Mill Creek at the Capitol City

A Habitat for Humans and Geese.


Salem is the capitol of Oregon. This was not always the case as historically Corvallis, Oregon City and even RickReall were at one time  proposed to become the capitol. Salem is not a place which is distinguished by any one thing. there is very little special about the city. If Jason Lee had not placed his second homestead farm and Indian Industrial school at this location, there might not have been a Salem. The only thing which distinguishes the location is its centrality. It is almost dead center of the Willamette Valley, perhaps a bit closer to the north end. Today we travel the region with automobiles and Salem is about a hour from any location in the valley. But in the 19th century, this might have been a day’s journey by horse and wagon. The major towns are situated thus, about a day’s journey from each other by improved road. The other thing that Salem is known for is the regional agriculture. The area is well known for berries and apples, cherries, and in the previous decades black walnuts, hops, and beans. Corn and wheat are common throughout the region. Strawberries are to die for here, there is none better on the west coast. Royal Ann or Queen Ann cherries, forget it, this is Cherry City after all! Then in the 19th century there was a large woolen mill here, the Mission Mill, so the region must have had large herds of sheep.

What made all of this possible was the abundance and availability of good land, and water. Mill Creek runs right through the center of Salem, the most witnessed area of the creek is at the Mission Mill, where we can see how at one time it was used to run the mill. Then along the hospital concourse its easy to see the mill creek, in Bush Park a branch of it can be waded in, and we have done this on hot days with the kids there while picking blackberries. Then the creek unceremoniously empties into the Willamette. The area is a bit junky and in need of improvements and I hear the city is going to improve the area. But before the creek gets to the mill, there is a series of neighborhoods the creek goes through that parallel State Street. and a good portion of the creek can be seen by the prisons on State street. This neighborhood area it turns out is amazingly picturesque, more so than any other neighborhood in Salem.

A week ago I found a section of the creek and followed in on foot for several blocks and found an amazing landscape.

First, I found what appeared to be a plank road. I was initially excited as I have heard of plank roads, constructed before pavement and concrete was used for roads, and had not heard any were still around. The boards appear old, and they very well may be,  but as I followed the road, I found that it is actually a cover for Mill Creek.

Plank Cover
Plank Cover

The Planks continue for a few blocks, with signs warning people to stay off, that its not a sidewalk. Then the creek opens up a bit.

Open Channelized Creek
Open Channelized Creek

I found this was a good habitat for ducks, probably somewhat protected in the channelized creek.

Mallard Duck and Drake.


The concrete channel continues for some time, with no sidewalks for people to enjoy the creek. This seemed odd, as a similar creek in Eugene is open with sidewalks paralleling it on  both sides. The area seems ideal for strollers to walk the half mile or so in the evening.


More Channelized Creek with businesses on one side and houses on the other.


For a few blocks there were some interesting walkways over the creek. People had gone to great lengths to made their entry fancy and attractive.


There was even a full garage over the creek, cannot imagine the permit for that.


There was one park with some old interpretive signs. Not a very large park with limited views.

Scene at the park



Interpretive signage in need of replacement


Then on one bridge over the creek the place opened up to a beautiful sight.


This was an amazing discovery, perhaps everyone already knows about it, but I think the city is missing an opportunity to create an amazing path for the people of Salem, something picturesque unlike anything else in the city. The lack of paths alongside the creek is a negative but there is a strip of land that would allow this to happen.





Darkening and Enlightening Santiam Kalapuya Prophecy

[This is a portion of a developing essay.]

My original presentation on the subject was at the Arlington Club in Portland on January 29, 2015. I was invited to do a poetry reading by the State’s Poet Laureate Peter Sears. The event is a annual poetry reading in Honor of William Stafford.

The videotape of my presentation is on Youtube, David Lewis Expanding Voices Presentation, 1/29/15

Over the last half century, one of Mose Hudson’s accounts “A Kalapuya Prophecy” was reanalyzed by Jerold Ramsey using ethnopoetics (developed by Dell Hymes) to draw out context and emotion in the original story. The subsequent poem has been published in numerous books and magazines over the years. This is the version which attracted attention to Kalapuya oral histories. Yet Ramsey, using his artistic license added elements to the story that were not part of the original. Analysis of the Ramsey story alongside the original Jacobs translation and at least two other translations initiated with local linguists show us that the original Jacobs may in fact be more relevant to the original meaning.

