Tribal Government & News
Kathryn Harrison featured on new TriMet bus wrap
By Danielle Harrison
Smoke Signals staff writer
Grand Ronde Tribal Elder Kathryn Harrison is a revered Tribal leader in Oregon who spent countless hours steadfastly working on the Tribe’s Restoration efforts in the early 1980s.
She has numerous accolades and honors to her credit, which range from 17 years of service on Tribal Council to a plethora of local, state and national leadership awards to several honorary doctorate degrees.
She also is having an elementary school renamed in her honor in Corvallis.
But Harrison’s most recent honor came, shall we say, bus wrapped.
She will be having her likeness featured on a new TriMet bus wrap in honor of Native American Heritage Month in November. She is one of nine Tribal leaders selected for the new bus wrap, which will be in operation throughout the streets of Portland through August 2022.
“Kathryn Jones Harrison of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde is one of Oregon's important Tribal leaders,” said a TriMet website post about the bus wrap. “She is known especially for her work as a member of the Tribal Council of the Grand Ronde and for her contributions during the Termination era, a time when the Eisenhower administration deprived Tribes of formal recognition.”
Other Tribal leaders to be featured on the bus wrap are John “Buzz” Nelson (Oglala Lakota), Se-ah-dom Edmo (Shoshone-Bannock/Nez Perce/Yakama), Ed Edmo (Shoshone-Bannock), Christine Dupres (Cowlitz/Cree), SandeBea Allman (Oglala Lakota/Nimiipuu), Terry L. Cross (Seneca Nation), Tawna Sanchez (Shoshone-Bannock/Ute/Carrizo) and James Parker (Chippewa Cree).
The TriMet bus wrap effort also has honored leaders in the Black, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Hispanic and LBGT+ communities.
Harrison, 97, is the eldest Elder of the Grand Ronde Tribe and is still active in the Tribal community. During her time on Tribal Council, she helped guide the Tribe into gaming through the signing of a compact with Oregon Gov. Barbara Roberts in July 1993. She also suggested the Tribe start endowment funds to benefit education, health care, economic development, and social and cultural programs. Those funds continue to be an important economic resource to this day for the Tribe.
Some of her more recent honors include being named to the American Museum of Natural History's Board of Trustees in 2018 and having Jaguar Elementary School in Corvallis renamed after her earlier this year, of which Harrison said she was “humbled and very flattered.”
“We are profoundly humbled to have our school named for Kathryn Jones Harrison and we are hoping to engage our students, staff and community in the change,” Principal Beth Martin said. “For us, there is such immense opportunity and learning that can take place. At the same time, we want to ensure we move through this change in a way that honors who she is as well as the collective culture she represents.”
Harrison lives at the Tribe’s Adult Foster Care housing in Grand Ronde.
To find out more about the bus wrap and read about all of the Native leaders honored, visit https://trimet.org/celebrate/.