In the winter 2018 issue of the Oregon Historical Quarterly, a Research Files article was published on the Confluence Interview Collection. Lily Hart, Confluence Program Coordinator, wrote the article.
“We know something everybody else doesn’t know — we’re never leaving. Our people have an intestinal fortitude that nobody else has because this is our country. You can’t get us out of here.” — Roberta “Bobbie” Conner.
ROBERTA “BOBBIE” Conner (Umatilla/Cayuse/Nez Perce) shared this perspective in an interview arranged by the Confluence Project as part of the Confluence Story Gathering Collection, which has recorded interviews with Indigenous elders, leaders, artists, and educators who, like their ancestors, live along the Columbia River. Collectively, their story is one of resilience.
The history of the Pacific Northwest, and especially of the Columbia River, is often centered on the events of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the pioneers who arrived via the Oregon Trail. By collecting Indigenous stories, the project organizers aim to present a broader, more holistic story. Written primary sources from two-hundred years ago provide valuable evidence regarding the Pacific Northwest, yet they were not authored directly by Indigenous people. That perspective is needed. Through personal narrative, these interviews provide a window into understanding the cultures and ecology of the Columbia River system.