Reconnecting land and culture
Part 1: Native American community, Metro work together to provide culturally appropriate access to public land
Part 2: The roots of Portland's Native American community
Part 3: Integrating traditional practices into Metro land management
Portland is home to the nation’s ninth largest urban Native American population.
Many factors have contributed to Portland’s estimated 58,135 Native Americans that represent more than 380 tribal affiliations.
Native American people did not come to Portland by accident, but through a series of federal policies that forced the removal of Indians from tribal homelands, terminated tribal governments and relocated Native Americans to urban areas.
The Indian Removal Act of 1830 institutionalized the practice of removing Native Americans from their ancestral lands — including all of what is now Portland — in order to make way for white settlement.
Under the Western Oregon Termination Act of 1954 and the Klamath Termination Act of 1954, a large number of Oregon tribes had their governments abolished, lands taken and treaty agreements broken, resulting in an increase of tribal members moving to Portland.
There are currently 566 federally recognized tribal governments in the United States. Tribal governments organize themselves under various names – tribes, nations, bands, pueblos, communities and villages. Federally recognized tribal governments are recognized in the Constitution, and tribal sovereignty — the right to self-govern as nations within a nation — has been reaffirmed through the Supreme Court, Congress and U.S. presidents.
Federally recognized Indian reservations can be home to more than one tribal nation. Oregon is home to nine federally recognized Indian reservations and five of those governments are organized as confederacies, indicating the tribal government represents more than one tribal affiliation. For example, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in eastern Oregon is home to three Sahaptin-speaking Native American tribes: the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla.
Federal Indian policy has shaped today’s demographics of Portland’s urban Native American community. Portland’s intertribal community is now finding new ways to reconnect to its land and culture — and to one another.
This story is by Maiya Osife and Amy Croover-Payette.