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Special Discussions & Sessions

2019 Special Discussions and Sessions

Attendance at most sessions/discussions requires the purchase of a Day Pass or 3-Day Deluxe Pass.

Keynote Address: Where Does Wisdom Reside?
Jan 31, 9:30-10:30am
Elko Convention Center-Auditorium

This year’s celebratory keynote features founding director Hal Cannon’s personal journey into the fieldwork and exploration that brought an extraordinary cast of characters together to create the original Cowboy Poetry Gathering in 1985. Filled with voices, images and transcendent moments from the Western Folklife Center’s archive, Hal’s keynote is about preserving tradition and the quest to find truth and beauty in the creative voices of everyday people.
Sponsored by Nevada Humanities, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Great Basin College.


Talk: What is “Rural Journalism?” with Carson Vaughan
Jan 31, 12:00-1:00pm
Great Basin College-McMullen Hall, Library
What is “rural journalism?” What sets it apart? Does the role of a journalist in rural America differ from the role of journalists elsewhere? What are the advantages of practicing journalism in sparsely populated regions? In discussing his work as a freelance writer and author, Vaughan will tackle these questions and survey the state of journalism in rural America today.
Sponsored by the Nevada Humanities and National Endowment for the Humanities


Talk: Where Does Wisdom Reside? with Hal Cannon
January 31, 1:15-2:15pm
Great Basin College-Greenhaw Technical Arts Building, Room 130

For the past 35 years, the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering has been a forum for men and women who live and work on the land to explore truth and beauty through poetry,  music and other expressive arts. Western Folklife Center’s Founding Director, Hal Cannon will explore this cultural treasure in a media rich presentation utilizing the extensive archive of the Western Folklife Center.
Sponsored by the Nevada Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities


Conversation: From Homer to Kiskaddon: Poetry Over the Years
Feb 1, 9:30-10:45am
Elko Convention Center-Turquoise Room
People have been making poetry for as long as we’ve been communicating with each other, and cowboy poetry is just one part of this vast tradition. Learn about how poetry has developed over the years and how historical poetic traditions influence contemporary poetry with a panel of speakers including cowboy poets Joshua Dugat and John Dofflemyer as well as Michael Ursell of the Black Mountain Institute at UNLV and Vogue Robinson, Clark County Poet Laureate.
Presented in collaboration with the Black Mountain Institute.


Rawhide Braiding Demo with Doug Groves and Friends
Feb 1, 11:00am-1:00pm
Feb 2, 10:00am-12:00pm
Western Folklife Center, Wiegand Gallery
Doug began braiding rawhide at the age of 19 as a means to own quality horse gear for his daily work. He learned the art of braiding from various cowboys and gearmakers and has been generously passing those skills along to others, including through workshops at the Gathering.


Buckaroo Stories
Feb 1, 2:45-4:00pm, Elko Convention Center-Turquoise Room
Feb 2, 9:30-11:00am, G Three Bar Theater, Western Folklife Center
When working cowboys gather there is no shortage of tales of heroes, horses, and times both good and bad to share and savor. At this year’s Gathering, we are honored to hear from four working cowboys. Shoshone buckaroo, saddle maker and Vietnam veteran Spider Teller began working as a kid in northeastern Nevada with Bert Brown (45 Ranch), Willis Packer and Randy Bunch (Independence Valley), Melvin Jones (Carlin) and many others from Owyhee, Nevada to Bishop, California. He now raises horses near Gardnerville, Nevada. Buckaroo, poet and braider Dick Gibford has covered hundreds of miles of the western outback--much on horseback--between Idaho, Nevada, and his current home in the California Sierras. Buckaroo, packer, poet and ranch manager Ross Knox has worked ranches from northeastern Nevada to southern Arizona and has packed mules deep into the Grand Canyon and high into the Sierras. Ted Howard, buckaroo, cultural specialist and current tribal chair for the Duck Valley Indian tribe, Owyhee, Nevada serves as wrangler and host.


