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  • Writer's pictureJera

Indigenous People's Day - Oregon

As a white person living on the stolen ancient ancestral home of the Central Kalapuya indigenous peoples, it's my duty to inform myself of what happened to the native peoples who once stewarded this beautiful land.

I started with an article from Lane Community College, thinking that a higher-learning institution would be one of the better places to educate myself...

Within 10 minutes of reading, I was shaking with anger.

This article is CLEARLY told from the perspective of the colonizer. NOWHERE does it take any responsibility for what happened to the tribes and nations of people who already lived here when 'Manifest Destiny' brought all the white people West.

It glosses over the unratified treaties that were struck with native peoples who often didn't even fully understand (due to a language barrier) *what* it was that they were agreeing to - it glosses over the fact that most Western tribes were just *dropped* by the American government who 'terminated' all of them (touting it as a win for the natives), completely ignoring the existing state of extreme poverty - only to leave them struggling for mere *recognition* of their *existence* by the people who had violated them, their communities, and their sacred lands.

Here's the article, in case you'd like to check it out for yourself:

I had to search for a while to find anything that felt like it was giving native voices the room to tell their own story of their history. OPB put out a decent piece on the treaty issues in Oregon's early history that I think does a decent job (don't love the term Indian, and I know I'm out of my depth to criticize it):

I'm not going to pretend that I know all about these issues, I don't. I'm an ignorant white person, just like alllll my neighbors here in Salem. I can't even come close to imagining the wounds that native peoples still carry today.

What I CAN do, and I WILL continue to do, is challenge my ignorance. I will learn more about privilege and how it's been used to violate multitudes of people all over the world. I will continue to educate myself and speak out when I see things that don't feel right.

***A solemn and respectful Indigenous People's Day to all.***

------------------- To give a bit of a comparison between the two:

LCC Article "Sanitation and health care at the reservation was poor and mortality was high. By 1900 only about 300 remained of the original 1,200 people that had been removed to the reservation. The population reduction was caused in part by poor health care and poor nutrition...promises in the ratified treaties of land were not formally followed through with until 1889 (Dawes Severalty Act 1887), and so for the years 1856 to 1889 the native people lived in extreme poverty, completely dependent on government supplies"

OPB Article: "Members of the coastal tribes — whose ancestors had lived in these places for countless generations — eventually learned the treaty had not been ratified. There would be no schools or blacksmiths, farm implements, nor return to their homelands. Within ten years of its creation, the Siletz/Coast reservation began to be dismantled. By 1895, the once-immense coast reservation was gone. Today, the Siletz Reservation is less than 4,000 acres."

Notice how the first article completely ignores what *caused* all these issues for the Indigenous people of Oregon. The second article states facts, AND gives insight into the deep sorrow and wrong-doing done by colonizers.

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