Frachtenberg was completely Misinformed

This is a common issue with the early Anthropologists, linguists and folklorists. The researcher approaches their subject without much understanding of the people or culture. they were told, or inculcated in the notion that the tribes were savages and disappearing from the earth.  Leo J. Frachtenberg, having been hired by Boas to come to Oregon, I thought would have a bit more of an open mind, but as you can tell the notion of the nature of the tribes is pervasive. He is the origin of much information in many language studies and ethnographic studies for the tribes in Oregon. It is interesting to read his perspectives on the Calapooias and then understand better what his motivations were when he did his research.

Frachtenberg here is after the last speaker of Tualatin. Louis Conoyer was living at Yakama Reservation.frachtenberg


Reports of Our Demise are Greatly Exaggerated “OR” We are Miracles of Nature!

Recent investigations or explorations into the Historic Oregon newspaper Databases have revealed additional articles. This will happen as the project continues to add many more thousands of pages in the coming years. Sometime in 2014 pages of the Chemawa American will be available. But these articles consistently tell me we are either already extinct or rapidly disappearing. Indian Eliza was the last Kalapuya, or so the newspaper tells me. I found this gem in the Oregonian paper from 1921. oregonian 1921

Missing Negative Space

Been thinking about and talking about the collapse of native societies in the northwest in the past few years. Also been thinking about the lack of definition in many theories of agriculturalists and complex hunter gatherers. I think I have a theory that connects these issues. The collapse of the societies due to epidemics caused some effects on the societies. How they are described by early explorers pre-1830s is different than 1840s and later. I think we can now say that individual nations collapsed inward and reorganized under surviving chiefs and headmen in relatively few villages. that people from many villages combined into one village in most cases. My recent exploration of the Skilloot has shown that they collapsed down to Cooniak and and probably incorporated the Clatskanie people as well, including their territory. We can establish this pretty well in the record. Ok so where it gets interesting is when comparing Douglas’s journey through the Willamette Valley as he is in the midst or just immediately after the societal collapse. Frankly he does not meet many natives in his journals. What is missing is interesting, the negative space if you will. But he does encounter a village at the Willamette Falls and steals some tobacco seeds. Nicotiana Bigalovii Multivaris I believe. We also know how much the native peoples of the region depended on vegetable matter for their diets. I would suggest that vegetables were more than 50% probably in the 75% range some times of the year. I think the Kalapuyas were heavily vegetable and starch eaters. So where is the evidence of all of their work in harvesting vegetables? I think its all around us, the whole environment is full of evidence, but I think we have never looked for it, or anthropologists have not, assuming that we were simply complex hunter gatherers. In a sense they have been biased by the scholarship to believe this and have not looked for the alternatives. I think that many of the human altered plants died out immediately after the collapse of many native societies, as there was no one to keep the domesticated plants in their regular cycles. The hint of this is in the native tobacco. Where is it? we cannot find Multivaris growing in the wild in western Oregon. There are other species, that are likely introduced but what about the native. Recently the tribe acquired some seeds of multivaris, they supposedly originate from Britain, probably descendants of the Douglas theft of seeds at Willamette Falls. This still needs to be proven but we are cultivating the plants now. I have two in my garden. But what if this did not just happen with Tobacco but other plants? Plants chosen by the tribes for food or weaving and not the wilder varieties have survived and perhaps reverted to their wild and and natural forms. De-evolved if you will. Perhaps a case of this can be made of camas, wapato or other well harvested plants. anyway my thought for the day.tobacco

Partial Text of John E. Wool Letter of March 29 1854

Head Quarters Dept. of the Pacific
San Francisco 29th March 1854

My Dear General;

I give you many thanks for your favor of the 18th ultimo.

I am gratified to learn that there is a prospect of an increase of the Army. Our Empire is very large, and a large proportion requires military protection and none more than California, Oregon, and Washington. For California, Oregon, Washington and Utah we have less than one thousand troops. Almost every mail brings us information of some outrage by either the Whites or the Indians. Generally the latter are quiet and peaceably inclined, but are frequently goaded to acts of cruelty by the conduct of the Whites, of whom many consider them no better than wolves, and apparently take as much pleasure in killing them as they would the latter. With almost innumerable tribes of Indians dispersed throughout the Pacific Department, embracing the country above mentioned, some of which are warlike & troublesome, with emigrants in large numbers daily encroaching upon them & dispossessing them of their lands, it is scarcely possible to preserve the peace of the country without a much larger military force than I have under my command at the present time.

…General John E. Wool to General Joseph Lane

Cube Life

Life in the Cube will be interesting as we work on developing the museum. I think I will get some cubist art and hang it about as I go through my blue cubist period. HAH!

Anyway research commences and advances at all phases of my work. I have taken up a gradual project to go through the paper of each of the early governors of “Oregon.” Frankly this is very rewarding as many were involved in Indian affairs, treaties, wars etc. I have encountered stories, place names, and information that connects many other accounts that we did not have previously. I am thinking that this is a problem in the practice of “history”. A substantial problem as I am encountering numerous unknown and unexplored information sources in areas that would be obvious for any previous researcher or otherwise scholar to find this information. I am surprised at the depth of the systematic lack of knowledge.

I have also instituted a new way to organize my information. As I take scans of the letters into PDF format I am saving them into a folder that is the repository of information from a specific archive. However, I am also taking these letters, re-labeling them by year-month-day and placing them in a folder by a specific author. Therefore, I am able to line up all of the letter in chronological order, and the computer file system does this for me. I can then follow thoughts and action over several years. So regardless of whether the letters are from Oregon, Connecticut or Washington,DC I have them all reorganized back together. It is so much easier to read them in order.

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