Oral Histories

Interview of Randy Edmonds (2013)

Member of the Kiowa tribe. Founder of urban Indian organizations in Los Angeles and San Diego.
Series:
The American Indian Presence in Southern California: Those Who Came
Topic:
American Indian History
Interviewer:
Coates, Julia
Interviewee:
Edmonds, Randy
Persons Present:
Edmonds and Coates. At moments, Mr. Edmonds’ wife, Bonnie, passed through the room but did not engage in the interview process.
Place Conducted:
Edmonds’ home in San Diego, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library’s Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Julia Coates, interviewer, UCLA Center for Oral History Research; Ph.D., American studies, University of New Mexico; assistant professor, Native American studies, UC, Davis; and visiting professor, College of Liberal Arts, Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Citizen of the Cherokee Nation and served on its tribal council. Coates did extensive interviewing of Cherokee Nation citizens as part of her dissertation and post-doctoral research. Coates prepared for the interview by listening to previously recorded interviews in the UCLA Center for Oral History Research American Indian Relocation series, rereading Indian Country, L.A. by Joan Weibel-Orlando, and reading Reimagining Indian Country by Nicolas G. Rosenthal.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Edmonds was then given an opportunity to review the transcript but made no corrections or additions.
Length:
2.5 hrs.
Language:
English
Copyright:
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Audio:
Series Statement:
Over 205,000 American Indians live in Southern California, almost 73,000 of them in Los Angeles County. In fact Los Angeles County has the largest population of American Indians in any county of the United States. “The American Indian Presence in Southern California: Those Who Came” surveys some of the diversity of tribes and experiences of American Indians who have immigrated to the urban area.
Edmonds’ father’s family's place of origin – Resettlement of Caddos in Oklahoma – How the family got its name – Mother’s Kiowa family, raiding, and white (Irish) captive that was an ancestor – Tribal enrollment with Kiowa tribe – Memories of mother's death and funeral – Going to live with maternal aunt and memories of life with her – Going to live with paternal aunt on her farm – Father remarries – Entering Riverside Indian School – Working with father in the summers – Vocational skills taught as well as basic subjects – Dropout rates – Edmonds’ feelings about the school experience – Married while in high school – Going to college, being made into a mascot – Drops out, starts drinking -- Aunt and uncle involve Edmonds in Relocation project – Taking the train to Los Angeles – Arrival in Los Angeles – Wanted to go to school to be an artist – Sent to work at Northrup Aircraft, work life – Loses his job, sent to U.S. Gypsum by Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) – Impressions of and adjustment to Los Angeles – Advancements at work and assimilation – Birth of children – Visiting Oklahoma and friends from Oklahoma coming to LA – Forms American Indian Athletic Association – Third and Main, gathering place for Indians – Job development by BIA – Working at US Gypsum – Recruited to run the Relocation program – Places where Indians meet in LA – Church objections to Edmonds’ appointment to Relocation program – How the church recruited Indians – Conflicts with Reverend Stoneking and his church – Wife’s drinking problems and end of marriage – Work in bringing more Indians to Los Angeles – Model urban Indian centers project – Problems of relocatees in adjusting – Strength of cultural ties with homelands – Why people return home, or not – Why he doesn’t return to Oklahoma – Location and activities of his children and grandchildren – Advocacy for Indians through the LA Indian Center – Appointment to Human Relations Commission – Implementation of liaison position between the city and Indians – Works for solo parent relocation project in San Diego – Work with Wasca consultant group – Works for Americans for Indian and Future Traditions in San Diego – Founds Indian Human Resource Center – Annual Cultural Awareness Day in San Diego – Established Indian church gatherings and holiday feasts.
Founder and director of the Indian Human Resources Center (IHRC) in San Diego – Goals and activities of the IHRC – Cultural days at Balboa Park – Creation of the Indian Ministries program – Establishment of Christmas and Thanksgiving feasts – Descriptions of dances at the cultural days and pow-wows – How Edmondson got into pow-wow – Where he has traveled as a pow-wow emcee – Reactions of reservation people to urban Indians at pow-wows – Different styles of singing and dancing – The largest tribes in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and San Diego –Many relocatees return to the reservation – Friendship with Navajo Nation President Peter MacDonald –Role of churches for urban Indians – Indians who came to LA in earlier eras – Relationships of second and third generations with the homelands – Why some were able to transition to urban life and others weren't – How cultures were transferred to an urban setting – Artistic endeavors throughout Edmonds' lifetime – Other family members who have artistic abilities – Relationships with his children while they were growing up – Where his children are now, their employment – How he met his present wife – His wife's positive influence on his health –Remaining friendships – Statements about his life and its goals – Overview of his accomplishments and things that were not achieved – Continuing involvement with the Indian community.