Lower Columbia River Chinookan Communities

About the Project

The Center for Columbia River History (CCRH) has collected a significant archive of materials related to the history of Chinookan peoples who have lived along the Lower Columbia River for thousands of years.

This project places multimedia materials online, including short narratives, images, primary documents, video and audio interviews, and recorded public talks. CCRH staff, Dr. Katrine Barber (Portland State University), Dr. Candice Goucher (WSU Vancouver), and Donna Sinclair (CCRH program manager for the Washington State Historical Society) worked with community and academic partners, and members of the Chinook Indian Nation, to to explore questions of historical interpretation and build this site.

Humanities programming held by CCRH in 2009 and 2010 focused on Chinook culture, and brought Native and non-Native experts into conversation with the public and with Center staff. Materials from two day-long programs funded by Oregon Humanities, a day-long teacher workshop at the Cathlapotle Plankhouse, two Portland State University classes, a PSU Chinook oral history project, the 2010 James B. Castles lecture, and materials collected and compiled under the auspices of Humanities Washington are presented here.

The purpose of the web exhibit is to provide accurate and accessible humanities content to students and the public, building on CCRH efforts to facilitate public understanding of regional Native communities through Native and non-Native epistemologies. Exploring critical humanities questions regarding the nature of knowledge and interpretation through digital media allows interdisciplinary investigation, synthesis, and presentation of information. Re-Visioning This Place presents a digital corpora of historical, archaeological, and audiovisual texts alongside the tools and methods for analyzing them. Short narratives guide site exploration, connecting past and present, but are not conclusive. Rather, searchable primary documents, images, video, maps, and contemporary interviews create a layered knowledge space for users to construct and enrich existing narratives for themselves. These audio visual, documentary, and oral resources provide the foundation for a web exhibit that illuminates Chinookan history and cultural persistence.

CCRH has worked with Native and non-Native experts and humanities scholars to address issues of authority and interpretation by: creating humanities content that attends to different perspectives and respects multiple authorities; examining how collaboration with Native communities reshapes the presentation of humanities content; and investigating how to create academically sound histories, while respecting Native ways of knowing the world. These questions have guided staff as they shape both content and the interpretive section, “How Do We Know?

Re-Visioning This Place re-imagines a Chinookan landscape by working with Chinookan peoples to to stimulate discussion of critical humanities issues through a balance of ideas, participants, and approaches.