Outing #31: For Time Immemorial
Oregon: Indigenous Peoples’ Homelands and Contemporary Tribal Reservations
To continue our exploration of Social Justice Heroes & Sheroes in our region, our next outing focuses on the past, present, and future of Oregon’s Indigenous communities. Indigenous people have called the Northwest home since time immemorial. While the last 150+ years have been a dark period in their long history, Tribal communities also have many stories of bravery, perseverance, and beauty that we should all learn about. Most importantly, it is important for us to know that Indigenous peoples and cultures are still very much alive in Oregon and around the country. Native communities are doing amazing work to ensure that their people, traditions, and languages thrive into the future.
To start, we must recognize that we all live on Native land. Visit the interactive Native Land map to learn which Indigenous communities call your home their homeland. Then, look up which contemporary Tribal Reservations are closest to your home.
Since most of the Adventure Whales live in Western Oregon, we watched this documentary produced by the five Tribes of Western Oregon.
We also explored elements of the Tribal History/Shared History curriculum that was recently created by Indigenous educators, the nine federally-recognized Tribes in Oregon, and the Oregon Department of Education.
We started with this video and slideshow discussing the devastating practice of removing Native children from their homes and placing them in government boarding schools common from the mid-1800s to the 1950s. [Full lesson plan here.] The goal of the schools was to “kill the Indian, save the man” by removing children from their families, languages, and cultural traditions and forcing them to act like White Americans.
What place names near you come from Indigenous words? [Examples in Oregon include Molalla, Klamath, Imnaha, Neskowin, Tillamook, Umatilla, and many more.]
How would you feel if someone forced you to leave your home because someone else wanted to live there?
How would you feel if someone took you away from your family to live in a boarding school and you were not allowed to speak your language any more?
Check out the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde’s language app to learn key phrases in Chinuk Wawa. The app also includes some great recordings and videos that highlight their language revitalization programs. Write your favorite Chinuk Wawa words on sticky notes and place them around your house to practice.
Ever played the Oregon Trail video game? The popular game from the 1980s takes the perspective of the White settler. To understand the experience of the Indigenous people who were being displaced by White immigrants, try playing When Rivers Were Trails. This game does not take place in Oregon, but it does highlight the experiences Indigenous people faced around the country in the 1890’s caused by changing land laws and forced assimilation.