Writing the West: Rich Wandschneider, Richard Etulain at Black Hat Books/Oct 12, 7:00 PM

by Anne Richardson


On Thursday Oct 12, at 7:00 PM, long time friend of Oregon Cartoon Institute, Rich Wandschneider, comes to Black Hat Books to discuss fiction vs non fiction, imagination vs memory, oral histories vs written ones, when it comes to understanding the West.

Rich Wandschneider is the director of the Alvin M. and Betty Josephy Library of Western History and Culture, located within the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture in Joseph, Oregon.

Rich will discuss Daniel J. Sharfstein’s new book “Thunder In The Mountains: Chief Joseph, O. O. Howard, and the Nez Perce War” with armchair Howard historian, Anne Richardson. Rich and Anne have been discussing the complexity of the Nez Perce War narrative, on and off, for nearly 20 years.


“Those who know little about General Howard, other than that he was a founder of Howard University, will be especially interested in following his story to the end.”—Henry Louis Gates, Harvard University

Howard, the enigma. In the past, historians handled the one armed general’s multiple identities by not acknowledging them. In Merrill Beal’s “I Will Fight No More Forever: Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce War”,  we read about Howard’s years as head of the Freedman’s Bureau in a footnote. In Alvin B. Josephy’s “The Nez Perce Indians and the Opening of the Northwest”, we never read about them at all.  We never learn why he was in the West.

Howard went West as a man in exile. His idealistic activism at the Freedman’s Bureau had come with a cost: political enemies.  Two congressional hearings (charges dismissed) left his career in ruins. He accepted re-assignment to the Department of the Columbia where he followed orders to force the Nez Perce off land he knew they owned. Sharfstein frames Howard’s and Joseph’s relationship, usually seen as one of mutual incomprehension, as a contest of political wills.

Howard’s back story complicates our understanding of the West. Where is the simple chessboard of cowboys vs Indians?

Joining us for the evening to help sort this out will be a longtime Oregon literary historian.


Richard W. Etulain is a prize-winning historian specializing in the history of the American West. He has been honored as president of both the Western Literature and Western History Associations. His most recent book is about Ernest Haycox, a Portland writer who grew up alongside a brand new art form: the Western.


Who writes the West? Rich Wandschneider, Richard Etulain, Anne Richardson, and Fred Nemo, the owner of Black Hat Books, will pool their thoughts on October 12, at 7:00 PM.

Thank you, Fred Nemo, for providing a home for this conversation.

Please join us!

What: Rich Wandschneider, Anne Richardson, Richard Etulain & Fred Nemo discuss fiction vs non fiction, imagination vs memory, oral histories vs written ones, when it comes to understanding the West.

Where: Black Hat Books, 2831 NE MLK Bvld

When: Oct 12, 7:00 PM

Admission: Free


This evening with Rich Wandschneider and Richard Etulain is the first in a series of Writing The West conversations. The second event, in January 2018, will zero in on one specific book in Oregon literary history, C. E. S. Wood’s 1901 A Book Of Tales, with guest speaker Tim Barnes.