of the archives and a stop at the Museum gift shop, we drove over to Andy Carlson’s house and fish-smoking shed where we interviewed Carlson and grandson Aleks Matthews about Finnish traditions. Douglas asked Iris and Christal to take the lead interviewing Aleks about Finnish saunas, a traditional feature of most Finnish- American homes in Astoria. Aleks told us about visiting his grandparents every Sunday for traditional food and family time in the sauna. We truly valued the experience of coming up with questions on the spot, a skill that all folklore fieldworkers must learn. We got to tour Andy’s sauna and smokehouse, and he put out a generous spread of his smoked salmon, tuna, and elk for us to sample. While we ate, Andy told us stories about what it was like to grow up Finnish-American in the area, which involved not only family gatherings but also a variety of community events—including concerts, plays, dances, and meals—at the Finnish Brotherhood’s Suomi Hall.

Andy Carlson in his garden in front of his heavily laden apple tree – photo by Iris Teeuwen

Carlson’s Finnish smokehouse – photo by Christal Snyder

Cold-smoked salmon – photo by Iris Teeuwen

Iris Teeuwen interviews Aleks Matthews in his family sauna – photo by Christal Snyder

Andy Carlson explains how to use the Finnish sauna – photo by Christal Snyder










The next morning, we met with Beth Kondall, one of the skilled traditional bakers at Astoria’s Blue Scorcher Bakery. We had the opportunity to engage in participant-observation fieldwork by not only interviewing and photographing, Beth, but also helping Beth prepare a variety of Finnish pastries and breads. The highlight was braiding and glazing pulla, a traditional Finnish cardamom-flavored sweet bread traditionally served with coffee—a practice so customary that the rich bread is often called coffee bread. The next day, after serving us some pulla to go with our coffee, Beth gifted us with the loaves we had braided.

(L to R) Christal, Beth, Riki, Douglas. Beth shows Riki how to braid pulla while Douglas and Christal document – photo by Iris Teeuwen

Beth braids the buttery pulla dough – photo by Christal Snyder


Beth shows off the braided pulla before she puts in in the warming oven to rise one more time before baking – photo by Iris Teeuwen

Beth sections off dough for fruit tarts – photo by Christal Snyder

Beth had Iris, Christal, and Riki fill the pastries prior to baking – photo by Christal Snyder







After our bakery visit, we drove over to Suomi Hall, the center for the historic Finnish Brotherhood in Astoria. There we interviewed Dea Helligso, Helen Pitkanen, and other women from the Finnish community about their traditions, history, and ancestors’ migration to northwest Oregon.

Christal and Iris interview Finnish Brotherhood members at Suomi Hall – photo by Riki Saltzman

We certainly did not lack for food on this trip! Our generous hosts treated us to a freshly baked pannukakku, a “pancake” served with raspberry sauce – photo by Riki Saltzman









Next, we drove over to the Columbia River Bar Pilot office where we spoke with retired bar pilot, Robert Johnson. One of the most dangerous occupations in the world, bar pilots are responsible for taking ships from the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean—over the ever-changing Columbia River Bar. A bar pilot has to know every inch of land and water, be able to read weather changes, and know whether or not to risk the dangerous crossing. Johnson has a lifetime full of fascinating information on maritime logistics and experiences, and his personal charisma makes him a compelling storyteller.

Columbia River Bar Pilots’ building, where we interviewed Robert Johnson – photo by Iris Teeuwen

Robert Johnson (left) talks to folklorist Douglas Manger (right) – photo by Riki Saltzman

Miniature pilot boat – photo by Iris Teeuwen

Actual pilot boat on the Columbia River – photo by Riki Saltzman

A typical container ship awaiting cargo on the Columbia River. The pilot boat goes out to the ship, where the Bar Pilot climbs a long rope ladder to board and take the ship across the Bar – photo by Christal Snyder

Douglas had to tear us away from our session with Robert Johnson to get to Helen Pitkanen’s house on time. A no-nonsense woman of many talents, Helen immediately put Iris and Christal to work to help her make a traditional Finnish rice pudding.

Christal getting instructions from Helen Pitkanen – photo by Riki Saltzman

Finished rice pudding with cherry preserves – photo by Riki Saltzman










In between stints of stirring the thickening pudding, Helen showed us her paintings and her collections, including a handcrafted Finnish basket.

Traditional Finnish Basket (top and side views) at the Pitkanen house – photos by Christal Snyder

With full stomachs from enjoying Helen’s creamy rice pudding topped with her yummy cherry preserves, we went back to our hotel to rest up for the evening’s activities. Our new friends at Suomi Hall invited us to a local theatrical performance where we learned more about the early Finnish immigrants and their connection to Astoria’s fishing, canning, and logging industries.

We spent our final day in Brownesmead, where we interviewed Delwin Barnsde a net maker and mender, hunter, boat builder, and more. Barnsde spent his life fishing, and now lives in his handcrafted roundhouse on a tributary of the Columbia River. Besides fishing and net mending, a critical skill for fishermen, Barnsde is a hunter and a master duck decoy carver who has taught others this traditional craft.

Delwin Barnsde with a photo collage – photo by Iris Teeuwen

Delwin Barnsde’s roundhouse exterior – photo by Christal Snyder

View of the river from the Barnsde’s deck – photo by Christal Snyder

One of Barnsde’s nets, which he is in the process of mending– photo by Christal Snyder



A Barnsde’s hand-carved duck decoy – photo by Iris Teeuwen.

Duck hunting boat – photo by Christal Snyder

Crawfish trap – photo by Christal Snyder







Our Astoria weekend with Douglas Manger gave us a new perspective on fieldwork that we would have never gotten otherwise. Instead of simply observing or studying in a classroom, we got to experience conducting interviews and gained invaluable hands-on experience. All the tradition keepers we met were extremely kind and welcoming. We learned so much about their culture and traditions, and we left with fond memories of our time in the field as folklorists.

Benton- Linn Co. Fieldwork Essay

Thomas Grant Richardson

In the Spring of 2018 I conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Benton and Linn Counties in the Willamette Valley. Folklorists focus on the everyday traditions of people in communities and at how people define creativity, tradition, and community in their own lives. It is therefore a great joy to work as a folklorist, to be invited into the creative spaces of people often quite different from myself, and to have conversations that usually include phrases like “this is the most important thing in the world to me.”

While in Benton and Linn Counties I encountered numerous wonderful and generous people connected to many vibrant traditions, including fly-fishing, boat building, instrument building, quilting, fiddle music, and various foodways. I was particularly struck by the area’s social dance traditions. During the three weeks I spent traversing the two counties, I attended three different social dances, although I could have attended one nearly every single night.

The Jefferson Jammers is mostly two-step, waltz, and line dancing, and happens every single Wednesday

The Jefferson Jammers perform on Wednesday nights at the Morning Star Grange Hall in Millersburg. This dance started as a country music jam among retired musicians who still wanted to play. Bruce and Joann Hamilton held the first few jams in their home, but it quickly outgrew their capacity, and they moved to the Grange Hall. Today it serves as a place for musicians to gather to play country music together; anyone interested can also sing along in a kind of live-backed karaoke. The audience is busy dancing with the floor usually occupied by at least 30-40 dancers. Mostly attended by local residents above the age of 50, the dance also brings in younger participants. Most attendees told me it’s the highlight of their week.

The Albany Timber Twirlers Modern Western Square Dance club’s membership is diminishing in number but not in dedication.

In nearby Albany, the Albany Timber Twirlers are a Modern Western Swing Dance Club (one of four clubs in the area) that focus on the highly precise and intricate moves of choreographed square dances. These patterns are so complicated that dancers need to take four months of lessons before they’re up to speed to participate. Club President, Bev Swearengen, told me they’re more about fun than formality.

The Corvallis Contradance was by far the biggest dance I attended, with a regular attendance of around 100 people, twice a month.

In Corvallis, a twice-monthly Contra dance has a regular attendance of over 100 people. Contra dance is somewhere in between the loose nature of traditional square dancing and the highly stylized patterns of Modern Western Square Dancing; like traditional square dancing, it’s led by a caller who gives instructions in a rhythmic and stylized fashion. But contra dancers form lines with each member of a couple opposite each other instead of side by side like square dancers. The Corvallis Contra dance also includes a live band and brings in a huge number of dancers under 40. Dance Chair, Jennifer Carlin, notes that it’s the music that makes this dance so special.

The Corvallis Contradance goes out of its way to make sure the dance is inclusive for all.

But greater numbers do not always equal a more successful event or a more important folk tradition. Social dance is alive and well in this area. And next time someone in the central Willamette Valley suggests the Internet, television, or whatever latest scapegoat is killing social life, drive them to Benton and Linn County and find a dance!

