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Long Tom Watershed Welcome Sign Acknowledges Kalapuya Land

Photo courtesy of Clinton Begley

The Long Tom Watershed Council designed a new welcome road sign along Highway 126. It recognizes the area as Indigenous homelands.

Before removal in 1856, Kalapuya tribes harvested produce and oversaw controlled fire burns in the watershed, said historian David Lewis.

“The tribes sort of lived up alongside the rivers and would fish and hunt in the area, and lived there upwards of 10,000 years,” said Lewis.

Lewis, a member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde helped with the sign that recognizes both the Chelamela and Chemapho tribes.

“People just don’t understand the amount of diversity there were in tribal people. How many different nations of people that were living all over he place around here,” Lewis said, “and it’s an amazingly complex and diverse story”

The 5 foot by 5 foot sign is located on Highway 126 at Cougar Pass west of Noti. The Long Tom Watershed encompasses 450 square miles.

Melorie Begay is a multimedia journalist for KLCC News. She was the Inaugural KLCC Public Radio Foundation Journalism Fellow. She has a bachelors in Multimedia Journalism from the University of New Mexico. She previously interned at KUNM public radio in Albuquerque, NM and served as a fellow for the online news publication New Mexico In Depth.