Story Collection: Parallel Lives

This Story Collection is based of a conversation between Ed Edmo and Lani Roberts, where they discussed their parallel childhoods growing up in The Dalles, which they also wrote about in the book Seeing Color: Indigenous Peoples and Racialized Ethnic Minorities in Oregon. Their collaboration started some years ago in a moment of revelation sparked by a simple question. Native Storyteller Ed Edmo was visiting Professor Lani Roberts in her office. The two had grown up together in The Dalles, Oregon in the 1950s. Ed turned to her. “Lani, do you remember when we were kids, Indian kids couldn’t swim in the swimming pool?”

As Lani described her response, “It really rocked me back on the heels of my soul.” What followed was a deep reflection and examination of the racism that Native people and other people of color experience on a daily basis in the Northwest, an experience largely invisible and erased to the dominant culture.

The story remains sadly relevant today as our nation convulses with the legacy of racism and hatred. The Story Collection below is a small list designed to encourage the kind of reflection we need more of in our time.

To Watch and Listen

Confluence Conversations: Parallel Lives Full Recording. This is a full recording of our June 17th live online event of Ed Edmo and Lani Roberts.

Bryson Liberty: The Dalles Movie Theater Wouldn’t “Sell to Indians”
Bryson Liberty (Cayuse, Umatilla, Walla Walla) talks about an incident in the Dalles where he and a friend were declined service at a movie theater.

Bobbie Conner: The Extinguishing of Property Rights
Bobbie Conner (Cayuse/Nez Perce/Umatilla) talks about treaties and their impact on fishing and property rights.

Stories from the River: Celilo
The theme of this video is Celilo Falls. Five Native individuals talk about Celilo Falls and the Columbia River. By Tule Films with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

War Cry Podcast  This podcast explores stories, issues and historical connection about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Men and LGBTQ 2 Spirit community members. The focus is on the Pacific Northwest.

To Read

“Parallel Lives” by Ed Edmo and Lani Roberts in Seeing Color: Indigenous Peoples and Racialized Ethnic Minorities in Oregon
This chapter is written by Edmo and Roberts on their parallel childhoods.

“Village in Town: The Communities Transformed by The Dalles Dam” in Death of Celilo Falls, by Katrine Barber. University of Washington Press, 2005.
This chapter explores The Dalles community, including discrimination there.

Oregon’s founders sought a ‘white utopia,’ a stain of racism that lives on even as state celebrates its progressivism, by Douglas Perry in the Oregonian.

America’s Statue Wars Are a Family Feud, New York Times, November 16, 2017.
Writer Sarah Vowell looks at the debate over historical monuments and describes Maya Lin’s Confluence as a positive example. 

Commentary: Why dredge up a racist past?, by Mark Gibson in The Dalles Chronicle, June 17, 2020.

Ed Edmo’s Poetry.

To View

Galllery: Children of Celilo Village
This gallery features images of children through Celilo Village in daily life, at work and play.

Lani Roberts and Ed Edmo during a recording of their conversations.
Children at Celilo Village.
Related Content