Lewis, David, Termination of the Confederated tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon, Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon, Dissertation, 2008. (Pre-final draft 2007)
“The narrative structures we construct are not secondary narratives . . . but primary narratives that establish what is to count” (Bruner 1986).
In 1954, nearly one hundred years after the western Oregon Indians were removed to the Grand Ronde Reservation; the antecedent peoples were subjected to the final bid by the United States to colonize the remainder of their lands. The United States Congress terminated the Grand Ronde Reservation, and the tribal members lost their Federal recognition. Seven ratified treaties representing over sixty tribes and bands that ceded to the United States over six millions of acres of land were nullified. Congress labeled these 60 tribes as assimilated and no longer deserving of federal support. Termination legislation occurred to free the tribes from continued government oppression.
During the post-termination period of western Oregon native people appeared to cease to exist, and for 29 years the Grand Ronde descendants suffered disenfranchisement, and a multitude of social problems. In this era, the lass of a tribal center caused a loss of tribal culture, languages, and caused factures in the community fabric. Most tribal members lost their land and had to move to the cities to find work. Poverty and substance abuse was normal among the terminated natives, as they did not inherit land or resources sufficient to start over anew without federal support. Other non-terminated tribes rejected the terminated tribes as having “sold-out” to the government. Yet, despite all of the problems terminated tribal members faced, they found ways to survive and in the 1970s began working to restore the tribe. In 1983, the Federal government restored the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon.
This research gathers disparate information from political, anthropological, historical, and tribal sources to analyze and understand the termination of the Grand Ronde Reservation. Revealed are the many political issues of the 1940s and 1950s that contributed to termination. I investigate stories about termination and the intentions of the Grand Ronde tribal members for their legitimacy. I also investigate the manipulation of tribal perspectives during the key termination period. Then, I analyze what actions tribal members took during termination to aid in the survival of the tribal culture and to bring the tribe back from the brink of complete assimilation to restoration. Finally, I explore the continued effects of termination and discuss its connection to issues of indigenous decolonization.
My career has centered on research that benefits the Grand Ronde tribe, and my goal is to help restore unattended cultural traditions, and to work through appropriate strategies to aid the efforts of other tribal members in similar goals. I grew up in Salem, Oregon – not far from the Grand Ronde community – after Congress terminated the Tribe. Termination resulted in the failure of a fully functional native community, left without a community center to perpetuate the culture. Most tribal members lived scattered throughout Oregon, and had little opportunity to learn complete cultural traditions or tribal history. My family and I were no exception.
As a tribal descendant born in 1965 during my tribe’s termination years (1954-1983), I did not grow up with a nuanced understanding of the Grand Ronde Tribe, its history, culture, or community. Through my father, Gary Lewis, and my extended family, I was able to experience many of the cultural lessons of being a native person in western Oregon. I knew I was Indian, was familiar with a few of the tribal names, and knew where the Grand Ronde tribe was supposed to be. During weekend woodcutting excursions, camping with family, and other experiences in the woods, I became familiar with the western Oregon environment, which taught me much of who I was. In speaking with other people in the tribe, I found that my experiences were similar to many other tribal members. My youthful understanding led me back to Oregon, after living in California among other relatives for a decade, to seek a role in the restored Grand Ronde tribe. This goal motivated my many years of study at the University of Oregon. I realized there existed a need for tribal members to work on the restoration of the cultural traditions of the tribe and I had an aptitude for scientific inquiry in social and political sciences, mainly anthropology.
My initial thesis research focus was to research the education of Grand Ronde peoples as it related to the first settlers in Oregon and the Methodist missionaries, the Catholic missionaries, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and the on and off reservation schools, through the contemporary experiences of Native peoples within the Oregon university system. As I advanced in education, I understood better, how the production of knowledge about Native peoples influences the education and life experiences of Grand Ronde peoples, my focus evolved and transformed.
From critical and decolonizing anthropology, I was able to utilize many of the critiques, research methods and understanding of native history and culture in this dissertation. From scholars like Vine Deloria, Jr. and Beatrice Medicine I absorbed a sense of being responsible to the tribal ethnography and working on behalf of tribal needs. From Linda Smith and Deloria I gained an understanding of how the colonial agenda regarding anthropological research operated, who benefited, and how to organize and conceive of a project that would essentially reverse the colonial agenda. Through my work with the Southwest Oregon Research Project (SWORP), initiated by the Coquille Indian Tribe, I actively worked within and in part directed a significant project that reverses the colonial practice of concentrating ethnographic documents at the political center primarily for use by the elites. As part of the SWORP project, the participant scholars returned a significant archive of ethnographic documents to 17 tribes in Oregon and the surrounding region (Lewis 2001).
From the ethnographic studies of the Northwest Coast, I used methods developed by Boas but modified by native researchers like Sergei Kan to study tribal society within their cultural context. I went to local tribal elders with many questions, and used an insider’s perspective when analyzing and presenting the information. Michael Foucault was instrumental in helping me understand the value of unveiling the genealogy of the history of termination and how information was manipulated (Foucault 1978). This deeper understand about anthropological studies helped me develop a methodological framework which I modified into the ethnohistorical research project beginning in 2005. The methods of ethnohistory helped me to understand the value and power of presenting ethnographic information in a historical framework.
Surprisingly, some of the greatest insight is through political discussions in the government documents about termination. While much of the information is bureaucratic, there is quite a body of revealing discussions of the thinking processes of senators and federal employees, all of whom, presumably, had good intentions. However, the manipulation of anthropological theory by federal employees and by Congress is revealing for the power that anthropological theory has over government actions which effect native populations. Theories of assimilation that were formulated in the 19th century, were being refuted by anthropologists in the 1950s, yet remained powerful tools of colonial manipulation of native populations, just as Foucault (manipulation of populations) and Linda T. Smith (colonialism and the use of archival collections) pointed out in their discussions (Foucault 1978; Smith 1999).
Finally, resources on termination studies were invaluable to revealing the fundamental principles behind the issue. Fixico (1986; 1998) and Philp (1999) revealed the economic development issues behind termination and helped guide me in new directions. Following their approaches, I began to link other historical phenomena to termination; Indian claims cases, irrigation projects, and the development needs of California. The culmination of all of this research led to the opinion that termination was another name for colonization, as the effect was the same, native people lost land, some became assimilated, many died or dissociated further from society, and culture and community fragmented. Some elders described termination as genocide. Culture has suffered greatly through termination, as many languages and cultural traditions were lost in the nearly 29 years of non-federal recognition. In addition, it took the Grand Ronde tribe another 12 years to develop a cultural department with a mission to promote, and preserve the culture. The efforts of the federal government to assimilate the tribe before termination and ultimately the termination act caused a loss of tribal members and culture. Many thousands of native people are now lost, assimilated into American society, and most will never learn their culture or language or become a member of the tribe.
The termination of the western Oregon Indians is a pivotal event in the remembered history of over 60 tribes in the region. Termination caused the near-complete disappearance of these peoples from history. In the ensuing decades, educational institutions did not teach about western Oregon Indian history. Normally Education about Oregon native related to their anthropological profile or about their “prehistory.” Ethnographic texts, created 60 to 100 years previously, were the principle resources of instruction about Oregon natives. Public knowledge of western Oregon tribes became non-existent to the point that it was common belief that these tribes had become extinct.
Termination of the tribal reservations was the last (or latest) colonial takeover of Indian lands in Oregon. Through termination, the Federal government and the states gained access to the land and resources of the former reservation lands as well as opened lands for settlement. This access allowed for the nearly unchallenged development of dams and irrigation projects, to harness the energy of rivers, and exploitation of vast timber resources. Politicians pursued termination because they felt that the resources would aid the recovery of the Oregon economy in the 1950s and 1960s (Fixico 1986; 1998; Philp 1999).
Terminated Indians were dissociated from being culturally “Indians”, as many tribes would not allow these people to attend or participate in Native cultural events. The common thought among non-terminated tribes about the terminated tribes is that they chose to give up their rights as Indians; therefore, they were no longer Indian. Compounding this situation, many terminated Indians did not fully assimilate into American society, either because of personal feelings of difference or from prejudicial treatment from white Americans. Terminated Indians disassociated with either culture group. Terminated Indians moved to the cities and became the new urban Indian population. The urban Indians and were vilified and disowned by other tribes. Many urban Indians became part of the growing population of urban poor.
