When you’re wandering the paths at the Oregon Country Fair, you may come across Ark Park or Archeology Park. There you can learn about the fair’s educational, research and preservation efforts. Ann Rogers is an Oregon Country Fair archeologist.
The Kalapuya people gathered here on the banks of what’s now the Long Tom River near Veneta to harvest camas root, one of their food staples.
Rogers: “This is a really wealthy land in terms of subsistence because we’re at the northern end of what would be the Long Tom Marsh historically and a edge of resource systems you get this edge effect of different resources of plants and animals.”
Rogers says University of Oregon researchers recently found a camas oven that’s estimated to be 45-hundred years old. The Kalapuyas would roast camas, hazelnuts and other plants.
She says the camas oven would be dug a couple feet into the ground.
Rogers: “You would put down rocks, build a fire, you would put what I would call a layer of greens like leaves, put your food to be processed, another layer of leaves, another fire, close it up and dig it out. It’s like classic pit roasting. It’s found throughout the new world.”
Rogers says the oldest archeological site in Western Oregon is on Fair property. It dates back 10,000 years.
Rogers: “We have all these sites from habitation covering 10,000 years. Food gathering, food prep and people living here.”
Rogers says the fair considers itself a steward of the land, preserving its archeological resources. S says some people are surprised that native tribes lived here so long ago.
Rogers: “We kind of underestimate what people could do and how long people have been here. And when I work with children I ask them “Well what do you think they did before they had TV and video games?” they told stories and they made beautiful things and practical things, and I think we’ve lost track of that.”
Ann Rogers is at Ark Park during the Oregon Country Fair. There you can learn basket making, watch flint napping and learn more about the archeological findings at the fair site.
Produced with Franziska Monahan.