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White Americans left middle class lives in the east, and for more than a decade after 1843, set out by the thousands on a northern route to the Pacific coast. They wanted more land. More freedom. More opportunity. The great wave of white migration flooded the land of the Indians, nearly drowned in a culture that had flourished in the territory for thousands of years. The immigrants called the land Oregon. They applied new political and economic boundaries and gave the land a physical shape and so, there was Oregon. It was a place cut to fit the will and desires of the immigrants, while Indians struggled with the flood. But Indians today are beginning to recover from the force of this White wave. [new speaker] I love you all. I love you all, crazy and brave in your young Indian arrogance, in that young Indian arrogance, and I love you still. When I see any of you, all these years later, all these years later,
often broken and defeated by this reservation, by alcohol, and your own failed dreams. I love you. Still. Learn how to breathe this twentieth century oxygen, twentieth century oxygen, and learn how to dance a new dance, and learn how to dance a new dance, with the rhythm only Indians possess -- with that rhythm only Indians possess, with the rhythm, and make practice beautiful, and make practice beautiful. We're rising from the alleys and doorways, up-rising from the alleys and doorways. Rising from self-hatred and self-pity. Rising up on horses [forces?] of their own making. I'm rising up on a horse of my own making. Believe me, the Warriors are coming back, singing those new songs that sound exactly like the old ones. [applause; pan-pipe music] [pipe music]
[new speaker] "Twentiety century oxygen." Maybe that is indeed poet Sherman Alexie's phrase for the deadly alchemy of Indian and white relations -- for the clash of Indian and white values has been fatal to much Indian culture. Today, whites remain largely ignorant of the history of Indian/white contact, while Indians learn to breathe twentieth Century oxygen, and struggle to resolve the generations-old conflict.[pipe music] [new speaker]John Wayne, Kevin Costner, The Lone Ranger -- some names associated with Indians in the popular mind, have a lot to do with entertainment and nothing to do with Indians. Cliche and misconception obscure Indian history and present
experience. But to begin to understand Oregon Indians there are names, Indian names you should know. [bird sounds, tapping] Listen. [woman speaker] [unclear] Of course. [speaking in a different language] Hum... [different language]. [male speaker]This was a dead language. No one in the world can speak it. [woman's voice speaking under his] It is a dialect of the COO's tribe from the Oregon coast. We can hear this echo of the past because of a partnership between an Indian woman and a white man. It was in the 1930s. Using the crude disk recording technology available, University of Washington linguist Melville Jacobs recorded this subject. [woman's voice continues under English speaker's] Her name was Annie Minor Peterson. She was Coos Indian. And she
was more than 70 years old. She recounted myths and sang songs from her childhood for Dr. Jacobs' microphone, and her story is a primer of Indian/white relations of the time. She remembered, at Jacobs urging, the horrible events that befell her people, when she was a little girl. [pipemusic] It is the 1850s, just before Annie Peterson's birth. The Coos people are peaceful, but the Army fears they will join forces with Southern Oregon tribes, tribes that are at war with whites. The U.S. Army has forcibly removed the Coos tribe from its villages at Coos Bay. At length, the tribe has been marched up the coast, here, to Yachats, where it is held, against its will. In an early photograph taken at Fort Umquah, south of Yahats,
we see white guards at a coastal stockade. The vague image photographed by a crude 1858 process includes the prisoners, members of another tribe accused of fighting whites. They were eyewitnesses to the impact of Indian/white contact. They could give you many reasons for anger at the White world, but so could Annie Peterson. [Indian woman's voice chanting] Annie Minor Peterson's testimony is that her people were given no food at Yachats. The Coos people were beaten by the Indian agents. From Mrs. Peterson and others we know that the Indians suffered exposure from coastal storms. They tried to avoid starvation by taking [tearing?] shelter from the rocks among the waves. Death cut the Indian population in half at Yachats in just five years. [pipe music]
But the survivors slowly began to make a life for themselves. They cleared the land And began raising food. In 1875 the Congress opened Yachats for white settlement. The settlers took the land from the Indians. The Coos were displaced again. Annie Minor Peterson tells of the resulting alcoholism,and rootlessness among tribal people she knew. The names of people she watched suffer and die would have been lost but for her account. Annie Minor Petersen's words are on file at a University of Washington archive on the original disc recording she made with Melleville Jakobsen. [woman's voice chanting] She was likely the last Indian living on the coast to remember the Coos way of life and how it was [unclear] For people once in possession of nearly a million and a half acres of land, today, have a 6.1 acre
reservation. No one in the Confederated tribes, the Coos lower Umquah Sayuzela [spelling?] can speak the language now. [new male voice] Well. This hall was built in 1939. [first male speaker] This is Bill Brainard, the chief of the Confederated tribes. Brainerd is a fighter, struggling to protect his little reservation from what he says is harassment from local governments. They have been bright spots. Brainard has enjoyed cooperation from whites. He is working with the Bureau of Land Management, the Chamber of Commerce and others on a Coos interpretive center. But white settlers did the real damage to Indians long ago, he said. [male voice/Bill ?] They came, they stayed, they conquered. They took the land and then they divided up, settled up .... really what it was The land was stolen from these tribes. [first male voice] At the tribal meeting hall the five hundred members of the tribe practice their culture. They dance. They drum. They are free of the stares of what Chief Bill Brainard says are frequently