Folk Artists in Marion, Polk, and Lane Counties and the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde

Amy Howard

During  the spring and summer of 2018, OFN hired me to conduct folklife fieldwork in Marion and Polk counties and at the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde. The geographical area I covered was large and diverse. The sheer length of each county encompasses a landscape in transition—mountain to valley to coast. Each day brought new surprises: green fields and grasses in wine and sheep country; bustling city streets; pine-encompassed mountain lakes, and winding, sparkling rivers. The landscape reflects the local agricultural and industrial economies.

The people are equally diverse, each a wonder in their own way. Their identities and folk arts and practices also reflect the topography and economy. Whether loggers creating art from the medium they know inside and out (wood), transplants from foreign countries carrying on traditional skills, Native artists connecting to roots that were once taken away, or farmers keeping their multi-generational farms relevant and operational, the people of the Willamette Valley adapt to their surroundings. They preserve the identity that is most important to them while being rooted in traditions they cherish. I felt honored to document a snapshot of Oregon’s ever-changing, rich cultural landscape.

Chainsaw carver James Lukinich (Willamina) lived in Oregon until age 14, when he traveled to Alaska to join his brother and learn the logging business. For James, wood carving was a natural art form to pursue during long stretches of isolation in the Alaskan wilderness. While he worked as an arborist in San Diego, chainsaw carving went from hobby to career as he completed an increasing amount of custom jobs to repurpose tree stumps. He began participating in chainsaw carving competitions in 2009 and finished in the top 10 at the national competition in Reedsport last year. He and his wife, Marilyn, returned to his Oregon home, where he has continued to practice his craft professionally.

Jeremy Mitchell (Salem) is an advocate for bees. As one of the few young beekeepers with a mid-sized operation in the area, he and his bees fill an important role in the Willamette Valley, pollinating berries and other produce at small farms. Schooled in beekeeping by his great-uncle, Wayne Porter, and through the OSU Extension Master Beekeeper course, Jeremy took over Flying Bee Ranch from his relatives in 2017 after Wayne’s passing. At that time, Jeremy transformed from hobbyist to full-time, professional beekeeper, helping his great-aunt, Kathy Porter, keep the business a family operation. They are known for their mono-source honeys, captured after the bees pollinate specific crops. Jeremy also works to educate the public about bees’ role in agriculture and strategies for keeping them safe.

Connie Graves (Sheridan) is a traditional basket weaver of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde. She’s been instrumental in revitalizing and teaching the art of basket weaving for her Tribe. Born in McMinnville, she has lived her entire life in the Grand Ronde area. Connie has always possessed a love of craft and creativity and an ability to create by simply looking at an example. With her masterful basketry skills, she makes hats, baskets of all dimensions, doll clothes, baby rattles, or whatever she is inspired to do. She collects and works with many varieties of reeds, grasses, barks, and roots. Connie is currently battling cancer but still exudes positive energy and strength in all she does. Her help in the project was enormous.

As an addendum to my fieldwork in Polk and Marion Counties and with the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, I was privileged to conduct some further documentation in Lane County. Juana Cortez (Eugene) owns and operates Juanita’s Pupusería, a food truck specializing in food from El Salvador. A pupusa, the national dish of El Salvador, is a thick flatbread made of masa—corn flour and water—stuffed with one or more ingredients such as cheese, squash, refried beans, or meat, then cooked on a griddle. The versatile flatbread comes from the Maya/Pipil culture of El Salvador. Cortez, a restauranteur in her native country, came to the US in 1987 as a refugee of war and natural disaster. A single mother, she worked and saved for years before returning to her dream of owning and running a restaurant. What began as a pupusería has expanded into a celebration of Salvadoran and Mexican foods.   If someone asks for it, she can make it, she says. Cortez’s food traditions connect her to homeland and, more importantly, allow her to enjoy peace and stability after a life of hardship and perseverance.

These individuals represent a few of the many hard-working, diligent bearers of folk traditions I documented for this project. Like Oregon’s beautiful landscapes, these people deserve to be celebrated and supported as part of the cultural landscape.

Celebrating Lane County’s Artists and Traditions

Alina Mansfield

In the Winter and Spring of 2018, I attended many of Lane County’s regional cultural events, festivals, and fairs to scout out tradition keepers for the Willamette Valley Folklife Survey.

The Willamette Valley is homeland to the Kalapuya Tribes, with the Molalla calling the foothills of the Cascades home. More recently, a significant Scandinavian population settled Junction City, where the annual Scandinavian Festival attracts attendees from far and wide to try a taste of Danish aebelskiver (apple pastry), participate in Swedish folk dancing, or watch a Norwegian artist demonstrate Hardanger embroidery (usually white on white embroidery with cutwork to create a lacy effect). Eugene’s Sons of Norway Sonja Lodge (Lane County) participate in the festival, and I had the pleasure of getting to know many of their members at their annual Lutefisk dinner in January. Before the dinner, I watched lodge members peel potatoes for the lefse (potato flatbread) and bake traditional Norwegian desserts and cookies. And I got to have my first taste ever of lutefisk (cod preserved in lye, rinsed and boiled, then served hot with butter). As someone of Norwegian descent myself, this notorious cultural delicacy was on my bucket list, and I was not disappointed. Lodge members did assure me, however, that their lutefisk used to be much stronger!

I also attended a lodge-sponsored Norwegian Sweater Night for which members donned their Norwegian-style knitted sweaters and shared stories about the talented needlewomen who made them. I discovered that Norwegian knitters make their purl stitches without moving the yarn to the front of the needle. There was a palpable celebration of their heritage in such stories, and a sense of humor and pride in the discussion that detailed how this unique style differs from standard knitting.

Through these activities, I was able to meet and interview some very special traditional artists, including PattiJo Meshnick, a Norwegian Rosemåler. Rosemåling is a traditional Norwegian decorative art that involves painting objects with stylized flower motifs. With a focus on symmetry, brightness, and depth of color, Meshnik decorates pots, clocks, hangers, cards, and more. Meshnik’s eye for design is key for her rosemåling; she uses a combination of traditional design elements, techniques and materials to achieve the right effect. She always starts with a root at the center; loading brushes with various thicknesses, she paints S strokes and C strokes, adding color, shading, and then fine lines for depth. According to Meshnik, regional styles developed as a result of the distance between the deep Norwegian valleys; traveling artists would stay with a family all winter, cheering up their houses and soot-covered furniture with brightly colored designs. Like others who learned the techniques of rosemåling from master artists, Meshnik also continues to study with master teachers to learn various regional styles. She notes that traditional rosemåling became an endangered art form in Norway; teaching is essential for its survival. “Folk art is a hard thing to keep alive in modern days; you need to find someone who wants to teach, and someone who wants to learn.”

In February, I celebrated the Asian Lunar New Year of the Dog in Eugene at the “Bark to the New Year” festival. There I met Kathy Hoy, a traditional Chinese ink brush painter. Before moving to Eugene to attend college, Kathy learned to paint by apprenticing with Huang Jun Pin, a famous traditional Chinese brush painter in Taipei, Taiwan. She creates traditional Chinese ink wash and watercolor on rice paper. Many of her paintings have traditional symbols of nature such as water, fish, birds, and mountain landscapes as well as Chinese characters.

In April, I headed out to Vida, Oregon, for the McKenzie Drift Boat Festival, where I met river guides and a conch mushroom artist, learned about wooden drift boats, and watched fly fishers demonstrate how to make fly ties. Along the way, I marveled at the chainsaw art along the McKenzie Highway, which celebrates these roadside sculptures each year in July at the McKenzie River Chainsaw & Arts Festival in Blue River.

Lane County also hosted the Evergreen Tattoo Invitational in March, which prompted me to speak with local tattoo artist, Suzen Tattoozen, co-owner of Whiteaker Tattoo Collective in Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood. She is known for her unique custom designs, and ornate, embellished, illustrative watercolor styles. Tattoozen has high standards and is very passionate about representing the industry with the highest of integrity. She says no to tattoos she believes will not be good art, and she asks a lot of questions before agreeing to do a tattoo. But she also believes in never judging a client’s ideas. She thinks of tattoos and body art as the “freedom of owning yourself.” She is slow to start when she begins her work because she wants to get to know her client’s skin. Tattoozen also runs Transformation Ink, a tattoo-based charity; she believes that tattoos are empowering and transformative and that receiving a good tattoo is treating one’s self to self-care and self-love.

Tattoos, rosemåling, and fly fishing may seem very different from each other, but these culture keepers all share a love for detail in artistry, symmetry, design; an attention to story and heritage; and a commitment to passing on their skills and knowledge to others. Folk and traditional artists like these continue to enrich Lane County’s diverse cultural and regional heritage.



Oregon Folklife Network awarded $55,000 by the National Endowment for the Arts

EUGENE, Ore. – (Dec. 28, 2018) – The University of Oregon’s Oregon Folklife Network is set to receive a $55,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Announced as part of the endowment’s $27 million funding package for fiscal year 2019, the Oregon grant will support a folklife survey on Oregon’s north and central coast.

“OFN is so pleased to have another year of NEA support for our documentation of Oregon’s living cultural heritage,” said Riki Saltzman, Oregon Folklife Networks’s executive director.

