Where to find Native American History
Interview with Native American artist Robert Kennta, part of the project titled, Extending the Conversation, at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University in Salem.
An estimated 80,000 Kalapuya Native Americans once resided in the Willamette Valley.
Today, descendants of the Kalapuya continue to live in the area, and some are members of The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon, a federally recognized Tribe that includes over 30 Tribes and bands from western Oregon, northern California and southwest Washington.
In 2014, the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde opened Chachalu Museum and Cultural Center, which tells the story of the Tribes and honors the elders who kept traditions and dreams alive during the years of termination. The museum is open to the public, and includes traditional artifacts and information as well as a research room for those who want more in-depth learning.
You can also learn about Native American history and art with a visit to the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem. The museum maintains an extensive collection of both traditional and fine art by Native American artists; their current exhibition, Time in Place, features works by Native American artists and artifacts from Indigenous People, including a sandal fragment that is over 9,000 years old. Nearby, at the Willamette Heritage Center, permanent exhibits in the 1840’s homes explore the experiences of Native Americans in the Willamette Valley.
Many artifacts – physical, pictorial and written – from the eras of 1842 to 1960, including historical information about the Native Kalapuya are on display at the Polk County Museum, a 14,000-square foot facility located about eight miles west of Salem.
Just north of Salem lies Champoeg State Heritage Area. The Champoeg prairie was home to Kalapuya Indians, who had used the area for hunting, fishing, and gathering camas bulbs for thousands of years. Exhibits inside the Visitors Center tell some of the stories of the Kalapuya and their interactions with the fur trappers who started arriving in the early 1800’s.