Washington County Museum hosts talk on Kalapuyan cultural practices Saturday, May 18

The Washington County Museum. Photo: Steve Morgan. Licensed under CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

WASHINGTON COUNTY – The Washington County Museum is inviting the public to hear Dr. David Lewis, a local author, Native American historian, ethnohistory consultant, anthropologist, and teacher, discuss on Saturday, May 18 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m his knowledge of the Kalapuyan cultural practices around food and land management.

Lewis is a member of The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and has Chinook, Takelma, Molalla, and Santiam Kalapuya ancestry. During the event, Lewis will share his personal experiences growing up in Oregon, including fishing and clamming with his father, and picking up books at the Grand Ronde Reservation used book store — events he says that laid the foundation for his lifelong studies about the Kalapuyan people.

“They knew the cycles of things,” Lewis said. “They knew when things were ripened; when the deer would come out of the woods, (and) what would attract them. They knew that setting fire to the land would help it be reborn, would eliminate all the extra plant tissues and stuff, and help the next generation of plants be reborn without competition.”

Lewis says that by maintaining those practices for 8,000 years, the tribes intentionally created the famously verdant environment of the valley.

“The whole idea of nice prairies, of oak savannah, camas fields, wapato fields — all of this stuff available to people to use, and the nice sort of environment, was created wholly by Kalapuyans setting fire to the land,” he said.

Lewis’ conversation at the Washington County Museum will take place with David Ellis, an anthropology professor at Portland Community College-Rock Creek. The event is in conjunction with the museum’s seasonal exhibit “Agriculture: Shaping Land and Lives in the Tualatin Valley,” which runs through the end of the 2018-19 school year.

Bagels and coffee will be provided with the Saturday late-morning 11:00 a.m. start time. The event is free and open to the public, although those who can support the museum are encouraged to make a $5 donation upon admission.

For more information visit the Washington County Museum website, send questions via email, or call 503-645-5353.  

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