The terminated Indians were the most disenfranchised peoples in the United States, with their tribal communities scattered and their claims to their former homelands removed. People lost contact with their larger family groups as they were scattered by Federal programs of relocation, education, and the need to find work for survival without Federal aid. Terminated Indians became akin to immigrant peoples who had lost connections with their homelands, history, and culture. Many tribal cultures collapsed and remained alive in only a few families. Urban Indians became strangers and aliens within their own lands.
Organizing for federal restoration began for the western Oregon Indians in the late 1960s. In the late 1970s and 1980s, Congress restored five western Oregon Tribal nations to federal recognition. Restoration efforts continue for unrecognized tribes in Oregon among the Tututni, Nehalem, and Chinook peoples. Additionally, restored tribes continue to work to recover their government infrastructure and devise economic strategies to preserve their continuous existence. In the present time, many tribal members maintain little or no knowledge of their families beyond their grandparents’ generation. Many tribal members suffer from a general lack of knowledge of tribal history. Where a tribal member’s family comes from, whom they are related to, and where their homelands are, remain essential to understanding who they are and what is their appropriate culture.
The scattering of the Grand Ronde community created spaces in understanding the Grand Ronde people’s culture, history, and identity. My analysis works to understand what occurred within these spaces, what images of the Grand Ronde peoples have predominated, and why.
The purpose of this research is to reveal the general history of Federal termination of the western Oregon Indians, and specifically for the Grand Ronde tribe. The study unveils the arguments for termination. The personal perspectives of Native peoples and their experiences with termination offer challenges to the common public histories of termination. The current study further reveals what occurred during the termination era, what political and social issues that the terminated tribes had to contend with and how the tribes organized and formed a movement for restoration.
This research utilizes critical notions of anthropology formulated by native and non-native scholars such as Vine Deloria, Jr., Faye Harrison, Linda Smith, and Beatrice Medicine. “Decolonizing Anthropology” in this research is the indigenous conception of “critical anthropology.” Scholars like Albert Memmi (1965), Edward Said (1979), and Ngugi Wa Thiong’o (1986), are critical to the theory as all of whom are heavily critical of historical practices in anthropology and collectively have served as a crux of change within the field of indigenous studies. American Indian scholars that write in Native Studies, Applied Anthropology, Indigenous Studies, and Ethnic Studies constitute a heavy “domestic” presence in the theory.
In the history of cultural anthropology, there is a lack of native perspectives in research, production, and education. Anthropological research intended to benefit tribal nations, associations, and communities is lacking and few Native scholars have entered the discipline. In the past, the problem was that “the system” did not allow indigenous peoples into the academy (Deloria 1969; 1995; Medicine and Jacobs 2001; Smith 1999). For anthropology instruction, historically there were few native-written texts or sources available.
Deloria’s primary call to action and critique of anthropology empowered native people to conduct their own anthropological research. One of his first themes is that anthropology has a great potential to do good things for natives, however, the academy places barriers to the entry of native people into its ranks (1969). Deloria’s suggestion is that native people should be doing this work, so that they can work for their own communities and so that anthropology can then do something useful and helpful. Deloria assumes that since native people are more community oriented, that their research would be more relevant to the native community. In addition, Deloria assumes that native communities want to employ native researchers.
It is important that native people conduct research on behalf of their tribe or community. Native people understand the culture and community better than non-native people and are more accepted by the community. Medicine wrote, “Native anthropologists can gain access to tribes and work closer with them than white anthropologists.” Medicine offered valuable cultural reasons why tribal people can work close to tribes, “Women natives have access to women’s societies and are limited in their access to men’s knowledge”(Medicine and Jacobs 2001:3-6). Many native people have a different intention in their research than non-natives. Native people will more often seek to return to their community or work to benefit their community. Many native people are seeking education with this community focus. In addition, natives must undergo community scrutiny for their actions and products. Elder groups and other community give constant feedback to their scholars working to direct them in the appropriate direction. This does not happen as much with non-natives, and when it does occur, non-natives are not as sensitive to the meaning or intention of the feedback.
Vine Deloria Jr. addressed the fact that anthropologists enter communities and conduct research yet do not feel a responsibility toward those communities in their products. Medicine states that “native anthropologists have more moral obligations to the subjects they are studying and they may sometimes not be able to use the information they have gathered” (Medicine and Jacobs 2001:6). Non-native scholars are more able to disassociate themselves from a responsibility to the community and use their research to secure long-term financial stability for themselves (Deloria 1969).
In addition, much of the work within tribes is of a sensitive nature. Historically, native peoples worked with anthropologists and revealing stories and information about their societies. Much of this information ended up published. Medicine stated, “Historically anthropologists used natives and women to gather information so that they get the credit” (Medicine and Jacobs 2001:3-6). Tribal elders question the publication of some knowledge as they say that stories can hurt people, and that tribal laws governing stories require that families grant permission before telling stories. In tribal societies families own stories. Much of this work involves scholarly and tribal collaborations in the areas of native language preservation, cultural restoration, Indigenous education, and cultural resource management. Therefore, many tribes would rather employ native researchers who understand the culture and conduct research so that they can assure that they follow tribal laws.
In addition, Medicine questions the way anthropology has worked, where researchers come to her reservation and leave to write their reports. Researchers do not always make reports available to the tribe. However, Native people are doing their own research and collected anthropological knowledge has become part of the general cultural knowledge. Many natives do not look to ethnological reports as possessing any value and so they look to Native people to write or tell their own histories (Medicine and Jacobs 2001).
However, some tribes would rather hire non-native researchers (Smith 1999). In tribal societies, there are considerable political conflicts between families and tribes. Many trace such conflict to colonization and the limited resources available to tribal members. Some tribes would rather have unbiased researchers who would not potentially side with any one political faction conduct research. This allows the tribe to have more control over sensitive data.
Another method is for native anthropologists to work for the tribe while helping the tribe to practice its own research. One of the most prominent Native anthropologists of the 20th century was Beatrice Medicine who working in applied anthropology.
Employing native anthropologists also changes the nature of research. Native people remain in control of which issues to discuss. Where before primitive native society was the focus of many studies by anthropologists, native researchers may focus on contemporary native life and the issues that are deemed relevant to their community (Medicine and Jacobs 2001).
In the history of anthropological research, non-native scholars disregarded native oral histories or stories as biased mythological, folkloric accounts not worthy of being true history. Scientists commonly contend that science is unbiased and as such, scientific knowledge is an unbiased accounting of facts. In addition, the only way to prove something as true is to provide scientific evidence of its existence. Oral histories did not constitute scientific evidence.
Native and other scholars noticed that so-called unbiased scientific evidence typically favored European civilization and culture as more advanced, preferable, and always better than native culture and society. In addition, despite over a century of research on tribal societies, native people and their societies were no better off than they were in the beginning. Native scholar Vine Deloria, Jr. raised critiques of the unbiased nature of science throughout his career and broke down many of the arguments used by scientists of their unbiased methods and results (Biolsi and Zimmerman 1997; Deloria 1969; 1994; 1995b). Deloria’s suggested that non-native anthropologists continue to proceed in a biased way, promoting their own personal interests above the needs of the natives they are studying, which include the useless creation of theory and piles of useless paperwork, discussions, and polemics about useless topics (1969; 1994).
Similarly, research on native peoples worldwide is colonized and anthropology and all social sciences in their studies of indigenous peoples are colonial in that they are full of biased and stereotypical views about the “Other” and feed off a primitivist discourse (Said 1979; Smith 1999). The original research designs are structured such that European culture is the modern and the norm and indigenous cultures and peoples are less then the norm (Smith 1999). Western style research is a continuation of centuries of colonization, which seeks to continue to put natives in their place as subservient and primitive, and is a re-inscription of the power to define the world in their (European/Western) terms. This power to define the world is a continuation of the imperialist idea of controlling indigenous people and subjugating them to the will of the colonizers (Smith 1999).
The singling out of native people, as being biased, and therefore unable to perform in an unbiased manner, is a form of discrimination. There is no such thing as an unbiased science as people approach their studies from their own perspectives, which creates a bias (Deloria 1995a). In native societies elders and political leaders monitor native researchers closely and help guide their research and products. In addition, native researchers are more closely associated with their society and feel a moral responsibility toward their work and its effects on their community.