unsympathetic townsfolk. Pictures on the walls commemorate elders like Anni Minor Peterson, Chief Tarhee, and others. History is important to Bill Brainard because it helps him understand the present. But he is not happy with the present where his people are deprived of the life they valued above all else. [Bill] We're stuck with the six acres and living like a white person. We have no place to go, like on the north spit [?] for example, what was, which was all ours. They made a part into a national dunes. The port has some of it, the people buy and sell it. They killed the dunes by stabilizing it. The Indians couldn't go out there and say we want a piece of ground in here.. But other than that you're trash passing. [pipe playing] [first voice] The events that were to have such
impact on the Coos, the Sayuzla [sp?] Lower Umpqua, and many other Oregon tribes began here. This is the Willamette Valley where Indians have lived for perhaps ten thousand years. But on the fertile banks of the Yamhill river southwest of Newburgh, white immigrants established early settlements by the mid 1830s. Settlers cleared the land and built fences and killed the available game to feed their families. At Dayton, one of the first towns established in the valley, there is a decaying relic of those early decades of settlement, an army blockhouse from old Fort Yamhill, stands at the municipal park. It was moved there by patriotic Dayton residents in 1910.
Perhaps 30 miles southwest of Dayton in the lower foothills of the Coast Range is the original site of the blockhouse. It is the now forgotten site of Fort Yamhill. Fort Yamhill and its twin Fort Umpqua below yards [?] were combined centers for white control of Indians. [Bill] White America moved in. And like I said, they came, they stayed, they conquered. and we lost. And so it's never been bought and paid for, and then plum [?] up to this day, and there's never been a compensation of any kind given. [first male] Indians, Congress had said 1848, held title to their land. Congress said the United States could take possession of Indian land but only through legal action such as by treaty. And yet two years later in 1850 without the backing of any treaty, Congress passed the Oregon Donation Act. The Act provided grants of up to three hundred
twenty acres of land to "every white settler or occupant of the public lands, American halfbreed Indians included, above the age of 18 years being a citizen of the United States, or having made a declaration according to law of his intention to become a citizen." And of course, Indians were not US citizens, and they were not eligible for the land grant. Within five years of the Donation Act, white settlers had taken 2.8 million acres of land in western Oregon. The government enforced Whites' claim to the land though no treaties with the Indians had been ratified.[tapping,pipe playing] On the northern boundary of old Fort Yamhill is a narrow path. It is all that remains of the old military road to the coast many miles away.
Indians were marched along this road, between the Grand Ronde reservation and Fort Yamhill and the Siletz reservation near the coast. The government's solution to settler fear of Indians was to round up and confine more and more Indians. And Indians particularly in southern Oregon under pressure from increasing settlement were resorting to war. In 1853 the Oregonian, in an article written before Southern Oregon Indians were forced onto a reservation land, reflected white fear. It was on September 3rd. The paper's correspondent in the area wrote "the whole Indian race in southern Oregon will be exterminated. Indeed this seems to be the only alternative left. Self-styled philanthropists at a distance may prate about the cruelty and wickedness of such a course, but were they in the position of our citizens subjected to the ruthless hand of
savages, they too would be in favor of exterminating the race." It was this kind of attitude of course that produced so much suffering for Bill Brainard's ancestors and others, and the suffering had really only started. [Bill] That's my grandmother and here's the Brainerd boys, there's Jim and Amil [?] and Roy and my father. She had four boys. They took them all away from her except Jimmy and they went to Chemawah [?]and then to Greenville, because in those days an Indian lady was not capable of raising her children, so they just picked them up took 'em. [pipe] [first voice] Chemawah and Greenville are familiar names to Indian people. For Chemawah and Greenville were two of the many Indian boarding schools established in the U.S. from the 1870s onwards. The government had taken the land that had sustained Indians for thousands of years but the now displaced Indians were still around. The government moved to
break the social bonds that gave Indians a cultural identity. Government intended more or less to turn Indians, who were clearly not going to disappear, into white people. Students like these, photographed at Chemawah, in the 1870s, were taken from their families, and placed in schools when very young. The schools worked to replace Indian traditions in the minds of the youngsters with white ideas. [woman] Of course we would whisper around in Indian, and they'd say no no you cannot hear you you don't talk in Indian here. [first male] Verbena green and Bernice Mitchell are sisters. They are both elders of the Warm Springs Indian reservation. They were both educated at Chemala Indian school at Salem. [each?] attended the school more than 50 years
