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New Eugene Streets Honor City's History And Culture

It’s official! The names chosen for 3 new Eugene streets will be Annie Mims Lane, Wiley Griffon Way, and Nak-Nak Avenue. 

Standing on what ­­is now Annie Mims Lane, Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis announced the new street signs. Community members submitted more than 1,100 suggestions for the riverfront neighborhood under development. The Mims were one of the first African-American families to own a home in Eugene. Annie Mims’ son Willie and his wife Sallie were at the unveiling.

Credit City of Eugene
Map of new Riverfront neighborhood.

“It just does our heart good.” Sallie Mims tells KLCC. “Annie Mims is a remarkable person. And sometimes we don’t realize how remarkable folks that normally we would consider ordinary are.”

Wiley Griffon was one of the first black residents of Eugene around the 1890s. He was a janitor at the University of Oregon and before then he drove the Eugene streetcar.

And Nak-Nak is the Kalapuya word for Duck. The Kalapuya tribe were the first people in the Willamette Valley. Chris Mercier is with the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde. He says having a Kalapuya street name in Eugene is meaningful for the historical and cultural context.

“Whenever you have like a place name with an indigenous word, people want to know what that means, and then they want to know about the tribe, so for one it’s an accurate kind of geographic and cultural reflection of the people who were native to this area but it also provides the opportunity to educate people on who those folks were.”

The riverfront streets are in the property formerly owned by EWEB, where the city is developing a park, housing, and commercial spaces.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.
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