While it may be true that some native researchers bias their research toward their own culture and society, many also understand the dangers implicit in not revealing problems and issues. Because of native scholars’ sense of responsibility to their own cultures, the results of their research will not be any more biased than if non-native researcher conduct the research (Deloria 1995a; Smith 1999). After more than a century of colonizing effects of scientific research, tribes need research projects that benefit tribes.
Native perspectives on tribal history and culture remain a key issue within anthropology and history resources. For many of the published histories, native perspectives are absent, as many researchers did not believe that native people recorded history in any valid manner. Moreover, indigenous intellectual traditions are not respected, and are considered primitive attempts to explain the world (Deloria 1994; Smith 1999). Other historians base their writings on European-American traditions of the past and follow the same pattern of creating history as those of the past. The pattern of re-inscription of history and re-centering history within an established story is a common occurrence in such scholarship (Bruner 1986). Research without native perspectives constitutes a part of the complete story as for many events. Both natives and settlers participated in major events in the west and a multiplicity of perspectives brings greater understand of the event. Scholars who utilize multiple perspectives, both native and non-native, have the ability to form a complete story, a more holistic story. This is not to say that the non-native perspective is of less value to a history, but as history is normally written the non-native perspective is an unavoidable part of the story and tends to be the perspective that is privileged in most histories. Native people have extensive oral histories that constitute a different way of envisioning history and the co-mingling of the different perspectives is scientifically a stronger way of determining the complete history of an event.
In addition, native analysis of history tends to bring to the story a different perspective, whether or not there are native perspectives represented. Native people commonly think about history from a different perspective, one informed by native culture.
Ethnologists and folklorists recorded many native oral histories in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Oregon. However, research and writings regarding Oregon Indians contain problems with perspective. Native centered perspectives are rare in published resources for Oregon. Much of the history passed down from the natives is condensed and modified through the ethnocentric lens of the researcher.
Many of the principal scholars of Oregon native history are excellent sources of information from government and non-native perspectives. The scholars are the recognized experts on Oregon Indians in the eyes of the public.
Over the past 40 years, more perspectives that are native are available and utilized in research projects. Most of the improvements are using native perspectives in the scholarship and the entry of increased minorities into the social sciences, but there remains a significant lack of native perspectives offered in instruction. In response to this problem, this research utilizes as many native-centered information sources as possible.
The privileging of native perspectives challenges the fabric of the discipline and empowers native people to become the noted experts of their culture and history. By privileging native perspectives, it reverses the assignment of authority to the people who experienced the history. Most contemporary histories of termination privilege the government’s perspectives.
The privileging of the native perspective over non-native is suggested by Linda Smith as a means of writing back to the empire (Smith 1999). The tradition of writing back must include native people because they are the only people who know what it means to be native (Smith 1999). Smith uses the term “Empire writes back” to describe the process of decentralizing the knowledge base from Europe to indigenous centers. The writers can then appropriate the English language to their purposes and they can then write in their own languages. In writing history and anthropology, this is no less important as native perspectives and cultural understandings of their lifeways are unique and different from that of many non-native scholars.
Contemporary ethnographic scholars offer progressive examples of change in the discipline with detailed living perspectives of Native people and societies. As Sergei Kan mentions, previous ethnographies, mainly Boasians, were valuable for depicting a comprehensive image of Tlingit culture from the native point of view along with their concerns with mythology, religion, and native ideational spirituality (1999). However, “they suffer from a lack of integration, with data presented under such traditional headings of “classic monograph,” as economy, kinship, religion…” (Kan 1999).The critical problem with the early ethnographies was that information was collected yet very little work was done initially to provide an analysis. This situation improved in the past 40 years.
Contemporary ethnographers have the benefit of nearly a century of analysis and critical evaluation of their predecessors. Their writings then take on multi-vocality where they are integrating the collected knowledge of culture and phenomenon from the past, as well as applying their own methods, and fieldwork. Kan posits there is a parallel embracing of the history of ethnography of his subject area, a critical evaluation, as well as, the recognition of the methodological problems in the history of ethnography, and a commitment to represent the Tlingit as closely as possible (1989). Kan presents an image of a personal responsibility to the people with whom he worked. He also presents a similar practice of attention paid to the importance of grounding within a locale to benefit wider relations among the freeborn social class, in particular the regional elite (Dauenhauer and Dauenhauer 1994; Harkin 1997; Kan 1989; 1999; McDonald 1984; Miller 1999; Moss 1993; Seaburg and Amoss 2000; Smith 1999).
Kan’s work is another example of the native voice in ethnography, which manifests as information about culture from the native subjects, and a parallel dimension of the context and environment in which the research is taking place. This is the presentation of the Native voice in at least three dimensions, that of their experience and knowledge with the culture, their experience and knowledge of the history of their people, and their contemporary experience of living in the world, within a native cultural context that includes elements of colonization, acculturation, and disempowerment. These aspects of their contemporary culture occur at the same time, as part of their existence, and not separate from their Native culture. Kan portrays native people as “conscious historical actors who were active participants rather than passive objects in the conversion process” (1999). This way of presenting the Native voice, is different from that of classical ethnography, where the Native voice is heavily filtered through the lens of those scholar working in the Boasian tradition (Boas 1894; Boas 1901; Boas 1966; de Laguna 1960; Oberg 1973). McDonald (1984) and Moss (1993) have shown that this lens, contained many missing historic (factory workers, fur trade) and cultural phenomenon (intentional integration with Christianity, women’s cultural traditions, shellfish economy), that are essential to understanding the cultures of the Northwest Coast.
Kan helps us understand the process of identity change (1999). In Kan’s research, the conversion of Tlingit people to Orthodox Christianity did not involve a wholesale change in culture and identity. Native people were not helpless victims of progress, who totally lost control over their destiny and abandoned their indigenous culture once the European powers imposed the colonial regime. The process of acculturation and conversion involved a process of negotiation and compromise, the acceptance and rejection of aspects of the new ideology. Native people were conscious political actors and were active participants rather than passive objects of the conversion process, and as mediators and translators of the missionary message. Within the American political system, the Native peoples used it to adapt Christianity to their own needs and transform it in the process to something more meaningful to them (Kan 1999).
Miller’s insertion of oral histories are included seamlessly along with anthropological speculation and his experiences in fieldwork among his subjects (1997; 1999). Anthropology, history, linguistics, oral histories, critical theories, law, environment, Miller uses any information at his disposal to write his ethnography of the Lushootseed (1999). His product is multi-vocality based, with strains of information coming from many sources, with the oral accounts predominant. Rather than attempt to make the subject Salishans fit a European construction of society, religion, culture, etc., he finds the patterns from within the individual cultures and allows them to reveal himself or herself.
Nora Dauenhauer and Richard Dauenhauer (1994) present an example of how to effectively represent life stories of the Tlingit in ethnographic research. The oral histories include a role for the people in telling their stories or the stories of their relatives in a native way. Through this work, we can begin to see people not only as individual tradition-bearers, but also as hosts and guests in ceremonial settings, supporting one another’s activities. In this work, they create a larger sense of community through time and space, and presents struggles of the entire community against outside forces. They then analyze Tlingit kinships as being different from European kinships, and addresses the inner struggle that every generation faces, and is still being fought today, within each community, each family, each individual. In addition, they present the role of mythologizing stories of the past and give us an example of what to look for in future ethnographies.
Vanishing American Indians
In the nineteenth century, there was a decline in American Indian populations. In the Willamette Valley, approximately 97% of the native people had died from diseases and other effects of colonization (Boyd 1999; Shoemaker 1999). Scholars adopted a common mythology of the “vanishing red man” in their methodology.
The mythology of the vanishing red man was based on based on principles of social Darwinism which held that American Indians were meant for extinction as they were the inferior to the civilized Europeans, and because “Manifest Destiny” gave Americans the right to expand into the frontier (Beck 2001). Scholars assumed that American Indian societies were a lower level of civilization and as such, they could not complete or survive under colonization. Ethnologists, folklorists, and anthropologists, fearful that native people would go extinct and this would mean the end of their research (Cole 1985).
The threat of the end of folklore and ethnological research aided the rise of “salvage ethnography”. During this period museums and ethnological societies began collecting as much of the material culture and traditional cultural knowledge as was possible. The museums sought to fill in their vast worldwide collections of native material culture, and linguists and other ethnologists sought oral histories and language texts to preserve these cultural phenomena (Cole 1985; Gates 1979; McNickle 1962).
