A new journal by the nonprofit Confluence is designed to elevate Indigenous perspectives in how people understand the Columbia River and its tributaries. Voices of the River features articles, stories, poetry and artwork by Native American writers and artists from Northwest Tribes. Confluence and its supporters celebrated the release of the inaugural issue of the journal during a launch party and panel discussion on November 18, 2022 at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland.
Voices of the River features articles by authors Rachel Cushman (Chinook) and Chance White Eyes (Oneida), Sean Smith (Chinook), Emily Washines (Yakama), Carlee Wilson (Chinook), poetry by Ed Edmo (Shoshone-Bannock), and first-person narratives from Linda Meanus (Warm Springs/Celilo) and Confluence Founding Board Chair Antone Minthorn (CTUIR). Artist Tommy Greyeyes (Navajo) designed artworks that accompanied the articles. Confluence Digital Manager Lily Hart edited the journal, with layout designs by Brian Boram of RMB Vivid. The project was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
“This was really a refreshing editorial process,” said Rachel Cushman. She and her husband Chance White Eyes wrote an article about the educational lessons that can be found in Tribal Canoe Culture. “I really loved that it was a lot of local, Indigenous people who are reading it because those are the peers that I really care about.”
Managing Editor Lily Hart said the editorial process for the journal included a peer review, like many journals in the Western academic tradition. However, she worked to create a more collaborative approach to support the authors.
“One of the ways I saw this emerge was through the thoughtful engagement the authors had with each other,” Hart said. “We held meetings with all them together, so they could give each other feedback and build community along the way. I just sat back and watched them engage creatively.”
Copies of Voices of the River can be ordered here. The publication will also be distributed through partnering bookstores.
Confluence is a community supported nonprofit with the mission to connect people to the history, living cultures, and ecology of the Columbia River system through Indigenous voices. The group has completed 5 art installations that stretch from the mouth of the Columbia River to the banks of the Snake River in southeastern Washington. Confluence has also developed a series of educational programs in schools and public gatherings, designed to elevate Indigenous voices in our understanding of the Columbia River system.