Book Review:
Coming to Stay: A Columbia River Journey

  • Posted 9/02/2009
  • Essay 9137
By Mary Dodds Schlick
Oregon Historical Society in association with University of Washington Press, 2006
Paperback, 192 pages
Photographs, Maps, Notes, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-295-98670-0

With the subtitle A Columbia River Journey, the author sells herself short. The experiences she describes represent the journey of a family as well as that of a country struggling to respect the land rights and traditions of American Indians. Mary Dodds Schlick and her husband came west from Iowa to start a new life together in the 1950s. Over the next 50 years, Bud Schlick’s work in forestry and as a respected officer of the Bureau of Indian Affairs forced the family to move back and forth between Washington D.C., and the Columbia River Plateau several times. Despite the short spans back East, the Pacific Northwest and the Colville, Warm Springs, and Yakama Reservations became home to the Schlicks. Mary Schlick, journalist, teacher, master basket weaver, and wife, brings the people of these communities and their histories alive to the reader. With tenderness and appreciation, she conveys the wisdom, generosity, and patience of her neighbors.   

Her writing style is serene and elegant; Schlick gently navigates the reader through the cascades of political affairs of three Pacific Northwest reservations: Colville Reservation, Warm Springs Reservation, and Yakama Reservation. She introduces significant federal legislation from the past 50 years concerning land-rights issues and tribal self-governance policy of the 1970s.   

Schlick’s passion for the basket arts of this region is clear from the numerous quotes on the subject found throughout the book; a broader interest in the culture and heritage of the Colville, Warm Springs, and Yakama people shines through comprehensive descriptions and discussions of funerary rituals, annual traditions, and moments of daily life. With photographs, notes, index, and bibliography, this informative and enjoyable book can both introduce new students of American Indian history and enrich any store of previous knowledge.

By Kathleen Kemezis, September 2, 2009

Submitted: 9/02/2009

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