However, natives did not disappear and in fact became one of the fastest growing ethnicities in the United States. Yet, the theory of the vanishing red man persists and remains a common theme in museum and ethno-historical exhibits for many tribes. After the termination period D’Arcy McNickle was critical of the continuation of the theory of the “vanishing Indians” (1962).
Coincidentally, the theory proved correct for the terminated tribes as native people in western Oregon lost their federal recognition and legally ceased to exist.
The efforts to terminate native people were extensive and destructive to native culture society and identity and native peoples assimilated into American society and began living much like other Americans. There became large populations of urban Indians who had no federal rights under treaty within their traditional homelands. In the contemporary period with most of the tribes restored to federal recognition, the urban Indian populations remain large with more than 50% of all natives living in cities.
Despite the assimilation of the past 50 years, Indian identity persists, and Indians effectively interact in American society as Americans, while many still have roles in their traditional societies and at reservations (McNickle 1962).
Aided by the termination period, the theory of the vanishing red man has persisted into the 21st century. The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde continue to work to educate the public about the fallacy of their extinction. There remain extensive challenges at the Grand Ronde tribe re-educating the public in history, working to repatriate the material culture, and restoring significant cultural phenomena and traditional knowledge from worldwide archives and museums.
In the late nineteenth century, ethnologists began using a methodology devised by Franz Boas of which natives to interview for information about their culture and society. The Boasians, or students and contemporaries of Boas who followed his methodologies, sought out and interviewed mostly elders of the tribes. They sought those natives were not assimilated and who remembered their traditional culture. By pursuing this methodology, the ethnologists created a value judgment for which natives were culturally native and which were assimilated and therefore not culturally native.
The definition of culture at this time was more static, not allowing for natives that had assimilated in part or in whole to remain culturally native. Assimilated natives, those who had moved into cities or assumed an American lifestyle became non-native. In 1923 Boas wrote, “comparatively little is known about the Oregon coast tribes, and since the rapid disintegration of their culture there remains little hope of much information about them being secured” (Boas 1923).
The methodology added to additional cultural and legal effects in later years. From the nineteenth to the twentieth centuries, the federal government adopted the policy of native assimilation. In Oregon, following the removal of natives to reservations, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs built schools and allowed religious orders to take leading roles on the reservations. For over one hundred years, tribal reservation populations were subjected to spiritual conversions and American style education in an attempt to assimilate the natives. Assimilation was moderately successful and added to the disappearance of natives as they chose to leave the reservations and integrate into the cities. The Dawes Severalty Act of 1887 removed millions of acres of land from the reservations and allowed its sale to the public. The Dawes Act placed in legislation a definition of Indian-ness, which stipulated that only Indians of one half or more Indian blood were legally deserving of federal services and allotments. In Oregon, the Dawes Act forced hundreds of natives to seek alternatives to an Indian allotment, forcing many off the reservation and into the cities. The Dawes Act placed in legislation the assumptions of the Boasians that only non-assimilated Indians were inheritors of their culture.
In the 1940s, the federal government adopted a similar theory of Indian-ness, by assuming that all natives not living at the reservation or those living in an American lifestyle were culturally non-native. The assumption followed that if natives were not using or did not appear to need government assistance then they were not native and as such were not deserving of federal services, despite their claims to treaties. Discussions in Congress prompted the creation of assimilation lists to prioritize the termination of all tribes. The assimilated category included the Grand Ronde Reservation. Congress did not judge individuals as to whether they were assimilated, instead the tribe was judged as a whole.
Federal Indian policies for natives supported the assimilation for Oregon natives from the beginnings of the reservations. Theories of the assimilated natives held in common by scholars, politicians and the public supported the assumption that if native descendants did not live in an “Indian” way that they were not really natives. Early ethnological methodologies supported this notion, which privileged traditional natives over assimilated natives as research subjects. The government used this common understanding in the 20th century to redefine natives as non-natives and to support its nascent policy of termination. Congress blamed the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the unassimilated tribes who had failed to assimilate them despite over 100 years of settlement on reservations.
Re-Inscription of Colonialism
Re-inscription is a process of socialization of dominant lifeways to the next generations. People are not simply colonized physically, but mentally as well (Ngugi 1986). Re-inscription occurs when people from the colonies, usually mixed heritage indigenous peoples, become agents of re-inscription of the model.
Decolonization is a process, which engages imperialism and colonization at multiple levels. One attempt at this has been the post-colonial critique. However, post-colonialism is a theory, and the colonies continue for indigenous peoples in reality under heavy imperial and colonial controls. In effect, the colonizers are not finished, and remain in control, managing the resources of indigenous peoples and their lands for the benefit of the West. So post-colonialism is another re-inscription of colonialism, where academics seek to manage the appearance of colonization. The model for research in post-colonial studies is exploration, discovery, exploitation, and appropriation, the same model as for anthropology, and for imperialism (Smith 1999).
Ngugi’s notion of the “cultural bomb” holds particular relevance to the concept of re-inscription. Ngugi writes that the intent “…is to annihilate a people¹s belief in their names, in their languages, in their environment, in their heritage of struggle, in their unity, in their capacities and ultimately in themselves (Ngugi 1986:3). The culture bomb so deeply effects the native people such that colonial individuals, peoples from native places but who have been colonized and socialized in a colonial environment, feel more comfortable in that colonial environment than in their native cultural environment. This is a social lie to the masses imposed by the colonial elite. This is what Ngugi calls a colonized mind (1986:28).
The re-inscription of colonialism involves scholars when in their analyses they ignore the role of past and current imperialism of places and peoples. Colonized people ignore the knowledge of their ancestors in favor of knowledge originating from European civilization.
In one example of this disconnect, colonized people ignore their native languages causing a collapse and eventual extinction of the language. Native language holds within it key principles for living within the cultural lifeways of a particular native culture and society. The language resonates with the landscape of the native culture as the native people have lived within and adapted to their traditional homelands for thousands of years. Continual use of the dominant language disempowers the native language such that the colonial language is required for all future advancement. This process inscribes European/Western Civilization, as the center of the world’s knowledge as the “location of the great mirror of imagination” (Ngugi 1986:18). European civilization normally appropriates knowledge from the colonies and reflects it back to the colonies, reassigning ownership and creativity to European civilization. Re-inscription occurs when scholars offer analyses of such phenomenon without a critical appraisal of the origins of knowledge.
Worldwide Indigenous people create analyses of the re-inscription of colonization as they work to find ways to overcome colonialism. A powerful decolonization sovereignty movement is forming through worldwide networks to collaborate about ways to heal from and reverse colonization. Part of this movement is the attempt to reclaim homelands and cultures, a movement that begins with the restoration of indigenous oral traditions, and histories (Smith 1999). Native oral histories contain important information about a tribe’s sovereign relationship to its traditional homelands. Significant histories of events of a particular tribal community contain the potential to rectify erroneous histories and reverse colonial re-inscription.
Decolonizing anthropology theory was initially bases on studies of minority populations in the United States. Decolonizing Anthropology was the subject of a American Anthropology Association annual conference session, organized by Faye Harrison who edited a volume based on the session (Harrison 1997). For Harrison, decolonizing anthropology is a shift in power relations such that there is more of a balance in responsibility and decision making that affects the core of the discipline. To decolonize anthropology it is necessary to affect the discipline at every level: from research subject, researcher, assistants, writers, and publishers, as well as within the academy. Minority critiques of the past and present practices of anthropology have causes changes in the way that research subjects are treated and in the ownership over the final products. Critical to this research are the perspectives of indigenous scholars. Key scholars that contribute to decolonizing anthropology in this study are Linda T. Smith (1999), Vine Deloria, Jr. (1969; 1994; 1995a), Gerald Vizenor (1994), Ngugi Wa Thiong’o (1986), Tsianina Lomawaima (1994), Beatrice Medicine (2001) and D’Arcy McNickle (1962; 1973).
Scholars of native studies and anthropology have criticized some of the specific practices of anthropologists and of how scientific knowledge is gained in the discipline (Deloria 1995a). Fundamental critiques of social scientists related principally to the assignment of responsibility for the results of research on native peoples. As mentioned previously, from the system disallowed native people from involvement in the research, analysis, and resultant products of the research (Deloria 1969; Medicine and Jacobs 2001). Native people were also in no position to administer such research or benefit from the results, many being in extreme poverty. Historically, until the past 40 years, few native scholars were able to be involved in such research.
