Observer Staff

The Oregon Community Foundation awarded $85,000 to the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture in Joseph to facilitate a tribal artistic perspective on place in recognition of the 140th anniversary of the Indian removal.

With local and tribal assistance, the Josephy Center will select, commission and install a piece of three-dimensional art by a tribal artist, to integrate with Joseph’s existing bronze streetscape. Indian art — along with galleries and Main Street bronzes — will greet citizens and visitors to the town.

“This grant will allow the Josephy Center to recruit and select an Indian artist to lend his or her interpretation to Joseph’s bronze streetscape,” said Rich Wandschneider, director of the Josephy Library of Western History and Culture in Joseph.

According to Wandschneider, Chief Joseph and his band of some 300 Indians were removed from Wallowa Country in 1877, leading to the Nez Perce War. On surrender, they were sent to Indian Territory. They returned West, but not to the Wallowas, in 1885.

Designated as an Art District, the city of Joseph hosts 10 bronze statues, cobblestone sidewalks, galleries, shops and mountain views that attract thousands of visitors each year. Four of the bronzes depict Indians but only one artist claims any Indian heritage. Currently, none of the work has been created by a Nez Perce or related Plateau tribal member.