Tribal signs continue going up in Grand Ronde ceded lands

12.29.2011 Dean Rhodes Culture, History

The sign project from the Natural Resources Department's Ceded Lands program is ready with a new sign - describing the history of the Grand Ronde people - that will soon be erected at the Tribal convenience store in front of Spirit Mountain Casino.

Tribal members Brian Krehbiel and Don Day created the frame for the sign, and Julie Brown, also a Tribal member and Cultural Interpretive specialist, made the sign.

This is just one sign among many that are in stages of completion, said Tribal member David Lewis, manager of the Cultural Resources Department.

"The Tribal signs project was initiated by Tribal Council three years ago," said Lewis. "In that time we have worked with dozens of potential partners throughout western Oregon. The original concept of the project was to populate the Tribe's ceded lands with information to help educate the public about the Tribal history of western Oregon, and tell how many of the Tribes were removed to the Grand Ronde Reservation.

"The signs are meant to convey this information at a time when many people assume that Tribal people disappeared and went extinct, and there is almost no education about our Tribal history taught in any way to the Oregon public."

The project, directed by Mike Karnosh, Ceded Lands coordinator, in collaboration with Cultural Resources and Public Affairs, has "truly been a collaborative project," Karnosh said.

"We recently completed and installed a sign for Scio," said Brown, "and as a result of that event, we will be planning to co-sponsor a day of sharing and identification with the Scio Historical Society.

"There are so many farmers who have items (rock, points, baskets, etc.) that the idea came together that an opportunity to identify these items was not only necessary, it would also help build our relationship and the ties that we share with the Scio community."

The project has led to other things as well, said Karnosh, "which is going to be really helpful for the Tribe in the future."

He noted that METRO became involved in the Graham Oaks Park in Wilsonville, whereby METRO paid for the sign but Grand Ronde cultural specialists provided input on what the sign would say.

"They wanted a Tribal perspective," said Karnosh. "They heard that oaks were important to the Tribe culturally. That's really the value of this whole project, the chance for the Tribe to tell its own story on the ceded lands."

Interpretive signs also will be going up in Hunter Arboretum in Dallas in January or February, Salem Waterfront Park, the city of Tualatin, Canemah Bluff Park in Oregon City, one or two signs in Buford Park, a hiking park around Mt. Pisgah (outside of Springfield), and North Mountain Park in Ashland.

The idea, said Tribal Elder Bob Tom, is to make sure that people up and down the Willamette Valley learn about the Grand Ronde Tribe's ceded lands.

"The project has led to new I-5 bridge south of Eugene," Karnosh said. "It's a major highway project and David Lewis got on the steering committee for the interpretive elements of that project. It's a huge project, right on the river. It is going to include interpretive signs and other material that are being built into the overall bridge project, and that's really exciting.

 "Still another thing that this project has led to is in the near future we are going to be working with Tribal GIS Coordinator Volker Mell along with OIS and Cultural Resources to develop an interactive Web map of the ceded lands. So when it's finished it will be all clickable with images. People will be able to see the signs and graphics without having to get in their car and go there.

"We will be able to put a lot more information on the Web site that we couldn't fit on one sign panel. There's way too much information out there to put on one sign, but the Web address will be on all the signs. We're really excited about that because it will be a major outreach tool."

"We're doing a lot of work," said Lewis. "Many will be installed in the first part of the year."

Along with the sign at the Tribal convenience store, said Lewis, Tribal Council member photos will be improved by adding names and updating the framing.

"We've had lots and lots of help from Volker Mell in GIS and all the folks in Cultural have been great about providing content and their input on the interpretive signs," Karnosh said.

Public Affairs Director Siobhan Taylor made sure the events went off without a hitch.

"In Scio," Karnosh said, "for a tiny town, we had a huge turnout of local people and Tribal folks for the sign unveiling. It really felt like the whole town came out in support of this, which was really reassuring."