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Paleo-Indians First Native To Oregon 15,000 Years Ago

by Jake Dameron - The Oregon Herald Friday October 24, 2014    4:14 PM

Although there is considerable evidence that Paleo-Indians lived in the Pacific Northwest 15,000 years ago, the first record of human activity within the boundaries of 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. Cressman found more evidence of early human activity at Paisley Caves, north of Paisley, Oregon, caves where researchers affiliated with the University of Oregon have conducted new excavations during the 21st century.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.

Native peoples generally welcomed the arrival of Europeans in their 19th century, 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.

Since the late 20th century, the establishment of casinos on reservations (where state law does not apply) 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.

WIKIPEDIA:
The perception of Oregon by early European explorers and settlers varied according to the purpose and method of exploration. Official explorers came, at first, primarily by sea, in many cases seeking the Northwest Passage, and later over land, but missed many areas of the state now known as Oregon. Fur traders and trappers, initially from the Hudson's Bay Company, explored the land more thoroughly, documenting encounters with most of the local Indian tribes. Christian missionaries, and later immigrants planning to settle permanently in Oregon, sent glowing reports back to their families in the east.

Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo sighted southern Oregon off the Pacific coast in 1543. In 1592, Juan de Fuca undertook detailed mapping and studies of ocean currents. Stops along these trips included Oregon as well as the strait now bearing his name. Exploration was retaken routinely in 1774, starting by the expedition of frigate Santiago by Juan José Pérez Hernández (see Spanish expeditions to the Pacific Northwest). Soon the coast of Oregon became a valuable trading route to Asia.

1601 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 beeswax and a lidded silver vase, likely connected to the 1707 wreck of the San Francisco Xavier.

Juan Pérez explored the coast of the Pacific Northwest north to British Columbia in 1774. He was the first European to see Yaquina Head on the Oregon Coast. In 1775 another Spanish expedition, under Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra and Bruno de Heceta, explored the coast. While returning south Heceta found the mouth of the Columbia River, but was unable to enter.

British explorer James Cook explored the Oregon Coast in 1778 in search of the Northwest Passage. Beginning in the late 1780s many ships from Britain, America, and other countries sailed to the Pacific Northwest to engage in the region's emerging Maritime Fur Trade business. 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, who also explored Puget Sound and claimed it for Britain.

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, who extensively explored the Columbia River from 1807–1811, publicized the abundance of fur-bearing animals in the area.

Photo: Paleo-Indians.
Photo 2: Paleo-Indians.
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