after it opened. But Chemawah was still trying very hard to erase Indian culture. Bernice and Verbena were pressured a Chemawah to forsake their Indian ways. There was to be no dancing, no drumming, no Indian language. Bernice recalls the school in winter 1927 and the peculiar punishment students suffered for practicing their culture. The punishment involved a frozen propane pipe. [woman] If we were talking indeed we stood by that pipe. of.... propane pipe. Boy, they put our lips right on that pipe. We had not learned to talk in our tongue so [mildly?]. The scene burned us many times in that Indian school. [Indian language, woman]
[first male] But the sisters still speak the Southhampton [sp?] dialect of the Warm Springs tribe. They still practice their culture. It is the middle of February. The two women say we are six weeks away from the root gathering time in spring. [woman] This here is our Indian celery. You have to take the medicine kinda round the hill where nobody else lays eyes on it. That's how it's always been. [firsmale]The sisters grew up here at the far end of Dry Creek valley canyon. The Canyon is a place of vision quest and spirits, and the women have memories of encountering spirits, making vision quests here as girls, but Verbena and Bernice say they had still another shield against Chihuahua's [sp?] demands. [woman] The culture is to live like our ancestors did.
Cleanliness of your body, mind. and soul. [other woman] In my home we had... every morning you would wake up to the old folks or your mother or your father singing a song. Either the worship song or one of the dancing songs, every morning. That's what you woke up to. [first male] Bernice and Verbina had the strength to weather Indian boarding school without losing their cultural values. Many of their contemporaries were not so fortunate. [woman]They come up here and drink, and many times I've had to chase them off. [first male]Experts believe alcohol and drug addiction among Indians today results partly from boarding school disruption of Indian families. Here is Terry Cross of the Northwest Indian Child Welfare Association. [Terry] But when
you have generations of children growing up in institutions, that natural process where you learn to parent from your parents is interrupted. Boarding schools taught our people how to be abusive, how to be cold and institutional. Certainly didn't pass on to them ways of nurturing and caring. About half of all Indian people alive today were either reared in boarding schools themselves or are children of people who were reared in boarding schools. And that impact on our families has been tremendous. [woman] If I was not a strong person in culture, if my people were very weak and turned out to be an alcoholic, or I cannot to ... get frustrated and probably turn to drugs and everything else that everyone else does, because today's children who does not live this way,
and he's hungry for it, and they find very few of us who lived in this culture the way we have. And there isn't enough of us to go around to teach everyone. [pipe] You. [first male]... boarding schools trying to erase Indian language and culture for 60 years and longer. Garland Bruno of Warm Springs was too young to have had direct experience of those policies. But he believes he too has
suffered from his father's painful Indian school years. [male] He used to be taken downstairs in the basement and hit with a rubber hose when he spoke the Wasco language, and that was kind of brought down into our family as kind of his history. And so when his, when him and my mom got together, they had decided as individuals that they would teach their children that language. So that always stayed behind me. And so they raised the five of us in the Western culture type of household and we didn't learn the traditional. And so I spent thirty five thirty, nine years of my life denying who I was. I was called Wasco Indian here and in time I began to realize that I was losing myself because of that. So I returned here to Warm Springs and I began to take an interest in my people.
[first male] Garland Bruno is angry at whites. He doesn't say so. Perhaps he is too polite., perhaps time and insight tempered [?]. But the abuse his father suffered a generation ago has a much more recent corollary. We are on Government Hill above the town of Siletz near the Oregon coast. The Siletz reservation boasts about 2,400 members and a modern tribal hall. To the Siletz Indians the hall is a symbol of their capacity to survive federal policy. In 1954 the US government decided the Siletz tribe no longer existed -- 61 tribes in fact, mostly in Oregon, were terminated, declared to no longer exist by a congressional termination act. Chief Bill Brainard's tribes the Coos, Lower Umpqua, Suyuslaw [sp?] were also affected. [Bill] It was just plain right down terrible because the government says you're not
Indians any longer so there were certain programs that the government worked with Indians on, that we could part time that we could work through. Well when we was terminated, they said the federal government didn't recognize, but all the laws they said they want to send to mainstream USA. [firt male] Under termination policy developed by former Oregon Governor Douglas Mackay, then secretary of the interior, Indians had no rights, as the Indian secretary McKay said, had already assimilated into white society and we're just like everybody else. [Bill] I believe Douglas McKay is one of the biggest damn liars out, and I think that they wanted a little bit of land that was left. I believe they they they just wanted it for their own use. [first male] Siletz reservation had originally been established to confine Indians get them out of the way when the first settlers arrived in Oregon. But Siletz reservation was the scene of much starvation and suffering in the early days, had become home to Indians.
