Jefferson County Community Profile
Jefferson County was created on December 12, 1914 out of a territory that was once part of Crook County. The county was named after Mount Jefferson which is the second highest mountain in Oregon. Jefferson County is bounded on the north by Wasco County, one the east by Wheeler and Crook Counties, on the south by DeschutesCounty and on the west by Linn and Marion Counties.
The population in Jefferson County was estimated in 2000 at 19,009 residents and encompasses 1791 square miles.
Grazing cattle, wheat farming, seed, potatoes, hay and mint are major agricultural products from the county. Forest products are important to the economy as well.
Warm Springs Reservation is located on portions of land in four counties including over 1,000 square miles of north central Oregon. The land is a small portion (640,000 acres) of the original territory ceded by the United States government under the treaty of 1855. The nearly 3,911 members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Indians trace their ancestry to the Wascos, upper and lower Deschutes bands of Walla Wallas, (Warm Springs) and Northern Pauite people who established permanent residence on the Reservation more than 140 years ago. The people of Warm Springs have derived their physical and spiritual sustenance from the rich resources of land, water, fish, game, berries, and roots and are committed to preserving these resources and the traditions that surround them for the well-being of future generations.
The Portraits project focused on four of the many special traditions found in Jefferson County and on the Warm Springs Reservation. The 4-H Club members in Warm Springs, Arthur Mitchell Jr., Eric Mitchell, Brittany Calica and Lyle Williams, along with tradition bearer Louella Jackson and Warm Springs Museum Education Coordinator Rosalind Sampson, made moccasins and videotaped the process. The video documentary called Moccasin Making at Warm Springs was filmed by the team and edited by Arthur Mitchell Jr. and Brittany Calica. “We documented how we make moccasins and some of the symbolism of our moccasins. Another important part of making moccasins was how we learned in our own community from Louella Jackson. She learned from her mother. This is a tradition that has been passed down by our tradition bearers to us.”
Evan Derickson, Kenny Ocker II and Ruby Thornton documented the ranching and/or wool traditions in Jefferson County. The 4-H group took photographs, audio taped interviews and produced three films, Bronc Riding in Jefferson County by Evan Derickson, Have You Any Wool? by Kenny Ocker II and Ray Olsen, Saddle Maker by Evan Derickson, Kenny Ocker II and Ruby Thornton.
County Extension agent Amy Davis, Club leader Jody Egan, Program Coordinator Carol Spellman, Jefferson County Middle School TAG advisor Courtney Lupton and tradition bearers Ray Olsen (saddle maker), Clint Corey (bronco wrangler), Karen Dobroth (spinner) and Kurt Ocker (spinning tool maker) helped the participants.
In reflecting about his experiences with the project, participant Arthur Mitchell Jr. said, “I came to this moccasin making workshop because my dad is always talking about learning our traditions. It is important to have traditions on Warm Springs or else they will die out. In the Portraits of Oregon project I learned how to make moccasins. It was pretty cool because I got to use the video camera and learn how to use the computer to edit a film. I ended up doing this with my family and friends.”
Ray Olsen: Saddle Maker
Ray Olsen lives in Madras, Oregon. He started making saddles in 1954; he has been making saddles for 49 years.
undefinedThe youth interviewed Ray in his Madras workshop located down a long country road next to his house. Ray taught them the parts of a saddle and how to make and fit a saddle to a horse and rider. He impressed everyone with his artistic leather tooling (carved or imprinted designs that decorate the saddles.) The youth then had a chance to try their hand at tooling. It is not as easy as it looks! Ray Olsen, Saddle maker is a film made from the interviews in his workshop.
“I guess I was infatuated with saddles even as a little kid. After I graduated from college my first job was with the Department of Fish and Wildlife in John Day, Oregon. I got to know the saddle maker there and he showed me the ropes on saddle making. For some reason I thought I wanted to do it for the rest of my life. So my wife and I moved to Madras in 1959 and started up a leather shop. That turned into two leather shops. Then I began making anything that people wanted out of leather. It is gratifying to see that every saddle I make is better than the last one. It is constructed better. As soon as I can get the perfect saddle, then I’ll quit.”
Someone asked him when that would be and chuckling he said, “Yeah, I think I’m getting there!”
By Evan Derickson, Kenny Ocker II and Ruby Thornton
Clint Corey: Wrangler
Clint Corey has been teaching teens how to stay on the backside of bucking’ broncos for fifteen years. 4-H participants interviewed and filmed Clint Corey and two of the participants in the bareback riding clinic. Clint talked about the tradition, how he learned and is passing it on. Bronc Riding in Madras is the film that resulted from this
“Bareback bronc riding was one of the events in rodeo that came along later. First was calf roping and saddle bronc riding cause that’s what you did on ranches. But bull and bronc riding were dares like 'I bet you can’t ride that bull or that bronc bareback.' Now they have evolved into regular events with special riggings. Bareback bronc riding started in the late 1920s.”
“I was taught to ride bucking horses by my brother Scott. We watched guys who rode and learned through the School of Hard Knocks, getting on, getting bucked off and getting back on again.”
“I started teaching at rodeo schools fifteen years ago when Charles Sampson, world champion bull rider, asked me to put on a bareback school. I had been a national finals winner twice; I finished second both times so I went to Casa Grande in 1987 and ran my first riding school."