Decolonizing anthropology reverses the previous pedagogy of anthropology and directly involves native peoples in the research, analysis, and products of a research project. Native people are also empowered to implement their own projects and apply their products back to their tribal society. In addition, decolonizing anthropology aids in providing the groundwork for native cultural restoration.
Indigenous Cultural and Political Restoration
The conception of decolonizing anthropology draws together multiple indigenous critiques of the practice of social science inquiry of indigenous peoples. However, indigenous scholars mindful of these issues ask; where does all of this critical analysis go, and, what do we do with it? Maori scholar Linda T. Smith’s suggestion that indigenous people join the tradition of the “empire writes back” would be one direction to move for indigenous scholars (1999). Guatemalan scholar Victor Montejo calls for an expanding Tribal dialogue about history, language, culture, and identity as is happening within Guatemalan society. Montejo identifies that the process of decolonization is a necessary condition of tribal nations (2002). This tribal dialogue is central to what has occurred in Oregon since restoration from termination began in the 1970s.
Influencing the research and structure of this thesis is the critical nature of decolonizing anthropology. Native and other scholars offer progressive perspectives on how to analyze anthropology and anthropological theories and how to understand how they influence government actions. This is critical to understanding where Congress got the notion that assimilated Indians were no longer culturally Indian. Linda T. Smith gathers together strands of colonization within anthropology and their association with government decisions and offers an understanding of how the federal government used anthropological products to further a colonial expansionist agenda (1999). All of the native scholars offer critical explanations of how American society creates and utilizes stereotypical characterizations of native people (Deloria 1969; Deloria 1994; Deloria 1995; Harrison 1997; McNickle 1962; Montejo 2002; Smith 1999; Vizenor 1994).
The intersections of Native and non-native culture in the revitalization movement counters the classical anthropological notions, originating in Boas (1901; 1909) and Kroeber (1992) and their colleagues that create boundaries around cultures (Harkin 2004). Instead, the notion of a semi-permeable cultural study looking at culture in the context of multiple disciplines holds greater validity (Harkin 2004). Intersections through time and history and the origination of revitalization of culture is not simply a part of contemporary context but a historic phenomenon that is also rooted in the folk culture (Harkin 2004).
Few resources on Oregon Indians address Oregon tribal termination. Termination involved several dimensions of American Indian policy in the United States. Principle resources addressing environmental resources are sources by Donald Fixico (1986; 1989; 1998) and Kenneth R. Philp (1986; 1999). Additional resources address the politics of termination, Larry W. Burt (1982), Warren Metcalf (2002), and Edward Charles Valandra (2006), as well as Donald Fixico (1986).
Important sources addressing the political history of Indian affairs are S. Lyman Tyler (1964; 1973), Wilcomb Washburn (1975; 1995), and Kenneth R. Philp (1977; 1986; 1999). Vine Deloria Jr.; (1969; 1995a; 1985), and Charles Wilkinson (2005). Resources available about the termination of the Oregon tribes are very scarce. There has never been extensive research or publication about the termination of the western Oregon Indians.
There are documents addressing on the topic of western Oregon termination in university, state, and federal archives. The personal papers of Douglas McKay, Wayne Morse, and Richard Neuberger at the University of Oregon and the Oregon State Archives contain important information about termination. Living politicians who worked on the restoration of the tribes were less helpful as they maintain strict barriers to access to their personal records in private archives. The Portland Area Office of the Bureau of Indian Affair files for the first half of the twentieth century are located at the National Archives Records Administration in Seattle The staff at NARA Seattle were extremely helpful and the archivists were willing to do some of the work of finding important sets of documents they had archived. Tribes have some records in their cultural and historical archives and usually have the best access to recording of elders telling their histories. The most helpful were tribal elders who preserved important historical documents related to termination. Many of these tribal members were willing to share their histories and personal files for the writing of a history of the termination of the tribes.
In the next generation, it is important that all tribes seek to record the oral histories of the elders, and initiate their own unique research on tribal history and that of termination. As revealed in this research, native oral histories are amazingly accurate, at times more so than urban legends and common understandings of the history of termination created by politicians.
This project involves archival research as its primary information gathering process. The research accessed government records of the western Oregon tribes from the 1940s-1970s. Much of the ethnographic information culled about Grand Ronde was from government documents located in library and archival collections. The history sections include published sources from the 1850s to the 2000s. Additionally, interviews with Native cultural experts from Grand Ronde balanced archival research. The oral historical research focused on elders whose lifespan began before termination and extended to the present day.
The University of Oregon government documents section of the Knight Library is a repository of the Congressional Serial Set, where records of nearly every Congressional act, report, or discussion are stored. Oregon State Archives, University of Oregon Special Collections Division, National Archives Records Administration Washington, D.C., and National Archives Pacific Northwest Region, Seattle contained extensive documents from Oregon’s politicians. Worldcat, ORBIS, and Cascade Union (Summit) loan consortiums contained additional sources.
Previous professional work on the Southwest Oregon Research Project archival collection contributed to my knowledge of where to access relevant archival collections. The Southwest Oregon Research Project involved extensive research at the National Archives Records Administration in Washington, D.C. and the National Anthropological Archives in College Park, Maryland. During the three projects (1995, 1998, 2006) the three teams of researchers found in excess of 150,000 pages of documents relating to Oregon tribes. In 2000, I became the principle coordinator and organizer of the SWORP collection. Over the next two years, work was done to organize the collected documents into one comprehensive collection with the appropriate archival preservation techniques employed. In addition, I edited a finding aid with student help, to gain easy access to the collection for researchers, and tribal members.
In 1997 and 2001, the Coquille Indian Tribe and the University of Oregon launched projects to give copies of the collection to all of the tribes in the greater Oregon region, in an expression of regional kinship. Beginning in 2000, as the principal coordinator and through the successive years of working with and organizing the collection, I learned much practical knowledge of the nature of anthropological archives. This knowledge was invaluable in this research.
The earliest ethnological sketches of Oregon tribes appeared in the Lewis and Clark journals, 1805-1806 (Lewis, et al. 1969e). There was a tradition on the Northwest Coast of amateur or hobbyist ethnology. Several of the very earliest “ethnologists” had not received any training in ethnology and practiced their studies as they thought best. The most influential from this region were James Swan (1870; 1972), George Gibbs (1969; 1978), Alexander Anderson (Anderson 1855; 1856; 1857; 1858) and Reverend Myron Eells (1985; 1877). Their studies were mainly amateur as they held positions as researchers or explorers in the employment of the United States government or with the Catholic Church. Yet later scholar respected their products as they made good progress in gathering information on Native languages and cultures. Gibbs settled in the region, in Washington Territory and became an intermediary, for several decades, of amateur and professional ethnologists alike, and contributed many writings and research manuscripts to the body of information on the Northwest Coast. They are the earliest and are always of value to anthropologists specializing in the early period.
Later, in the 1870s, Albert Gatschet began a more scientific study of the languages and cultures of the Klamath (1890), Molalla (1877) and Kalapuya (1877a; 1877b; 1877c; 1899). Franz Boas and his studies of the Chinookan Indians followed Gatschet’s work in Oregon (1894; 1901; 1995-Present).
Contemporary anthropologists from the 20th century comment on the quality of the early ethnological literature. However, it is important to remember that the theories and methods of ethnology, ethnography, linguistics, and anthropology were not “crystallized,” or well developed at the time that amateur ethnologists were conducting their studies. In fact, American anthropology, as we know it, was not yet born, and fieldwork methods not yet established as a scientific necessity. This time, from about 1840s –1890s was the time of “arm-chair” ethnologists, many of whom never went out to do original fieldwork among the people they were writing about, and instead sought to theorize about “Indians” from afar (Morgan 1877). Therefore, despite the criticisms of contemporary and classical anthropologists and linguists, the work of many amateur ethnologists was progressive for the time, and today serves as a foundational library of essential irreplaceable manuscripts.