This is called a termination. The Siletz people scattered, looking for jobs in Alaska or California or Portland. In 1977 the Siletz Indians won a reversal of termination. They are now trying to bring their tribal members home. At Coos Bay termination transferred what little tribal land remained to individual tribal members. And put it on the tax rolls. Bill Brainard says that was a cynical government ploy to steal Indian land. And indeed the land was lost to foreclosure when unemployed tribesmen couldn't afford the property taxes. But the tribes tried to stay together, using their former reservation hall as a meeting place. [Bill] The government said they didn't recognize it and probably more than anybody in town didn't recognize that we recognized ourselves and so we just we just done our thing, kept coming down and having our meetings and like I was saying, right on like businesses forever. [first male] Like all terminated tribes the
Coos, Lower Umpqua, Syusla, [sp?] had to appeal to Congress to be restored. The tribes were restored in 1984. The pioneers who came west over the Oregon Trail are celebrated in history books. The settlement of the Willamette Valley was more than a century ago, but sweeping appropriation of Indian land and livelihood still marks U.S. government policy toward the Indian. It is now 1957. Celilo Falls, a plateau Indian fishing ground on the Columbia River for thousands of years, is about to be flooded. It will be drowned in the back water from the newly constructed Dalles dam, eliminating forever an Indian spiritual center. Payment to certain adjacent Indian tribes has been arranged where the falls is on Indian
property. But the buyout includes nothing for Indians at Celilo who are not members of the local tribes, but their lives too, are disrupted. This is Ed Edmone.[sp?] He is strolling through a former residents of his in the streets of Portland. Ed is an Indian who was raised at Celilo; his family was affiliated with an Idaho tribe, which did not qualify for reparations from the flooding of Celilo. After the walls were submerged the community broke up. Ed was still a boy then. Had the Celilo community remained intact, he might have been a fisherman like many of his neighbors. As it was Ed drifted to the city of Portland when he was 16. He lived on the streets for 10 years. Some of his friends are still there. Yeah. [woman] Great job. Long time no see. [Ed] Yeah. Long time.
Yeah yeah ... I'm working, teaching a lot ...[muffled voices] I don't have to come up with... [first male] Ed is a story teller these days. It is a skill passed down from his father. For a living he visits schools throughout the state. He recites the myths and legends of his people for the young students. Ed is also a writer. [Ed] I used to drink underneath the Burnside Bridge, in the stairs. I'd go get a bottle of wine, sit on the stairs and drink, back in the 70s, in the 70s. [male]He slept under bridges. He says an alcoholic on the street can get injured easily from falling down and suffer abrasions and broken bones. [Ed] can see his one guy's face but couldn't think of his name. He drowned in the river here. And Gator not get a gator, yeah. [?] Batman's dead. Stan ?Lonnie? and Brian Jackson. [first male] Ed has transformed those years on the street into short stories and poems, and he doesn't regret having lived through them now.
[Ed] Yeah I would sit here, and stand here and drink but [with Dan Bartlett and] not clear. Yeah, we spent a lot of time down here. [first male]And he is very clear that what happened to his life when Celilo Falls was drowned, was devastating. [Ed] Since you're not a fisherman you're gonna to do something else. We're gonna to move you out of your house. All this disruption and displacement really has a toll on the person. You know. And then how did you give anger and grief. [unclear] Yeah I didn't say goodbye to my friends or just when they burned the house and moved, you know. So, it's nothing that people get prepared for, it's almost like a war. [first male]Admiral.[?] Schoeni panic indeed.[unclear] I never lived on the reservation. Celilo was a fishing community and the town site now lies under the pavement by I-84. But he found himself and a way to celebrate his culture on the city streets. [Ed] There's been something. Sometimes it is a song, sometimes a whispering
sometimes weeping. I hear it. There's been something that is this important from my mother earth. I'm not sure what it was but sometimes at night I can hear it in the wind. Or it comes to me in my dreams like this melody [pipe playing]. [firs male]Portland is many miles from Celilo, and many miles from the nearest reservation. But because the city often offers the only prospect for a job, there are perhaps seven thousand Indian people living in the Portland area, here in the city As on the reservation, statistics show, alcohol is a terrible threat to Indian people. At least one in every nine Indians in Oregon dies of alcoholism directly. And alcohol may have broader impact. Indians are much more likely to be murder
