An Oregon mini road trip up the McKenzie Pass

One of the most special drives in Oregon has to be the McKenzie Scenic Highway 242. A scenic byway only open six months a year, this drive provides the traveler with an experience of the best parts of this state we love: old growth forests, waterfalls, dramatic mountain views, and volcanic topography. And then there is the hiking… and boating… and biking… and stories! Ok, let’s just get to it!

This segment and so much more is best heard and experienced on our GPS audio tour app of the Cascade Mountains between Salem, Eugene, and Bend.

Are you ready? Let’s go take a mini-road trip!

 

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Together Anywhere Road Trip Interactive Map

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If this is your first drive down Highway 242, you may be asking yourself what makes this scenic highway so unique? Well this highway will put you smack in the middle of the Three Sisters Wilderness and the Mount Washington Wilderness areas, and take you right into the heart of a giant lava field that stretches out between the mountains of the High Cascades. In this region, there are over 300 miles of trails covering 300,000 acres. Even with all that space, it is still being loved to death.

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The pools at Belknap Hot Springs are located minutes away from the entrance to Highway 242. Open year round, the warm pools are great way to start or end a mini road trip!

The west entrance to the scenic highway starts near Belknap Hot Springs on Highway 126 that connects to Eugene. On the way up McKenzie Pass to Sisters, I will tell you about a few popular hikes, the Pacific Crest Trail, geology featuring, of course, volcanoes, wildfires, and the ever changing forest…I’m even going to talk about astronauts! If you want a spot to set up a basecamp for your McKenzie area experiences, maybe rent one of the cabins you first pass at Camp Yale which is managed by Belknap Hot Springs Resort or go camping for a night at Limberlost Campground situated on Lost Creek. These 12 sites are mostly reserved in advance so plan ahead!

My first stories of this highway start with how it developed into what it is today. And, as many of the stories in Oregon begin, it started with the Native Americans. There is evidence showing how they crafted tools from obsidian gathered from deposits near the pass. There is also a known sacred prayer site near Benson Lake. A plaque at Dee Wright Observatory tells us that an ancient Indian trail followed the southern edge of the lava field just north of the North Sister Mountain. While this area was likely well used by the Native people, the first recorded trip describing this brutal landscape by white settlers was not until 1853 with the Elliot and McClure wagon train.

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Example of a trail wagon from the US Bicentennial celebration in 1976. Photo credit: Oregon State Archives, American Revolution Bicentennial Commission, OAM0026.

The Elliot and McClure wagon train was one of the two famous “Lost Wagon Trains” of the Oregon Trail. Whole books have been written about these famous “lost” wagon trains, this one, a group of over 1000 people that started in Fort Boise and headed west towards a non-existent road that was supposed to lead them to the Eugene area. In short, as the group realized they were lost and on the brink of starvation, they split up. One party went towards Diamond Peak, the other through the Three Sisters Wilderness we see today. It took almost ten years before someone attempted to cross this area again. Enter Captain Felix Scott, who engineered a trail from the McKenzie River Valley for cattle, oxen and wagons to make their way east to the open spaces of Central Oregon. By 1871, parts of this trail developed into a toll road owned by the McKenzie Salt Springs and Deschutes Wagon Road Company. It became a county road known as the McKenzie and Eastern Oregon Road by 1898.

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One can only imagine the rough journey over the giant lava fields!

In 1910, as cars were making their debut as a replacement for wagons, the first automobile successfully tackled the pass. But because of the difficulty maintaining the road surface through the harsh winters, the McKenzie and Eastern Road was not the most pleasant of trips to say the least. By 1920, the road was able to be relocated and widened with the help of federal money. It finally became known as Oregon State Highway 126 in 1925 making the area accessible to tourism. It continued to be a struggle to keep it open year round with the abundance of heavy snow, high elevation, and steep grades. In the early 1960s, the Clear Lake cutoff road was built and became the new Highway 126. This was renamed McKenzie Highway 242 and it became a seasonal scenic byway, open from the end of June to early November, dependant upon snowfall. It became a National Scenic Byway in 1998 and in 2011 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of the accomplishments with the difficult road construction of the early 1900s.

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A preview of the lava field to come… featured on our post next week!

 

While you can’t really tell from the road, as you ascend the pass you are traveling past old lava fields, reclaimed by forests over thousands of years. If you are a geology buff, hiker, photographer, or overall lover of nature, you have the perfect opportunity to see the contrast between forest and lava fields on a hike to Proxy Falls up ahead. At under 2 miles, it’s a short hike of less than an hour to see both Upper and Lower Proxy Falls. But please be mindful as with all hikes ahead of us, it can be uneven at times due to the lava rock terrain. At 226 feet, the Lower Proxy Falls is surprisingly easy to get close to and even touch it as it softly cascades over these glacier-formed cliffs. If you have an hour to spare, I highly recommend checking out this Oregon treasure.

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While it is a rock scramble, it is possible to walk to the base of Proxy Falls!

 

As with many parking areas in the Willamette National Forest, make sure you have either cash to pay the day use fee or have your Northwest Forest Pass in the car. This pass, available at most outdoor shops, online, or at a ranger station, covers you throughout Washington and Oregon in all of the National Forests. What a deal! However, if you are a major road tripper like me, I suggest buying the federal Interagency Annual Pass that will cover your visits for a full year to all national parks, national forests, national monuments, and basically any of the 2000 plus federal locations that have an entrance fee. I like to think of it as the best deal in the country. By the way, all military and family get one for free and any family with a 4th grader can also get one for free. In addition, any person over the age of 62 just pays $80 for a lifetime pass. I can’t wait!

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As you pass the gate at White Branch Youth Camp, you head further into the woods and towards some of the best hiking in Oregon. We are going to dive deep into discussing hikes and the new permitting system rules for a bit but before we do, let’s talk about a murder at Alder Springs. We are traveling back to 1898 with two men, Claude Branton, and Courtland Green assisting John Linn with bringing some livestock west over the pass. They stopped to camp for the night at Alder Springs and on the evening of June 15, Claude shot and killed good ole John with a revolver. The men buried John Linn and burned a fire on top of his gravesite, one playing the harmonica while the other sang hymns at this insincere funeral rite. Claude Branton was tried, convicted, and hung in Eugene less than one year later while Courtland Green was sentenced to life in prison but later pardoned. Ok who’s ready to go camping in the dark woods? Ha ha. Alder Springs is of course without incident these days and offers a rustic, tent only and free campground with just six sites! Across the road is the trailhead to Linton Lake, a 1.9 mile trail to a beautiful destination with difficult to access but stunning waterfalls dropping into Linton Creek. Starting in 2020, only two overnight group permits will be offered for this site between Memorial Day and the last Friday in September each night…but more on this in a bit…

Further down the road, we make a couple anxiety producing turns as we are climbing 1200 feet in less than 4 miles towards the lava field plateau. We can only imagine that this must have been a pretty difficult endeavor for those first taking this route, as early travelers gave it the name, Dead Horse Grade. While we wind our way up to the summit in the comfort of our vehicle, imagine the struggle of the early cattle drivers and the horse drawn wagons through this area. What used to take days to cross, now has been reduced to hours.

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Check out those curves on Dead Horse Grade!

In the 21st century, there is a new struggle facing this wilderness: overuse. The 1964 Wilderness Act made a first stand against overuse and protected these areas as places “where the earth and community of life are untrammeled by man.” Like national parks, wilderness areas are federally protected natural areas where motorized and mechanical travel is strictly controlled to ensure its sustainability. This highway is the exception. In 45 of Oregon’s 47 wilderness areas, hikers have generally had free reign, but that has left marks on the vegetation, wildlife, and terrain. While many national parks and popular hikes in other states have permitting systems, Oregon has only ever had two trails that required permits to hike since the 1990s: the Pamelia Lake hike in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness and the Obsidian Trail hike off of this road. Conservation managers noticed how the two areas were being loved to death in the early 1990s and the answer was a permit system to allow the forest to recover, bringing back natural scenery and solitude. The success of the permitting system on those two trails will now be expanded as Oregon continues its growth as an outdoors and tourist destination.

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A early October day gives a preview of the snow that closes the pass each winter.

As we near the open lava field, we see the turnoff for the Obsidian Trailhead, one of the two original permit areas in Oregon since 1995. This limited entry area takes you through alpine meadows, crystal clear streams, volcanic lava and finally to the obsidian cliffs. Obsidian, or dragonglass if you are a Game of Thrones fan, is a naturally occurring volcanic glass that was important to Native Americans for constructing their tools. The Obsidian Trail is a difficult 12 mile loop intersected by other routes taking you to Scott Trail, Matthieu Lakes Loop, Linton Meadows, or, if you are up for nearly a week of trekking in this wilderness, the 50 mile Three Sisters Loop that encircles the large mountains found on the south side of the road. If you are interested in hiking here, don’t forget to plan in advance and please leave it better than you found it, following the ever important Leave No Trace outdoor ethics for us lovers of the outdoors. Also, as with any hike, make sure you have your Ten Essentials to be prepared for minor injuries, sudden weather changes, or unexpected delays.

If it is a clear day, I recommend taking a left here so you can capture the beautiful mirror imagery of the mountains being reflected by Scott Lake. Found down this road, the trailhead near the lake also serves as the entry point for some Mount Washington Wilderness area hikes to Scott Mountain and Benson, Tenas, and Hand Lakes. Remember, if you are stopping here for a hike or backpacking in 2020 and beyond, make sure to have those permits!

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Taylor Allen Artwork representation of Scott Lake.

The separate Scott Trail has a parking area directly after the turnoff from 242 and requires you to walk back over the highway to get started. Scott Lake, Scott Pass, Scott Mountain, Scott Trail, so who is this Scott guy? Well I briefly mentioned him before as the man who hired a team of over 50 men to build a trail for delivery of cattle into the gold mining populations found in eastern parts of Oregon and into Idaho during the early 1860s. While Felix Scott got all the name recognition, it was one of the men he hired, John Craig, who really got things going.

In our next post, we will look at the story of John Templeton Craig and make it to the top of the pass!

Together Anywhere has created a way to explore Oregon through stories while driving, remaining separate from other travelers as you go down the road, learning more about this beautiful place we get to live. This short post is an example of our tours, except our tours speak to you! You just download the app, choose your drive, and you are on your way!

A socially distant mini road trip down the Santiam Pass

Have you experienced the east side of the Santiam Pass in Oregon, going down from the nearly 5,000 foot summit? We love this changing landscape and amazing welcome into the High Desert region. In case you missed it, the west side experiences of the Santiam Pass can be found here.

Together Anywhere has created a way to explore Oregon through stories while driving, remaining separate from other travelers as you go down the road, learning more about this beautiful place we get to live. This short post is an example of our tours, except our tours speak to you! You just download the app, choose your drive, and you are on your way!

This segment and so much more is available to hear on both of our Cascade Mountains tours between Salem, Eugene, and Bend.

Are you ready? Let’s go take a mini-road trip!

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Together Anywhere Road Trip Interactive Map
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Available on Apple & Android phones.

We start at the top of the Santiam Pass, heading down the road towards Sisters, Oregon.

If it’s a clear day, you can catch some great mountain views in the distance. There is a turn off on the southside of the road that I think makes a great spot to take a couple photos. The turnoff is also features a kiosk that describes the B&B Complex Fires and recovery efforts. They explain the way fire patterns have changed and how the fires differ between the west side of the Cascades and the east side. You can even park and walk into the hidden Corbett State Park from here. Just after this location is another great photo opportunity and I never regret taking time so stop at both of them.

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Remnants of the B&B Complex Fires.

 

With the perfectly shaped Black Butte straight ahead and mountains to our right, the second pullout is another chance to photograph Mount Washington and learn more about the historic fires from the roadside information panels. You can also see Blue Lake from this spot. At over 300 feet deep, it is surely the deepest and bluest of over 10 lakes known as Blue Lake in Oregon.

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Mount Washington Viewpoint.

At this point, you can get a couple quick looks of Suttle Lake. Misnamed after a man named John Settle, it now serves as a popular destination for recreation. Located in the Deschutes National Forest, the Suttle Lodge website does an excellent job in connecting you with your activities. Not just boating, fishing and hiking, but even food, drinks and shopping. In addition to the lodge and restaurant, this area also offers almost one hundred camping sites alongside a day use area. The entrance is on the east end with good signage and a wide turn off next to another fire information kiosk.

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Suttle Lake and Black Butte on a sunny Oregon day.

 

After Suttle Lake is your last curve in the road for awhile and its all downhill until you arrive in Sisters. I’d like to tell you a little more about Oregon’s roads. The Oregon Department of Transportation, also known as ODOT, recently updated this historic highway and works hard year round to maintain Oregon’s complex road network. ODOT, along with Travel Oregon, also provides information for the road trippers of Oregon just like us. Without them, the excitement of these road trips would be a lot less…exciting. This McKenzie Pass/Santiam Pass National Scenic Byway is designated by the federal government for its cultural, historic and natural beauty. If you pick up the Oregon Scenic Byways Driving Guide, you can get detailed information about each of the 6 National Scenic Byways in Oregon, 4 All-American Roads, 9 Oregon State Scenic Byways and 10 Oregon Tour Routes. If you prefer to cycle your way around, Oregon has 17 state scenic bikeways. Stop at any Oregon tourism information center to learn more about experiencing Oregon’s roads, and send us a comment about what roads in Oregon that you want to hear about next!

Check out the complete list of Oregon Scenic Byways here!

Further down the road is the turn off for a side trip to the Metolius River headwaters and Camp Sherman. While I don’t have audio planned for that trip, I’ll go ahead and tell you a little about it. The Metolius River, named for the Warm Springs Indian word for white salmon, is a tributary of the Deschutes River and originates from under Black Butte. This river travels northeast through the Deschutes National Forest and the Warm Springs Indian Reservation towards what is now Lake Billy Chinook, a reservoir popular for summertime recreation. Along its’ 29 mile journey, the river carves out canyons over 1000 feet deep. In 1988, the entire Metolius was designated a Wild and Scenic River and today offers some of the clearest water and enjoyable fly fishing in the entire state. When you arrive at the headwaters of the Metolius, near Riverside Campground, you are greeted with a plaque recognizing the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC. At this location, known as Camp Sisters Company 1454, young men lived at this location while working to complete conservation projects and assist with land management between 1933 and 1942. Traveling on roads alongside the river, you can explore the area as the Metolius winds through the vacation town of Camp Sherman. You can camp at one of the multiple campgrounds, and also learn about the life cycle of the fish raised at Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery.

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Further ahead is Black Butte Ranch, a planned vacation community that started developing in 1970. At the large ranch, run by a Homeowners Association, there are over 1200 homes, 18 miles of bike paths, 2-18 hole golf courses, 17 tennis courts, five swimming pools and three restaurants. You can also see alternate routes of the Santiam Wagon Road on this property as well. What exactly is Black Butte? Since we crossed the Santiam Pass, we have had some pretty good views of this nearly symmetrical stratovolcano, now directly next to us on the north side of the road. At 6500 feet, Black Butte sits lower than most of the peaks in Central Oregon and is a popular hiking destination. The 3.6 mile loop gives visitors a challenging uphill climb that rewards the hiker with views of two fire lookouts and a panorama of the east side of the Cascades.

 

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A hike up the stratovolcano known as Black Butte allows visitors to have a perfect panoramic view of the high desert of Central Oregon.

While looking around you might notice that this landscape looks a lot different than the other side of the mountains. The Willamette National Forest is decorated by lush flora and fauna, with trees like the state tree, the Douglas Fir, sometimes growing nearly 300 feet tall. Now that we have crossed into Deschutes county and Deschutes National Forest, the ground below has opened up. The dominant coniferous tree is the Ponderosa pine, a tree that is able to survive in drier climates. With warmer days and cooler nights, much like an actual desert, this area of Oregon is often known as the High Desert region. But with so much green, what makes it a desert? The name references the lack of rain and precipitation in the region. While it’s not Mohave Desert dry, it is very dry relative to Western Oregon. In the Willamette Valley there is a yearly average of 154 days of rain with about 40 inches of precipitation. Here you can expect about half the amount of days and a quarter amount of precipitation each year. Whether you need a break from the gray or maybe love to curl up with a book during a rainstorm, your ideal climate could be just over the mountains.

The last stop for this post is Sisters, Oregon. Named for the nearby Three Sisters mountains. This quaint town has an obvious draw and attracts visitors and modern day settlers, doubling its population between 2000 and 2010. It has kept up pace well with the changes, rebuilding streets and adding roundabouts to assist with traffic, although you can still expect to roll slowly through town during the peak season. There is still no stop light on this highway until you get closer to Bend. Just as you enter town is your first opportunity to stop for gas since you began the climb over the Cascades. I’ll tell you more about Sisters in a future post!

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The Three Sisters mountains as seen from Tumalo, Oregon.

Our next section of this tour will take us from Sisters to Bend, through the Deschutes River canyon and near Tumalo, Oregon, pictured above.

This was just an example of six points from our 200+ points of narration between Salem, Eugene, and Bend. We have so many stories ready and waiting! Just download the app and head out for your next Oregon mini-road trip, even for just a few hours. And remember… save a life, wear a mask!

The Together Anywhere Audio Guides are available on both Apple iOS and Google Play stores.

 

Oregon’s racist past part two 1920-today: A timeline of exclusion, segregation, trauma… & repair attempts

This post is the second part to last week’s focus of Oregon’s racist past before 1920.

Together Anywhere develops new ways to travel, through innovative application of modern technologies. We provide unique experiences and connection through entertainment, education, nature and community. As we stand by our mission, we would be complicit to not recognize what is going on across our state, our country, and our world right now.

This timeline is re-posted and adapted with permission from the Oregon Center for Educational Equity:

Looking Back In Order to Move Forward

An Often Untold History Affecting Oregon’s Past, Present and Future

Timeline of Oregon and U.S. Racial, Immigration and Education History

 

1920s 

KKK flourished in Oregon employing all of the same racist terrorism including murder that the hate group conducted in other states. By 1923, Oregon Klan leaders claimed 35,000 members in more than 60 local chapters with tens of thousands more sympathizers who were not official members. Oregon’s Governor from 1922 – 26, Walter M. Pierce, though not a member, was overtly supported by the Klan and he promoted the Klan’s agenda.

 

1922-24

Black men were abducted and threatened with lynching in Medford, Jacksonville and Oregon City. Timothy Pettis, a Black man in Coos Bay was murdered and castrated. No one was charged with any of these crimes.

 

1922

Together with Freemasons, Klansmen spearheaded a drive to outlaw private and parochial schools which they viewed as primary obstacles in their drive for “Americanism.” A Klan initiative required all children between the ages of 8 and 18 to attend public schools. The rallying cry was “One Flag! One School! One Language!” Oregonians, by a margin of 11,000, voted to make their state the first in the U.S. to mandate a strict uniform school system. In 1924, the federal court in Portland declared this law unconstitutional. In 1925 in Pierce v. Society of Sisters, the U.S. Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional as well.

 

1923

The Oregon State Legislature, dominated by members of the Klan, passed a number of restrictive laws. The Alien Land Law prevented first generation Japanese Americans from owning or leasing land. The Oregon Alien Business Restriction Law allowed cities to refuse business licenses to aliens (especially Japanese & Chinese) for the operation of pool halls, dance halls, pawnshops, or soft drink establishments. The law also required grocery stores and hotels run by “aliens” to publicly advertise their nationalities, thereby enabling customers to choose which businesses to discriminate against on the basis of race and ethnicity.

 

1923

An Oregon WWI veteran was denied U.S. citizenship. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Bhagat Singh Thind could not be a naturalized citizen. Anthropologists defined people of India as belonging to the “Caucasian” race. A previous ruling had affirmed that immigration law referring to “White” meant “Caucasian” as it applied to denying citizenship to light skinned Japanese immigrants. In this case, Justice Sutherland argued that the “common man’s” definition of “White” did not correspond to all “Caucasians”. Even though people from India were considered “Caucasian” they were not “White”. Thus the color of skin became the legal qualification for citizenship in the United States.

 

1924

A White man from Alabama moved to Grants Pass with his three Black servants, who may have been enslaved. The local newspaper, printed on their front page “Let’s Keep Grants Pass A White Man’s Town.”

 

1926

Oregon repealed its Exclusion Law, which barred Blacks from the state, by amending the state constitution to remove it from the Bill of Rights. Racist Language remained in the Oregon Constitution until voters passed a bill to remove it in 2000.

 

1927

The Oregon State Constitution was finally amended to remove a clause denying Blacks the right to vote and eliminating restrictions that discriminated against Blacks and Chinese voters.

 

1935

Oregon law officially segregated Mexican students on the basis of being of Indian descent. It made clear to exempt “White Mexicans”– those fair-skinned descendants of the Spaniards who do not have “Indian blood”.

 

1941

Residents of southern Oregon and northern California proposed creation of a new state, Jefferson. A group handed out copies of a Proclamation of Independence. It stated that the state of Jefferson was in “patriotic rebellion against the States of California and Oregon”. Separatists still continue to want a state with less racial diversity and less government intervention.

 

1942

A Japanese submarine shelled Fort Stevens near Astoria. Despite having caused no significant damage, the attack raised awareness of possible future threats. It is the only hostile shelling of a military base on the U.S. mainland during World War II. Also, a Japanese submarine launched seaplanes that dropped bombs on the southern Oregon coast. Incendiary (fire) bombs were to cause fires in the thick Siskiyou National Forest. These events triggered panic in Oregon and increased racism against all Asians.

 

1942

All persons of Japanese heritage, whether U.S. citizens or immigrants, living in the western portion of Oregon (and all western states) were forced to move to camps by the Wartime Civil Control Administration. More than 4,500 Japanese Americans from western Oregon were sent to internment camps: 2/3 were American citizens.

 

During WWII

Oregon’s African-American population grew substantially – in Portland increasing from 2,565 in 1940 to 25,000 in 1944. Over 7,000 “non-white” workers were employed in the Portland shipyards. Although Kaiser had promised good jobs, local unions resisted integration. Many help-wanted notices specified “White only.” After pressure from NAACP, a federal inspection team and a reprimand from President Roosevelt, the unions compromised. More skilled jobs were opened to Blacks, but only for the duration of the war. Blacks were allowed to work in union shops and paid union dues but were denied union benefits. To accommodate the influx of workers, a new town was built in the lowland area adjacent to the Columbia River just north of Portland. First called Kaiserville and then Vanport, it was the world’s largest housing project with 35,000 residents, making it the second largest community in Oregon. With this rise in diversity in populations came signs throughout Portland: “We Cater to White Trade Only.”

 

1943-1947

Large numbers of Mexican laborers under the Mexican Farm Labor Program (MFLP) or Bracero program came to Oregon. Migrant workers were used throughout the state and instrumental to Oregon’s agricultural economics.

 

1944

Balloons launched from Japan and carrying explosive and incendiary bombs drifted on the jet stream to the United States. The goal was to start forest fires and wreak devastation. Oregon alone counted 45 balloon incidents. Balloon bombs caused the only deaths due to enemy action on the U.S. mainland during World War II creating increased fear and suspicion of people of Japanese descent in Oregon.

 

1945

The Oregon House of Representatives passed Joint Memorial No. 9 on February 28, 1945. The statement called on President Roosevelt to prevent the return of Japanese Americans “for the duration of the present war with Japan.” The legislators based their request on what they described as “considerable antagonism to such return” to Oregon. It also claimed that the internees would be “safer and cause less civilian disturbance in the relocation centers.”

 

1945

The former internees who did trickle back to their old homes were often met with open hostility by White neighbors. Some found their homes looted and their orchards vandalized while others endured boycotts of their fruits and vegetables or heard racial slurs or threats. A few were assaulted physically. Along with the many instances of blatant racism, intimidation, and hatred, some Oregonians welcomed and supported the returning Japanese Americans, but hatred was often directed at them.

 

1945 

Hood River received national attention when the local American Legion Post removed the names of 16 “Nisei” (born in the U.S. of parents who were immigrants from Japan) members of the U.S. military from a plaque honoring local armed forces.

 

1947 

In a move to hold Northwest growers accountable for their employment of migrant workers from Mexico, PL – 45, the new Bracero program, required employers to monitor and pay for screening, selection and roundtrip transportation for workers from Mexico to the Northwest. Growers were shocked at the terms of the agreement since the U.S. government had previously paid to provide these services. With growing anti-Mexican sentiment and anxiety about the protests by Braceros who called for decent treatment, the growers refused to pay for these Bracero labor costs ending the legal program in Oregon. Farm labor was still necessary so growers illegally employed migrant workers who often were stranded financially in Oregon unable to leave.

 

1947 

The Urban League of Portland confronted the Housing Authority for not enforcing federal policy of non-discrimination in housing. The local policy was to separate tenants according to race, making it impossible to serve either Whites or People of Color on a first come-first served basis. Some vacant housing in Vanport and Guilds Lake were unavailable to White people because they were in an area designated for Blacks only. The Urban League’s urging had little effect on the Housing Authority actions. The Portland Housing Authority did not integrate its operations until 1950 and even by 1957 was not offering housing to most Blacks.

 

1948 

A Columbia River flood left 39 people dead; obliterating Vanport. It was a declining settlement as non-whites were encouraged to leave once they were no longer needed for the war effort. There was no direct action taken by Portland’s Housing Authority to resettle non-White flood victims. Most displaced Blacks were forced to congregate in the segregated Albina section of town or left the Portland area. Racial discrimination meant no place to live and no more well-paying jobs. A once thriving community full of jazz and other art forms was decimated.

 

1948 

Oregon realtors followed the “National Realtors Code” (based on an earlier state law) that proclaimed that “a realtor shall never introduce into a neighborhood members of any race or nationality whose presence will be detrimental to property values”.

 

1949 

Fair Employment Act empowered the State Labor Bureau to prevent discrimination in employment. Oregon’s Fair Employment Practices Commission is created.

 

1950s-1960s 

Portland Development Commission policies (Model Cities Program and Urban Renewal) result in the destruction and displacement of hundreds of homes, businesses, and institutions in the Albina neighborhood, the heart of the African-American community, to make way for the construction of the Memorial Coliseum, Interstate 5 and the expansion of Emanuel Hospital.

 

1951 

Oregon repealed its law prohibiting interracial marriages.

 

1952 

Hundreds of Oregon Issei, those born in Japan, applied for citizenship after Congress lifted the ban.

 

1952 

Portland School District hired the first African American high school teacher. Robert G. Ford became an English and Social Studies teacher at Roosevelt High.

 

1953 

With passage of a statewide public accommodations law, overt discrimination in public places was banned in Oregon for the first time. Businesses had to remove their racist signage that had limited and segregated access to public places.

 

1953 

The federal “termination” policies dissolved the Klamath, Grand Ronde and Siletz tribal reservations and sanctioned the selling of their tribal lands. U.S. Public Law 588 terminated relationships with Western Oregon Indian Tribes, declaring that the federal government no longer recognized the tribes as Indian nations. U.S. services to Indian tribes ended including treaty rights.

 

1954 

Oregon Governor Douglas McKay resigned to become the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. He led the implementation of the Indian Termination policy removing all federal recognition, eliminating federal aid/benefits/legal responsibilities, and abolishing reservation status thus taking tribally held lands out of a national trust and now subject to local laws and taxes.

 

1957 

The mighty and picturesque Celilo Falls on the Columbia River east of The Dalles was destroyed with the construction of The Dalles Dam. The Falls and a way of life for Indian tribes who had fished there for millennia disappeared. After 11,000 years, the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America ceased to exist with little White dominant culture concern about this destruction of land and culture.

 

1957 

Lawmakers passed the Oregon Fair Housing Act, barring practices that had discriminated against African Americans in buying and renting places to live. This law made it illegal for property owners or their agents receiving any public funding to discriminate “solely because of race, color, religion, or national origin.”

 

1958 

Oregon State Council of Churches joined with Oregon College of Education to provide summer school programs for migrant children. By 1961 permanent programs existed to accommodate migrant children. The Oregonian reported that “Oregon was one of a very few states that offer special school opportunities to migrant children.”

 

1959 

Oregon finally ratified the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which provided that no government may prevent a citizen from voting based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (enslavement).

 

1962 

NAACP charged Portland with having racially segregated schools. Since “neighborhood schools” were located in the legally racially segregated areas of the city, there was little racial integration of Oregon schools and society.

 

1964 

First Fiesta Mexicana held by the Pro Fiesta Mexicanas committee in Woodburn.

 

1965

Busing of African American students began in Portland as the major means to desegregate schools.

 

1967 

What began as a political rally to stir the African American community to “revolution” in Irving Park on Sunday, August 30, 1967 turned into 2 nights of disturbances. 200-300 people threw bottles and rocks at automobiles and through store windows, while a few hurled firebombs. Violence stemmed from on-going frustration with racism and denial of civil rights and fair treatment.

 

1969 

Portland police clash with young Albina residents on Union Avenue (now MLK Jr. Blvd). By 1960, four-fifths of the city’s Black population lived in the Albina neighborhood — a result of racial segregation and isolation — while the vast majority of officers who policed the neighborhood were White with little experience with or training to work in cross-racial interactions.

 

1970s 

School populations decline throughout Oregon leaving far more school facilities than could be fully utilized. With the rise of suburbs, these underused facilities were mainly in urban or older areas usually populated by People of Color and of lower socio- economic status.

 

1970s

Though no current concrete evidence that “Sundown Laws” existed on the statute books has been found in Oregon, there is a rich oral history. It describes signs and attitudes throughout Oregon well into the 1970s that warned Blacks and other People of Color to be out of town by sundown. James Loewen’s book, Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism, documents this practice throughout the U.S.

 

1971 

The Commission for Chicano Affairs established. In 1983 it was renamed the Governor’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs.

 

1973 

Colegio Cesar Chavez, the first Latino four-year college in the U.S., was created on the former campus of Mt. Angel College in Silverton. Its primary aim was to educate migrant workers and other working class people. It closed in 1983 due to lack of support and access to the resources of the dominant culture system.

 

Mid 1970s 

Oregon Indian Education Association was formed. OIEA works to update and help implement the Oregon American Indian/Alaska Native Education State Plan. OIEA continues to help to formulate state policy to eliminate stereotypical Native American mascots in Oregon public schools and keep native languages and cultures alive.

 

1977 

Willamette Valley Immigration Project opened in Portland. It then moved to Woodburn to protect and represent undocumented workers. It was founded in response to an increase in Immigration and Nationalization (INS) raids in Oregon. WVIP provides legal advice and representation to undocumented immigrants.

 

1977 

Kam Wah Chung museum opened in John Day, Oregon to pay tribute to the contributions of Doctor Ing Hay, a legendary herbal doctor, who treated people of all races from Walla Walla to the southern Nevada border. Patients came to him for treatment from throughout the West. He and Long On “broke the racial barriers of the mining frontier and were respected citizens in Eastern Oregon. Even today they are warmly remembered by some of the old-timers in John Day and Canyon City.”

 

1977 

The Confederated Tribe of Siletz Indians became first in Oregon (second in the nation) to regain federal recognition. The U.S. government reversed its stance and restored legal recognition of the Siletz. Self-governance followed in 1992, which allowed tribal control over monetary distribution and programs.

 

1979 

Being denied their legal treaty rights, the Klamath Tribe filed suit in Federal District Court. They worked diligently within the dominant culture judicial system to reaffirm their hunting and fishing rights on former reservation lands. They won their court case.

 

1979 

Vic Atiyeh elected Governor of Oregon, the first governor in the United States of Arabic descent; re-elected in 1983.

 

1980s-1990s 

Oregon had the distinction for the largest Skinhead Movement in the country.

 

Until 1980

Portland used mandatory busing to “improve” racial balance of public schools. Ron Herndon and the Black United Front worked to stop it. The Portland School Board eventually responded with a plan to desegregate schools “voluntarily”: by ending forced busing; infusing the city’s Black schools with extra money and teachers, creating additional “magnet” schools in Black neighborhoods and letting Black and White students transfer out of their neighborhoods to different schools. For the first time, all students, regardless of race, could attend their neighborhood school or go elsewhere. The idea was to boost the quality of the Black schools (by attracting White students) and to give Black students the choice to move to White schools. It had limited impact. Portland schools remain very segregated.

 

1981 

Two police officers dumped dead opossums at an African American-owned restaurant in Portland. The incident evoked ugly KKK imagery and touched off one of the most contentious disputes between police, city government and the public. As a result, a citizen’s committee to review police actions in Portland was created.

 

1981 

El Hispanic News began publication as the first and now oldest Hispanic publication in the Pacific Northwest.

 

1982-84 

After much protest and lobbying by Indian activists, Congress finally restored the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians to federally recognized status. Though recognized status enabled them to move forward with the process of restoring and rebuilding their tribal communities and structures, lasting negative effects of the U.S. government’s 1953 termination policies still persist. Tribes have never recovered their land bases and the natural resources on which their tribal economies and social systems were built.

 

1984 

Oregon voters approved a state lottery. In 1988 when the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act decreed that states could not prevent Native American tribes from offering whatever games the states permitted, Oregon tribes began building casinos on their lands. The development of the gaming industry is considered by many to be the most significant political and economic change for Oregon’s tribes since the termination process of the 1950’s. While revenues from gaming have profound impact, the many issues facing Native Americans living on the reservations are by no means solved by the influx of gaming revenues.

 

1985 

Lloyd Stevenson, an African-American man and former U.S. Marine, was choked to death by a Portland Police officer claiming he mistook him for a robber. On the day of Stevenson’s funeral, two White police officers sold T-shirts showing a smoking handgun and the slogan: “Don’t Choke ‘Em, Smoke “Em.”

 

1988 

Three members of East Side White Pride and White Aryan Resistance (WAR) confronted two Black men in Portland. Mulugeta Seraw was beaten to death with a baseball bat. Ken Mieske said they killed Mr. Seraw “because of his race.” Tom Metzger, head of WAR, said these White Supremacists did a “civic duty” by killing Seraw. Two years later, Seraw’s family won a civil case against Tom and John Metzger for a total of $12.5 million. The Metzgers declared bankruptcy – WAR disbanded.

1990 

Oregon voters passed Measure 5, property tax limitations, that capped spending for public schools. Designed to help equalize support of public education throughout the state, this change from local school funding caused Oregon’s schools to suffer budget reductions despite economic prosperity. 

 

1990s 

Poverty rate increased. Oregon’s child poverty rate shot up 25% between 1993 and 1998, so that one in five children in the state was living in poverty. With educational and social services budget cuts, children suffered.

 

1990 

In Employment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith, Native Americans lost jobs and were denied unemployment benefits because they tested positive after participating in religious use of peyote. The Supreme Court refused them 1st Amendment protection. Justice O’Connor in the dissenting opinion explained that “the 1st Amendment was enacted precisely to protect the rights of those whose religious practices are not shared by the majority and may be viewed with hostility.”

 

1991 

Oregon Legislature passed the Minority Teacher Bill setting the goal that by the year 2001 the number of minority teachers and administrators shall be approximately proportionate to the number of minority children enrolled in public schools. This goal was not reached by 2001, nor is it currently the reality for Oregon schools.

 

1995 

The Chicano/Latino Studies Program was established at Portland State University.

 

1995 

CAUSA, Oregon Immigrant Rights Coalition was formed.

 

1996 

Oregon’s Executive Order 96-30 acknowledged the need for better relationships between state government and federally recognized Indian tribal governments in the state. The Governor created a forum to maximize intergovernmental relations. The forum included an Education Committee.

 

1997 

Ever since the U.S. Army forced the Nez Perce people out of their homeland in the Wallowa Valley of north-eastern Oregon in 1877, the tribe has worked to get some of that land back. By the 1930s the effort had become known as “the Nez Perce lost cause”. In 1997 the Nez Perce Tribe bought 10,000 acres and returned to Wallowa County.

 

1999 

The Oregon legislature held a Day of Acknowledgement to recognize past discrimination earlier legislatures had sanctioned.

 

1999 

Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 103 relating to multicultural education policy for public schools. It called for the development and implementation of guidelines by the Oregon Department of Education by 2003.

 

2000 

Oregonians finally voted to remove all racist language from its constitution which still had a clause that read: “No free Negro, or mulatto, not residing in this state at the time of the adoption of this constitution, shall come, reside, or be within this State, or hold any real estate.” Though discriminatory language was rendered unenforceable by federal laws and amendments, it was not until this election that removal of several examples of institutional racism and oppression were taken out of the Oregon Constitution.

 

2000 

The Oregonian reported that Ron Herndon, Black civil rights activist, arranged a mock casket demonstration in front of the Portland School Board and orchestrated demonstrators shouting: “We’re all fired up! Can’t take no more! No more promises! No more lies!” The mock coffin symbolized the “death sentence” Portland Public Schools handed to low-income and minority students because of the achievement gap in reading, writing and math plus the opportunity gap between them and White students.

 

2005 

Native Language Preservation and Instruction Partnership was formed through a collaborative effort between Oregon’s nine federally-recognized tribes and the Oregon Department of Education to support implementation of endangered American Indian language and culture instruction programs in Oregon schools.

 

2005 

Though new standards for Oregon administrative licensure were developed to include required demonstration of knowledge, skills and dispositions related to cultural competence, the over-whelming numbers of White dominant culture administrative candidates and instructors in licensure programs are ill equipped to understand the complexities necessary to shift the status quo.

 

2006 

Hundreds of thousands Latina/o/x immigrants and others rallied throughout Oregon to protest a federal proposal to make illegal immigration a felony. A “Day Without Immigrants, boycotted work, school & shopping to symbolize the contributions of immigrants.

 

2007 

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel “raided the offices” of Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. in Portland. More than 165 detained workers were sent to a processing facility for possible deportation. Staffing at the plant is the responsibility of American Staffing Resources Inc, whose offices were also raided. Children returned home from school to find a parent detained and in the process of deportation. Schools started to prepare for how to deal with children of deported parents.

 

2007 

An independent investigation commissioned by the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) confirmed that racial slurs and inappropriate actions occurred during and after games at the state basketball tournament between Portland’s Roosevelt High and two Eugene schools, Churchill and North Eugene. Students from the three schools met and worked together on reconciliation and understanding in order to create a positive outcome from the racial ugliness.

 

2007 

The Daily Barometer newspaper of Oregon State University, showed a photograph of a White student in “blackface”. The article encouraged OSU students to “blackout” the football stadium. On November 8th a noose was hanging from a tree outside OSU’s Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. After students complained about the threatening image, the fraternity claimed it was part of their Halloween decorations. Many White students did not understand the horrendous lynching symbolism of a noose.

 

2008 

Eugene Oregon’s 4J school district announced retooling of its decades-old open-enrollment policy because schools there were becoming socioeconomically segregated and many lacked racial and economic diversity.

 

2008 

A family in Medford, Oregon had a cross and the letters KKK burned into their lawn. The man, an immigrant from Jamaica, has lived in Medford with his family since 2000. Medford police considered this incident to be the 5th local “hate crime” that year.

 

2008 

Oregon changed requirements for drivers licenses and state ID cards. Applicants for new, renewal, or replacement licenses, instruction permits, or identification cards must provide acceptable proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful presence in the country. In 2019, Oregon passed The Equal Access to Roads Act that removed this requirement. Motorists still required to pass a driver’s test and prove they live in Oregon.

 

2008 

Oregonians defeated Measure 58 to ban all programs that support bilingualism for English language learners. It would have mandated students to enroll in (undefined) “English immersion classes” for one to two years. After this time, the student would be prohibited by law from receiving instruction in any other language, regardless of the student’s, parent’s or teacher’s choice. The initiative exempted classes which “teach English speaking students a foreign language,” creating the possibility of an alarming inequality in state education policy.

 

2008 

Four students at George Fox University in Newberg confessed to hanging an effigy of Barack Obama from a tree with a sign saying “Act Six Reject”. Act Six is a scholarship and leadership program for Portland students, many of whom are People of Color. The culprits were suspended for up to a year, must complete community service and multicultural education before returning to school. The FBI concluded its investigation with no federal charges filed.

 

2009 

The Oregon Library Association selected the book, Stubborn Twig, about a Japanese American family in Hood River, for the statewide Oregon Reads program to focus on and stimulate dialogue and study of Oregon’s racial and immigration history.

 

2009 

The film, Papers, debuted in Portland Oregon. Undocumented youth share the challenges they face as they turn 18 without legal status. 65,000 undocumented students graduate every year from high school without “papers.” In most cases, it is against the law for them to go to college, work or drive while they also have no path to citizenship.

 

2010 

Oregon League of Minority Voters implemented a new civil rights tactic. They offered scholarships to encourage White college students in Oregon to pursue studies in race relations. “We lack White participation in the racial conversation in this state, so we are trying to do something about it,” says Promise King, executive director.

 

2011

An audit to test whether Black and Latino renters face barriers in the housing in Portland. It found that landlords and leasing agents discriminated in 64% of the tests. The Fair Housing Council sent a Black or Latino tester and a White tester to answer rental ads with a similar script about their employment history, family and incomes. Latinos were treated differently in 17 of 25 tests, and African Americans in 15 of 25. They were quoted higher rent and deposits, given additional fees, not offered applications or move-in specials, or shown inferior units.

 

2012 

Flyers from the United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan were distributed in a Springfield, Oregon neighborhood. Some of the text: “There are thousands of groups working for the interests of blacks and other non-whites, but how many groups stand up for the cultural values of whites? Not many! As a result, we are faced with reverse discrimination in jobs, promotions and scholarships-high taxes for non-whites welfare…anti-white movies and TV shows. In short, a society oriented to the wishes of non-whites!” Readers were encouraged learn more about the KKK.

 

2012 

The Oregon Board of Education voted to ban Native American mascots in schools. The ban affects 16 Oregon high schools which had until 2017 to comply with the order or risk losing their state funding. Critics said Indian mascots are racist, ridicule Indian schools to keep mascots if they get approval from one of the state’s recognized tribes. About a half-dozen are seeking this option.

 

2012 

According to a police report, a Twitter account posted a message with a racial slur directed to an African American student at Lake Oswego High School who had played on the same state championship football team with the perpetrators. The tweet name used a racist cultural characterization of the city of Lake Oswego as “Lake NoNegro.” The targeted Black student left Lake Oswego High three weeks earlier following what he says was a long period of harassment and shunning by his teammates.

 

2013 

Oregon Legislature passed a law to offer in-state tuition for undocumented students (aka Dreamers) who have attended school in the United States for at least five years; studied at an Oregon high school for at least three years, have graduated;  and show intention to become a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

 

2016 

University of Oregon removed Frederick S. Dunn’s name, the former Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan, from a campus residence hall.

 

2016 

University of Oregon law professor, Nancy Shurtz, was placed on administrative leave due to wearing blackface for a Halloween costume party. Mixed reactions emerged from outrage or surprise at the swift reaction by the university.

 

2016 

Elizabeth Woody, of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, became Oregon’s Poet Laureate. She is recognized for her tribute to the lives and landscapes that shape the realities of American Indian life. She will share her works: Hand into Stone, Seven Hands Seven Hearts and Luminaries of the Humble to promote poetry. She proclaims: “I don’t care if people like it, I do it for the people who need my work.”

 

2017

Senate Bill 13 required the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) to develop curriculum relating to the Native American experience in Oregon, including tribal history, tribal sovereignty, culture, treaty rights, government, socioeconomic experiences, and current events.

 

2018 

South Albany High School finally changed its mascot name from “Rebels” to “RedHawks” after years of controversy with the “Johnny Rebel” mascot, a confederate soldier. The “Stars and Bars” Confederate Flag was displayed on campus until 1990 and even a new Confederate soldier became the image of the mascot at that time.

 

2019 

Racial slurs and harassment create unsafe environments for students at Oregon schools and sanctioned events. They are not isolated incidents. Men in the bleachers at St Helens High School yelled racist slurs at the Parkrose girls’ basketball players, including the “n-word” and made monkey noises and told them to go back to Africa and across the border. No one – parents, referees nor other students – said anything to these men nor urged them to stop. Woodburn girls’ soccer team was harassed by a group of boys who walked into the stadium waving a White Nationalist flag and yelling racial slurs. The girls were also viciously confronted by other students who called them “beaners – bitches”. Students at Portland’s Wilson, Franklin and Cleveland High Schools reported racial hate incidents. In a letter from Wilson students of Color they stated: “We don’t feel safe in a place where everywhere we go we are minority, facing hate and ignorance at every corner, with only a select group of teachers to support us.”

This is the end of the timeline from the Oregon Center for Educational Equity.

2020

History is still being written. Look outside. Speak the truth. Black Lives Matter. 

Together Anywhere will do our best to always tell authentic, truthful stories, even when the truth is hard.

Oregon’s racist past part one BCE – 1920: A timeline of exclusion, segregation & trauma

 

Together Anywhere develops new ways to travel, through innovative application of modern technologies. We provide unique experiences and connection through entertainment, education, nature and community. As we stand by our mission, we would be complicit to not recognize what is going on across our state, our country, and our world right now. 

As we have been preparing to publicly and commercially launch our app, we must pause yet again. This time, not for fear of death from COVID-19 but for fear of the death of our own morality. This is not a time to distract and tell people about vacation and road trips. It is a time to LEARN. TO LISTEN. AND TO STAND UP.

This is a follow up to the personal perspective related to the experience of race in Oregon and our message is the same:

WE CANNOT HEAR UNLESS WE LISTEN.

WE CANNOT HEAL UNLESS WE KNOW THESE STORIES.

WE CANNOT CHANGE THINGS UNLESS WE CONFRONT PRIVILEGE.

An audio summary of race in Oregon that we share on the Together Anywhere Audio Guides app:

Rather than try to write a research paper on the multi-layered history of race and ethnicity, we have adapted an article regarding significant events in Oregon’s history related to race and immigration.

This timeline is re-posted and adapted with permission from the Oregon Center for Educational Equity:

Looking Back In Order to Move Forward

An Often Untold History Affecting Oregon’s Past, Present and Future

Timeline of Oregon and U.S. Racial, Immigration and Education History

 

Time Immemorial

The geographical region now known as Oregon was one of the most linguistically rich places on earth with over 30 distinct languages, some of which remain alive today. There are different theories about the history of these first peoples. The origin stories of many of the Native American societies state that they were created in essentially those geographical locations where they were when first encountered by Europeans.

 

12-14,000 BCE (Before the Common Era)

Physical evidence in the historic Modoc Klamath and Paiute territory excavated by Luther Cressman in 1938 and later by UO anthropologists from 2002-2010 scientifically confirmed the ancient human activity in Oregon. The site is accepted by anthropologists as one of the oldest known inhabited sites in North America. 10,000+ year old sandals and other artifacts are displayed at the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History in Eugene.

 

7,300 BCE

A body of a prehistoric man found on the banks of the Columbia River on the Washington-Oregon border in 1996 was dubbed by dominant culture scientists, the Kennewick Man. Using the rights guaranteed in the Native American Graves Protection & Repatriation Act, the Umatilla tribe sought custody of the remains for reburial. The U.S. Supreme Court awarded scientists jurisdiction over the skeletal remains since no genetic link could trace him to the Umatilla Tribe. In 2015, further DNA findings confirmed The Ancient One was Native American, so the tribes who claim him as their ancestor could begin the process of reclaiming his remains under NAGPRA. He was returned to the tribes in 2017.

 

400 – 500 CE (In the Common Era)

Historical and archaeological research provides evidence that Kanaka (Native Pacific Islanders) and Chinese visited and traded with indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest at least a thousand years before Europeans arrived.

 

1543

After 16,000 documented years of indigenous people living here, Spanish explorers claimed for Spain the land they sighted off the Oregon Coast north of the forty-second parallel near the Rogue River.

 

1792

Captain Gray and crew entered and named the Columbia River. This expedition gave the U.S. claim to the Oregon Territory. Marcus Lopez, cabin boy of Captain Robert Gray, became the first person of African descent known to have set foot on Oregon soil and the first to be killed by Native Americans near Tillamook.

 

1805 

York (William Clark’s Black body servant—slavery’s version of a valet) came west with Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery. A Shoshone woman, Sacajawea, acted as a skilled interpreter and guide to explore and document the Pacific Northwest. Sacajawea had been taken prisoner by a rival tribe and then sold to a French Canadian trapper who later described her as his wife. She carried and cared for her infant son on the trip. The mission was part of U.S. expansion plans for the Louisiana Purchase and beyond. The southern and western boundaries of which were undefined at the time. The journey supported the country’s sense of “manifest destiny”: the belief that the U.S. was justified and in fact ought to occupy and rule all land from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

 

1811

Fur traders employed by New York merchant, John Jacob Astor, built a trading post named Astoria. They traded mostly for beaver pelts and became the first permanent White residents of Oregon.

 

1830s – 40s

The Hudson Bay Company listed a substantial number of Hawaiian and Tahitian workers. By the 1840’s, 40% of the laborers at Fort Vancouver were Pacific Islanders working as cooks, gardeners, servants, millers and sailors. They were forced to live outside of Fort Vancouver in a segregated area called Kanaka Village. Though this early presence in Oregon makes them an integral part of its history, their story has been invisible to most Oregonians.

 

1832 

At Fort Vancouver, the first school in the Oregon Territory was established to teach the Métis (children of White fathers and Indian mothers) boys at the fort.

 

1833 

The first school in what was to become the state of Oregon opened exclusively for White students in Marion County.

 

1836 

Encroachment and settlement by missionaries (the Whitmans and Spaldings) into Oregon also brought a measles outbreak. Many Indians lacking immunity to White diseases died. Distraught with grief, a group of Cayuse men sought revenge. The altercation was reported by the Whites as a “massacre” when in fact far more Indians died from the measles infestation. The national attention blaming all Indians directly led to the violent U.S. military response called the Cayuse War.

 

1842 

The first Oregon university opens. Wealthy White Oregonians attended Willamette University after private grammar schools. 

 

1843 

Oregon’s territorial government adopted a measure “prohibiting slavery” that required slaveholders to free their slaves with the added requirement that all Blacks must leave the territory within three years.

 

1844 

Acts to prohibit slavery and to exclude Blacks and Mulattoes (mixed race) from Oregon were passed. The infamous “Lash Law,” required that Blacks in Oregon – “be they free or slave – be whipped twice a year until he or she shall quit the territory.” It was soon deemed too harsh and its provisions for punishment were reduced to forced labor.

 

1845

Sandwich Islander Tax Bill was designed by the all-White territorial leaders to not only raise revenue but to ensure that Pacific Islanders would never become permanent residents of Oregon. People of Color were wanted as a labor force and as a source of revenue, but not welcome members of the state. White employers were required to pay a tax of $5 for each “Kanaka” (a term for workers from the Pacific Islands) they brought into the Oregon Territory and $3 annually for each “Kanaka” in their service.

 

1848-1879 

Three decades of continuous conflict between Whites and Indian tribes started with the Cayuse War continuing until Indian tribes were forced onto and confined to reservations. Anson Dart, Oregon Territory’s first Superintendent of Indian Affairs, organized reservations on remote, semiarid land east of the Cascades. Tribes of the coast and Willamette Valley balked at the move. Efforts to obtain reservation land west of the Cascades ran afoul of the Oregon Donation Land Claim Act. This law sanctioned homesteading without regard for the legal obligations to Indian titles to the land. Only a few remote parcels of land not yet encumbered by White claims were procured as reservation land.

 

1848 

President Polk appointed Joseph Lane as Governor of the new Oregon Territory. Lane was raised in North Carolina and held southern pro-slavery beliefs. He had fought in and supported the Mexican American War to expand U.S. control of the North American continent. In 1849 he began his duties by overseeing the surrender and execution of five Cayuse Indians accused in relation to the “Whitman Massacre.” (see 1836 entry) Lane County is named after him.

 

1848

US established the Territory of Oregon. Samuel Thurston an elected territorial delegate informed Congress that the “first prerequisite step” to settlement was removal of Indians. The 1850’s was tragic for most Native Peoples in Oregon as White Settlers conducted a “Race War” to drive Indians from their traditional gathering grounds and government representatives pushed confusing treaties that were not honored leading to most Native peoples of the Willamette Valley relocated to the Siletz and Grand Ronde reservations. These reservations effectively marginalized and oppressed their very ways of life. Confined to reservations and suffering persistent ravages of disease, inadequate housing and starvation, the population of Native Peoples continued to decline. Annual deaths exceeded birth rates well into the 20th century demonstrating striking legacy of the inhumanity of reservation policy.

 

1850

The Oregon Donation Land Act was enacted by the U.S. Congress to promote homestead settlement in the Oregon Territory; swelling the ranks of emigrants on the Oregon Trail. It granted free land to “Whites and half-breed Indians” in the Oregon Territory. This act dispossessed Native peoples and prevented many non-Whites, especially Blacks and Hawaiians, from claiming land in Oregon even if they had already settled here whether they had previous deeds to the land or not.

 

1850 – 1855

Indian agents signed more than 20 treaties negotiating rights and land titles of Oregon tribes. Most of these treaties were not approved in the Senate, but tribal leaders believed in the promises made to them in the process. Ratified treaties were those that extinguished Indian land titles in the Willamette Valley forcefully moving tribes to reservations outside the valley.

 

Mid 1850’s

Mexican mule packers dominated the overland trade routes between northern California and southern Oregon. They supplied the Second Regiment Oregon Mounted Volunteers during the Rogue River Indian Wars. They played a very valuable role in communication and transportation of supplies throughout the Oregon Territory.

 

1851

Jacob Vanderpool, a Black owner of a saloon, restaurant and boarding house in Salem, was the only person known officially to have been kicked out of the Oregon Territory because of his skin color based on the Exclusion Laws.

 

1853

Robin Holmes, a former Oregon enslaved person, successfully sued to free his 3 children oppressed in slavery on a farm near Rickreall. Slavery in Oregon continued despite the ruling in Holmes v. Ford with Oregon slave holders still reporting owning people who were enslaved on the1860 Census. A major result of this case was that Oregon law was changed to disallow testimony by African Americans against Whites in Oregon courts.

 

1854

Oregon’s Exclusion Law was repealed, to be replaced three years later by amending the Oregon Constitution with similar exclusionary language to keep Blacks out of Oregon. (Racist language was not removed from the official Constitution until 2000.)1855After the gold strikes in southern Oregon, pro-slavery forces advocated forming a new state in southern Oregon and northern California. It failed when Californians rejected the idea of reducing the size of their state but resurfaced in 1941.

 

1856

Rogue River Indian Wars ended. Native Americans forced onto 2 newly created reservations: Siletz and Grand Ronde.

 

1857

Oregon residents voted against slavery but in favor of excluding “free Negroes” from the state. The state’s African American population faced either leaving the state or suffering southern-style segregation, discrimination and racism. Meanwhile, a new exclusion law was added by popular vote to Oregon Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

 

1858

Just prior to statehood, Oregon elected its first state officials. Governor “Honest John” Whiteaker, as well as many lesser officials, were well known for their pro-slavery and White supremacy views.

 

1859

On February 14, 1859, after the all-White US Congress accepted Oregon’s petition, it became the only state admitted to the Union with an “exclusion law” written into a state’s constitution; prohibiting slavery yet ordering all “Free Blacks” out of the state.1860’sLarge numbers of Asians, primarily Chinese, began to arrive mostly to mine and construct railroads.

 

1860’s

Mexican miners joined the Oregon Gold Rush but often faced prejudice and discrimination. One of the important technologies they brought with them was the arrastre, a large, but inexpensive, stone device for crushing quartz to remove the gold.

 

1861

The Knights of the Golden Circle, an anti-Union/pro-slavery group, opened chapters throughout Oregon. Their ultimate goals were to secede from the U.S., support the Confederacy, and create a Pacific Coast Republic.

 

1862

Oregon adopted a law requiring all Blacks, Chinese, Hawaiians (Kanakas), and Mulattos (an archaic term referring to people of mixed racial/ethnic heritage) residing in Oregon to pay an annual tax of $5. If they could not pay, the law empowered the state to press them into service maintaining state roads for 50 cents a day. Also, interracial marriages were banned. It was illegal for Whites to marry anyone 1⁄4 or more Black.

 

1863

Portland ordinance required Chinese laundries to pay $25 quarterly fee. (Later declared unconstitutional)

 

1864

The Knights of the Golden Circle, a White supremacy group in Oregon, were openly militant in their support of the Confederacy. The group fell apart when it became apparent that the Union was going to win the Civil War.

 

1864

It became illegal in Oregon to entice an “Indian” or “half-breed” to leave the reservation. Discrimination, strict segregation and cultural assimilation was enforced to control Native peoples as White settlers took over the most fertile and resource-rich Indian lands, confining tribes to desolate reservations far removed from their traditional lands.

 

1866

Oregon’s citizens did not pass the Fourteenth Amendment, granting citizenship to Blacks. Exclusion Laws were still in effect making it illegal for Blacks to live in Oregon.

 

1866

It was illegal for Whites and Blacks to marry in Oregon. The White state legislature also banned interracial marriages to prevent Whites from marrying anyone 1⁄4 or more Chinese, or Hawaiian, and 1⁄2 or more Indian.

 

1867

Even though the total Black population in Oregon in the 1860’s numbered 128, African American children were prohibited from attending public schools. Portland assigned Black and Mulatto children to a segregated school. (Census of 1870 lists Oregon’s total population at 90,923.)

 

1867

Portland School District opened the “Colored-School” for 26 African American boys and girls, as a compromise since they opposed integration. It closed in 1873 and 30 Black students were spread among 21 classes in the existing schools.

 

1868

Corvallis College was designated as the Agricultural College of Oregon and established for White people (later OSU) under the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862. (part of the on-going appropriation of Indian lands). It became the first state-supported institution of higher education and was charged with training White teachers to teach White students.

 

1869

Mexican vaqueros drove large herds of cattle from California to eastern Oregon helping to develop the ranching business in that part of the state and therefore settlement.

 

1869

Oregon’s first public high school opened in Portland for White students — what is now Lincoln High School.

 

1877

The Nez Perce Tribe was attacked by the U.S. Army in their NE Oregon homeland. Chief Joseph and his people refused to submit to be forced to go to a reservation which was against their treaty rights. Instead, Chief Joseph tried to lead 800 of his people to safety in Canada. Fighting for their survival against the U.S. Army all along their 1100-mile journey, they were trapped just 40 miles from Canada where they hoped to be free from U.S. persecution. After a five-day fight, with only 431 remaining Nez Perce, Chief Joseph made his speech of surrender stating: “From here to where the sun sets, I will fight no more forever.”

 

1879

Chemawa Indian Boarding School opened in Salem as the third Indian boarding school in the nation. These schools were designed to force assimilation of Indian children into White culture and teach them vocational skills. Students were prohibited from speaking their tribal languages or practicing any of their traditional customs/culture. (This Indian School still operates in Salem, but their mission is to honor unique tribal cultures while providing accredited successful education in support of Alaskan Natives and Native American youth. In 2019, in testimony to Congress, numerous problems were reported at the federally run boarding school: serious health and safety issues, academic weaknesses, lack of financial oversight, retaliation for complaining and overall poor cultural support for the Native youth.)

 

1880

By this date, the U.S. government had forced most Indians of the Northwest onto reservations.1880’sHostility and violence toward the Chinese, who were the largest ethnic minority group in Oregon, were wide spread. Chinese immigrants were driven by mobs out of Oregon City, Mount Tabor and Albina. Many of the over 9,000 Chinese living in Oregon felt compelled to move into sections just outside city centers to establish China Towns for their protection and commerce.

 

1883

An attempt to amend the Oregon Constitution to remove its ban on Black suffrage failed despite the fact that the clause in question was rendered moot following the passage of the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (Further attempts to remove this language prohibiting Blacks from voting were unsuccessful in 1895, 1916 and 1927. Many racist and discriminatory sections in the Oregon Constitution were not changed until 2000)

 

1884

The Oregon statewide railroad system was completed connecting all regions of the state. Oregon remained relatively isolated until completion. The Central Pacific’s Chinese immigrant workers received $26-$35 a month for a 12-hour day, 6-day work week and had to provide their own food and tents. White workers received about $35 a month and were furnished with food and shelter. Chinese workers saved as much as $20 a month which many eventually used to buy land. They earned a reputation as tireless and extraordinarily reliable workers. 12,000 of the Central Pacific railroad’s 13,500 employees were Chinese immigrants.

 

1886 

Members of the “Anti-Coolie League” burned the homes and Chinese markets and dynamited two laundries before giving all Chinese 30 days to leave Portland. Even though the mayor activated the militia and police to intervene against the threats, many Chinese returned to China or migrated to San Francisco to leave the hostile environment in Oregon. 

 

1888 

Near Enterprise, Oregon, a brutal massacre of at least 34 Chinese gold miners was covered up. Though a trial by their White peers acquitted 3 White men of murder and mutilation of the bodies, the ring-leaders fled the area and were never tried. Rumors put the figure from $3,000 to more than $50,000. The trial attracted little attention from the press, and local White people swept the mass murder under the rug for more than a century. In 1995, a county clerk opened an old safe in the Wallowa County Courthouse and found a long-secreted cache of documents detailing the White community’s complicity with the massacre.

 

1890’s

Banning Chinese immigration contributed to a dramatic increase in Japanese immigrants to Oregon: typically young males arriving without families. They came to work on railroads, in lumber and canning industries and as farm workers. Many restaurants and businesses posted signs reassuring customers that they employed no Asian help.

 

1898 

The all-White Oregon Historical Society started as an elitist organization of White pioneer ancestors focused on White dominant culture genealogy and history. It was no less exclusive and biased than the White Daughters of the American Revolution. They focused on proving and preserving the history of the White dominant culture pioneer experience as the single historical record rather than focusing on research/documentation of an inclusive, diverse history of Oregon.

 

1902 

Alonzo Tucker, an African-American living in Coos Bay, is the only documented lynching of a Black man in Oregon. No charges were ever brought against the mob who killed him. Other forms of murder of Blacks in Oregon were recorded though.

 

1903

The Advocate started as a weekly newspaper for the “intelligent discussion and authentic diffusion of matters appertaining to the colored people, especially of Portland and the State of Oregon.” It featured birth/death announcements, society news, and general good news about African Americans. Articles about segregation, lynching, employment opportunities and race issues related to the realities of “Jim Crow” laws (laws of racial segregation directed against Blacks). They advocated for civil rights on the local, state, and national agenda. The newspaper challenged attempts to deprive Black people of their rights and their humanness.

 

1910

Oregon ranked seventh among states outside the Southwest with Mexican born migrant workers. Between 1910 – 1925 Mexican workers were contracted to work on sugar beet farms and on railroads. Farm workers marked the first Mexican families to settle permanently in the state. Oregon’s agriculture relied on the large numbers of Mexican resident and migrant workers until wide- spread mechanization in the 1950’s.

 

1910

Fueled by racial prejudice against “turbaned fellows” and Hindus, Whites violently rioted against East-Asians in Portland. Two hundred local residents, including prominent members of the community, attacked the town’s East-Indian population forcibly placing them on trains and sending them out of Portland.

