William Slacum’s Chart of the Columbia River 1837

As a spy in the Oregon Territory, and a Navy man, William A. Slacum was tasked with documenting the possessions of the British, but he also worked extensively to learn where the tribes were located. A map, Chart of the Columbia River, was created from his field sketches and survey notes from 1837, which tracks some 90 miles of the Columbia River. On the map is located a number of Native villages of the principal tribes of the Chinookan peoples. Kiesno is now the conventional spelling of this chief’s name. His is reported to have a principal village near St. Helens on the south side, and had the allegiance of the peoples on Wapato Island (Sauvie Island) and those on the north side of the river, all now normally referred to as the Multnomah. By 1837 when Slacum was in Oregon, the tribes has just gone though a dramatic die-off from the 1829-35 malaria. So the number of villages would

read more William Slacum’s Chart of the Columbia River 1837

Americans the Victimized

The story of the settlement of Oregon is largely one of victimization. The pioneers, settlers in many stories are escaping taxes and lack of opportunities in the east. Some are even coming from Europe where they had little rights and no opportunity for advancement. The movement of these peoples west is a journey to find opportunity, freedom, liberty, from the oppressive structures to the east. Manifest Destiny, the assumption of American rights to the lands of the west, is an narrative intended to inspire colonization of the west coast so that Americans can compete with the European colonizers for access to Asian economies. This is also the story of the first settlement of the North America. The Pilgrims who landed on Plymouth rock, sought freedom and liberty from their oppression in England. They were the victims, the oppressed, even if their fundamental form of Christianity was too conservative for the peoples of England. The victimized oppressed story continues into the

read more Americans the Victimized

Promise of Citizenship and Informal Allotment at the Grand Ronde Reservation

In 1869 President Ulysses S. Grant gave a short inaugural address as he entered his presidency. The address briefly mentioned that he would support a path to citizenship for Native American peoples. “The proper treatment of the original occupants of this land–the Indians are deserving of careful study. I will favor any course toward them which tends to their civilization and ultimate citizenship.” (March 4, 1869) This short statement caused a storm of policy changes in the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The policy change enabled the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to direct his Superintendents to begin preparing the Indians on  reservations for citizenship through allotting the Indian people with land so that they may be inspired to help themselves gain progress towards civilization. Previous to this policy change, the tribes were living in poor conditions with few inducements to become like white people. The promises of the treaties, and of agents, of a better life in the reservations, had not

read more Promise of Citizenship and Informal Allotment at the Grand Ronde Reservation

Truth of History

This title is nearly an oxymoron. There are historic truths, but what we known of history is an invention of mostly people who did not personally experience that history. In truth, historians write histories all the time where they assume that what they are writing is true, based on the preponderance of evidence. Mostly historians get clues as to what is history from a number of sources, and they have to assign values to those sources. Some sources are reliable, some are not based on a number of factors. These factors can include the reliability of the source, the source’s closeness to the events of history, the sources’ political, religious and cultural leanings. Then many historians, the actual researchers and writers have a good number of personal biases they must work through. Many historians admire the subject of their histories, many want to prove a theory, and many desire to get noticed in their publications. Faculty at universities are usually

read more Truth of History

David Douglas Shaves Comcomley’s Brother

David Douglas traveled around Oregon, Washington, California, British Columbia and Hawaii from 1824 to 1834. Most of the time Douglas was accompanied by Native packers who helped transport his equipment, hunt for food, translate with local tribes and fend off attackers. Sometimes Douglas has the company of as Euro-American, some mountain man, fur trader or explorer. Most times Douglas was in the company of Native peoples. He could fend for himself when he needed to, shoot with the best men, and was diplomatic enough, or just odd enough,  that tribes treated him well and even tried to help him. He may have been the image of the learned wiseman that tribal people saw him as not a threat but as someone to be aided. They were likely quite amused that he would collect seeds, flowers, leaves of plants, and then hunt and kill birds, bugs and insects, small and large animal,  and save the bones and hides, or try to

read more David Douglas Shaves Comcomley’s Brother