We would like to thank Dr. David Lewis for his time and talking with the newsletter team. The Creekside staff utilized Dr. Lewis’s website and expertise for researching the tribes of Oregon, with focus on the tribes that lived in the area we live and work to create the current draft of the Creekside Outdoor School Land Acknowledgement. The Outdoor School staff at Creekside are continuously learning about the history of the people and the land that we now use as a resource to educate Oregon students on science and nature. This land acknowledgement is a living document that will change as we learn more of the history and continue to use the land we call Creekside.
If you would like to provide the staff feedback on our Land Acknowledgement, please email Jericho at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can learn more about the indigenous people of Oregon and the west coast by visiting Dr. David Lewis’s website at: https://ndnhistoryresearch.com/
The Creekside Outdoor School Land Acknowledgement
We are here to learn about the natural world and to honor the land. We acknowledge that the land now known as Creekside Outdoor School has been lived on since time immemorial by traditional inhabitants. The Kalapuya is a language family that lived throughout the Willamette Valley and the Chemapho is the Kalapuya tribe whose territory included Creekside.
Their traditional way of life included a seasonal round of consistent travel between permanent winter homes that were built at an elevation that would not become flooded like the floodplains that once lined the Willamette River and temporary camps located at important resources such as fish, camas, and acorns.
The history of the tribe was changed forever when white settlers in the East introduced diseases that spread to modern day Oregon before any Native people met any of the settlers. Decades later, the Oregon Trail and the gold rush popularized the West coast and national policy encouraged the white settlers to take over the lands that were decimated by diseases. This was worsened by the wars, massacres, and deliberate displacements that took place over the next century and onward. Those displacements eventually designated that the tribe would live on the Grand Ronde Reservation with several other tribes who had their homes taken from them.
It is one thing to acknowledge history, and it is something entirely different to take action, which is why we are taking steps to improve our curriculum to include accurate information about indigenous people and we are learning more about what we can do from our position as educators.
By River "Fossil" Cox
Creekside Outdoor School takes place along the Long Tom River near Eugene. Outdoor School is designed for interactive learning of the natural sciences among many other useful skills. There is so much more we can learn from this beautiful area. Creekside’s location along the Long Tom River was inhabited by the Chemapho tribe at least 14,000 years ago.
The Chemapho is one of the estimated 19 Kalapuyan tribes. They speak the Central Kalapuya language and had close ties with other tribes, Kalapuya and otherwise, through trade and kinship. They moved their materials up and down rivers on canoes that were often carved out of the trunks of Western Red Cedar trees.
While they did not practice agriculture, the Chemapho did intentionally impact their natural environment to suit their needs as they travelled in seasonal rounds that followed the growth of specific plants. In the article Chelamela and Chemapho Kalapuyans by David G. Lewis, PhD, those seasonal rounds are described as such; “In the spring and summer they would begin berry picking and root digging of camas, while at the end of the summer they would pick crops available at the end of the season, like apples and hazelnuts.”
They also practiced what is known as pyroculture, where they would strategically set fires to the undergrowth of the forests during the late summer/early fall. This would deposit nutrients into the soil that would allow for new growth to flourish the following year and prevent forest from becoming so dense and covered in debris that they would be susceptible to wildfires.
In the winter, they would settle in their permanent villages in the foothills of the Coast Mountain Range, but temporary encampments were scattered around their territory in the locations that were best suited for collecting certain resources. Most of these resources were plant foods that were abundant in the Pacific Northwest, but the animal foods that they did acquire were rarely from hunting and fishing and were almost always acquired through traps and fish weirs. Fish weirs are a type of trap that would encourage fish to swim into a nearly enclosed structure that would be difficult for them to navigate out of.
Once the tribes of Western Oregon began trading for European-American products like horses, guns, and blankets, they started being devastated by disease. By the time Lewis and Clark came through, the majority of the population had been wiped out and when settlers came to Oregon, they either ignored, employed, enslaved or declared war on the people who historically lived in this range. The descendents of these people still live on, but their traditional way of life is severely stifled if not completely destroyed.
The information in this article can be sourced back to NDNHistoryResearch.com from David G. Lewis, PhD. To learn more on this subject, check out these articles: