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May 23, 2024


6:00PM - 7:30PM


All Ages (Under 18 must be accompanied by a parent)


114 E 3rd Ave, Ellensburg, WA 98926

Lecture: “PUSHED: Miners, a Merchant, and (Maybe) a Massacre”

May 23, 2024

About this Program:
Amid the current alarming rise in xenophobia, Ana Maria Spagna stumbled upon a story: one day in 1875, according to lore, on a high bluff over the Columbia River, a group of local Indigenous people murdered a large number of Chinese miners—perhaps as many as three hundred—and pushed their bodies over a cliff into the river. The little-known incident was dubbed the Chelan Falls Massacre. Despite having lived in the area for more than thirty years, Spagna had never before heard of this event. She set out to discover exactly what happened and why.

Consulting historians, archaeologists, Indigenous elders, and even a grave dowser, Spagna uncovers three possible versions of the event: Native people as perpetrators. White people as perpetrators. It didn’t happen at all. Pushed: Miners, a Merchant, and (Maybe) a Massacre replaces convenient narratives of the American West with nuance and complexity, revealing the danger in forgetting or remembering atrocities when history is murky and asking what allegiance to a place requires.


About the Speaker:
Ana Maria Spagna is the author of several award-winning nonfiction books, including, most recently, Pushed: Miners, a Merchant, and (Maybe) a Massacre, along with Reclaimers, stories of indigenous women reclaiming sacred land and waterthe memoir/history Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus: A Daughter’s Civil Rights Journey, winner of the River Teeth literary nonfiction prize, and three essay collections, Potluck, Now Go Home, and Uplake. She has also written a novel for young people, The Luckiest Scar on Earth, about a 14-year-old snowboarder and her activist father, and her first chapbook of poetry, At Mile Marker Six, appeared in 2021. Ana Maria’s work has been recognized by the Society for Environmental Journalists, the Nautilus Book Awards, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Awards, and as a four-time finalist for the Washington State Book Award. Her essays have recently appeared in Fourth Genre, Ecotone, Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, The Normal School, and Hotel Amerika. After working fifteen years on backcountry trail crews for the National Park Service, she turned to teaching and, in addition to Antioch University, has taught at Whitman College, St. Lawrence University, Western Colorado University, and the University of Montana.
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The Event, At a Glance:
What: “PUSHED: Miners, a Merchant, and (Maybe) a Massacre”
Who: Author, Ana Maria Spagna
When: Thursday, May 23, 2024 at 6pm
Where: Kittitas County Historical Museum, 114 E 3rd Ave, Ellensburg, WA 98926
Cost: Free

More to Explore at the Museum

Military Room

Permanent Exhibit

Our Military Room features many items from individuals who served our country and have been a part of Kittitas County. These items include uniforms, medals, letters, photographs, souvenirs, and more.

Antique Automobiles

Permanent Exhibit

The Museum is home to a very unique collection of antique automobiles. This display showcases six automobiles ranging from an 1899 Mobile Steam Runabout Dos-a-Dos to a 1923 Ford Model T Speedster.

Weaving Circle

May 6, 2024

This event provides a space for weavers to bring their projects and work, share, learn and enjoy. These events are open to the community at large!