Historical Society celebrates book
Warm Springs author Wilson Wewa entertained a crowd of about 80 people as the featured speaker at the annual Jefferson County Historical Society Banquet April 7, at the Jefferson County Senior Center.
In 2017, after five years of work, Wewa and his collaborator, James Gardner, published "Legends of the Northern Paiute," which contains stories Wewa learned from his parents, Wilson (Jazzy) Wewa and Eugenia Wolf, grandmother, Maggie Wewa, who died at age 107 in 1988, and many others seniors.
Wewa spoke about his beloved grandmother, who would dig roots directly across from Round Butte, then move on to Shaniko, Prineville, Paulina and Burns.
On one occasion, recalled taking a bus with his grandmother from Bend to the Burns area, where she asked the driver to let them off in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere.
"The driver said, 'There's nobody out here.' We walked into the desert with our bedding and found our campground, found our people out there," said Wewa. "That time, we learned a lot of the legends."
After Wewa graduated from Madras High School in 1974, he hit the powwow trail until 1980, when his dad got cancer. In order to spend more time with his dad, Wewa returned to the reservation, and started working at the Warm Springs Senior Center, where he still works, "doing everything."
"This book took five years; last fall, it was printed and they sent me 10 copies to give out to family," said Wewa, who was a bit overwhelmed by the realization that is was finally complete. "I drove around (with the books) for a week before I started giving them out."
Wewa said that he is the last enrolled tribal member who speaks Paiute, out of fewer than 100 total speakers of Northern Paiute.
When his father was very ill, Wewa said that his father quit speaking English. "He said, 'I never thought I'd see the day when one of my kids would talk to me in our language.'"
Wewa's book is available on Amazon.com, or through the OSU Press.