victims too, and to die young, than are non Indians of the state. The infant mortality rate is much higher than average than average for Indians, and so is the accidental death rate. [woman speaking] This is Donnie Wilder of the Northwest Indian Health Board based in Portland. The board helps 40 Northwest tribes provide health care for tribal members. Donnie says the tribes no longer simply take without question whatever financial help the federal government gives them. Like other groups with critical political interests tribal governments now lobby the federal government for what their people need and the resulting increase in influence she says can mean more federal money for alcohol treatment or for family counseling. Developing capacity by Indians to live between two cultures is the source of the tribes new political power. [Donnie] They may be a religious leader on their reservation or a medicine
person or something but can still be on the tribal council and travel to Washington D.C. and be walking in the halls of Congress and talking to congressmen and senators and go home and feel very comfortable with their religion. I mean there have always been people like that. But I think it's much easier for people to live in both worlds now. [woman speaking] Tribal unity nurtured by the Northwest Indian Health Board allows far flung reservations to speak as one. Unified tribes speaking with one voice need increased political clout and clout is vital as Indians pursue such goals as improved medical care. [Woman] Thank you so much for doing that for me, I really appreciate this [inaudible]. [Narrator] Off reservation Indians lack the political base of a tribe. In Portland the solution has been a partnership of Indian agencies. Some 18
agencies work together under the Indian Association of Portland umbrella. Michael's Indian health clinic, for example, has served off reservation patients from as far away as Astoria. [Man speaking]. [inaudible] This service has since been transferred to another health contractor. But like Michael's clinic, most urban agencies seek strength in alliance as part of the American Indian Association of Portland. [singing, drums playing] There are Indians perhaps of more than 95 tribal backgrounds living in Portland today. Kiowa, Tlingit, Sioux, Navajo, Paiute -- each tribe has its own traditions. But at the Bow and Arrow Club, another group allied with the Indian Association of Portland -- they share a common connection. [singing, drums playing] This is a Lutheran church based in
Northeast Portland. Sometimes in street clothes, sometimes in regalia of individual tribes, the Indians celebrate amid the trappings of another culture. Once Indian agencies in Portland competed for government support. Dissension was fierce and there was no unity. Now they know they must combine their forces. Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and the Black civil rights movement opened up education opportunities for Indians, Donnie Wilder says. The result is a more sophisticated leadership. They may be college students, they may be program managers, they may love their culture, but they know how to use the system. [Woman] Bodes wonderfully well for the future. We have people that are successful in both worlds. That's what we want people to be. That's what we have to be in this country. It's finding a way to live in the other world and not losing your Indianness and your self esteem as being Indian. That's what --
education, and -- ?clime? has done. [Man] And we're going to talk about a large rattler -- large rattlesnake. [inaudible] [Narrator] At the Warm Springs Reservation on the east side of the Cascade Mountains, education is restoring an aspect of Indianness. The Wasco language came perilously close to disappearing. In fact, when this Wasco language class started, there were only four elders still alive who could speak Wasco. [Person speaking native language] [speaking native language] [speaking native language] Bitterroot [Narrator] Warm Springs Reservation is a confederation of three tribes. There are three native languages spoken on the reservation. It is of course the descendants of the Wasco speakers who are seeking to retrieve that language from the brink of oblivion. Class member ?Garland Bruno? -- we met earlier. He is learning Wasco to recover the heritage taken
from his father at Indian school. [?Garland?] It gives me an identity. The universities had done a study in the United States of people that lived to be 70 years old and older. And there were three common things that they found in the individuals. One of them was these people tend to be flexible. They could change with things that was happening around their environment. And they were good in one or two things. And the third one was that they had a positive self-esteem. And I could understand, that and relate to that with what's going on in learning how to speak Wasco and identify with my people. [voice on radio] Two transmitters. Two dial positions. Twice the music. [Narrator] The Warm Springs Reservation owns three radio stations. Two of the stations simulcast rock n roll. And together they comprise the top rated radio programming in Central Oregon. But the most popular radio station on the reservation broadcasts to a different audience.