Melville Jacobs Version (1945)

A shaman dreamed the earth became black like ploughed land

By John Mose Basile Hudson Jr.

(Melville Jacobs translation, Kalapuya Texts Volume 1, page 69

Long ago the people used to say that one great shaman in his dream had seen all the land black in his dream.
That is what he told the people. “this earth was all black (in my dream).”
He saw it in a dream at night. Just what was likely to be he did not know.
And then (later on) the rest of the people saw the whites plough up the ground
Now then they say, “that must have been what it was that the shaman saw long ago in his sleep.”

Reanalysis of such stories is a process of change. Ramsey may not have changed the original meaning, but he did change the details of the story, which alters the way that we envision the context of the story. Here below I offer a contemporary translation based on what I have learned at the tribe about such stories.

Working with some local linguists, Henry Zenk and Jedd Schrock, along with historian Paul McCartney, I worked on understanding how Kalapuyan is translated. I am not a linguist, but over the years I have used tribal languages to enhance my writings and being an anthropologist I have delved a bit into the science of linguistics. McCartney is in the midst of creating a Kalapuya dictionary. While Zenk and Schrock are experts on the Tualatin dialect of Kalapuyan and are presently translating Louis Kenoyer’s biography from Tualatin. I being the middle man, I engaged these scholars by asking Zenk and McCartney to separately translate the original story in the raw form. After their translation, I engaged in my own interpretation. The process became an anthropological problem, and we engaged in discussions about issues of perception within the translation of such texts. Jacobs admittedly went through a process of translation with Mose Hudson and had to make the story coherent for Kalapuya Texts. Similarly I am doing the same thing, but in a contemporary context and comparing what is written with tribal ways of knowing and doing.

David G. Lewis Version (2014)

with help from Dr. Henry Zenk, Jedd Schrock, and P. McCartney

The people long ago all said a Great Shaman had a vision.
He saw this land was black in his dream.
He told the people “I saw all the earth was black in the dream.”
Maybe he did not know what (the dream meant).
The Americans came and they ploughed the earth.
Then the people all said this is what the Shaman saw long ago in his vision.

Perhaps the most interesting discussions between the various scholars, were about the meaning of words like black. The word black may indicate a negative or nightmarish context to the original dream of the Shaman. Then the word for dream itself, in the context of this story may equate to something like a prophetic vision. Today use of the word dream does not automatically imply a supernatural phenomenon, but vision does. Finally the initial few words for “Long ago people” could easily equate with ancients or ancestors.

The word for “Plough” is linked with the vision of blackness of the land. One of the translations of the related words to blackness is “torn”. Ploughing the land is envisioned here as a process of destruction, a tearing of the land, turning it black, suggesting the nutrient rich soils of the Willamette Valley.

Then we have Jerold Ramsey’s version,

A Kalapuya Prophecy (c 1970)

In the old time, by the forks of the Santiam, a Kalapuya man lay down in an alder grove and dreamed his farthest dream
When he woke in the night he told the people, “This earth beneath us was all black, all black in my dream!”
No man could say what it meant, that dream of our greening earth. We forgot.
But then the white men came, those iron farmers, and we saw them plow up the ground, the camas meadow, the little prairies by the Santiam, and we knew we would enter their dream
Of the Earth plowed black forever.

The Ramsey version is the first I ever read. It was highly impactful and I have used it in nearly every class I have taught about the tribes of western Oregon. I talked about it providing a native perspective for all those classes. But does it? Is it a faithful portrayal of the original story or a sign of the times. It is definitely a new product, meant to interface with a new audience in ways unimagined by the original storytellers.

Image of the Original Kalapuyan text from Melville Jacobs, Kalapuya Texts.

Narrative by John B. Hudson to Melville Jacobs, in Santiam Kalapuya language, c1935.
Narrative by John B. Hudson to Melville Jacobs, in Santiam Kalapuya language, c1935.



Dedicated to Peter Sears who passed this July 20, 2017.


[In the coming months I will be developing the full narrative for publication.]

The Only Project: Setting A Framework of Community Education and Public Information about Native Peoples of Oregon.

There is really only one project. Sometimes it seems like there are many projects, but really there is only one. Over the past 10-15 years I have worked to bring greater understanding of the tribes of Oregon to the public, to students, elders, communities, schools, university classes, to cities and counties and organizations. This all seems so insurmountable, a huge undertaking, but it really is only one project.

BuiltElements_PublicArt_Winstone Park Waharoa2
Public Art in Auckland Park

Some years ago was traveling in the Pacific. I had entered into graduate studies and begun my term abroad. I got caught up in an indigenous journey to New Zealand and Australia. This journey was led by teacher and adviser, Robert Proudfoot, a professor in the International Studies program at the University of Oregon. During this trip, in winter of 1998, we visited Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia. We met indigenous educators and leaders. We met with New Zealand’s educational leaders, and attended their cultural festival in Wellington. While there I saw something odd about their public spaces, they had native art everywhere. Their streets were named with native words, their cities had native names, there were many people from many indigenous nations in the city streets, and many wore their own traditional clothing (including sandals with suits). There was Native graffiti on walls and construction projects. Everything seemed so much more right, with the Maori having a voice and presence in their society and in public places.

Rotorua Marae
Rotorua Polytech Marae

Then when visiting their polytechs, their community colleges, the Maori were turning them into Maori educational centers. They were teaching their language, arts and sovereignty. Every school had a Marae, a Maori longhouse, attached. The language classes were in a language nesting model, a method developed in New Zealand, which has set the world standard for relearning indigenous languages. The classrooms were filled with little post-it notes, they had created names for everything in their environment.

Old Marae in Auckland Museum

It helped that the Maori had won a huge court battle for half the resources of this commonwealth country in the 1980s. Their treaty, yes only one for all of the tribes, had guaranteed this, and they finally won the rights to the resources. So their society is now developing to include the Maori culture as part of the foundation of New Zealand. It also helped that they were one sixth of the population of the country. This is as it should be.

The Pioneer, Eugene

Returning to the United States, To Eugene, was then something of a disappointment. There is almost no native presence in our society. There are a few names, and a few pieces of art, but the world of Oregon has been washed of native presence, and replaced with that of the pioneers. For many tribes, their very existence in history has been cleansed, invisible, disappeared.


Whilamut park stones
Whilamut Natural Area stone, Whilamut- Where the river ripples and runs fast

Having a renewed purpose, I entered the Anthropology program for graduate studies at UO. I then spent the next decade completing my graduate degrees. But the purpose now is to renew the native presence, to make visible what was invisible, to correct the histories and public perceptions of who we are as native people of this land.  During this time I learned to give presentations, how to coordinate with other people, how to undertake projects and get results, and how to tread carefully and lightly to accomplish a goal.

de ha
De-Ha-Yaba, Near a Camas Field

As a cultural director at the tribe for five years, I sponsored many efforts to increase our depth of historical knowledge. I worked with every organization who asked to give presentations about our history. I gave freely of our history so that people would come to trust us and depend on us for information about the tribes. I began working on committees and representing the tribe in testimonies before the state. These efforts did not come without criticism. People would ask why we did this, and would say we are giving too much away, but I stayed the course in order to inspire a greater sense of community between the tribe and the larger surrounding communities. This was, after all how the tribe got restored in 1983, with broad support from the surrounding community and other tribes.

I saw the understanding and trust grow. In five short years, we went from being an upstart outsider tribe in Portland to a trusted partner to the inner community. Organizations and communities now trust us, we are the go-to organization to turn to for information about the tribe. I also saw these actions I took, over complaints by many, become the policy at the tribe. I then saw people forget where this all began, where everything was eight years ago, and how far we had come, and how much better it was. People could not see the trees for the leaves.

