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Exploring Oregon's History Of Slavery

Pete Springer/OPB

Gregory Nokes is getting very good at telling stories that shouldn’t need to be told — important stories that should have been remembered in the first place, but have been all but forgotten.

First came Massacred for Gold, which was published in 2009. It detailed the covered-up 1887 massacre of 34 Chinese gold miners in Oregon’s Hells Canyon.

Now the former journalist, who spent 40 years with the AP and the Oregonian, is back with another dose of buried history. It’s called Breaking Chains: Slavery on Trial in the Oregon Territory. It chronicles Oregon’s complicated relationship to slavery and African Americans:

My intention with this book is to penetrate some of the myths we have about our heritage as it relates to slavery and our attitudes toward—and treatment of—people of color. We were not untainted by everything that slavery represented. Yes, we declared ourselves early on as opposed to slavery. But we also declared ourselves early on as opposed to having African Americans among us. This book will try to explain how these two positions were related, and to show that we in the Pacific Northwest were very much a part of the national turmoil and debate over slavery.

What questions do you have for Gregory Nokes?

Note: Here’s a list of Nokes’s upcoming readings and appearances.

african-american history slavery

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