[Voice on radio] Coming up, the [inaudible] KWSO [Music, drumming] [Narrator] Like the speaking of native languages, other aspects of Indian culture are uniting Indian people today. For many hours each day, KWSO Radio airs a program called Talking Drum. It features local and national performers. Each group or team is called a "drum." Black Lodge, Dancing Eagle, The Boys, Wasco Nation, the Mitchell Singers are among the popular drums. Ken Miller, known on the air on the air as Kenman, is delighted at the response the show gets and he shares the public enthusiasm for the Talking Drum. [man on radio] That's the [inaudible] I have time for one more song before I go -- [Kenman] A lot of people call and request favorite songs that they have -- like what you've heard me play. They're all my favorites, you know, that I like to listen to. I tap my toes and when
nobody's here, I'll sing along. [laughs] [singing, drumming] [Narrator] Drumming and dancing are part of the eons old traditions and many tribal members that we have seen were separated from those traditions in recent generations. But on the radio and at pow wows there is the chance to be a part of them once again. [music, drumming continues] [other man] When the drum beats -- that resounding of the drum. Brings back the life to -- everything. To the people, to the animals, the trees -- everything. And these songs were made so that the people can remember their past, look forward to the future, and to try to cope with the things that we do today. And if you have that song in your heart, as long as that song is in your heart,
all our peoples gonna live. And I really believe that's true. [singing, drumming continues] [Narrator] For some Indians, the dance and singing have no religious, only recreational significance. But for most Indians, perhaps, as for Warm Springs member Wilson Wewa, ceremony is a source of unity with the people. [Wilson] Different tribes -- Canada, United States, the West Coast, the East Coast, Central United States -- whenever the drums come together you have people from all over come into that one place. We're glad to see our friends from long ways. We're glad to be [inaudible] by the people from our own community. Sometimes we're from the same community. We don't see people till maybe pow wows. Then we sit by them and visit them with them. And we really feel good when those things happen. [singing, drumming continues] [Narrator] The Indian community is small in the US, no more than one percent of the
population is classified as American Indian and though tribal differences abound, dance, drumming, the sweat lodge, the pipe allow Indians across the country to share an identity. With fax machines, phones, and easy travel, Tribes stay in touch, reinforcing their sense of mutual values. Indians may be more united, and potentially more influential nowadays than ever before. At SeaTac, a municipality bordering the Seattle-Tacoma Airport, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians are meeting. A shared goal of the 22 tribes gathered here is increased economic development on the reservations. Atone Minthorn is Tribal Council Chairman of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation near Pendleton. At the conference, Minthorn talks legislative strategy and administrative efficiencies that can improve reservation services. [Minthorn] Thank you, [inaudible]. Good morning.
[Narrator] Minthorn is always on the go. There are countless meetings and conferences like this. Last week he was in Washington D.C. trying to connect with the Clinton administration. Always his purpose is more economic power for the reservation. This morning he must temporarily abandon the Affiliated Tribes' conference to attend another meeting in the same hotel. Before the Pacific Fisheries Legislative Task Force. He becomes the Umatilla tribal government Ambassador. Here, he asserts the tribes treaty-protected fishing rights, careful to couch his appeal in a tactful call to consensus. [Minthorn] When the tribe signed the treaty of 1855, then they signed away all those resources. But yet it retained the treaty rights, the right to [inaudible]. Because of the complexity of the situation, I think that if tribes have the competent staff -- the competent person now -- then we can work better together, build a model that's going to work best for us. [talking fades as flute plays music]
[flute music continues] [flute music continues] [Narrator] It is winter at Umatilla. The panoramic blue mountains and the wheat fields around the reservation at Mission, Oregon suggest to Minthorne a recreational playground. And much of his harried travel schedule is dedicated to promoting tourism on the reservation. If he has his way, tourists will flock here one day with dollars to erase years of despair and generations of joblessness. [sound of children playing] Indian youngsters in Oregon today may face trouble as they reach adolescence. Indians 15 to 44 years old are 12 times more likely to die of alcoholism than non-Indians the same age. [Minthorn] And it hurts
because the population of Indian tribes are small. The pool is not great and we need all the people, all the children. They have to be healthy. Otherwise, then it's going to affect this -- the next generation. Minthorn believes his people have been too willing to accept government handouts. But he says the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the federal government, after years of tinkering, have not solved Indian problems. Indians must gain the financial power to heal themselves according to Minthorn. [Minthorn] The people need to begin to realize that money is not an end in itself. Money is a means to achieve things, to get things with, and I think if we can learn that and learn how to -- how to use money then we will certainly be more successful and the
people will fulfill their needs on a more permanent basis. Not only now but then in the future. [Narrator] The anticipated key to Umatilla's financial independence is the Oregon Trail Interpretive Institute. The 40 million dollar project incorporates an interpretive center, a motel, a golf course, and a casino. This field might then be transformed into a foundation of freedom for Umatilla -- freedom from dependence on federal programs. Profits from the complex might pay for the tribes' own education and counseling programs to break the cycle of poverty and addiction. Years of history have shown Indians, after all, the federal government has its own interests at heart -- not those of Indian people. [Minthorn] The main point of all this is that the tribes have never had the opportunity to develop their resources to build a viable
economy. And as long as the Bureau of Indian Affairs has the trust responsibilities and the federal government has a say in the management of the affairs of the Indians it's never going to happen. I mean, I don't know how much louder the facts can speak. So what that means is that the tribes must take a leadership role. Must take an ownership role over their own destiny. And it means that if they want a viable economy or an economy that's going to help them, that's going to help our people, then they're going to have to do it. [Narrator] The Umatilla tribes own a grain elevator and lease farmland for additional income. Much of Umatilla's available resources and a good portion of those projected from future enterprises are to be invested here. The Yellowhawk Health Center is in a sense at the core of
healing for the reservation. [Woman speaking] Oh, dear. I know, Vicki, I know. [Narrator] Tessie Williams is a community health representative at the Yellowhawk Center. [Tessie speaking] Well. [Laughter] [Narrator] For 25 years, she has traveled the reservation, sometimes a thousand miles a month. Her destination may be the home of a pregnant teenager or that of an ailing elder. Indians of all ages are sometimes reluctant to seek medical care, she says, especially if it means leaving the reservation. Indians would rather deny themselves medical treatment, she says, and face the prejudice they sense from white doctors and nurses. [Tessie] Are you awake? [Narrator] But the tribe must rely on hospitals as far away as Portland for services that aren't available at Umatilla. [Tessie] Well, how are you feeling today? [Man] Oh, kind of sad today. [Tessie] Are you? [Man] Yeah. You might have to pick me up tomorrow, and take me down.
I need to have some tests taken. [Tessie] Oh, do you? [Narrator] Tessie becomes the patients' trusted companion at distant hospitals and at the reservation clinic. She says that many of the families she counsels were disrupted, if not destroyed, after white-Indian contact. But she advises her clients to focus away from the past and the resentment that Indians often feel toward the dominant culture. [Tessie] So when we talk to you this way, it's because we love you and we care for you. And wedo want to help you prepare your future. [Narrator] The people call her "Grandma." And like Antone Minthorn and other Indian leaders at Umatilla, her first priority is the children. [Tessie] What are you worried about? [Narrator] She knows that for the children to be made healthy, the home must heal.
[Tessie] We're dealing with a lot of children that run away. Why do children run away? Because there's something happening in their home that doesn't make them feel good. So in order to heal the child, you heal the mother or the family that is affecting the hurt in this child. And so you take in the whole family to try to heal them. And sometimes that's pretty hard. [Narrator] Tessie Williams was on the board of the Northwest Indian Child Welfare Association. She appears with one of her granddaughters on an educational poster the Indian Child Welfare Association produced. Tessie and the Association have been developing materials that teach traditional Indian childbearing methods. Indians, before Indian boarding schools, apparently had a very different philosophy toward youngsters than does white culture. Physical punishment, for example, was unheard of. Terry Cross directs the Child Welfare Association. He worked with Tessie
reclaiming Indian teaching methods from before the time of wholesale abuses at the early boarding schools. [Cross] So prior to that era, in most tribes, the traditions said you didn't hurt children. There were teachings that in many tribes that children were gifts of the Creator, and should they be mistreated, the Creator would take them back. There were teachings that children's spirits were loosely connected to their bodies and unless you really made that spirit want to stay here it would leave, and so in order to make them stay here you had to hold that child, and rock them, and sing to them, and nurture them. [Narrator] Such gentle behavior toward children, Cross says, is very healing. Healing is particularly important, he says, because there is still a residue of pain left in Indian families from boarding school times. [Cross] Parenting problems may not simply be a matter of having something wrong with you, but a matter of having been deprived the right of learning positive ways that
would have been handed down had they not been interrupted. [Narrator] With demands so great on a reservation the size of Umatilla, Tessie Williams needs more help than she has. There is no money to hire more Community Health representatives at present. Indian leaders would like to see the federal government channel much more money directly to reservations. Most social service money from federal programs is distributed through the state. Indians say it never reaches the people on the reservation who may need it most. In 1855, pressured by the army, the Indian tribes at Umatilla gave up 6.5 million acres. Much of it was land the settlers wanted for farming. White people now own much of the valuable land within reservation boundaries. Indians believe there is a recurring pattern of government behavior toward their people
and they believe that pattern is formed from the dominant society's long-term quest to take what Indian people possess. ?Verbena Green?, and her sister ?Bernice Mitchell?, ?Ed Edmo?, ?Andy Peterson? are a few of the survivors of this process of taking. So Indians fight for federal social service dollars and work to educate to heal their people. They believe they must be ready. They believe Indian land and Indian well-being could be challenged by the dominant society again. [sound of birds singing] This is the Chemawa Indian School in Salem. Chemawa's attractive new campus does not at all resemble old Chemawa's assemblage of government-issued brick buildings at the same site. The broad plaza and pleasing architecture seem instead to reflect the enlightened policies of its current administration. And indeed, many students are here in part because the school
lets them explore their Indian culture. [Man] They're very proud of where they are from -- their heritage. [Narrator] Chemawa Residential Department Head, ?Ben Lauver?, is a big advocate of the varieties of Indian culture represented at the school. [?Ben?] We have sweat lodges and we have all types things. Up in the dormitories, we hire all Indians and, like, the parents of the students. [Narrator] These students are in fact growing up in a time of apparently unprecedented acceptance of Indians by the general public. And, too, there seem to be Indian wannabes, non-Indians claiming native bloodlines that are imagined or impossibly remote. Wannabes have created a ready market for Indian culture, and today that market is enthusiastically exploited by groups calling themselves tribes. The Bear Tribe, for example, markets Indian spirituality to whites or anyone else willing to pay. A seminar
called Working With the Pipe costs up to 500 dollars from Bear Tribe instructors. Now an Indian tradition, responsibility of pipe carrying is conferred after a lifetime commitment to the pipes' principles. Those principles include selflessness, generosity. To offer non- Indians the pipe in five days, as the Bear Tribe seems to do, Indians say, degrades Indian culture. [Poet] I imagine the possibilities for some good Indian humor and sadness mixed all together. I imagine that Lester FallsApart, a full-blood Spokane made a small fortune when he gathered the glass fragments and shattered reservation car wreck windshields and sold them to the new age bookstore's healing crystals. [Laughter] Poet Sherman Alexie fears that, as in the past, when whites today want what Indians have, they will just try to take it. Portland State University student ?Indira Sampson Dawson? is a Sioux from the lower Brule reservation in South Dakota.