 

1916

The Portland chapter of the NAACP, the oldest continually chartered chapter west of the Mississippi River was founded in 1914. Two years later, with the release of D.W. Griffith’s racist and violently anti-Black sensational film about the Civil War and Reconstruction (Birth of a Nation), these Black leaders persuaded the Portland City Council to pass an ordinance banning the showing of any film that would stir up race hatred. Despite this law, several White theaters showed it. President Woodrow Wilson showed the film in the White House and heralded it as an epic movie giving support to the racist KKK who had a resurgence of violence against Blacks.

 

1919 

Portland Board of Realty approved a “Code of Ethics” prohibiting realtors and bankers from selling property or providing mortgages in White neighborhoods to People of Color. Maps of these restricted areas had red lines thus the term “Red Lining”.

 

Part Two will look at the last 100 years of racism in Oregon.

 

Race in Oregon: a personal perspective

Together Anywhere develops new ways to travel, through innovative application of modern technologies. We provide unique experiences and connection through entertainment, education, nature and community.

As we stand by our mission, we would be complicit to not recognize what is going on across our state, our country, and our world right now. 

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been preparing to publicly and commercially launch our Oregon travel app. However, we must pause yet again. This time, not for fear of death from COVID-19 but for fear of the death of our own morality. This is not a time to distract and tell people about vacation, entertainment, and road trips. It is a time to LEARN. TO LISTEN. AND TO STAND UP.

In our next post, we will share a more specific timeline of Oregon and its racist past. But first, a personal perspective. To prepare, here are a few facts about the reality of Oregon’s and the United States’ history:

TA Blackout
https://www.coalitioncommunitiescolor.org/

While we hope to someday hire a mix of diverse employees, for now, our small, three person startup company is made up of a typical Oregon ethnic make-up: white and European. Our partner and narrator Andrew is a white male, born and raised in Oregon. Our partner Arnaud is -literally- a white European from Belgium. He moved here in 2017.

And myself, Christy, I am a white woman from Missouri who transplanted here to Oregon in 2008. As one of the primary content writers for Together Anywhere, I continually strive to evaluate my bias, my privilege, and increase my understanding. This is my personal story of unpacking privilege and re-educating myself…. and the learning that continues to this day.

My heart is breaking so much right now. I am so scared for the future of our country. I am frightened by the pain and violence, and scared for people’s lives, especially with a pandemic still going on. However, I am mostly scared that again, nothing will change. But this time feels different. In the last week, it has become clear that people are ready for a battle. This is unsettling. It is uncomfortable. And this is needed. And it is coming.

I’m taken back to elementary school. I have to admit that I didn’t really know much about black people, racism, or black history other than the common textbook lessons: Abraham Lincoln ended slavery and Martin Luther King, Jr. ended segregation. Looking back, these were the two general stories we were told to have us think that white people had graciously done what was right…. but we weren’t really told how they had fucked it all up in the first place.

I digress, anyway, back to the 1980s… we watched the Cosby’s on TV and my whole family laughed and loved the Huxtables. I don’t remember much being mentioned about the color of their skin. And I realize now that they were likely the vision of the black family that white people wanted to see and imagine as equal to them. We saw them on TV, that must be what is normal, right?

Another memory takes me to the one black student in my grade. At least I think he was the only one. And I still remember his name. For privacy sake, I’ll not state it here but my mind is turned again to that time… what must it have been like for him? I don’t know if any of us were asking that question at that time.

My small hometown in southeastern Missouri had an “average” black/white diversity but like most cities, it was segregated in ways that history dictated. Most of the black kids went to that one elementary school across town and the kid who went to our school, well, I want his story now. I want to remember if I invited him to my fifth grade party that year. And if not, why?

I remember my grandparents using the word “colored” as I grew up and I knew it just didn’t feel right. Then there is my father, who most would call an open-minded loving man, subtly insinuating that while he could understand homosexuality, mixed race couples had too many hurdles to face in this world. The message I heard: You can be a lesbian but don’t you dare date someone of a different race.

Fast forward to my mid-twenties in 2007 and I’m in the big city of St. Louis; I started getting to know a black man more intimately. I’ll call him B. He was only visiting St. Louis due to a family illness and lived primarily in California. I had lost a mother, he was losing his mother. Through his multiple visits to the city, through writing and texting, we talked of pain and loss. We had fun, we distracted each other in our shared grief. I was drawn to his adventurous lifestyle and his open worldview, I mean, he was a Californian… he had escaped.

B also traveled to countries across the world for work after breaking free from the Midwest years before. At that point in my life, I hadn’t even been to Mexico or even New York City… I longed to know what else was out there, beyond the borders that had kept me scared of the rest of the world. I admired B’s ability to get out of Missouri, to challenge the known and unknown, and his bravery to go at life alone. And surprisingly (or not surprisingly?) we talked very little about race.

In the end, it was B that gave me the courage to finally make a plan to leave St. Louis and the Midwest. But it’s sad when I think about it: B was one of the most influential people in my life at that time and I couldn’t even tell my father about our relationship.

When I told B that I had finally mustered up the courage to move 2,000 miles across the country, he was supportive and encouraging. However, B paused and laughed at the thought of coming to visit me, insinuating what he already knew about Oregon. I didn’t think much of it, planning for us to reconnect since he would be nearby in California… we would be neighbors after all!

Without B needing to tell me, one of the first things I noticed when I arrived to Oregon was its’ WHITENESS. I had been living in the ‘big city’ for the previous ten years, working in schools with a focus on kids with special needs. It seemed diverse in race, ethnicity, and socio-economic class… at least that is what my privileged lens saw. One look at the divide in staff makeup would have shown me otherwise. My new job at Oregon State Hospital in Salem, Oregon, also gave me the illusion of diversity as it has a very heterogeneous workforce and patient population. However, out in public, in downtown Salem, at the coast, in the mountains, and even in downtown Portland, the whiteness was pervasive.

And shamefully, I became used to it. And even more shamefully, I eventually ignored it. Suddenly, when I would travel away from Oregon, I started to notice race in ways I never had before. I noticed the black people working certain types of jobs separate from white people. With no direct flights from Portland to St. Louis at that time, I transferred between many US cities. I suddenly noticed my own thoughts of racism and fear when I was in more predominately black areas, like Minneapolis or Chicago, over cities like Salt Lake City or Denver.

After us meeting once in California, B did come to visit me in Oregon in 2010. We spent the weekend in Portland and I brought him to my new home in Salem. It was a whirlwind trip and of course he joked about the lack of black people in Oregon. I had never been so aware of my own whiteness. I recall the embarrassment I felt of living in a place so washed out to diversity. And what did that mean about me?

From a small midwestern town, to the big city of St. Louis, to white Oregon, my views of racism and ethnicities and my own privilege were being thrown in my face. My graduate schooling in counseling sent me head first into multicultural studies and increased awareness of white privilege. Finally, I was traveling to different countries, exploring cultures, and learning about what it means to be walking around the world in the skin of a white person. From Mexico to Cuba to Hawaii to Europe and back to Oregon, I was finally learning how everything I had been taught was wrong.

“The paradox of education is precisely this – that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.” – James Baldwin

In 2016, after graduate school ended, I left the state hospital to begin my next level of education at Chemawa Indian School. This, my friends, is where the idea for Together Anywhere gets started. If you don’t know the story of the boarding schools in the United States, be prepared to have your world forever altered. At least, mine was.

As I showed up to this place every day, working with Native kids from all around the United States, I wondered, ‘How does this school exist in Oregon, for nearly 150 years, without people talking about it?’ ‘Why is it so separate from our understanding?’ ‘How do we get people to learn these stories?’ ‘How do the white people of Oregon, and everywhere, recognize that there was a lot that happened to set up our lives here?’ And, most importantly, ‘How do we have a voice to change things?’

My unlearning has perhaps come late. I mean, I’m 40 years old now, and my education of my own privilege didn’t even begin until my late twenties, until I left Missouri and entered white Oregon. But it doesn’t mean it is too late. We can unpack our privilege, we can continue learning, we can listen, we can stand up for what is right.

I look at “young” people today and I realize I am no longer one of them. I am part of the older generation, their parents generation. We are the ones who have grown up with racist parents and grandparents and have our own memories about our shameful views on race. We are the ones who are being challenged by today’s young people to activate, to dismantle the aggressive use of force, to move us into a more balanced and aware society.

As someone who spent nearly 40 years in schools, my background is one of an educator. As a person with a mental health degree, my background is in trauma and healing. Here is what I know:

WE CANNOT HEAR UNLESS WE LISTEN.

WE CANNOT HEAL UNTIL WE RECOGNIZE OUR PAINFUL STORIES.

WE CANNOT CHANGE THINGS WITHOUT CONFRONTING PRIVILEGE.

I don’t know exactly what to do, but I will do all I can and listen to the black community for guidance about what we need to do.

In our next post, Together Anywhere will explore the reasons why Oregon has one of the most saddening pasts of race in our entire union. We will learn about the reason that Oregon was 97% white until just 50 years ago and why the state constitution contained racist language until 2000! As a company, Together Anywhere will continue to promote truth, education, and equity. Because, we have to tell the stories, even when they don’t make us feel good.

Some places to start educating yourself:

Japanese History in the Hood River Valley – Hear in the Gorge Podcast

The Racist History of Portland, the Whitest City in America – The Atlantic

How Oregon’s Racist History Can Sharpen Our Sense of Justice Right Now – PDX Monthly

 

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