Crisis on the Columbia: Making A Difference at Mid-Century

March 25, 2019 7PM

The Native fishing community of Celilo Village was in crisis following WWII. Large dams, highway widening, and federal policies of termination and relocation conspired to remove Indian people from a place their families had occupied for more than 12,000 years. Stepping into this maelstrom were two women from very different backgrounds. Together, they forged an alliance that made a difference. Flora Thompson and her husband, Chief Tommy Thompson, fought to protect fish drying sheds, fishing stations, and Celilo Village homes for decades. Joining her was Marth Ferguson McKeown, a high school English teacher, community activist, and author of several local histories, including two children's stories about the Thompsons. Their remarkable friendship can be traced through dozens of letters recently unearthed in the University of Oregon archives. Their intertwined stories illustrate the importance of cross-cultural alliances at a transformative period in Northwest history.  

An illustrated presentation by author Katy Barber will be followed by a Q&A session featuring Linda Meanus (Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation), who is Flora Thompson’s granddaughter and the protagonist of Martha Ferguson McKeown’s Linda’s Indian Home. Dr. Katy Barber is a professor of History at Portland State University where she teaches Western U.S., Pacific Northwest, and Public History courses. Her previous books include Death of Celilo Falls and Nature's Northwest: The North Pacific Slope in the 20th Century with William Robbins.