NE Oregon Arts

Book Group

A Gathering Place for the Arts in Wallowa County

Current Book: “The Night Watchman”

by Louise Erdrich

NOTE: Change of date! Discussion will now be on July 1 at 7 p.m.

Many of you read Beth Piatote’s “Beadworkers” along with us in April.  We skipped a month, but we are ready to go again.

We will read Louise Erdrich’s new novel, “The Night Watchman.”  If you like historical fiction, this is it: the history in this case is only 75 years old, as the novel is based on the experiences of Erdrich’s grandfather, who fought against the Eisenhower “Termination” policy for his Turtle Mountain Chippewa Tribe in North Dakota.  I was born across the border, in Minnesota in 1942, lived there until 1952, and visited many times in the 50s and 60s.  I knew nothing of lives and issues.

As my mentor, Alvin Josephy, said, “When our history books don’t outright lie about Indians, they omit them.”

I’m not halfway through it, and I am sad and mad and so happy for the fine writing and filing in the gaps I never knew were there.

The new owners of the Bookloft, Katy Madrid and Becky Wyland, promise the same 15% discount for book groups.  So you can support your local bookstore and their new owners with a purchase!  Retail is $28.99.  You can figure it out!




Join our Live Dicussion on Zoom
Wednesday, July 1 at 7 PM




Our book in April was The Beadworkers, by Beth Piatote.  Some of you met her and heard her read at Summer Fishtrap–maybe even bought the book.  I’m still thinking about “Antikoni” and plan to reread in anticipation of this event.

Beth is going to join us at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 30, so read now and save your questions for a lively discussion on April 30.  We will use Zoom. The author, Beth, will be on the call from her Bay Area home!






Our second book was “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants” as recommended by local medicine woman Jane Glesne.

This is writer Robin Kemmerer’s prayer that we look through scientific classification and dissection to indigenous knowledge of plants–and all of mother earth, For her, the earth–all of it–is gift, and we human beings are bound up in it in what can and should be reciprocal relations of gratitude and care. Sweetgrass grows lush when we harvest it. People took away different lessons–“I’ll look at the world I tramp in with new eyes”; “we shouldn’t worship growth”; “how can I live more sustainably?”; “this book will get passed on–and we will send copies to friends and children.” And all of us got bound up in this discussion of the “Thanksgiving Address” of the Onondaga, which puts gratitude and sharing the gifts of earth at the center of our lives



Our first book was “The Real All Americans, The Team that Changed a Game, a People, a Nation,” by Sally Jenkins. Before getting to Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Football team, the book describes the end of the Indian wars in the West and the beginnings of the boarding school system, two historically transformative events for Indian people, and I believe for all Americans.

We had three wonderful discussions, meeting at Josephy and having people chime in virtually.