Regardless the western Oregon tribes were heavily studied by ethnographers and linguists from the 1850s to the 1940s (Jacobs and Seaburg 2003), but in the 1950s, such studies, in Oregon, became rare. The period of termination of the tribes in western Oregon remained unstudied. There are rare ethnographic sketches of the more than 60 western Oregon tribes in the 1950s through 1970s, roughly spanning the same period of the tribes’ termination and first restorations (Beckham 1971; 1977; Schwartz 1997). During and after the termination period, most studies are historical, very few are anthropological, with the exception of a continuous tradition of archaeological studies. Archaeological studies generally do not venture into the 20th century in their reports. The termination era (1954-1970s), remained a mystery in terms of cultural anthropological research for many of the western Oregon tribes. Only in the past few years have a few additional sources become available (Beckham 2006; Berg and Humanities 2007).
It is not until the 1990s that there begins a number of anthropological studies of the western Oregon tribes, and these are increasingly done by Native scholars who are working on their personal tribal histories (Aguilar 2005; Karson 2006; Olson 2005). In the last ten years (1998-2008), there are a greater number of cultural and historical writings about Oregon Indians published than the previous 40 years.
Within western Oregon, Stephen Dow Beckham (1977) addresses termination within western Oregon briefly. However, Beckham’s study is early, before most of the tribal restorations and as such is of limited aid to the research. Oregon Tribal scholars offer some information about termination for their experience with the era. George Aguilar Jr. (2005), describes historically how the Warm Springs tribe fought termination and Christine Olson (2005) wrote Kathryn Harrison’s biography documenting the experiences of a Grand Ronde tribal elder.
From the beginning of anthropology, the federal government supported and financed many anthropologists. Boas, in particular, was critical of anthropologists who worked on behalf of the government, yet the federal government employed Boas for much of his research. Therefore, in anthropology, since the late 19th century, government employees have made political decisions based on anthropological theories as represented in ethnological fieldwork. Because of this, there are many instances of the federal government employing the theories advanced by scholars. Perhaps the greatest direct effect on Native peoples is the direct actions of the governmental institutions that are operant in using scientific theories.
At issue today that decisions regarding native peoples are operating under older theoretical characterizations of native peoples. This long-term historical issue within anthropology has informed the education system, causing the mythologizing of native people to many generations of students. This theory-lag becomes a matter of importance when the decisions made by government officials affect the tribal nations. Political appointees need not have experience or a true understanding of the position they are taking, nor of current research and theory in anthropology. Nonetheless, they make decisions and produce information about Native peoples that has a great effect on their disposition. A key exception to this situation was John Collier who employed anthropologists on his staff in the 1930s-1940s.
The government produces a prodigious amount of literature about Native peoples. While much of the information production is politically motivated, some is quite useful. This is the case with the Congressional Serial Set. This set of documents is the publication for every discussion and decision made by Congress in the performance of their duties. Much of this collection is about political process of managing Native peoples and creating ongoing relations with the Tribal nations. Tribes can find much of their recent history within this set as it relates to the United States. Published within the Serial Set are many bureau and agency reports. These reports collectively bring together a history of the tribes in their government relations. It is very difficult at times to find all of the reports but once found tribes can assemble an amazing array of information about the tribes, from government funding to genealogical data not available elsewhere.
Culture is a prominent focus in this research. Termination effected the tribal culture in ways that we have yet to discover and will command tribal attention for perhaps the next century. This process is very complex owing to the diversity of tribes and cultures present at the tribe. The Grand Ronde Reservation contained about half of the regional tribal cultures of western Oregon at the time of termination.
The Grand Ronde Reservation is a unique amalgamation of tribal cultures. This tribal region contains approximately six million acres and extends from southern Washington State to northern California and from the Cascade Range to the Pacific Coast. In all, there were about 60 tribes and bands in this region, of which 27 came to the Grand Ronde Reservation from 1856 to 1875.
When the tribes moved to the reservation, they established separate encampments along the Yamhill River. In the censuses of the tribe for the 1850s at the Grand Ronde Reservation, many complete tribes consisted of less than 30 members, some as little as six individuals. Previously, tribal peoples died of diseases brought to the region by traders, settlers and miners, to such an extent that traveler’s accounts of empty and abandoned villages along the rivers were common in the early 19th century.
The depopulated tribe’s members married together and during the next century. Intermarriage at the reservation was pervasive and today many tribal members can claim as many as six tribal ancestries. In addition, people from tribes outside of Oregon married into the reservation population. Former fur traders released from the Hudson’s Bay Company married native women in the region. These fur traders originally came from the eastern region of the North American continent and called French-Canadians or French-Indians. Many of the French-Canadians were from mixed Iroquoian-European ancestry. One of the French-Canadians, Joseph Sangretta, married into the Umpqua tribe, the tribe adopted him, and he became a chief of the tribe, and participated in their treaty negotiations.
The concentration of people from over 60 cultures in one location forced the amalgamation of a diverse tribe society on the reservation. The tribal cultures of the region had very similar cultural practices. Neighboring tribes could speak completely different and unintelligible languages yet have similar cultural practices to the point that they were the same. Tribes like the Kalapuya and Clackamas had this cultural similarity, partly owing to the long-term associations that the tribes had and the fact that there was extensive trade and inter-tribal marriage between the various villages.
The Kalapuya tribes are associated with camas and other plant harvesting in the Willamette Valley. The Clackamas are associated with fishing of the Columbia and Willamette rivers, especially Willamette and Cascade falls. Each tribe had specific resources they used to trade with the neighboring tribes. In addition, by tribal law, highborn tribal families did not marry their children within their tribe. Tribes throughout the region married their daughters to important leaders in other tribes to grow political and economic relationships. This was a common theme for all tribes in Oregon. Among the Chinook, headmen like Chief Comcomly initiated similar political marriages among the fur trading organizations, by marrying his daughters to influential men in the Hudson’s Bay Company and Pacific Fur Traders in order to gain their favor and to facilitate communications.
More distant tribes in Oregon, like the Chinook and Chasta, had fewer similarities in their cultural practices. The Chasta are at the southern extremity of the Northwest Coast cultural region, while the Chinook are central to the region. Their styles of houses were different, the stories are different, and the languages are completely different. The one cultural aspect similar for these dispirit tribes is the Chinook Jargon language. The jargon extended from Alaska to Montana and into Northern California and provided a common link for all of the tribes at Grand Ronde.
Through the language connections, the tribes were also able to connect through trade relationships and trade items. A common wealth item of the Northwest Coast, the dentallium mollusk shell constituted another similarity that all tribes shared, to the point that the shells were money to the many tribes. Native strung dentallium the length of a man’s arm to create money strings used to express a headman’s wealth. Throughout the region, other species of shell money was also valued, along with obsidian wealth blades, and pine-nut strings, sometimes called women’s money. The trade for dentallium shell money extended from Vancouver Island and along coastal or inland riverine trade routes extending into the continent.
Through trade, tribes where loosely linked throughout the region. Tribes knew about other tribes over the mountains and could speak about distant places with some accuracy. Tribes as far away as the Great Lakes knew about placenames like “Oregon” and associated the name with the Northwest Coast. The Chippewa tribes of the region communicated this “Oregon” placename to Major Rogers as a place of great wealth (Byram and Lewis 2001).
On the reservation, as the tribes married and amalgamated together, so did their cultures and languages. At Grand Ronde, the Chinook Jargon, or “the Jargon” became a first language, or pidgin, for many households and for a time the sole language in common throughout the reservation among natives and whites. In time, English took over this central communication role, but the Jargon remained spoken in many of the community households in a unique pidgin dialect of the original jargon, now called “Chinuk Wawa” (Zenk 1984). The other tribal languages declined after the natives moved to the reservation, most disappearing completely just before or following termination of the tribe. The last of the Kalapuya speakers, John (Mose) Hudson, Jr. passed in 1954. Chinuk Wawa use continued in some households although its regular usage declined and at restoration, only tribal elders spoke the language.
In the 20th century, tribal leaders like John Hudson Jr. practiced the unique tribal cultures at Grand Ronde. However, government policies regarding assimilation and education of the tribal members caused many of the younger members to choose to leave the reservation, to stop identifying as Indians and to stop practicing the culture. There was a net decline in tribal members at the reservation from 1900 to the 1940s such that only about 300 members remained on the annual censuses.
Assimilation policies interrupted the normal tribal processes of passing on tribal culture to the next generations. Federal education of Indians at the reservation and off-reservation boarding schools enforced assimilation policies and forced many natives to stop speaking “Indian” and forced students to wear American style clothing, and adopt American lifeways (Lomawaima 1994). Many of these students never returned to the reservation and moved to the cities following their education.