Stories and Film: Ramblin’ Jack Elliott
Febr 1, 3:00-4:00pm
Elko Conference Center-Lamoille Room
At 87 years young, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott still tours like the teenager he was when he first joined a rodeo. Since those early years, Jack has ridden bulls and broncos; Peterbuilts and Vespas; schooners and square-rigged ships, all over this wide world. He has influenced and befriended royalty of the music industry and been lauded by Presidents. The remarkable adventure of this living legend is being documented by film maker Oleg Harencar in the soon-to-be-released Ramblin’ Jack Elliott - Beyond the Music. Please join us for some advance clips and a Q & A with the legend himself.


Reporting Stories from the Rural West: The State of Journalism
Feb 1, 1:00-2:30pm, Elko Convention Center-Turquoise Room (Panel Discussion + Q & A)
Feb 2, 2:00-3:30pm, Elko Convention Center-Silver Room (A conversation on the future of rural journalism, open to all)
Whether reporting from the rural West or about the rural West, today’s journalists have a wealth of important stories to share with local and global audiences. We have invited a panel of respected journalists to share their first-hand experiences, challenges and dreams for their field in representing this vast and diverse region. There will be plenty of room for audience participation and conversation in this two-part forum. Meet the panelists: Carson Vaughn, a freelance journalist based in Omaha, Nebraska, Carson writes frequently about the Great Plains, from the environment to the arts and everything in between. Tay Wiles is the associate editor of High Country News and is based in northern California. Tay writes about public lands, people and power in the West. Northwest Nevada rancher Carolyn Dufurrena is a regular contributor, outside editor and occasional poet wrangler for Range Magazine, a quarterly publication devoted to the issues that threaten the West. Jenni Monet, is an independent journalist who writes about Indigenous rights and injustice for such publications as The LA Times, The Guardian, PBS NewsHour, and others.  She received top honors for her coverage of the Dakota Access Pipeline battle. Jenni is a tribal citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna. Our host and moderator is Taki Telonidis, former media producer for the Western Folklife Center and current senior radio editor for Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.
Sponsored by Nevada Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities, in partnership with Great Basin College


Song Swap on Owyhee Region Ranching Songs
Feb 1, 3:30-4:30pm, Elko Convention Center-Silver Room
The Owyhee region is a vast area of desert mountains, canyons and rivers that spans southwest Idaho, southeast Oregon and northeast Nevada. The region is storied for its ranching and mining history and still holds on to vestiges of the early days. The Idaho Songs Project has collected and documented numerous songs related to Owyhee history that were written before radio came to the area and before recordings were commonly available (early 1920s). Collectors continue to search for Owyhee songs written before this time, as well as more recently written songs related to early Owyhee history. In this informal song swap, hosts Tracy Morrison (Boise, Idaho) and Gary Eller (Pickles Butte, Idaho) will play a few examples of Owyhee songs and then open the floor for others to perform and talk about related songs.


Discussion: Historic Stock Driveways: Past, Present and Future
Feb 2, 9:30-11:00am, Elko Conference Center-Lamoille Room
Historic stock driveways are still in use by ranches throughout the West, many utilizing both public and private land. For this panel, representatives from ranches still using these paths to seasonally graze their cattle and sheep in Nevada, Idaho and Wyoming will come together to discuss the past, present and future of these trails. Questions of history, challenges to historic land use, stewardship, and new ways of bringing attention to the tradition are among the topics of this conversation. Speakers include: Stan and Mary Budd Flitner (of the Flitner family’s Diamond Tail Ranch in Big Horn Basin, Wyoming); John & Diane Peavey (Flat Top Ranch, Carey, Idaho); Gracian Uhalde (third generation on the John Uhalde and Co. ranch, central Nevada), and Ira Wines (General Manager, Ellison Ranching Co., Nevada). Hosted by Margaret Walsh, president, Northeastern Nevada Stewardship Group. A short film clip about Wyoming’s Green River Drift, a historic stock driveway featured in the film The Drift, will also be shown. Please bring your questions and stories.
Sponsored by the Northeastern Nevada Stewardship Group.


A Glimpse into the Letters of C.M. Russell, Continued
Feb 2, 3:15-4:30pm, Elko Convention Center-Turquoise Room
For the fourth year running, Randy Rieman digs even deeper into the wit, wisdom and Western humor of cowboy artist Charles M. Russell; this year, focusing on Russell’s love of Christmas and reading from his Christmas letters.