JOSEPH - Western historian and author Alvin Josephy Jr., who divides his time between homes in Joseph and Connecticut, will be a guest of honor Tuesday at the grand opening of the National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Josephy was the founding chairman of the board of trustee of the museum after it was authorized by Congress as the 16th museum of the Smithsonian Institute in 1989.
"This is the culmination of a long crusade, that the Indians should receive the respect they deserve," Josephy said this week about the museum from his Joseph home. "It's a realization of my life-long dream for the Indians. I plan to go to look and learn."
The date coincides with the 100th anniversary of the death of Chief Joseph, who was exiled to the Colville reservation following his return from Oklahoma after the Nez Perce War of 1877.
During the past half century Josephy, a former WWII correspondent and former editor of American Heritage, has gained prominence as a supporter of American Indian tribes during their struggles for sovereignty and treaty rights. He is the author of such books as "Patriot Chiefs," "The Nez Perce Indians and the Opening of the Northwest," and "500 Nations".
At present he is involved in a book project that will give the Indian perspective on the Lewis and Clark expedition and its aftermath.
Among contributors to that book is Bobbie Conner, director of the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation near Pendleton. Conner and her mother, Leah, will be among representatives of the Umatilla reservation attending the museum opening in Washington, D.C., Tuesday. Both are involved in the Tamkaliks Celebration in Wallowa every summer and are frequent visitors to Wallowa County.
More than 12,000 American Indians from tribes across the hemisphere are expected to take part in the opening ceremony's First Nations procession and festival.