One calls it a “book ban.” The other calls it a financial decision.
The High Desert Museum is no longer selling books by Central Oregon’s Rick Steber. The author said he believes he’s being censored and that the museum is trying to follow a more “progressive” agenda.
“They said they were moving in a different direction. They were looking at such things as climate change and more contemporary exhibits, whether that was gay cowboys or whatever,” said Steber.
The museum says there is no agenda. It’s just business.
“Over the past decade, Mr. Steber’s books have just simply not performed even close to a level that would warrant us to continue selling them in our museum store, plain and simple,” said Dana Whitelaw, Executive Director at High Desert Museum.
Steber writes about historical events in Central Oregon, many of which involve Native American stories.
Jodi Hayward, a local craft maker that contributes to Steber’s store and a Native American herself, says the books keep certain Native stories alive.
“Over time people have just stopped talking about it so now people are ignorant as to the way things were. Well that what’s going to happen to our culture and our history and everything of Central Oregon if the museums won’t even talk about it,” said Hayward.
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The museum says they have no intention of ignoring or avoiding Native American history. They even have a permanent exhibit on local tribes.
“The museum, for the past 40 years, has brought history and art and science to our community and we will continue to do that,” said Whitelaw.
The museum says they are not trying to ban or censor Steber.