History of OregonThe construction of dams, like The Dalles Dam, would flood rapids like Celilo Falls. The competing cultural and economic interests of Native Americans and European settlers from various countries have played a prominent role in Oregon's history.
The History of Oregon, a U.S. state, may be considered in five eras: geologic history, inhabitation by native peoples, early exploration by Europeans (primarily fur traders), settlement by pioneers, and modern development.
The term "Oregon" may refer to any of three phases: Oregon Country, a large region explored by Americans, British, and others (and generally known to Canadians as the Columbia District); the Oregon Territory, established by the United States two years after its sovereignty over the region was established by the Oregon Treaty, and before states were established in the Pacific Northwest; and the modern U.S. state of Oregon. (It was also an early name for the Columbia River.)
- 1 Geology
- 2 Native peoples
- 3 Early European exploration
- 4 Settlement by pioneers
- 5 Modern history
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
- Main article: Geology of the Pacific Northwest
Volcanic activity in the region has been traced to 40 million years ago, in the Eocene era, forming much of the region's landscape. In the Pleistocene era (the last ice age, two million to 700,000 years ago), the Columbia River broke through Cascade Range, forming the Columbia River Gorge.
The Columbia River and its drainage basin experienced some of the world’s greatest known floods toward the end of the last ice age. The periodic rupturing of ice dams at Glacial Lake Missoula resulted in discharge rates ten times the combined flow of all the rivers of the world, as many as forty times over a thousand-year period.
Water levels during the Missoula Floods have been estimated at 1,250 feet (381 m) at the Wallula Gap (in present-day Washington), 830 feet (253 m) at Bonneville Dam, and 400 feet (122 m) over current day Portland, Oregon. The floods' periodic inundation of the lower Columbia River Plateau deposited rich lake sediments, establishing the fertility that supports extensive agriculture in the modern era. They also formed many unusual geological features, such as the channeled scablands of eastern Washington.
Mount Mazama, once the tallest mountain in the region at 11,000 feet, had a massive volcanic eruption approximately 5.5 millennia B.C. The eruption, estimated to have been 42 times more powerful than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, reduced Mazama's approximate 11,000 foot (c.3,350 m) height by around half a mile (about 1 km) when much of the volcano fell into the volcano's partially emptied neck and magma chamber. Mazama's collapsed caldera, in today's southern Oregon, holds Crater Lake, and the entire mountain is located in Crater Lake National Park (Oregon's only such park).
The Klamath Native Americans of the area thought that the mountain was inhabited by Llao, their god of the underworld. After the mountain destroyed itself the Klamaths recounted the events as a great battle between Llao and his rival Skell, their sky god.
The 1700 Cascadia earthquake resulted from a rupture in the Juan de Fuca Plate along the coast of the Pacific Northwest. The earthquake caused a tsunami that was detected in Japan; it may also be linked to the Bonneville Slide, in which a large part of Washington's Table Mountain collapsed into the Columbia River Gorge, damming the river and forming the Bridge of the Gods, a land bridge remembered in the oral history of local Native Americans.
In 1980, Mount St. Helens in neighboring Washington erupted violently, causing a temporary in the Columbia River's depth to as little as 13 feet, and disrupting Portland's economy. The eruption deposited ash as far into Oregon as Bend.
Native peoplesTool artifacts of Native Americans in Oregon
Although there is considerable evidence that humans lived in the Pacific Northwest 15,000 years ago, the first record of human activity in present day Oregon came from archaeologist Luther Cressman's 1938 discovery of sage bark sandals near Fort Rock Cave that places human habitation in Oregon as early as 13,200 years ago. By 8000 B.C. there were settlements across the state, with the majority concentrated along the lower Columbia River, in the western valleys, and around coastal estuaries.
Celilo Falls, a series of rapids on the Columbia River just upstream of present-day The Dalles, Oregon, was a fishing site for natives for several millennia. Native people traveled to Celilo Village from all over the Pacific Northwest and beyond to trade. The rapids were submerged in 1957 with the construction of The Dalles Dam in 1957.
Early European exploration1601 AD map showing unexplored Oregon Coast
Spanish explorers found a way to explore the Pacific coast as early as 1565, sending vessels northeast from the Philippines, riding the Kuroshio Current in a sweeping circular route across the northern part of the Pacific. These ships – 250 in as many years – would typically not land before reaching Cape Mendocino in California, but some landed or wrecked in what is now Oregon. Nehalem Indian tales recount strangers and the discovery of items like chunks of business and a lidded silver vase, likely connected to the 1707 wreck of the San Francisco Xavier.
Juan José Pérez Hernández and Bruno de Heceta explored the Oregon Coast beginning in 1774. Heceta's 1775 voyage was the first to sight the mouth of the Columbia River.
James Cook explored the Oregon Coast in 1778 in search of the Northwest Passage. American sea captain Robert Gray entered the Columbia in 1792, and was soon followed by a ship under the command of George Vancouver, a British captain. The Lewis and Clark Expedition traveled through the region during their expedition to explore the Louisiana Purchase. They built their winter fort at Fort Clatsop, near the mouth of the Columbia. Exploration by Lewis and Clark (1805–1806) and the United Kingdom's David Thompson (1811) publicized the abundance of fur-bearing animals in the area.
Native peoples generally welcomed the arrival of Europeans, for the increased trading opportunities; however, the introduction of foreign diseases would prove devastating to local populations. Later, American initiatives to capture the natural resources of the west, perhaps most notably along the Columbia River, would collide with the interests of natives; many tribes accepted multi-million dollar settlements from the U.S. government in exchange for giving up traditional fishing sites, moving to reservations that were often far from their homes.
In recent times, the establishment of casinos has provided some income to tribes that are generally impoverished. Throughout the governorship of Ted Kulongoski, the Warm Springs Indians have negotiated for the right to build an off-reservation casino in the Columbia River Gorge.
Settlement by pioneers
- Main article: Oregon pioneer history
The Astor Expedition of 1810–1812, financed by American businessman John Jacob Astor, brought fur traders to the future site of Astoria by both land and sea. Fort Astoria was the first permanent white settlement in the region. Although the fort would remain under American control for only a short time, it would become a significant component of the United States' later claim on the region. A party returning east discovered the South Pass through the Rocky Mountains, which would become an important feature of the Oregon Trail.Map of the Oregon Country, with most heavily disputed area highlighted. The 1846 Oregon Treaty designated this area for the United States.
In the War of 1812, the British gained control of all of the Pacific Fur Company posts. By the 1820s and '30s, their Hudson's Bay Company dominated the Pacific Northwest from its Columbia District headquarters at Fort Vancouver (built in 1825 by the District's Chief Factor John McLoughlin across the Columbia from present-day Portland).
In the 1830s, several parties of Americans traveled to Oregon, further establishing the Oregon Trail. Many of these emigrants were missionaries seeking to convert natives to Christianity. Jason Lee was the first, traveling in Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth's party in 1833 and establishing the Oregon Mission in the Willamette Valley; the Whitmans and Spaldings arrived in 1847, establishing the Whitman Mission east of the Cascades. In 1839 the Peoria Party embarked for Oregon from Illinois.
In 1841, wealthy master trapper and entrepreneur Ewing Young died without a will, and there was no system to probate his estate. A probate government was proposed at a meeting after Young's funeral. Doctor Ira Babcock of Jason Lee's Methodist Mission was elected Supreme Judge. Babcock chaired two meetings in 1842 at Champoeg (half way between Lee's mission and Oregon City) to discuss wolves and other animals of contemporary concern. These meetings were precursors to an all-citizen meeting in 1843, which instituted a provisional government headed by an executive committee made up of David Hill, Alanson Beers, and Joseph Gale. This government was the first acting public government of the Oregon Country before American annexation.
The Oregon Trail brought many new settlers to the region, starting in 1842–1843, after the United States agreed to jointly settle the Oregon Country with the United Kingdom. For some time, it seemed the United States and the United Kingdom would go to war for a third time in 75 years (see Oregon boundary dispute), but the border was defined peacefully in 1846 by the Oregon Treaty. The border between the United States and British North America was set at the 49th parallel. The Oregon Territory was officially organized in 1848.
Numerous efforts to find easier overland passage to the Willamette Valley were undertaken beginning in the 1840s. The Barlow Road, Meek Cutoff, and Applegate Trail represented efforts to cross the Cascades in the northern, central, and southern parts of Oregon, respectively. The Barlow Road would become the final leg of the Oregon Trail after its construction in 1846, and the Santiam Wagon Road would cut through the central part of the mountains, succeeding where Meek had failed.
Settlement increased because of the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850, in conjunction with the forced relocation of the native population to Indian reservations. The state was admitted to the Union on February 14, 1859.
At the outbreak of the American Civil War, regular U.S. troops were withdrawn and sent east. Volunteer cavalry were recruited in California and sent north to Oregon to keep peace and protect the populace. The First Oregon Cavalry served until June 1865.
In the 1880s, the proliferation of railroads assisted in marketing of the state's lumber and wheat, as well as the more rapid growth of its cities. This included the connection of the state to the Eastern United States via links to the transcontinental railroads that allowed for faster movement of goods and people. Immigration to Oregon increased after the connection to the east. Additional transportation improvements included the construction of several locks and canals to ease river navigation.
