Tribe curating 'River People' exhibit at Willamette Heritage Center

03.31.2014 Ron Karten Culture, Education, History, Events

If you go

'kuri-tsfqw tilixam: River People of the Willamette'

Where: Willamette Heritage Center at The Mill, 1313 Mill St. S.E., Salem

When: Friday, April 11- through Saturday, May 26

Cost: $6 for adults, $5 for seniors 55 and older, $4 for students with ID and $3 for youth 6 to 17 years of age.

More info: 503-585-7012 or

SALEM -- The Grand Ronde Tribe's Land and Culture Department is curating the upcoming "kuri-tsfqw tilixam: River People of the Willamette" exhibit at Willamette Heritage Center at The Mill, 1313 Mill St. S.E.

The exhibit opens to the public on Friday, April 11, and runs through Saturday, May 26.

An invitation-only Tribal opening reception will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 10. The reception will feature a presentation from the Canoe Family and speeches by Tribal Council members, Land and Culture Department staff members and administrators at Willamette Heritage Center. A buffet dinner hosted by the Tribe's Public Affairs Department also will be served.

The exhibit will concentrate on the Native peoples who populated the shores of the Willamette River, including the Clackamas, Multnomah and neighbors like the Kalapuya, since time immemorial.

"The Chinookan people of the Willamette River were one of the Tribes who signed the Willamette Valley Treaty in 1855," says Tribal Historian David Lewis. "They are interrelated with the other Chinookan peoples of the lower, middle and upper Columbia River, mainly Chinookan speakers, who controlled the trade and fishing on the river.

"The Tribes, Multnomah and Clackamas, occupied significant areas on the river that are now the cities of the Portland metropolitan region and Vancouver.

"They had many villages and towns up all of the tributaries down to Multnomah (Willamette) River to the Willamette Falls and managed the fisheries at the falls. In historic times, there were a number of chiefs and headmen who interacted with the explorers and settlers whose descendants remain important leaders in the Tribe today.

"They had a vibrant trade in the region with all of the Tribes traveling the Columbia and Willamette rivers, and Willamette Falls was the center of much of that activity. Area Tribes were interrelated by marriage and by the trade. As part of the Willamette Valley Treaty, they were removed to the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation in 1856."

Lewis is working with Cultural Exhibits Supervisor Julie Brown and Collections Specialist Veronica Montano on selecting items for the exhibit.

"The exhibition will reveal new information about these Tribes who were removed to the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation," says a promotional postcard sent out by Willamette Heritage Center.

"River People of the Willamette" will be the fourth Tribally curated exhibit at Willamette Heritage Center at The Mill.

In 2013, the Tribe put on "We Were Here First … And We Are Here to Stay," in 2012 curated "Grand Ronde Women - Our Story" and staged "Grand Ronde Canoe Journey" in 2011.

"This is the fourth exhibit at Willamette Heritage Center in as many years that has prepared the way for exhibits at the new gallery at the Chachalu Tribal Museum and Cultural Center to be opened to the public in mid-June," Lewis said.