Join Native storytellers Wilson Wewa at 11am and Ed Edmo at 1pm for presentations about Native traditions and history, and pick up an activity sheet as you explore our flagship exhibition, Experience Oregon. Also get the chance to share your own stories through the “Tell Your Family Story” craft between 12pm and 4pm. This free program is ideal for families looking for a fun way to explore Oregon history during spring break.
All cultures, communities, and families have their own ways of passing stories through generations to teach lessons, foster community, and preserve history. For Native communities, one of the most well-known forms of oral tradition is storytelling. Storytelling is an intimate tradition that connects the past to the present. Native American culture is rich in oral traditions that pass along customs, rituals, and legends through vivid narratives often told by tribal elders to younger generations. Each of the nine federally recognized tribes in Oregon have their own distinct oral histories rooted in ancestral knowledge and cultural teachings.
Wilson Wewa has been involved with tribal language, culture, and lifeways throughout his life. He was raised on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in central Oregon. As a child, he spent countless hours hearing the stories of his family, Tribe, and past lifeways as they pertained to his life. Later, Wewa traveled extensively with his family and especially his grandmother to other parts of the Great Basin, where he met many other Northern Paiute elders who added to his knowledge of his people. He continues to be called on by his people as an orator, storyteller, and funerary officiate. Wewa works for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs as the Senior Wellness Coordinator, a position he has held since 1980, and is consulted by other tribes and organizations in the United States on elders’ issues. More recently, he was invited as a guest lecturer to the prestigious College of Willian & Mary in Virginia to speak on Native American issues related to health, spirituality, environment, and treaty rights as they pertain to water and land. He also works with the University of Oregon and Oregon State University as a consultant on Northern Paiute history and ethnobotany. Wewa is a frequent attendee at the Return of the Boise River People gathering held each year in Boise, Idaho. At the gathering, he is usually singled out to share on a number of topics that pertain to Northern Paiute heritage and land. Currently, he is a board member of the Oregon Desert Land Trust and uses his knowledge to guide the board in land acknowledgement and mitigation efforts to keep the land pristine for future generations.
Ed Edmo is a Shoshone-Bannock poet, playwright, performer, traditional storyteller, tour guide, and lecturer on Northwest tribal culture. Edmo was born in Nevada; when he was a baby, his family moved to his father’s ancestral home of Celilo Village along the Columbia River. Edmo is enrolled in the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and also has Yakama and Nez Perce ancestry. His grandparents taught him many tribal customs and traditions. Edmo offers guided tours to the She Who Watches petroglyphs on the Columbia Gorge, as well as to the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in central Oregon’s high desert country. He conducts workshops, traditional storytelling performances, dramatic monologues, and lectures on issues such as cultural understanding and awareness, drug and alcohol abuse, and mental health. Edmo is a published short story writer, poet, and playwright, and serves as a consultant to the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian.