Shaping Land and Lives, Kalapuyan Cultural Practices A conversation with scholar David Lewis, PhD.

Saturday, May 18th, 2019 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm

At Washington County Museum: 17677 NW Springville Road Portland, OR 97229

Washington County Museum invites you to an intimate conversation with David Lewis, PhD. Lewis is an esteemed local author, Native American historian, ethnohistory consultant, anthropologist, and teacher. Lewis will share his knowledge of the Kalapuyan cultural practices around food and land management in conversation with PCC Rock Creek anthropology professor David Ellis. This event is presented in conjunction with the museum’s seasonal exhibit, AgriCulture: Shaping Land and Lives in the Tualatin Valley which will be up until the end of the school year.

Lewis is a member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and has Takelma, Chinook, Molalla and Santiam Kalapuya ancestry. In the AgriCulture exhibit Lewis shares some personal experiences growing up in Oregon: fishing and clamming with his dad, Gary Lewis, and picking up books at the used book store on the Grand Ronde Reservation. Those experiences laid the foundation for his lifelong studies about the Kalapuyan peoples, and he has become one of the pre-eminent scholars on the topic.

Lewis describes the level of expert knowledge that Kalapuyan people had about the resources of the Tualatin Valley: “They knew the cycles of things, they knew when things were ripened, when the deer would come out of the woods, what would attract them. They knew that setting fire to the land would help it be reborn, would eliminate all the extra plant tissues and stuff, and help the next generation of plants be reborn without competition.” Lewis teaches that by maintaining these practices for 8,000 years, the tribes intentionally created the famously verdant environment of this valley. “The whole idea of nice prairies, of oak savannah, camas fields, wapato fields, all this stuff available to people to use, and the nice sort of environment was created wholly by the Kalapuyans setting fire to the land,” he explains.

This special conversation will be a chance to learn more about essential local history on an intimate scale with some open discussion time at the end. To go with the Saturday late morning time, the museum will provide bagels and coffee. The event is free and open to the public, though for those who can support the museum with a donation equal to our usual $5 admission, your gift would be greatly appreciated.