In this Issue
The Frenchman’s Gaze: Pierre de Saint-Amant’s Travels in the Oregon Territory, 1851
by Melinda Marie Jetté
In 1851, Pierre Charles Fournier de Saint-Amant arrived at the mouth of the Columbia River with instructions from the French consulate to survey the Oregon Territory and report on its developments. Saint-Amant published his travel accounts in a memoir titled Voyages en Californie et dans l’Orégon, which was part of a growing body of travel literature during that time period that “helped build and shape Western expansion across the globe.” In this research article, Melinda Marie Jetté argues that Saint-Amant’s memoir “offers a counterpoint to this Anglo-American image of Oregon,” documenting “realities that American chroniclers either sought to elide or did not think worthy of note, such as the presence and activities of French Canadian and French Catholic missionaries as well as the long-standing French-Indian communities in the region.” As Jetté describes, the Frenchman’s “reflections about his travels in Oregon ultimately raise questions about the steadiness of settler colonialism in the nineteenth century and the ways in which Anglo-American interpretations have long shaped Pacific Northwest historiography.”
by Marc James Carpenter
In this research article, Marc James Carpenter examines the Indian War Veterans of the North Pacific Coast (IWV-NPC), an organization founded by former volunteer soldiers in Oregon and Washington, and how their efforts to reshape historical memory fit within the larger pioneer narrative of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries — a narrative that often skewed Euro-American violence against Native people. Pioneer societies and historians during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries distorted these historical narratives through omission, ignoring settlers’ violence toward Native people and condemning their retribution. As Carpenter suggests, “a true history of the Pacific Northwest must reckon with the legions of Euro-American pioneers who, during the 1840s, the 1850s, and beyond, pursued pogroms and inflicted acts of workaday racial violence in pursuit of a White ethno-state.”
From Stories to Salt Cairns: Uncovering Indigenous Influence in the Formative Years of the Oregon Historical Society, 1898–1905
by Sarah Keyes
Established in December 1898, the Oregon Historical Society (OHS) was founded to “collect and preserve a library of historical material related to the history of the state,” and Sarah Keyes notes that its mission also included “the gathering and preservation of Indians’ traditions.” In this research article, Keyes examines how “through their participation in the formative years of OHS, Native Americans shaped the archival and material collections as well as interpretive documents that continue to serve as the primary organs of preserving and disseminating Oregon history.” Keyes focuses on the first seven years of OHS’s existence shedding “light on early cross-racial and cross-cultural conflict and collaboration within OHS.” Building on scholarship on historical societies in the West and extensive research in OHS’s institutional archives, Keyes examines the close connections between Native and non-Natives in OHS’s formative years, which “contributes to our understanding of OHS and settler-colonialism in Oregon.”
by Nicole Yasuhara
Oregon Historical Society (OHS) Deputy Museum Director Nicole Yasuhara reflects on Sarah Keyes’s Summer 2020 article titled “From Stories to Salt Cairns: Uncovering Indigenous Influence in the Formative Years of the Oregon Historical Society, 1898–1905.” Yasuhara’s primary role of “safeguarding the institution’s three-dimensional cultural resources” at OHS also involves “delineating and safeguarding the information we have about each object” — a task that is often extremely difficult. There are approximately 5,200 Native belongings in the OHS Museum collections, most collected during OHS’s formative years, and as Yasuhara attests, those objects “were stripped of their history,” no doubt due to “power structures between pioneer collectors and their Native sources.” Yasuhara also discusses current institutional practices and goals that guide confront this history and “begin to address the inherently colonial practices of early collecting institutions, including OHS.” That change, she urges, must grow from deeply personal ideological shifts in which practitioners recognize our own privilege and utilize an inclusion and equity lens in our everyday lives.”
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