She has lived in Portland for four years. Indira has a daughter and she is expecting another child soon. She believes Indian people have had a thorough education in white culture in the last century and a half. [Indira] Hi! How are you doing? [Narrator] Her assessment is that Indian culture could offer much to the white world. But she says because of white acquisitiveness it may be very hard for most whites to learn what Indians have to teach. [Indira] You just don't come in and say, "Take me to your spiritual leader." You have to come in and listen and learn. And come with an open heart and open mind. And they will learn and they do learn. But it's a different process than pulling out your Visa card and buying a drum and paying for a sweat and all of a sudden being spiritual. [Poet] Last year on a local television news, I watched a short feature on a meeting of the confused white men chapter in Spokane Washington. [people laughint] They were all wearing war
bonnets and beatings drums, more or less. A few of the drums looked as if they might have come from K-mart. [people laughing] And one or two men just beat their chests. [people laughing] It's not just the drum, the leader of the group said. It's the idea of a drum. I was amazed at the lack of rhythm, laughed, even though I knew I supported a stereotype. But it's true. White men can't drum. [people laughing] [Indira] It's really frustrating for me because European-Americans have taken our land, they've taken our resources, they've taken our children into boarding schools and taught them to assimilate. And now they want that thing that's nearest and dearest to us, that's in our heart, which is our spirituality. And I don't -- I'm -- hard pressed to let that go so easily, because I think it's one of the last things that we have or that I have as an Indian person. [Music] [Narrator] On a cliff,
overlooking the Columbia River, there iss an ancient pictograph called by the Indians: "She Who Watches." From She Who Watches' southern exposure, the wagon trains would have been visible working the last miles to the Dalles. The Indians say She will see a time when Indian people transcend the arrival of those immigrants. [Poet] The Indian mother walks into the hills followed by generations of need. Can this pinetree substitute for a pick up truck? Do the small stones taste anything like hard candy? Will the bank accept deer tracks as collateral for a home loan? The Indian mother is afraid. She is not afraid. At night, she sits by the window and watches for her children. Sometimes they are bats flapping at street lights or stray dogs howling in the dark. Once they're all the sun dressed up like a bear slept on the roof of the Catholic Church. The Indian mother sings while she cooks, she
sings while she cooks in a voice sharp enough to pull roots from the ground. She pours her whole life, her children, her children's children into the stew pot, it simmers all over open flame. She pours her whole life, her children, her children's children into the stew pot and simmers all over open flame. After years of this slow cooking, after years of this slow cooking, she still waits to serve the last good meal.
Horses of Their Own Making
Producing Organization
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Contributing Organization
Oregon Public Broadcasting (Portland, Oregon)
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Program Description
This documentary looks at the history of the Oregon Indians both before and after the great wave of white migration in the mid-19th century. As the white immigrants laid claim to the territory, Indians were forced onto reservations and had their culture suppressed; only now are they starting to recover and rediscover their heritage and voices.
Created Date
Copyright Date
Asset type
Race and Ethnicity
1993 Oregon Public Broadcasting
Media type
Moving Image
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Associate Producer: Shrider, Tom
Editor: Shrider, Tom
Executive Producer: Amen, Steve
Host: Newman, Jim
Producer: Newman, Jim
Producing Organization: Oregon Public Broadcasting
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB)
Identifier: 113316.0 (Unique ID)
Format: Betacam: SP
Generation: Original
Duration: 00:58:30:00
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Chicago: “Horses of Their Own Making,” 1993-07-27, Oregon Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 19, 2024,
MLA: “Horses of Their Own Making.” 1993-07-27. Oregon Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 19, 2024. <>.
APA: Horses of Their Own Making. Boston, MA: Oregon Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from