Native Kinships and Wealth among the Middle Chinookans

Native kinships are incredibly complex. They do not follow the nice neat patterns of kinship that Americans have adopted from their European ancestors. Native peoples did not marry inside their own tribes, but were influenced by societal norms to marry someone from outside of the tribe. People born of royalty were encouraged to or arranged to marry royalty in other tribes and in this manner leadership roles and genealogies were kept within certain families. It can safely be said that all of the tribes in a particular region are all interrelated with one another by Native laws of marriage. But where is there proof that native people intermarried with other tribes? The proof is in a number of key ethnographic documents, journals and letters which document kinship in the time before reservations. One such document is a letter written by Joel Palmer in 1855 that addresses how various chiefs of the Chinookan tribes, Clackamas, Cascades, and Clowwewalla people are related.

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The Trail of Broken Treaties Redux

Vine Deloria, Jr. famously penned a book, the Trail of Broken Treaties in response to over 150 years of the United States breaking its agreements with Native American Tribes. The current Standing Rock action by thousands of Native American peoples and their allies is another chapter in this trail of broken treaties. The encampment was initiated to call attention to and halt the progress of an oil pipeline from Canada into the United States. The pipeline has now been rerouted several times, the most recent, away from the population center at Bismark, and through the relatively unoccupied lands near the Standing Rock Reservation. In fact the pipeline is slated to cross the river upstream of Standing Rock. The Standing Rock tribe is  making two key points about this development. First and foremost, these sorts of pipelines burst or are breached and the oil tends to pollute the environment. The location of the pipeline in crossing  the river will at some

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A Startling History of the Cascades Indians, 1855-1862

On March 26, 1856, a year after the Willamette Valley treaty is negotiated (Jan. 22, 1855) there is an uprising on the Columbia near the Cascades. There are numerous versions of the story,  but it is associated  as an extension of the Yakima Indian Wars, where  Klickitat and Yakima and perhaps some Cascades Indians were upset with the Americans and killed some of them in a series of attacks on settlements and outposts on the Columbia River. The Yakima leader Kamiakin was upset about the invasion of his country and wanted to drive the Americans from the Columbia. The Klickitats were upset because they had not gotten a treaty for their lands, and many of the Klickitats felt that their recent occupation of the Columbia and apparent conquest of the the Willamette Valley meant they deserved a treaty. This situation was created after epidemics wiped out a good portion of the Indian in the region. From 1829 to the mid-1840s

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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

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