Kalapuya Elementary, West Salem
Kalapuya Elementary, West Salem

Only recently was I reminded of how well the foundation of our culture was set during the past eight years. A scholar visited with me, and showed me a presentation he had created. The presentation stated “Who are the people of the Willamette valley?” “Kalapuya” Confederated Tribes….”. . I asked, “Where did you learn these things because it is not common knowledge. In my experience in teaching for the last 10 years, maybe one percent of people know these facts.” He said, he took his kids to see the Tribal Walk of Flags at the state capital, then saw interpretive signs in parks, and also read about the new Kalapuya Elementary in Salem.

Opening celebration for installation of the Tribal Walk of Flags, Oregon State Capitol, Salem
Opening celebration for installation of the Tribal Walk of Flags, Oregon State Capitol, Salem

This to me was amazing, I had worked on all of these projects. I even proposed the original inspiration for the Tribal Walk of Flags – that the tribes needed a monument at the state capital to represent their sovereign relationship with the state. (The project was so successful, it was copied by the UO, my 3X alma mater.) This was exactly the project, the only project. To educate the public about the tribes and to bring their presence back into regular common knowledge. it was almost like coyote in the old stories, the coyote who taught with trickery, indirectly, artistically, and effectively.

I am now sure that everything I accomplished was exactly on point. I had accomplished what I had set out to do. I created a framework of public education that would inform people of our history, and then inspire them to research more deeply, which is what this scholar was doing by questioning me.

I feel I accomplished one of the primary goals the tribe had set so many years ago following restoration, to ingratiate ourselves so much within the Oregon community that termination would never again be a reality. I accomplished my part of the Project, the only Project.

Archival Research in Digital Collections: Where to find those resources online!

Hathi Trust Digital Library search interface
Hathi Trust Digital Library search interface

Over the years I have done a bit of research on the tribes in Oregon. My career in research has crossed from non-digital to nearly full digital for many projects. There is now perhaps 50% of the original manuscripts I use on a daily basis online and available for viewing or digital download. Many more are being enabled as I write. Digital is the future but still cannot replace good archival research skills. Here I am posting annotated online research links. Please notify me if any go out of date. thank you


Online Digital Libraries

Berkeley, California Sunsite –, Vast collections online, but confusing groups of cooperative sites, sometimes difficult to navigate.

Google Books-, excellent site, many books older than 1920 fully downloadable, includes magazines, and congressional publications, best research site on the internet

Google Scholar-, good for finding journal article references.

Hathi Trust Digital Library-, viewable only, but they have much not available on Google books in full view.

Internet Archive-, Second to Google books, they have materials not on other sites, including audio, video and other media.

Kappler’s Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties –, the site for accessing treaties, good for navigation.

Annual Reports of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs; University if Wisconsin Digital Collections, , all the hard to find reports are here.

Montana Memory Project-, newly found site, they have digital viewable federal microfilms, see my other article on the M234 series.

National Anthropological Archives-, Again great searchable site, access to some digital downloadable content.

National Archives Experience – Digital Vaults –, searchable, good site

Northern Arizona University Digital Collections –, unexplored by myself, but they have a number of special collections that are fully searchable.

Northwest Digital Archives –, searching finding aids for collections in the region.

Northwestern University Library Digitized Collections-, good digital collections, Edward Curtis books are fully viewable, somewhat difficult navigation

Orbis Cascade Alliance, Summit-, search the regional libraries

Oregon Digital Collections-, The collaboration between UO and OSU to digitize their collections.

Oregon Digital Newspaper Program-, Great site with access to Oregon newspapers from 1840s to 1920s. Some newspapers do not have all of their runs digitized yet, and adding newspapers all the time.

Oregon Historical Society-, some searchability, this is useful for you to pre-research, print the results and take those to the archives to view the files.

Oregon State Library-, the state of Oregon library with good search interface.

Oregon State University Library-, the main site

OSU Special Collections-, good for images and photos

Oregon Digital Library-, images

Proquest- Dissertation Express-, simple search interface, but you have to know already what you are looking for

Southern Oregon Digital Archives-, Great site many documents not available elsewhere.

