Thompson, Lewis, Clark, Jefferson
by Jack Nisbet
Dean Davis photo
Teacher, Naturalist, and Author
Jack Nisbet's book, David Douglas: A Naturalist at Work, is a collection of essays that both provide historical context for Douglas's journeys and relate them to the modern landscape. A museum exhibit of the same name, curated by Nisbet and his wife Claire, ran at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane and the Washington State Historical Society Museum in Tacoma.
Nisbet's Sources of the River: Tracking David Thompson Across Western North America (Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1994, new edition 2007.), helped ignite the ongoing wave of interest in the phenomenal life and achievements of the long forgotten Canadian explorer who mapped much of the northwest quarter of North America. His energetic, penetrating literary style brings history alive by merging meticulous scholarship into his own personal engagement with the vast land which Thompson trod 200 years ago. Sources of the River received the Murray Morgan Prize in Northwest regional literature.
Visible Bones: Journeys Across Time in the Columbia River Country (Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 2003) is a collection of twelve essays, each focusing on a single landmark or wildlife species as experienced by the Plateau tribes and seen briefly by Thompson, Lewis and Clark (the condor, tobacco smoking rituals, smallpox epidemics), David Douglas, John Kirk Townsend, and other early travelers in the region.
In 2005 his richly illustrated narrative, The Mapmaker's Eye: David Thompson on the Columbia Plateau (Pullman: Washington State University Press, 2005), was named by the American Library Association as one of the year's "Best of the Best" university press publications. It was written in conjunction with an exhibit about David Thompson by the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane, Washington, which was on display from October 2005 until September 2006.
His latest book, Ancient Places: People and Landscape in the Emerging Northwest, is "an assemblage of nonfiction stories about the interplay between people and the landscape where they happen to live." (from front cover inset)
In addition, Nisbet has written Purple Flat Top (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2011), of which novelist Ivan Doig wrote, "In Jack Nisbet, an unsung corner of the West has found its troubadour. His north-of-Spokane tales of disgusted dairymen and hopeful miners, of white ravens and dancing grouse, ring with the spirit of the legend of the Sky People."Singing Grass, Burning Sage (Portland, Oregon: Graphic Arts Center Publishing, 1999) won a silver medal in the Environmental category of Fore Word Magazine's Book of the Year awards in 2000). Through the words of tribal people and early visitors, enhanced by brilliant color photographs, Nisbet uncovers the teeming life that irrigation has nourished in the essentially barren Columbia Basin.Jack lives with his wife and two children in Spokane, Washington. More information is available at www.jacknisbet.com.