Tribal Government & News

Wood Village reading land acknowledgement statement at meetings

07.13.2021 Dean Rhodes Tribal relations


By Dean Rhodes

Smoke Signals editor

WOOD VILLAGE – The Wood Village City Council is reading a land acknowledgement statement at its meetings, according to the agenda posted at

City Manager Greg Dirks said the statement grew out of a City Council retreat and the city worked with Grand Ronde Environmental Policy Analyst Torey Wakeland to craft the statement.

“This came out of our City Council retreat. We do a retreat around February time and this year, like many organizations, we were talking about equity and inclusion,” Dirks said. “That was a big part of our retreat and the council was talking not so much about what we’ve done, but what we haven’t done or acknowledged. Certainly, our partnership with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde has put that into focus of this isn’t really our land.”

The statement reads: “The Chinookan peoples known as the Clackamas and Cascades are the indigenous people of the land now inhabited by the city of Wood Village and other areas of the Columbia River. The village of Nechacokee (now referred to as Nichagwli – “nee chalk lee”) was located near today’s Blue Lake Park. Ancestral life of these peoples included a seasonal round of resource gathering and stewardship from the wapato fields and fishing areas of the Columbia River to the cedar and huckleberry gathering areas of the high Cascades. Introduced disease from early settlers dramatically reduced the number of these people. They signed the Willamette Valley Treaty of 1855 with the United States government and were forcibly removed to the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation.

“We thank the descendants of these Tribes for being the original stewards and protectors of these lands since time immemorial. We also acknowledge the systemic policies of genocide, relocation and assimilation that still impact many Indigenous/Native families today.

“We are honored by the collective work of many Native nations, leaders and families who are demonstrating resilience, resistance, revitalization, healing and creativity. We are honored to be guests upon these lands.”

Dirks said the statement is placed on all city agendas and Mayor Scott Harden reads it before every City Council meeting. In addition, the statement will adorn a plaque that will be placed on the new Wood Village City Hall and complement a map of the Tribes that used to live in the area.

“This isn’t for us,” Dirks said. “The point was to acknowledge how we got to where we are and what that meant for a lot of people and their future ancestors and what those impacts were.”

Wood Village is an eastern suburb of Portland with a population of approximately 4,100 residents.

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde has been working with the city since December 2015, which is when the Tribe purchased the former Multnomah Greyhound Park property. In early October 2020, Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy announced the Grand Ronde Tribe would reassess its use of the site for a possible second casino in reaction to the Siletz Tribe’s application to the Department of the Interior to build a second Tribal casino in Salem.

In June, Tribal Council approved a supplemental budget to purchase two properties, once of which was an almost acre lot adjacent to the former Greyhound Park in Wood Village.