Title

American Apartheid In The Walamt Valley: The Creation Of Grand Ronde And The Struggle To Assimilate In A Segregated Society

Date

11-8-2021 1:00 PM

Abstract

Throughout its history the United States government professed the goal of assimilation of North America’s indigenous peoples. Whatever words Americans used to frame this social project, it was clearly the result of a view of Native societies as inferior to those of their European forebears and perhaps some Asian cultures of what they referred to as “the Old World.” This view of Native people as inferior led to the demand that they assimilate to a republic that habitually violated its own laws regarding land acquisition in the “New World.” It also compelled American officials to rationalize instituting race-based legislation that specifically prohibited Native people from doing exactly that. Many of the stories of those who were removed to the Grand Ronde Reservation demonstrate this. In investigating the events surrounding the colonization of the Willamette Valley in the 1850s I will argue that apartheid, rather than assimilation, was the goal and the result of American colonization in Oregon. Working back from the text dictated to anthropologist Melville Jacobs in the 1920s by a Tualatin man named Louis Kenoyer about his childhood in Grand Ronde, I will examine appearances in the historical records of his father, Peter Kinai, his grandfather, Kamatc, and his great uncle, treaty chief Kiakuts to better illustrate the effects of historic events on real people.

Biographies

Bruce Jenks History (concentration: American History)

Bruce Jenks is a McNair Scholar and history major, focusing on American history. He pursued his education at Portland Community College and Portland State University while working for Multnomah County Library. His interests tend towards inequality and conflict in human relationships. During his studies at PSU, he examined the American West through many overlooked lenses, including Indigenous, labor, and female perspectives. He is just beginning his grad school search to pursue a Ph.D. while also exploring projects in public history in order to contribute to a more complete and inclusive historical conversation. He has written several papers about Northwest peoples, such as the Chinook Indian Nation and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. In examining these stories, how they appear in the historical record, and how they impact real people’s lives and our culture today, he is convinced that what applies to the West, applies to America: much of its history remains unwritten.

Dr. Katy Barber, Faculty Mentor, Department of History

Katy Barber is a Professor of History at Portland State University where she teaches courses in Western and public history. Her most recent book is In Defense of Wyam: Native-White Alliances and the Struggle for Celilo Village (University of Washington Press, 2018), which chronicles women’s leadership in the struggle to protect Indian homes at Celilo Village on the Columbia River. Other books include Death of Celilo Falls and Nature’s Northwest: The North Pacific Slope in the 20th Century (with William Robbins). Public history projects include a multi-faceted, collaborative effort with the Chinook Indian Nation to document their history through archival research and oral histories (chinookstory.org) and a project on the long history of residential segregation in Oregon in partnership with the City of Portland, Clackamas County, the Community Alliance of Tenants, and Vanport Mosaic. Her award-winning article about settler sovereignty formation in Oregon was published in the Oregon Historical Quarterly’s special issue on white supremacy in Winter 2019.

Disciplines

History

Persistent Identifier

https://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/36199

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Aug 11th, 1:00 PM

American Apartheid In The Walamt Valley: The Creation Of Grand Ronde And The Struggle To Assimilate In A Segregated Society

Throughout its history the United States government professed the goal of assimilation of North America’s indigenous peoples. Whatever words Americans used to frame this social project, it was clearly the result of a view of Native societies as inferior to those of their European forebears and perhaps some Asian cultures of what they referred to as “the Old World.” This view of Native people as inferior led to the demand that they assimilate to a republic that habitually violated its own laws regarding land acquisition in the “New World.” It also compelled American officials to rationalize instituting race-based legislation that specifically prohibited Native people from doing exactly that. Many of the stories of those who were removed to the Grand Ronde Reservation demonstrate this. In investigating the events surrounding the colonization of the Willamette Valley in the 1850s I will argue that apartheid, rather than assimilation, was the goal and the result of American colonization in Oregon. Working back from the text dictated to anthropologist Melville Jacobs in the 1920s by a Tualatin man named Louis Kenoyer about his childhood in Grand Ronde, I will examine appearances in the historical records of his father, Peter Kinai, his grandfather, Kamatc, and his great uncle, treaty chief Kiakuts to better illustrate the effects of historic events on real people.