Several years ago I attended a talk at the Midland library about the indigenous history of Portland given by Tracy J. Prince who’s a Research Professor at Portland State University in their American Indian Teacher Program. I learned so much from that talk and still have my hand-written notes stored away for reference. I’ve followed her online since then, and she was gracious enough to reconnect with me and join the podcast to share rare insights about the indigenous people of what’s now Parkrose, east Portland, and also Oregon more broadly.
Tracy answers questions about the name of the band of Chinookan people who lived in this area (Watlala aka Cascades) and whether people likely had homes in Parkrose and surrounding neighborhoods. She reads from an article revealing that Rocky Butte was called “Mowitch Illihee,” which means “home of the deer.” As far as I know, that last sentence is the first time that information has ever been published online! She says people likely had plank houses in the Parkrose area, but there is no record of that. She shares about the culture, languages, and lifestyle people had and the mostly-ignored history of indigenous people living alongside settlers in Portland. Tracy also talks about her work with Portland Public Schools to create a new indigenous history curriculum for third graders.
Check out her Facebook page and Instagram and her books!
A few more links you might find interesting are:
Luuwit View Park – name info
Chinook Indian Nation – bands of Chinook still seeking federal recognition (centered around Chinook, WA and Astoria, OR)
Cathlapotle Plank House in Ridgefield, WA
Artists Greg Robinson and Greg Archuleta
You can listen to the Parkrose Life podcast on Apple, Spotify, many other podcast places, or right here by pressing the play button below. If you subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast platform, then you’ll never miss an episode.
I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments on this post (Tracy would probably love to answer your questions), or share an idea for a future episode!