Once terminated the culture of the Grand Ronde tribes became nearly impossible to be a continuing living culture. Yet at the family level, some traditions continued. Understanding that culture is a fluid concept, that culture is not the same for everyone, which it is variable and that it intrinsically changes all the time. Culture is in constant flux and new elements can come into the community discourse to create alterations that can be generational (Dombrowski 2001). The fluid notion of tribal culture helps us understand that even though Grand Ronde cultures changed over one hundred and thirty years, that the concept of them as tribal did not change. There remains a basic understanding of tribal-ness that follows all tribal members who knew any part of the culture, and helped them become tribal members seeking restoration once again. At the same time, there is a sense that something is missing from the overall cultural matrix. For many tribal members there remains a desire to make that culture complete again by recovering significant parts of the whole.
Discrimination of native peoples was a fact for the tribes in the 19th and 20th centuries. On the reservations, natives could not find wage labor equal to that of whites. Many tribal elders state that they had to fight their way through Oregon public schools because they were recognizably Indians (Day 2006).
Tribal peoples gained United States Citizenship in 1924, yet many state and federal restrictions on Indians continued to treat natives as second-class citizens. Up to 1952, if natives identified as Indian they could not marry white people or purchase alcohol according to Oregon Law. In addition, the Bureau of Indian Affairs continued to manage the land and funds of the tribal members until termination. Despite being citizens, native people had to satisfy additional requirements to gain control of their finances even after termination.
Band and Tribe
Jay Miller seeks to clarify and revise certain understandings of the Lushootseed made by anthropologists and questions the calling of all winter settlements “villages” (1999). This designation hides the complex pattern of interranked communities along waterway and region, communities ranging spatially from towns as regional centers through villages and hamlets to temporary seasonal camps and resorts used every year over centuries. Additionally, towns had the ability to receive a large influx of visitors. Consequently, the concept of an Indian village needs to expand to match the reality.
The concepts of “tribe” and “band” are important to understand. Tribes and bands are not synonymous with each other. A tribe is a sovereign unit that is synonymous with “nation” or “country” and usually consisted of several hundred people. Bands are also sovereign entities that usually contained less people than tribes, perhaps 10-50, yet were part of a larger tribe culturally, politically or socially. The cultural connections were apparent between bands and tribes, with bands speaking the same language dialects, participating in the same ceremonies, and practicing the same culture as the larger tribe.
Loren Bommelyn of the Tolowa people of northern California stated that the Athapaskan people of southern Oregon and northern California all originated from the same place on the California coast, at Yontocket or Burnt Ranch on the southern side of the Smith River. Loren stated that the Athapaskans divided the region amongst many different bands that were separate political entities. Yet during seasonal ceremonies all of the bands would come together to join spiritually at one location, usually Yontocket.
In Oregon, both bands had headmen or chiefs who made decisions about their people. At times, the headmen from the bands would join under a single unitary tribal leader to make important decisions, which occurred during the treaty negotiations of the 1850s. Signatories to the treaties were headmen from tribes and bands of tribes. For the 1851 treaties with the Kalapuya Indians, the leaders of smaller bands of Kalapuya Indians decided to join with the Santiam Kalapuya tribe under the treaty. The leaders for the Santiam, Alquema and Tiacan, produced powerful arguments for why they should remain on their traditional lands, and the other leaders decided that they would follow these powerful leaders (Beckham 2006).
However, in the treaties with the Rogue River Indians, many of the signatories were bands of the larger Rogue River tribes who had decided to act independently from the larger tribe (Palmer 1853). Other band headmen maintained grudges against the whites for acts of violence against their people, did not trust their statements about peace, and decided to continue resisting the encroachment into their lands.
With the establishment of the Grand Ronde Reservation, the different tribes and bands originally established separate encampments but the people eventually married together. At the reservation, tribes became associated with distinct families as there was few people of each tribe who settled on the reservation from the beginning. The families that were most prominent and consistently produced leaders for the reservation became distinct political units, sometimes associated with a specific tribe. Some of these families were the Hudson, Mercier, Leno, Petite, Tom, LaChance, LaBonte, and Sangretta families along with others. Many of the members associated with one or more of these families would marry others in leadership. Some families like Hudson and Mercier were associated with the Kalapuya and Rogue River tribes. Some of these families chose to move off the reservation and in time, some members were lost to the tribe.
As part of the original research design I conducted interviews with elders from Grand Ronde and other tribes, and even other people who had an involvement with termination or restoration in the time period. Most of the interviews were in the Eugene and Grand Ronde communities of Oregon. Some of the individuals that were politically active in the 1970s, and who greatly aided the tribes, refused to give interviews or grant access to their personal paper collections.
As part of any such research at a university, students must follow human subjects’ protocol. The University of Oregon’s Research protocols for Human Subjects go far toward protecting the subject from exploitive research methods by researchers. The process of satisfying the research protocols was very intensive, involving several weeks of research and writing. Having applied for and receive a human subjects approval for the master’s research, the process became easier in the second round.
The human subjects’ protocol proposed interviews with present Grand Ronde Tribal elders and other Tribal members who were part of the Grand Ronde Reservation at termination. To answer the questions posed, it was necessary to gather different perspectives. Initially, I researched the government’s actions through published documents and unpublished hearings. I interviewed members and former members of the Grand Ronde Reservation and other Oregon tribes to gain their perspectives on termination and tribal history.
For interviews, I traveled to locations throughout Western Oregon to meet with Tribal people. Present and former Grand Ronde Tribal members are scattered throughout western Oregon, and many are now members of newly recognized Tribes. Most of the Indian experts live within 100 miles of Eugene in Oregon. This research sought to gather the perspectives of these Indian peoples on how the termination of the tribe occurred, what effects they saw on the tribe due to termination, how and why they organized for restoration, and how things have gone at the tribe since restoration. The interviewees offered valuable perspectives on an era of our tribal history that is not well recorded, nor written about.
My research methods were primarily interviews with selected native experts in the community. As a member of the community, and a former Culture Committee vice-Chair, I identified several elders in the community who have significant historical knowledge of the reservation. I interviewed them and their personal contacts and asked for additional contacts of other people who may have information. I worked to interview people who lived at the reservation and those who had a wider perspective of people’s understandings of tribal history and in particular the events surrounding termination. The interviews were about an hour, and included audiotaping and note taking. There are no formal research protocols or approvals at the Grand Ronde Reservation. When it is finished, I will present the products of my research to Tribal Council, the Culture Committee and the subjects of my research.
For the research, I developed a central research question. From this question was derived related questions and from those questions was implemented a subject-centered approach, allowing the research subject to lead the discussion and volunteer the topics they thought important. This is necessary, as often the researcher will bias their research question and their personal biases for specific information. The ability of the subject to control the content of the discussion was critical to revealing previously unknown and unexplored themes.
My central research question was; What is the nature of the United States’ actions towards the Grand Ronde Reservation of Oregon? Of the reservation’s history, I focused specifically on the termination era as the vortex of many levels of action by the United States government. For this era, I sought answers to these questions; What was the intention of the United States towards the Grand Ronde Reservation; and; In what ways did the United States recognize and/or ignore the rights of the members of the Grand Ronde Reservation; and; What was your experience with the termination process of the Grand Ronde (or Siletz) tribe?
Initially I wanted to include an analysis of the ways by which anthropological theory and practice had aided the United States in its policy and actions towards the Grand Ronde Reservation. However, I found little information forthcoming along this path of questions and as the project developed, it became apparent that the overall topic was too broad for a single dissertation. Therefore, I made a decision to reduce this breadth of inquiry and attempt to weave in some of these questions in the appropriate sections. I hope to pick this subject up again in the future.
Once I formulated my research focus, I approached the Grand Ronde Culture Committee and members of the Tribal Council for their approval of the research project. I was able to gain approval for the project through these avenues. They agreed that this was an area of research that most members know nothing about and would benefit members.
Before this, many elders in the Grand Ronde and Eugene areas noted that they lacked an understanding of their history and family relations. Roughly estimated, 75% of members, out of about 5000 members, lack an understanding of their ancestral and cultural relations beyond 3 generations, and the same percentage have little or no general knowledge of the history of the tribes before 1983, when Congress restored the reservation. There is currently no complete written history of the tribe from a native perspective available to the membership beyond short summaries available through tribal pamphlets and the tribal newspaper, Smoke Signals. There is one biography of a Tribal member published, Standing Tall: The Lifeways of Kathryn Harrison (Olson 2005), which provides a single perspective of Grand Ronde tribal history in the 20th century.
