EWU professor publishing first book about Spokane River

EWU professor publishing first book about Spokane River

Professor Paul Lindholdt, a professor at Eastern Washington University, just received the advanced copy of his new book ‘The Spokane River’.

This first print is a culmination of nearly a year and half’s worth of work, in which he was the guiding hand organizing 28 writers and bringing them together to form this nearly 300 page book.

“I looked at the river and the fact that nobody had ever done a book on it,” Lindholdt said,” and I thought what a missed opportunity.”

The writers came from a wide background of academia and many were cultural icons. The book features several prominent Native American writers.

“The Spokane river is a fantastic outlet,” said Lindholdt, “I think of it as a great equalizer.”

The book is organized into three different sections. The first is called “Encounters and Excursions”, and the first chapter is written by the current Washington State Poet Laureate, who explores the culture of nudity the river spurred on.

The second section of the book is called “Cultural Histories and Societies”, and explores the impact the river had on communities throughout history.

“Many, many tribes from hundreds of miles around used to come collect and gather here in the peak salmon season, it would be a social opportunity, and recreational, but most importantly they’d be putting food away for the year,” he said.

He said the river has an 8000 year history of supporting civilizations, including the first settlement in what is now Washington State.

The book also includes harder stories such as the economic impact the river had.

“One of my favourite chapters was on the competing interests of the timber industry, which wanted to dump all its sawdust in the river and the fishing interests and the people who ran the hotels, who wanted Spokane to be a Mecca for tourism, so they went head to head,” Lindholdt said.

The last section of the book is called ‘Beneath the Surface’ and includes writings from scientists as they look at the current state of the river.

“One of the great watersheds, no pun intended was when the Little Falls dam was put in back in 1911,” he said, “it cut off all salmon and stealhead migration up stream and since it was low in the stream it was devastation.”

He says the culture around the Spokane river has shifted away from what it was in the past, in a direction that is more centered on appreciating the river for its natural beauty.

Lindholdt says the book will be available next month and all royalties he earns on the book will be donated to Spokane Riverkeeper.