Western Reads has announced that its 2017-18 book selection will be “Tulalip, From My Heart: An Autobiographical Account of a Reservation Community,” by Harriette Shelton Dover.
Western Reads is a reading program at WWU designed to promote intellectual engagement and community among new students by offering them the opportunity to participate in conversation and events around each year’s book selection. The 2016-17 book selection was “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, which examines the effects of systemic racism in the U.S.
“The Western Reads Book Selection Committee always tries to select an engaging book that provides the opportunity to have multi-disciplinary conversations across diverse colleges, departments and programs,” Dawn Dietrich, director of Western Reads, said. “We hope to provide occasions for the campus community to discuss the book, learn to think critically about the material, and reflect on their own life experiences.”
In “Tulalip, From My Heart,” Harriette Dover recounts her life on the Tulalip Reservation in the early 20th century where she grew up listening to her elders talk about problems the tribe faced after resettlement. This included economic hardships, moving from villages to the Tulalip reservation, severe shortages of water and food, the impact of boarding schools, and the religious persecution of the tribe. Dover reflects on her tribe’s resilience, vibrant culture, and powerful ties to the land now occupied by others.
“If we hope to educate our campus about the indigenous origins of the place that we inhabit, we need to look to the Coast Salish people who originally settled in the Pacific Northwest,” Dietrich said. “This book helps us appreciate the history that has shaped all of us and recognizes the historical trauma that Native Americans have endured for generations.”
Western Reads is also commemorating the 50th anniversary of “The Right to Be Indian” Conference, which was held at WWU in 1969. The book chosen by the reading program at that time was “The Patriot Chiefs: A Chronicle of American Indian Resistance” by Alvin Josephy, Jr. During the conference, tribal members from east and west of the Cascades came to Western Washington State College, or what is now called Western Washington University, to support indigenous culture and mentor Indian youth. This year, Western Reads will be designing a series of events, in collaboration with local indigenous communities.
For more information on Western Reads selection, contact Dawn.Dietrich@wwu.edu.