Recent News

2016 Washington State Book Awards Finalist

Posted by on Sep 16, 2016 in News | Comments Off on 2016 Washington State Book Awards Finalist

Jack Nisbet’s book Ancient Places is a finalist in the non-fiction category of this year’s Washington State Book Awards. Winners will be announced on Saturday, October 8, after an authors’ reading at the Seattle Public Library that begins at 7:00 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. For more information go to

Here is the Facebook Event Page:

Ancient Places Paperback Edition

Posted by on Aug 16, 2016 in News | Comments Off on Ancient Places Paperback Edition

Ancient Places is now available in paperback, with a new cover and design. It’s available wherever books are sold or order through the website.

April 23rd Presentation Location

Posted by on Apr 22, 2016 in News | Comments Off on April 23rd Presentation Location

Jack’s April 23 presentation will NOT be at the Kalispel Tribal Community center as listed on the calendar.

It will take place at the Usk Community center in Usk, on the west side of the bridge crossing the Pend Oreille River.

Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Download the PDF file .

Update on Email and Rescheduling Events

Posted by on Jan 24, 2016 in News | Comments Off on Update on Email and Rescheduling Events

Jack’s email has been down for the past week. It is restored now, but he will not receive any messages that bounced back during that period. Please resend.

Jack is beginning to reschedule all of the speaking dates that were cancelled during November and December. They will be announced on the calendar soon.

And many thanks for all the kind thoughts and words about Claire’s health during the past three months. We take strength from them.

November & December Event Cancellations

Posted by on Nov 3, 2015 in News | Comments Off on November & December Event Cancellations

Because of a family medical situation, Jack will not be able to appear for the following dates:

  • Nov 19  Powell’s
  • Nov 21 and 22  Portland Wild Arts Festival
  • Dec 2 Wenatchee
  • Dec 3 Twisp
  • Dec 8 Tonasket
  • Dec 9 Omak

The Powell’s and December dates will be rescheduled. Sorry about any inconvenience.


Upcoming Event Cancellation

Posted by on Oct 27, 2015 in News | Comments Off on Upcoming Event Cancellation

Due to a family medical situation, Jack is cancelling two upcoming library dates:

  • Moses Lake on November 4.
  • Waterville on Novermber 5.

Sorry for any inconvenience. These events will be rescheduled soon.

Upcoming Events for Seattle and Tacoma.

Posted by on Oct 20, 2015 in News | Comments Off on Upcoming Events for Seattle and Tacoma.

Jack will be at Town Hall in Seattle on Tuesday, October 20 then at the Tacoma Public Library on Wednesday October 21.

Jack Nisbet with John Marzluff & David Montgomery – Ancient Places

Tuesday, October 20, 7:30 p.m.

Town Hall, Seattle, Washington

View Event Details

Book Talk & Signing of “Ancient Places: People & Landscape in the Emerging Northwest”

Wednesday, October 21, 7:00 p.m.

Tacoma Public Library, Tacoma, Washington

View Event Details

Reading from Ancient Places

Posted by on Sep 5, 2015 in News | Comments Off on Reading from Ancient Places

Jack Nisbet will be reading from his new book Ancient Places at a dozen branches of Washington’s North Central Regional Libraries this fall. The readings will explore different stories from the book, and each one will be accompanied by a slide presentation.


See below for the upcoming schedule:

Quincy Library

Wednesday, October 14, 6:30 p.m.

Quincy, Washington

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Ephrata Library

Thursday, October 15, 7:00 p.m.

Ephrata, Washington

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Chelan Library

Thursday, October 22, 7:00 p.m.

Chelan, Washington

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Leavenworth Library

Friday, October 23, 6:30 p.m.

Leavenworth, Washington

View Event Details

Moses Lake Library

Wednesday, November 4, 6:30 p.m.

Moses Lake, Washington

View Event Details

Waterville Library

Thursday, November 5, 4:00 p.m.

Waterville, Washington

View Event Details

Republic Library

Friday, November 13, 6:00 p.m.

Republic, Washington

View Event Details

Wenatchee Library

Wednesday, December 2, 7:00 p.m.

Wenatchee, Washington

View Event Details

Twisp Library

Thursday, December 3, 6:00 p.m.

Twisp, Washington

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Tonasket Library

Tuesday, December 8, 6:00 p.m.

Tonasket, Washington

View Event Details

Omak Library

Wednesday, December 9, 6:00 p.m.

Omak, Washington

View Event Details

See the events page
for all upcoming events

Upcoming Events

Ancient Places Review by Barbara Theroux – Fact & Fiction, Mountain West News

Posted by on Jun 21, 2015 in News | Comments Off on Ancient Places Review by Barbara Theroux – Fact & Fiction, Mountain West News

“Jack Nisbet has been writing about the landscape of the Inland Empire and Pacific Northwest for many years.


In his books about David Thompson and David Douglas, the author did extensive research into the written records left by these early settlers. Now he goes one step further to seek modern information about the Ice Age Floods, the Willamette Meteorite, the 1872 Earthquake, the aurora borealis, and rich deposits of terra cotta clay—the genesis stories of the region.


In the opening essay called “Chasing Electric Fluid,” Nisbet explores David Thompson’s 1792 reports of a possible meteor falling to earth where he saw mysterious glowing lights. John Phillips, a NASA astronaut aboard the International Space Station, wrote Nisbet to tell him, “that your book has been doing some traveling.” Phillips was interested in Thompson’s aurora experiences and that lead to camera shots of waterways with luminous reflections sent from space in 2005.


When I placed one of David Thompson’s maps next to Phillip’s image, all the same elements marched across the page, from the mountain ridges on each side of the nascent Columbia’s valley to the low divide that allowed the Kootenay River to rush south while its mother river began a much longer journey in the opposite direction. Thompson, with only tribal information and his own survey data, had created a bird’s-eye view that jibed remarkably well the camera’s stark image.


“Longest Journey” recalls the odyssey of the Willamette Meteorite discovered in 1902 by Ellis Hughes. There was wide interest to purchase and display the meteorite from the Smithsonian, the St Louis World’s Fair and the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition.


Court cases over the legal ownership of the object—be it an abandoned Indian artifact or from Mars—gave custody of the meteorite to Oregon Iron and Steel.


In 1986, Richard Pugh, a Portland high school science teacher, theorized that the meteorite originally plunged to earth millions of years ago in British Columbia or Montana. During the ice floods the rock was carried downstream across the Columbia Basin where the ice floe came to rest near the mouth of the Tualatin River.


More bidding, studying and relocating occurred until, in 1990, the Willamette Meteorite became the centerpiece of the American Museum of Natural History’s new Cullman Hall of the Universe, with the permission of the Grand Ronde people.


…if the Willamette Meteorite is ever retired from public display, its ownership is to revert to the tribes. It is possible, therefore, that at some future date the turtle-shaped stone will once more journey across space and time, echoing one brief chapter of its long history. If it should travel by rail, it will retrace its climatic Ice Age voyage across Lake Pend Oreille, through Spokane, and down the Columbia as it makes one more partial orbit of our small planet.


Ann McCrae worked in the archives of the Spokane tribe. She was known for transcribing oral accounts of the Spokane Salish. One day Nisbet found her studying five cryptic lines:


Born 18511872 Earthquake—21 years oldWch wi’chem

Xs-ch- x

Died Walla Walla 1904—53 years old


Thus begins “Restless Earth.” The five lines had been copied from a wooden headstone at the Washington State Penitentiary.


We’d like to know his real Indian name, something more than wch wi’chem,” said Ann. “We’d like to identify him, and bring his remains back home. We have this one version of the story, but I think my mom’s friend Sadie Boyd might have talked about him too—I just have to find out where. And I’d like to know more this earthquake. Was it really such a powerful thing?”


