Portland Basin Chinookan Villages in the early 1800s

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The Oregon Encyclopedia

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Indigenous peoples, Native Americans, Chinook Indians


During the early nineteenth century, upwards of thirty Native American villages were documented in the Portland Basin (present-day Multnomah, Clark, Clackamas, and east Columbia Counties). Most of the villages were sited on riverbanks and in wetlands along the Columbia and Willamette Rivers and were occupied by people who spoke dialects of a Chinookan language or languages. In their journals, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark classified the villages under three headings: “Wappato Indians” for those villagers around Sauvie Island and on the Columbia River between present-day Kalama and Vancouver; "Sha-ha-la" (for šáx̣l(a) ‘upstream’) from Vancouver to the Cascades Rapids; and the peoples of the lower Willamette River, including the Clackamas River and Willamette Falls. Non-Chinookan villages, mostly upstream on tributaries to the Columbia, were home to Sahaptin-speaking Upper Cowlitz and Klikatat [var: Klickitat] in present-day Clark County, Clatskanie in present-day Columbia County, and Molala in present-day Clackamas County.

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