Both the Oregon Territory and the State of Oregon have had laws and policies discriminating against people of non-white racial backgrounds. An 1844 territorial statute outlawed slavery but also mandated free slaves to leave the territory. A law adopted by the state in 1862 required all ethnic minorities to pay a $5 annual tax. Interracial marriage was prohibited by law between (approximately) 1861 and 1951.
Modern historyEngineer Conde McCullough designed many of Oregon's bridges, including the Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport.
Industrial expansion began in earnest following the construction of the Bonneville Dam in 1933–1937 on the Columbia River. The power, food, and lumber provided by Oregon helped fuel the development of the West, although the periodic fluctuations in the nation's building industry have hurt the state's economy on multiple occasions.
The state has a long history of polarizing conflicts: Native Americans vs. British fur trappers, British vs. settlers from the U.S., ranchers vs. farmers, wealthy growing cities vs. established but poor rural areas, loggers vs. environmentalists, white supremacists vs. anti-racists, social progressivism vs. small-government conservatism, supporters of social spending vs. anti-tax activists, and native Oregonians vs. Californians (or outsiders in general). Oregonians also have a long history of secessionist ideas, with people in various regions and on all sides of the political spectrum attempting to form other states and even other countries. (See State of Jefferson, Cascadia, and Ecotopia.)
In 1902, Oregon approved of a system of direct legislation by the state’s citizens by way of initiative and referendum, known as the Oregon System, and in 1908 also empowered its citizens to recall public officials by ballot initiative. Oregon state ballots often include politically conservative proposals such as anti-gay and pro-religious measures side-by-side with politically liberal issues like drug decriminalization which demonstrates the wide spectrum of political thought in the state.
The historical policies of racial discrimination have had longterm effects on Oregon's population. A 1994 report from an Oregon Supreme Court task force found minorities more likely to be arrested, charged, convicted, incarcerated and on probation than "similarly situated non-minorities." The report does not place blame on individuals, but instead points out the problems of institutional racism. The report recommends multicultural training of the existing justice system personnel and also recommends diversifying the perspectives, backgrounds and demographics of future hires.
See alsoOregon Portal
- List of Oregon ballot measures
- List of fiction set in Oregon
- List of Oregon judges
- List of Governors of Oregon
- List of people from Oregon
- List of native Oregon plants
- List of Oregon county name etymologies
- List of Oregon State Government Agencies
- List of Registered Historic Places in Oregon
- Oregon tax revolt
- Capital punishment in Oregon
- History of Portland, Oregon
- Mount Hood Freeway
- Oregon boundary dispute
- History of British Columbia
- History of Idaho
- History of Washington
- History of the west coast of North America
- ^ The Geologic History of the Columbia River Gorge. USGS.
- ^ Glacial Lake Missoula and the Missoula Floods. U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved on 2006-11-19.
- ^ Houck, Michael C.; Cody, M.J. (2000). Wild in the City. Oregon Historical Society. ISBN 0-87595-273-9.
- ^ Crater Lake. Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved on 2006-12-26.
- ^ Great Cascadia Earthquake Penrose Conference
- ^ Fault slip and seismic moment of the 1700 Cascadia earthquake inferred from Japanese tsunami descriptions
- ^ Hill, Richard L. "Science - Landslide Sleuths", The Oregonian, May 15, 2002.
- ^ Harris, Stephen L. (1988). Fire Mountains of the West: The Cascade and Mono Lake Volcanoes. Missoula: Mountain Press Publishing Company, Missoula. ISBN 0-87842-220-X
- ^ Robbins, William G. (2005). Oregon: This Storied Land. Oregon Historical Society Press. ISBN 0987595-286-0.
- ^ Oregon History: Great Basin. Oregon Blue Book. Oregon State Archives. Retrieved on 2007-09-02.
- ^ Oregon History: Northwest Coast. Oregon Blue Book. Oregon State Archives. Retrieved on 2007-09-02.
- ^ Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde: Culture. Retrieved on 2007-09-02.
- ^ Oregon History: Columbia Plateau. Oregon Blue Book. Oregon State Archives. Retrieved on 2007-09-02.
- ^ Oregon Blue Book: Oregon History: Some Came by Sea
- ^ Oregon History Project
- ^ Loy, William G.; Stuart Allan, Aileen R. Buckley, James E. Meecham (2001). Atlas of Oregon. University of Oregon Press, 12–13. ISBN 0-87114-102-7.
- ^ a b c Retired Supreme Court chief justice's long fight to destroy racial discrimination in Oregon's legal system. Deirdre Steinberg, The Episcopal Diocese of Oregon. 14 October, 2005. Accessed 8 March, 2008.
- ^ Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Oregon Justice System. The Oregon Supreme Court Task Force on Racial and Ethnic Issues in the Judicial System. Accessed 8 March, 2008.
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