Monday, May 30, 2011

Remembering History, Healing the Past

From left to right, Ron Brean, Mayor of Yachats, Robert Keeler, Chair of the Oregon Historical Marker Committee, and Warren Brainard, Chief CTCLUS
On Friday, May 27, the new historical marker was dedicated at Yachats State Park. The sign, sponsored by the City of Yachats and the Oregon Travel Information Council, is the newest member of the regional marker series, and the first on the coast.

Our new sign tells the story of the land and the people who have lived here. The land was formed fifty thousand years ago, as tectonic plates collided with the continental land mass. People arrived at least five thousand years ago, migrating over the Arctic land bridge from Asia and slowly making their way down the coast. About three hundred years ago, new people arrived from Europe and other parts of America. Every movement, both geological and cultural, changed the landscape, but once the Euro-Americans arrived, change began happening at an accelerated pace.

The marker celebrates the industry of the early pioneers whose can-do energy created an economy based on timber and fishing. Small farms were carved out of the wilderness and gradually transportation shifted as highways were constructed along the rugged coastline. But the marker also pays homage to the history of the Native peoples who were displaced and in many cases destroyed by the activities of the newcomers. The Alsi people, already decimated by disease, and the Coos and Lower Umpqua who were forcibly marched to Yachats, were confined to the Alsea Sub-agency, a part of the larger Coast Reservation (1859-1875), Many perished due to the neglect, abuse, and broken promises of the federal government. The surviving Coos and Lower Umpqua, many of whom are now part of the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians (CTCLUSI), and what remained of the Alsi (now part of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz) had such feelings of horror about Yachats that they avoided the area entirely.

However, a healing has taken place, thanks to many members of the Yachats community and the willingness of the Tribes to open their hearts to the offer of reconciliation. The dedication ceremony was attended by Chief Warren Brainard of the CTCLUSI, who remembered those who died and also looked forward to the new connections being forged between the two communities. Tribal Elder Doc Slyter saluted the Ancestors with his flute music. And Yachats Mayor Ron Brean spoke movingly about the pace of change and the need for healing and care so that we become mindful of the results of our actions and avoid damage to our beautiful environment and all the people who live here and call it home.

GoYachats salutes all the People of the Oregon Coast!

No comments:

Post a Comment