Treaty agreements between Native Americans and the federal government include the right to fish at “usual and accustomed places.” Celilo Falls, on the Columbia River near The Dalles, had been a major fishing, trading, and gathering place for thousands of years, and Indians continued to fish there into the 1950s. Fishermen used elaborate platforms to navigate the fast-moving and strong falls. In 1957, the completed The Dalles Dam inundated Celilo and the nearby village, effectively ending millennia of Native fishing practices.
The Fort Yamhill Blockhouse was built in 1856 on the edge of the newly created Grand Ronde Reservation to regulate contact between Native peoples and white settlers. The U.S. soldiers stationed there had the unusual task of keeping homesteaders out of the reservation in order to preserve the land agreements outlined by treaty. (Most blockhouses served the interests of the settlers against the Native population.) During the Civil War, the blockhouse was decommissioned and transferred to the reservation; preservationists eventually moved it to Dayton, Oregon, where it still stands.
Among the many gambling games played for millennia by Native peoples in Oregon are stick games. The games are variously simple or elaborate, and forms of them have been found across the West, Canada, and Alaska. This photo of a “stick game in progress” was taken by Andrew Kershaw, a U.S. federal Indian agent and physician at the Grand Ronde Reservation during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
In 1856, thousands of Native people were removed from their traditional lands in western Oregon and marched or shipped along what became known as the Oregon Trail of Tears to the newly formed Siletz and Grand Ronde Reservations. Members of the Hudson family were likely part of that forced resettlement, and their descendants have continuously lived in Grand Ronde. Indian agent Andrew Kershaw took this photo of John Hudson, Mattie Hudson, Gertrude Hudson, Marie Hudson, Martha Sands, and Pearl Hudson. The Hudsons are renowned basket makers.
This studio portrait of Allie Riggs (center) of Grand Ronde, with two unidentified women, was taken by the Cherrington Bros. in Salem. Many of their photos of Native Americans were packaged and sold as postcards. This image was included in the negatives the Cherringtons left behind when they sold out to Thomas Cronise, which became part of the collection Cronise donated to OHS.
This unidentified Grand Ronde woman and child posed for Indian agent Andrew Kershaw in what is likely the 1890s. Many of Kershaw’s records and photographs are held at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Spirit Mountain is part of the traditional homeland of the Yamel Kalpuyans, who called it dji’ntu. It is a sacred site to the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, although it is owned in part by the Stimson Lumber Company. Members of the Grand Ronde continue to collect plants and nuts from the mountain and hold gatherings at the summit.
OHS, 1904, 019372
Thomas J. Cronise and the Chemawa Indian Boarding School photographs
In 1893, siblings Thomas and Anna Cronise opened a photography studio—Cronise & Cronise—on the corner of State and High Streets in Salem. Tom left the studio in 1894, and Anna and her husband Howard Trover continued to run the business as Cronise Studios and later as the Trover-Cronise Photo Studio. Tom opened his own Salem studio in 1902 under his own name. His wife Nellie and son Harry went into business with him and eventually took over the studio in 1927 when Tom died. Harry Cronise kept the studio open into the 1970s.
As early as 1904, Tom Cronise had begun marketing his portrait photography for $0.50 a photo to people who attended classes and lived at Chemawa Indian Boarding School, north of Salem. He took hundreds of photographs of people at Chemawa and in the Salem area, and the Oregon Historical Society holds many of the original negatives. Fortunately, Cronise attached names to most of his photographs, and while we include them here it is not always clear which person in the image belongs to that name. This is likely a result of Cronise's accounting system—the person who commissioned the entry was named, and others in the photo were listed as "friends" or "family."