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Week Eight: Homesteaders, Irrigation, and the Farming Economy

This week we consider homesteading and the farming economy. Jeff Wiltse’s Lecture (approximately 60 minutes), focuses on each state in our region, telling the story of local development and the involvement of the federal government in that development.

Maps & Cityscapes presents newspaper clippings discussing the allotment of Indian lands and the opening of Indian lands to non-Indian settlement, while Tribal Perspectives presents photographs of allotment and oral histories of the effects of allotment on Indian communities.

People and the Humanities contains information about the rise in mail order catalogues and their effect on regional culture, as well as a list of people involved in the marketing of new products.  In Research we present our top reading choices.

Assignment suggestions for this week’s content include:

  • Jeff Wiltse talks about the conflict between our image of homesteaders as totally self-sufficient and the reality of the level of federal involvement and subsidization.  In what other areas of American history do the reality and the myth not match?  What stories do we like to tell about our pasts that are not completely true?  Why do we tell them?
  • Can you get a sense of how allotment was viewed (as a good or bad thing) through the newspaper clippings presented?  How “objective” is journalism?  Can we really get a sense of historical events and how they were viewed at the time by reading newspapers?  
  • Is this the beginning of the transition from citizen to consumer?  What do advertisements reveal about a culture?  How does the spread of national products change regional identity?

Umatilla Canal
Umatilla Canal, 1908

Okanogan Farm Project, 1914

Yakima car

Yakima Tieton Project, 1916
Bureau of Reclamation photo by HTC. Sept. 1916.