Art Works is the Arts Endowment’s principal grantmaking program. The agency received 1,605 Art Works applications for this round of grantmaking and will award 972 grants in this category.

“The arts enhance our communities and our lives, and we look forward to seeing these projects take place throughout the country, giving Americans opportunities to learn, to create, to heal, and to celebrate,” said Mary Anne Carter, acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

With support from the grant, the Oregon Folklife Network will work with veteran folklorist Douglas Manger to identify folk and traditional artists in the Northwest and Central Oregon Coast counties of Clatsop, Tillamook, and Lincoln, as well as the coastal sections of Lane and Douglas counties. Manger will also mentor emerging folklorists as they document regional and ethnic folklore from a range of heritage groups including but not limited to Asian and Pacific Islanders, African Americans, Latinos, Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, and Europeans as well as occupational folklife such as chainsaw carving, hunting, dairy farming, commercial fishing, clamming, oystering, shrimping, and other waterways traditions. Folklorists will also document foodways, music, storytelling, and other relevant folk expressions.

OFN’s statewide survey has so far identified over 355 folk and traditional artists in 28 counties as well as at the Klamath Tribes, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla, the Burns Paiute, and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. OFN partners with local and state organizations and Tribes to refer tradition bearers and folk artists for programs in parks, arts organizations, libraries, or festivals. We also preserve this documentation in our archives.

OFN invites recommendations for individuals who should be documented as part of the project. Recommendations can be submitted to by email to Riki Saltzman,, or Emily West,, or by phone to 541-346-3820.

For more information on the National Endowment for the Arts grant announcement, visit

Folklore Fieldwork in Wheeler County

by Vanessa Cutz (OFN intern and Folklore MA ’16) and Josh Ehlers (OFN Assistant Folklorist and Folklore BA ’13)

Riki Saltzman, Josh Ehlers, and Vanessa Cutz joined folklorist Joseph O’Connell in his survey of Wheeler County over the first weekend of May. We drove through the Ochoco National Forest to get to Mitchell, a small town along Highway 26 that once thrived through the logging industry. While the town now sits quietly amidst the rim rock, juniper, and sagebrush, it anticipates a potential tourist boom now that Travel Oregon has named the nearby Painted Hills one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon.

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Folklore Fieldwork in Deschutes and Crook Counties

by Brad McMullen, OFN GSA and Folklore graduate student

Riki Saltzman and OFN’s Brad McMullen joined folklorist Douglas Manger in Deschutes and Crook Counties to do fieldwork between May 20th and 22nd. Over the weekend, we were able to meet several different tradition bearers and visit a few different cultural sites to give us a deeper appreciation and understanding of the area’s history and culture.

First, we visited master bespoke bootmaker D.W. Frommer at his studio in Redmond. Mr. Frommer has been making handcrafted boots for over 20 years. He started out as a saddlemaker, but after his teacher gave him a pair of handmade boots, he was inspired to change his craft. Mr. Frommer demonstrated his boot-making process, showing us the tricks and tools of his trade, one that goes back hundreds of years. Whenever he makes a boot, Mr. Frommer feels the presence of all those bootmakers who have come before him. He stressed the importance of training others, and he strives to pass on that legacy to all of his students.

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Words Washed in with the Tide: FisherPoet Fieldwork in Port Townsend

by Julie Meyer, Folklore Graduate Student

On a drizzly Thursday afternoon in March, I threw my camping gear into my car and headed north towards Port Townsend, Washington, with my dog and my recorder in tow. During the long car ride I could feel the adrenaline of conducting my first solo fieldwork expedition motivating me.Only a month earlier I had been in Astoria, Oregon, attending the annual FisherPoets Gathering as a student fieldworker representing the Oregon Folklife Network. After building rapport with a few of the women FisherPoets in Astoria, I was invited to attend the She Tells Sea Tales event in Port Townsend, Washington. This event was hosted in support of the Girls Boat Project, an organization created to support the young women of the community in their pursuit of the seas.

As the event kicked off to a start in the Northwest Maritime Center, I was able to hear sea shanties sung, stories told, poetry read, and prose performed. The range of performances included both original folk art and traditional folklore from women and girls from across the Pacific Northwest.

The day after the event I was able to meet with Erin Friestad for an hour long interview in a café in the city center, and she shared with me stories of her time working at sea as well as her work as a poet. While I had originally hoped to pull more interviews from my time in Port Townsend, I was able to establish deeper relationships with the fisherwomen I have come to admire for their strength and perseverance.

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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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.