Tribe participates in virtual Indigenous Peoples’ Day event
By Danielle Harrison
Smoke Signals staff writer
The Grand Ronde Tribe celebrated the first year the state of Oregon officially recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day by participating in a virtual celebration on Tuesday, Oct. 12.
The webinar, hosted by Clackamas County and Clackamas Community College, in collaboration with the Tribe and local Indigenous community members, featured history of the Clackamas people, drumming, dancing, a land acknowledgment and personal testimonies. Descendants of the Clackamas people are part of the modern-day Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.
Approximately 200 people attended the remote event, where Grand Ronde Tribal Council member Jon A. George served as the event master of ceremonies and also led the invocation.
“We are excited you are joining us today and this has been a great team to work with at Clackamas County,” he said.
After the invocation, Oregon City-based Red Lodge Transition Services Director Trish Jordan (Muskogee Creek) introduced the Soaring Hawks Singers from Eugene, who performed a pre-recorded drum song. Afterward, Gladstone City Council member Annessa Hartman (Cayuga) read a land acknowledgement that recognized that Clackamas County is part of the traditional homelands of the Clackamas people.
Grand Ronde Cultural Resources Department Manager and Tribal member David Harrelson shared a brief history of the Clackamas people in the area.
“It’s good to be here and see everyone gathered to talk about this place and these people,” Harrelson said. “I am not Clackamas, but have had lots of opportunity to talk with Elders and read books. The Clackamas have a deep oral history.”
Harrelson told attendees about Victoria Howard, a Clackamas Chinook who provided more than 200 oral histories and stories to linguist Melville Jacobs in 1929.
Harrelson also discussed the removal of the Clackamas people to the Grand Ronde Reservation and shared a Chinook Peoples map, ending his presentation with different ways attendees could stay connected to the Grand Ronde Tribe, including e-subscribing to Smoke Signals.
Grand Ronde Tribal member and Clackamas County Commissioners Policy Advisor Tracy Moreland said she is proud to work in her ancestral homelands.
“We are acknowledging our shared history today,” Moreland said. “I’m so glad and honored to be a part of this event. When I was growing up, my Tribe was not recognized. We were victims of government assimilation policies. Today, we are restored and celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”
Then, a pre-recorded video featuring Clackamas County commissioners, Clackamas Community College officials and Warm Springs Tribal members talked about the importance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day in reframing the historical narrative to include the original inhabitants of the land.
“We are a resilient people who overcome things that almost annihilated us,” George said.
Added Hartman, “For the first time in my life I finally feel heard and seen as an Indigenous woman. This is just the first step in reconciliation with Native people. We need actions and leaders of this county to uplift Indigenous people.”
The event closed with a drum song by the Soaring Hawks Singers.
George thanked everyone who had helped organize the event.
“This took more than eight months of planning and it has all beautifully come together and been very seamless,” he said. “As we recognize our roots, we are honored and it is how we show our connection and pass on our culture to our children. I raise my hands to all of you who made this day possible.”