Summer 2022

Issue 123:2

In this issue, authors explore White supremacy in the first photographs of Native people in Oregon, Australian swimmer Arthur Cavill and swimming promotion in Oregon, and civil rights in Oregon through a public history roundtable.

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In this Issue

The Indians are Quiet: White Supremacy in the First Photographs of Native Peoples in Oregon

by Megan K. Friedel

Can White violence toward Indigenous peoples be perpetuated in a photograph? Between 1857 and 1861, U.S. Army officer Lorenzo Lorain photographed the people and landscapes of Fort Umpqua, an isolated military outpost on the southern Oregon coast. Stationed there to enforce the removal of regional Indians to the nearby Umpqua Reserve, Lorain’s salt prints, now held by the Oregon Historical Society’s research library, include thirteen portraits of Coos, Lower Umpqua, Siuslaw, Klamath, and Modoc men and women. Today, these are the earliest known photographs of Oregon’s Indians. They are also the earliest photographs documenting the Army’s role in the genocide and erasure of Native peoples’ lifeways and communities in Oregon during the mid-nineteenth century. Viewed through Lorain’s personal letters and military records, we come to understand how the photographer’s beliefs in colonialism and White supremacy contributed to erasing the identities and histories of the people in his images.  

Portland’s “Aquatic Pied Piper”: Arthur Cavill and Swimming Promotion in Oregon

by Gary Osmond

Arthur “Tums” Cavill was an Australian swimmer and swimming instructor who lived in Portland, Oregon, from 1909 to 1913, where he influenced local sport and recreation in various ways. The scion of an aquatic dynasty that was honored by the International Swimming Hall of Fame as swimming’s most influential family, he was one of several siblings who had illustrious careers in the United States. Although he was an employee of the Multnomah Amateur Athletic Club (now Multnomah Athletic Club), his significance in Oregon extended beyond the sphere of this elite, private institution. His initiatives and activities in encouraging swimming, organizing public events, and attracting women to the water were widely reported, and supported, in Portland. This article analyzes Cavill’s contributions to the Multnomah Amateur Athletic Club, to Portland, and to Oregon, bookended by an overview of his early life and swimming achievements and by his untimely death at age thirty-six while attempting to swim across Seattle Harbor.

Civil Rights in Oregon: Mark O. Hatfield Lecture Series Post-Lecture Discussion

by Nkenge Harmon Johnson, Margaret Carter, Lamar Wise, Gwendolyn Trice, and Ramon Ramirez

On May 11, 2021, Jon Meacham spoke about his book, His Truth is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope, published in 2020, as part of the Oregon Historical Society’s (OHS) annual Mark O. Hatfield Lecture Series. This roundtable discussion was a special event held on Thursday, March 13, 2021, following the lecture. Nkenge Harmon Johnson, President of the Urban League of Portland, organized the panel of civil rights leaders in the fields of politics, culture, and farmworker and labor organizing. The panelists reflected on Meacham’s talk and on the ways their lives and work have been influenced by John Lewis. Through their reflections on Lewis’s work and leadership, the panelists wove together aspects of Oregon history, personal convictions, and present-day fights for justice.

On the Covers

While stationed at Fort Umpqua on the Oregon coast between 1857 and 1861, Lorenzo Lorain, a young lieutenant in the U.S. Army, used a homemade camera to capture what are likely the earliest existing photographs of Native people in Oregon. This page from a bound album held in the Oregon Historical Society’s research library collections includes three of about thirteen images of Native people, none of which are accompanied by labels of their names or tribal affiliation. Lorain’s correspondence with his sisters during this time reveals that he intended the photographs to be a general record of Native people living in the region, but as author Megan K. Friedel documents, they also serve as “artifacts of an era of brutal, violent, and illegal government policies toward Native communities in Oregon.”


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