“I think this is good for kids and I love putting everything I learned back into rodeo and helping kids to grow. What I want kids to learn when they leave my school is knowing in their minds all the basic things that they need to do: spurring the horse on, keeping their chin down, trying to stay square, keeping their free arm up. These are the basic things they have to do so they can go home and practice the basics.” "My youngest son, he’ll probably be a bareback bronc rider. He really likes to ride. He’s got this little spring horse at home and he rides it and tears it up. If you put him on a regular horse he doesn’t want to get off. In the morning he brings me my hat and my boots with spurs. I’m pretty sure he’s going to be a rider." "My schools are a family event. I’ve always been really family oriented and my family is real close knit. Everybody, my brothers and parents, volunteer and come down to help. They like to help kids. We’ve always been involved in junior rodeo." Clint Corey By Evan Derickson and Carol Spellman
By Evan Derickson and Carol Spellman
Louella Jackson: Tradition Bearer, Warm Springs
"My family, my brother Eric and my cousin Brittany, and friend Lyle joined me at the Warm Springs Museum where we learned how to make moccasins from Louella Jackson. She told us about how she learned to make moccasins. My mother, Monique, also told us how she learned with her family and that she was glad that we were learning this way as well. While Louella Jackson was showing us to make the moccasins we all had a chance to videotape then the next day Brittany and I learned how to edit the video we made. It is called Moccasin Making at Warm Springs." Arthur Mitchell Jr.
“I started to learn how to make moccasins when I was maybe 10 or 11 from my mom. Because I was the last one born she spent a lot of time with me and taught me a lot of things she knew how to do. She wore moccasins everyday and was traditionally dressed and lived traditional. “
“To make moccasins you need a pattern of your foot, buckskins and some needles, thread, wax and scissors…and a lot of patience. Moccasins make your feet really tough. You don’t get tenderfoot from wearing shoes. Your feet get wide from wearing moccasins.”
“Women of the tribe tan the hides, take care of the food and make clothes like the moccasins. Now these clothes are worn at special occasions like pow wows or funerals. The tanning process is long--maybe takes two weeks from beginning to end. The process you use is to soak the hides in water with brains of a deer after you take the hair off. You boil brains and put them in cheese cloth and it is the worst stench you could ever smell. They say, ‘Oh, she's been tanning hides’ when you walk by with that smell on you."
"I think it is important to pass on to children the traditions. Now children watch TV and use electronics. When I was growing up we didn’t do that. My mother taught me what she thought I was ready for.”
“It is important to learn because it is a part of you. The way we grew up, it’s a part of Indian life, our traditions, so you know who you are, where you come from and where you belong.” Louella Jackson
By Arthur Mitchell Jr., Eric Mitchell, Brittany Calica and Lyle Williams
Kurt Ocker and Karen Dobroth: Wool and Spinning
"I interviewed my father, Kurt Ocker, and my aunt, Karen Dobroth, about wool spinning traditions. My father makes wooden tools used in spinning like the nostepenne (ball winder), niddy noddy (skein winder), Turkish drop spindle and diz. My aunt spins wool using a Turkish drop spindle and a spinning wheel."
"I help them at events like the High Desert Wool Growers Meet. For my Portraits of Oregon project I took photographs, designed an exhibit for the county fair and filmed and edited a video called Have You Any Wool? My video was entered in the Northwest Film Center’s 27th Young Peoples Film and Video Festival and received an award."
"Kurt Ocker began making tools for spinners because Karen Dobroth, his sister, needed them to spin wool." Kenny Ocker II
“I got started because my sister was involved in spinning and she’d ask me to make this tool and that tool. Then her friends asked me to make them tools. My first tool that I made was a diz. It is for straightening out wool before it is spun. I make several different tools for people who spin wool. One of the most popular is the Turkish Drop Spindle. Drop spindles have been used for hundreds of years. All the tools I make are designed from tools used in the middle ages. I make them from exotic hardwoods where before they were made with whatever wood was available."
“I think it is very important to pass this on to Kenny. It is fun and when it is done you have something of beauty.”
“Kenny has shown an interest all the way along in the woods. We’ve made trips together when I buy the wood so he’s there when I pick it out. He has as much input as I do.”
“We go to shows like the High Desert Wool Growers Association Meet and Kenny will be as much a part of it as myself and my sister. We demonstrate and show off the tools and get people interested in spinning that may have never been exposed to it. We may have twenty or thirty people who have never spun become interested in it.” Kurt Ocker
"Karen Dobroth was first introduced to spinning wool when she was a foreign exchange student living in New Zealand. She talked about the Turkish Drop Spindle that my dad makes for her." Kenny Ocker II
“I use a Turkish Drop Spindle. This is a specialty spindle that is used in the Mediterranean. The unique feature of this spindle is the cross arms. It creates a center pull ball so it negates the use of a nostepenne. Turkish Drop Spindles are long spinning spindles.”
“The drop spindle is the older form of spinning. Wheels weren’t used until the fourteenth century. There were a variety of drop spindles depending on the area they came from. Some were made of bone and others from light woods. They were used to spin the fine cottons used in Egypt for mummies.”
“Before Christopher Columbus got here, someone had to make his sails. When he came in 1492, spinning was not allowed for sails using a spinning wheel because it didn’t make a hard enough yarn for them. So, all of the sails on the boats were made on drop spindles which is a massive amount of canvas to do.”
“By the time the pioneers started making the trek across the Oregon trail there were two different kinds of wheels available to them. One was the massive Walking Wheel that has the three to four foot wheel. It is a spindle spun wheels that creates soft, light and airy yarn used for blankets because it could insulate so well. The Canadian Slant wheel was easier to transport because it has a smaller wheel. It’s a treadle wheel so the pioneer women could sit down and spin. It also has a tiny orifice that indicated it was used to spin flax or linen.” Karen Dobroth
By Kenny Ocker II