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Tribes of the Chinook Nation

Land Acknowledgement: Property Occupied by Lincoln High School, Portland, Oregon

It is important to acknowledge the ancestors of this place and recognize that we are here because of the sacrifices forced upon them. In remembering these communities, we honor their legacy, their lives, and their descendants — past, present, and future.

Where Portland stands today are the historic homelands of several bands of Chinook-speaking people (including many Multnomah, Clackamas, and Watlata/Cascade villages). There were also Kalapuya (Tualatin villages) nearby and the Molalla people in the Willamette Valley. Today, their descendants are primarily members of the Grand Ronde and Siletz Confederated Tribes, with Chinook and other tribal relations at Warm Springs, Yakama, and the Chinook Nation. 

Image of the Chinook Indian’s Totem Salmon

In the reconstruction of Lincoln High School, it is important to acknowledge that this institution was founded upon several key principles: white exclusivity and leadership. That inclusion made for perpetuation of the exclusion and erasures of many indigenous peoples, including those on whose land we are standing upon today. This acknowledgement demonstrates a commitment of the faculty, students, and alumni of Lincoln High School to work to dismantle the ongoing legacies and ideologies of settler colonialism. 

MAX stop in Goose Hollow, near Lincoln High School

The land has been called by more classic Anglo names over the centuries: Goose Hollow (after the migrating birds who stopped twice a year and ate reeds in the marshy area at the foot of the Portland hills); Tanner Creek (after the tanneries that sprung up in the area to tan the hides of sheep, goats and cows that were slaughtered in Portland for their leather values); and King’s Heights (after the grand homes that were built on the hills adjacent to the low lying plans, as the slopes curved toward the Willamette River.) As well as other names taken from the new arrivals, displacing the Native people who cared for the land, without ever paying restitution of remuneration for the land-grab.

Ironically the Chinese immigrants, who were the most successful tanners in the area, were not always welcome to Oregon. Attracted to the area to build the railroads, while the Civil War was dividing the Union, the Chinese thrived in what would become their second largest urban area of 20,000 immigrants (San Francisco was the largest). Over time the Chinese population was systematically moved many times: from China Town to Goose Hollow to Couch Lake, ultimately banning them from land ownership in Portland. The Chinese population descended from 10% of Portland (1860’s) to 0.7% (1910). However, the Chinese Exclusion Act (1885 -1940), were summarily dismissed, escaping in the Shanghai Tunnels underground to boats on the rivers and parts yonder.

Portland’s “Shanghai Tunnels”