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For the week of Mar. 1 through Mar. 7, 2000

How the West was…
and still is

Western Issues Lecture Series continues Thursday

Express Staff Writer

A New History of the American West by Richard WhiteMany think of the West as a bygone era, won by John Wayne in letter box. In fact, the story of the West is unfolding and vibrant.

You can have a hand shaping it during the Sun Valley Center for the Arts’ Western Issues Lecture Series, which continues Thursday at 7 p.m. with a lecture by author, historian and Stanford professor Richard White.

White’s lecture, entitled "An Inhabited Land," will explore how the stories we tell about Western lands are also stories about the people who live on them. Although our current stories about the land are in many ways irreconcilable with the places we actually live, they may contain within them the best clues to a Western future, according to White.

The lecture will lead to discussion about what it means to be a Westerner today and about how our relationship with the land has changed over time.

White is the author of several books on American history, including Land Use, Environment and Social Change: The Shaping of Island County, Washington; The Roots of Dependency: Subsistence, Environment and Social Change Among Choctaws, Pawnees and Navajos; and It’s Your Misfortune and None of My Own: A New History of the American West.

His most recent book, Remembering Ahanagram: Storytelling in a Family’s Past, documents the journey of his mother’s family from Ireland to Chicago at the turn of the century.

"The goal of Western Issues Lecture Series is to encourage community dialogue about our place in the West, both past, present and future," said Heather Crocker, Director of Education and Humanities at the Sun Valley Center.

That dialogue began in 1970s, with the formation of the Sun Valley Center’s Institute of the American West. James Belson, then director of the Center, established the Institute as an "interdisciplinary humanities program of the Sun Valley Center that presents symposia and seminars on subjects related to the American West, reflecting large themes concerning frontiers of interest to the general public."

The Western Issue Lecture Series is sponsored in part by the Pioneer Mountain Foundation and the Idaho Humanities Council. The Council, an independent nonprofit organization that receives funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities, corporations and foundations, awarded the Sun Valley Center a $4,920 grant in October for the Series and Symposium.

The next lecture in the series will be on April 15. Patricia Nelson Limerick, professor of history at the University of Colorado, will explore issues of "inheritance."

The lectures lay the thematic foundation for a two-day conference at Elkhorn Resort, June 23 and June 24, when other nationally recognized historians, authors and scholars converge for discussions on what it means to live in the West.

For more information, call the Sun Valley Center at 726-9491.


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