Portland Acknowledges Indians…and Science


Throughout the month of November I’ve been viewing my blogs through the lens of American Indian sensibilities.

The exercise is illuminating: what happens when everything you think about and write about is through such a lens?

I have been critical about setting aside a month—one month only–to celebrate Native American heritage because I think we should never forget the Indian viewpoint.

When I read thoroughly Portland’s proclamation honoring Native American Heritage Month, I was grateful for the acknowledgement of tribal influence on Pacific Northwest life.

One passage caught me by surprise because it invoked science.

When was the last time you saw a linkage between indigenous people and science?

“Indigenous People hand down oral histories, science, governance…and cultural knowledge” reads one portion of the proclamation.


How wonderful the Mayor and his staff were mindful enough to include science as a contribution of American Indians.

And it’s about time.

I’ve reprinted the (unedited) proclamation after searching for “Native American Heritage Month” on flashalertnewswire.net:

“Whereas, Native Americans, the indigenous peoples of this land, flourish with vibrant cultures, developed one of the largest trade economies and are the original stewards of Mother Earth; and

“Whereas, the city of Portland now rests on lands at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers, a major crossroads for the economic, social and political interactions of the indigenous tribes for thousands of years; and

“Whereas, Indigenous People hand down oral histories, science, governance, a distinct relationship with water, land, rocks, trees, birds, fish and animals and invaluable cultural knowledge and rich traditions that continue to thrive in Portland; and

“Whereas, Indigenous People who have been here since time immemorial – continue to contribute immeasurably to our county, state and city’s heritage, distinguishing themselves as scholars, veterans, teachers, athletes, artists, entrepreneurs and leaders; and

“Whereas, The Indigenous population of Portland is the 23rd largest in the United States and nearly 16,000 people, descended from more that 380 tribes/bands from across the nation; and

“Whereas, The Community continues to contribute to the cultural fabric of the city of Portland through many events throughout the year such as traditional pow wows, festivals, celebrations, active community organizations and tribal intergovernmental relationships; and

“Now, Therefore, I, Sam Adams, Mayor of the City of Portland, Oregon, the “City of Roses,” call upon all citizens of Portland to commemorate this month with appropriate programs and activities, and to celebrate November as Native American Heritage Month.

[Blog 19 of Native American Heritage Month.]

Photo from http://gthing.net/category/life-general?page=9


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in american indian, authenticity, framing, native american, Native Science, news bias, science, science communication and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Portland Acknowledges Indians…and Science

  1. Russ L says:

    Hi Cynthia,

    I’ve enjoyed your blogs this month!

    I liked this one because Indigenous peoples have contributed so much to science so early that their contributions are lost in antiquity. I agree, it’s nice that those contributions are remembered!

    I’ve also enjoyed what Mayor Adams had to say about the Indigenous population of the area. I would like to think I’m not reading too much into it by noting that he was careful to specify that American Indians are not one homogenous group–which would be akin to implying that all Europeans are the same–but recognizing us as a collection of individual peoples with their own viewpoints rather than one people with a single lens or viewpoint. 😉

    Best Wishes from your loyal follower,

    Russell Littlecreek


  2. I’m not surprised the Mayor would express appreciation about Indigenous science. Portland is home, after all, of CRITFC, the preeminent indigenous natural resource science institution in the country, if not the world.
    I am surprised though that the Mayor used flawed demographic data for the resolution. Especially after an exhaustive effort by the Portland native community to gather such data.
    Portland has, IN FACT, the 9th largest native population in the country at nearly 39,000 members.

    Click to access MakingVisible_FINAL.pdf


  3. Appreciate the fact-checking and so good to hear from you!


  4. johncoyote says:

    I have study history all my life. A great warrior Captain Jack held his ground till the Soldiers send assassins in and they murdered him and his fight for his land. I’m glad Portland is celebrating a great race forgotten in history books. Thank you for sharing the story.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s