Clues surface in the 1970s, when the Washington Public Power Supply System commissioned a study of the 1872 earthquake. The report published in 1976 gave no doubt that a major quake had occurred, with a 7.0 to 7.3 magnitude with an epicenter located on the west slope of the Cascades possibly 50 miles north of Lake Chelan. In 2002, Ralph Haugerud, a US Geological Survey researcher re-evaluated the previous report. He determined that a 6.8 magnitude quake occurred with the epicenter east of the Cascade Range and close to the south shore of Lake Chelan. With both reports, it was established that a powerful earthquake occurred in 1872.


As to the identity of the person buried in Walla Walla, many ghost tales of the Spirit of Whist-m-la’s mother have been passed along to Ann McCrae. Perhaps soon the legend and the truth will come together.


Throughout the essays in Ancient Places, Nisbet correlates modern science with the journals of early fur traders, terra-cotta brick makers, collectors, and native peoples. The reader gains knowledge of museums, plants, ants, huckleberries and lucky kicks that unravel mysteries and secrets held in the landscape.”


– Barbara Theroux – Fact & Fiction, Mountain West News

Ancient Places Review by Tim McNulty, The Seattle Times

Posted by on Jun 14, 2015 in News | Comments Off on Ancient Places Review by Tim McNulty, The Seattle Times

“Through a half-dozen or more books, Jack Nisbet has shown himself to be an astute interpreter of Pacific Northwest history, an insightful naturalist and an excellent storyteller. Two of his earlier books, “Sources of the River” and “The Collector,” brought the epic work of Hudson’s Bay Company explorer David Thompson and naturalist David Douglas into contemporary focus. His new book of lively essays, “Ancient Places: People and Landscape in the Emerging Northwest” (Sasquatch, 256 pp., $21.95) engages the past and present of the Inland Northwest.


Landscape and its pivotal role in the history of the region have been a primary concern for the Spokane-based author. In these essays, specific Northwest places — the track of ice-age floods, fossil beds of the Okanogan Highlands, traditional native fishing grounds at Kettle Falls — become central characters.


Nisbet lets his curiosity range widely here. He tracks historic records of the largest meteorite to land in the Northwest, a 15-ton monolith half-buried in Northwest Oregon, and the nutty if herculean scheme of its discoverer to winch it onto his property, where he charged the curious 25 cents to view it. The meteorite now rests in the more dignified confines of the Museum of Natural History in New York.


Earthly metals were the objective of mining engineer William Manning when he traveled to Idaho’s Salmon River country from his native Ontario in 1897. Along with pursuing a successful mining career, he befriended Chief Joseph, the legendary Nez Perce leader, Chief Masselow of the Kalispel tribe and other notable tribal leaders. Through gifts and acquisitions Manning became one of the principal collectors of Native American artifacts in the inland Northwest. His collection forms a significant part of the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane.


Nisbet combines historic research with field work, personal interviews, and the kind of local knowledge that is gained only through decades of living in a place. He pays attention to stories told by longtime residents and tribal people, as well as geologists, paleontologists, anthropologists and university researchers.


Entomologist Laurel Hansen invited the author into her Spokane lab. The result, with Nisbet supplying historical background from fur trade journals and tribal stories, is an essay on thatching ants, those ubiquitous mound-building ants of the countryside that comprise the largest genus in North America. Another essay on biscuitroot, the genus Lomatium of the Blue Mountains, moves gracefully between natural history, historical accounts, interviews with contemporary Native Americans and personal rambles.


Seattle readers will appreciate a delightful piece on the late Wes Wehr, painter, composer, memoirist, friend of artist Mark Tobey and poet Elizabeth Bishop, and affiliate curator of paleobotany at the Burke Museum. A self-taught enthusiast, Wehr’s field discoveries helped place the Okanogan Highlands on the map for its world-class fossil beds, and he had at least one ancient plant named for him.


In fact, Nisbet shares more than a few of Wehr’s polymathic traits: a scientist’s curiosity, an artist’s eye for detail and a writer’s sense of what shapes a good story. These essays offer a generous sampling of the range of Nisbet’s talents.”


– Time McNulty, The Seattle Times