It was necessary to provide a historical perspective of Grand Ronde Reservation’s early histories (1840-1954), the termination era (1954-1983) and the restoration period (1983-present). This would allow the research to offer a holistic historical image of termination.
Many tribes are concerned with de-colonization, or the reversal of the effects of the colonization of the land, tribe, and culture. It was necessary to gather a diversity of perspectives and analyze them in order to understand what the Grand Ronde members have to address in order to recover from the effects of termination as well as how to reconnect with their history and community.
For this research, it was beneficial to be at the University of Oregon as I was centrally located in Oregon for all aspects of the research. Additionally the University of Oregon has the largest research archive in the state. The central primary repositories were readily available and interview subjects were readily available in the local communities. I was able to travel to Grand Ronde and Salem to conduct interviews.
Perhaps the most important of these interviews from my personal perspective, was that of my grandmother, Norma Ruth Lewis, who passed in 2008. One of the last times I spoke with Norma, we discussed my future and as we knew that her health was declining, I stressed that I wanted her to be there at my PhD graduation, and she said she would be. I believe she will be through her perceptions of termination.
The archival research was also very revealing. I found government documentation contain many information about the tribes in that few people know about. When I came to this realization, I began copying everything that I researched and now have acquired many documents essential to the history and politics of the tribe. In the midst of the writing of this dissertation, I took a position at the Grand Ronde tribe, as the Cultural Research Department Manager. I found over the next two years that most of the documents I had collected in the government archives were not available at the tribe. I found that the continuous political and legal pressures on the tribe did not allow for a full spectrum legal research library to be developed, and most resources are only concerning the restoration time and after (1977-present). At some time following the end of this writing, I will be gathering together all of those government documents and copying them for the tribe. There remain some resident historic legal and political issues, before 1954, to address later, and this library will be necessary.
Beyond the Grand Ronde reservation, this research serves a call within the Oregon Native community for directed research into the problem issues of the loss of culture, language, community, and history. In the past ten years we have seen a resurgence of the desire for a restoration of historic knowledge in the form of the creation of tribal archives (SWORP) and the publication of a few Native biographies and histories (Aguilar 2005; Karson 2006; Lewis 2001; Olson 2005).
This research engages with some of the barriers to tribal understanding of history, and at one level will seek to understand the manner and extent to which termination succeeded by contributing to the lack of historical and cultural knowledge, and find methods of overcoming these barriers.
The opportunity to address and discuss issues with tribal elders has changed my life. I have found that many people have felt exactly as I about the termination of the tribe, while others have revealed deeply held beliefs that have at times contradicted and changed my study in important ways. It is a great benefit to find kindred spirits among distant family members and within other tribes. The diversity of experiences at the Grand Ronde Tribe is breathtaking to see as more descendants return to the tribe.
The variety of understandings of termination from different tribal members was startling. Some tribal members did not know much about termination, while others were intimately involved at termination and during restoration. The lack of involvement is revealing of the success of assimilation policies of the federal government. Most tribal members had some experience with termination and felt that they had been somewhat effected by the policy. A few members could express deeply felt spiritual psychological understandings of the policy, which proved to be the most revealing of its effects on the tribe.
The project was a successful through revealing new understandings of the termination of the western Oregon Indians. Additionally the research design, following a standard cultural anthropological model worked well for answering the questions.
As a native researcher, I have a different perspective of anthropological research from that of non-native researchers. For one, since I am culturally and genealogically related to the subject community, I am deeply engrained to work on behalf of the community. Therefore, like other native scholars, I am more personally involved in the research. For some scholars, my relationship to my research subject may mean that I am biased. This may be the case, but I am also aware that I have many people in my community that are aware of what I am doing. This sense of community awareness tempers any attempt on my part to bias the research, as any information I reveal must be historically accurate. As well, I feel a responsibility toward the larger Oregon native community to answer their questions about the termination era. Many people remain deeply effected by termination.
The scholars represented here are not the first to make their arguments, nor the last. In fact, indigenous people from many societies throughout the world have known of these issues for some time. The common people of indigenous societies are thus truly the most important scholars not represented in this chapter. Indigenous people made the call for their people to be educated, politically pushed the colonial authorities to allow access to resources, and provided their insights to the researchers who study them. They were the first to ask, “what are you giving us in return for our help?” They are also the first to realize that to survive they must have their own people looking out for them and making decisions about their welfare.
The indigenous scholars represented here are the second or third generation of scholars who were guided by their people to seek answers to difficult questions. For over 100 years, American anthropologists sought to reveal indigenous culture and society, but many times their own biases got in the way of reality. Eventually those researchers found ways to expand the dialogue and include people who could understand the reality of indigenous peoples. Still previous research on indigenous peoples provides a foundation for research and is aiding all efforts to understand the indigenous context, and is now being widely utilized by indigenous scholars to inform on their research.
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 The BIA was titled the Office of Indian Affairs previous to the 1940s, as well as commonly the Indian Office and the Indian Bureau.
 From personal experiences and from conversations with other tribal people at college.
 Similar to Byram and Lewis (2001).
 The greater Oregon region is defined as those tribes that maintain historical claims, either cultural or political, within the current boundaries of the State of Oregon. This tribal region was first defined by the Oregon State University System in its Oregon native residency program ORS 351.070. “Students who are enrolled members of federally recognized tribes of Oregon or who are enrolled members of a Native American tribe which had traditional and customary tribal boundaries that included parts of the state of Oregon or which had ceded or reserved lands within the state of Oregon shall be assessed resident tuition regardless of their state of residence.”
 The first potlatch in 1997 included only western Oregon tribes and two tribes in northern California. At this potlatch were distributed copies of the first SWORP collection in 1995. In 2001, the list of tribes to gift to was expanded to 44 possible, from the greater Oregon region. However, only 17 tribes attended the potlatch and therefore 17 copies were made tailored to the region of each tribe. California tribes received main California tribal information, etc. All of the federally recognized tribes in Oregon received full collections of series 1 and 2. The second collections were completely distributed in May 2002. All invited tribes received a copy of Lewis, David G.
2001 Southwest Oregon Research Project: Inventory to the Archival Collection. Eugene: University of Oregon Library System.
 My own understanding.
 Research documents found at the National Anthropological Archives and photocopied as part of the SWORP Collection.
 The surname has many spellings, Shangretta, Shangretti, as well as others.
 The equivalent of royalty, definitely not slaves or former slaves.
 My own assertion based on archaeological evidence of long-term living patterns of Northwest Coast Indians.
 My own assertion based on the relative longevity of native villages which compared to European villages and cities show similar depth of history. The longevity of native settlement on specific village sites lends to the opinion that they were stable and permanent.
 Loren Bommelyn, personal communication, 1997.
 See chapter 3 for more detail on the treaty negotiations.
 See chapter 3 for more information about the Rogue River Indian wars.
 Protocol #X680-05 Office of Protection of Human Subjects, University of Oregon
 Examples are, ceded land claims, temporary reservation claims, federal trust responsibilities, tribal treaty payments, hunting and fishing rights, effects of impoverishment by the BIA on the tribe, allotments, etc. There are many areas of “accounting” that the tribe needs to perform itself, which have been performed by the BIA in the past, which have come under scrutiny for other tribes in recent years. Historically, the BIA has not proven a good steward of tribal funds, resources or properties, and an accounting needs to occur. There remain many historical assumptions that the tribe accepts as truisms that may be refuted with some good research on our part.
Ethnohistory Research, LLC | David G. Lewis, PhD
PhD Anthropology (UO 2009) and Native history researcher. Member of the Grand Ronde Tribe, Takelma, Chinook, Molalla, and Santiam Kalapuya ancestry. Owner of Ethnohistory Research LCC, professional consultant and project researcher.
I teach at local universities and colleges and take contracts with tribes, local governments and nonprofits. I have experience in archival organization, museum development, exhibit curation, traditional cultural property nomination, tribal ethnohistoric research, tribal maps, traditional ecological knowledge, and presentations to large and small gatherings. Contact me for consultation about any of these projects.