University of British Columbia, Open Library,

University of Oregon Library-, main library site

University of Washington Library, Digital Collections-, good digital collections, some related to Oregon.

University of Wisconsin- Madison’s Digital Collections-, all of the Indian Affairs reports, Search Indian Affairs

UO Scholar’s Bank-, some materials related to Oregon tribes.

UO Special Collections and University Archives-, limited downloadable content, good for finding aids

Willamette University, a growing collection of history documents, good interface and searchability

Worldcat –, best library search site on the planet

Yale University, Beinecke Digital Collections-, Lewis and Clark map images


National Archives Records Administration (NARA)-, Perhaps the largest repository in the world.

Smithsonian Institution-, Lots of museums and sites.

National Museum of the American Indian-, some good resources, very little digital.

National Anthropological Archives-, a great searchable finding aid, adding digitized documents, and requesting volunteers to help with transcription.

Library of Congress –, scattered selection of information that is searchable, little but photos for the northwest.

The Library of Congress- American Memory-, Searchable for documents and photos.

Lewis and Clark Trail –, Some good historic information, images from the journals and journal pages.

Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail-, some good information, resources and images of documents.

Oregon State

Oregon State Archives –, very good digital collections.

Oregon State Library-, the main library site

Oregon Museums Association –, jobs and events

Washington State Historical Society –, some good historical information access to digital collections.

Oregon History Project-, developing a good digitized database.

Oregon Encyclopedia-, peer reviewed essays, anyone can write for the encyclopedia

County and Cities

Benton County Museum –

Burke Museum –, good images of artifacts

Clackamas County Historical Society-

Libraries in Clackamas County-

Douglas County Historical Society-, the archival collections are vastly unexplored.

Portland Art Museum –, good digitized and searchable images.

Oregon Coast History Center –, some reservation images.

Tillamook County Pioneer Museum –, good unique collections in their archives.

Willamette Heritage Center-, nothing online yet besides history journals, vastly unexplored archival collections.

Washington County Museum-, museum exhibits, unexplored archival collections

Yamhill County Historical society and Museum-

Salem Public Library-, main library site, very little archives, reportedly getting a genealogy collection

Oregon Historic Photograph Collection (Salem Library)-, great images of agricultural work and logging in Willamette Valley

Chemeketa Cooperative Regional Library Service-, main search site


Grand Ronde –

CTGR Virtual Gallery –

Spirit Mountain Casino –

Museum at Warm Springs –

Umatilla museum –

Indian Reading Series: stories and legends –

Indigenous Geography (NMAI) –

ATNI (Affiliated Tribes of the Northwest Indians) –

Grand Ronde-


Coos, Lower Umpqua, Siuslaw-

Coquille- &

Cow Creek-


Warm Springs-


Burns Paiute-

Nez Perce-


Smith River Rancheria (Tolowa) –

Tribal Languages

Project Gutenberg Dictionary of Chinook Jargon, George Gibbs-

Chaku-Kəmdəks Chinuk Wawa

Chinook Jargon – The Hidden Language of the Pacific Northwest-

Chinook Jargon Phrasebook-

Lakota letters and sounds –

Book and Music Search (purchase)



Book Finder-





Global Electronic Music Marketplace (GEMM)-

Video /Audio


Yahoo Video-

Google Videos-





Oregon State Archives Genealogy records-

Oregon Genealogical Society-

Access Genealogy-


CA Indian Basketweavers Assoc –

NW Native American Basketweavers Assoc –

Directory of Basket Weaving Guilds –

The Basketmakers Association –

Margaret Mathewson –

International Links

Early Canadiana Online-

British Columbia Archives-

The British Museum-

National Museums Scotland-

Royal BC Museum-

UBC Museum of Anthropology (MOA)-

UBC Open Library


Hansen’s NW Native Plant Database –


When Doctoring Turned to White Man’s Medicine (online article)

OMAQ Winter 2015
OMAQ Winter 2015

The Oregon Medical Association’s Quarterly Magazine, Medicine in Oregon, features an article written by me. The article was completed in November 2014, with images added in December.

OMA Winter 2015

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