Renaming Lane County

Date: September 23, 2022

Time: Noon to 1:15 pm

Event Type: Live/Livestream
Members and Non-Members may attend our forums for free


Eugene, Oregon

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Light refreshments available; donations always appreciated.
Ask a question of the speakers! Text it to (541) 852-0302 during the program.
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In the 19th century, hardy people of European origin trekked across the Rockies and found Oregon. They came, they saw, and they conquered. They took land from the Indigenous people. By 1848, when enough immigrants had moved there and the Oregon Treaty had been signed with Britain, Oregon was declared a U.S. territory. Joseph Lane was named its first governor, and he immigrated from his home in Indiana, arriving in 1849. Two years later, an area from the Willamette Valley to the coast was designated a county and named for Lane. Oregon became a state in 1859, and Lane served it in various roles for many years.

Meanwhile, the original inhabitants of the region, Native peoples with sovereign Tribal nations and unique indigenous cultures, were subjected to brutal treatment by the American immigrants, including murder, theft, and genocide. They were pushed off the lands they had lived on since time immemorial; their placenames were changed; and they were forced to sign treaties and move to reservations, losing many of their rights as sovereign peoples.

The Kalapuya and their ancestors are estimated to have lived in the Willamette Valley since before the last ice age, some 16,000 years ago. Their traditional homelands were in the Willamette, Elk Creek, Calapooya Creek, and Umpqua watersheds of Western Oregon. They hunted and gathered as far east as the Cascades and west beyond the Coast ranges and traded with the Chinookans to the north and Coos peoples on the coast. During their long tenure, they established productive relationships with other tribes and practiced sustainable stewardship of the land and its plants and animals.

In this program, we will explore the historic dimensions of changing the name of the county from Lane to Kalapuya County. David G. Lewis, an anthropologist of Kalapuyan descent, will talk about the original people of the Willamette Valley, describing what distinguished their culture and how they fared in the early years of contact and statehood. Rick Pettigrew, an archeologist with a long history of research in this region, will describe the initiative that his nonprofit has launched to change the county name and explain what it means to change a place name in this modern era of interconnected bureaucracies. Douglas Card, a retired sociologist who studies the social history of our region, will speak about Joseph Lane and explore some of the ways modern communities find to formally honor diverse perspectives.

Read this follow-up article in The Register-Guard.


Name: Douglas Card, PhD
Title: Social Historian/Retired Sociology Professor

Douglas Card, PhD, is a retired University of Oregon sociology professor who studies and writes about the histories of Indigenous people and early settlers in Douglas and Lane Counties, including the complexities of Joseph Lane. As a member of local county historical societies, he helped leaders of the Cow Creek band get recognized after termination, contributed to creating the Mill-Pine Historic District and preserving the Willis House, identified the original homesite of Wiley Griffon, and supported efforts to renovate McNail-Riley House. For these activities, the Lane County Historical Society presented him with an award “For Lifetime Achievement in sustained support of state and county history.” In his book From Camas to Courthouse: Early Lane County History, he illustrates what he calls “the duality of history” through use of double narratives.  Douglas Card earned a BA in psychology at Willamette University and a PhD in sociology at the University of Oregon.

Name: David G Lewis, PhD
Title: Ethnohistorian/Assistant Professor
Organization: School of Language, Culture and Society, Oregon State University

David G. Lewis, PhD, is an assistant professor in the School of Language, Culture, and Society at Oregon State University, where he has taught since 2013.  He also served for eight years as the tribal historian, cultural archives and exhibits manager, and cultural resources department manager for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. He is a member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, a descendant of the Takelma, Chinook, Molalla, and Santiam Kalapuya peoples of western Oregon. In his professional role, he contributed to place naming projects that include Tilikum Crossing Bridge (Portland), Whilamut Passage (I-5 at Eugene), Kalapuya Elementary (Salem), Khanamokst Park (Portland), Chifin Native Center (Springfield), Nak-Nak Avenue (Eugene), Nestucca Bobb Creek (Tillamook County), and most recently Katherine Jones Harrison Elementary School in Corvallis. His research focuses on the tribal histories of Northwest Coastal peoples, specializing in the Western Oregon Tribes. He earned a PhD in anthropology from the University of Oregon, where he also earned an MA and BA.

Name: Richard Pettigrew, PhD
Title: Executive Director/Consulting Anthropologist
Organization: Archeological Legacy Institute

Richard Pettigrew, PhD, is a consulting archaeologist in Eugene, Oregon, with more than 50 years of experience in western North America. He has conducted extensive archaeological research, involving hundreds of projects in the Pacific Northwest, published numerous technical works, and is experienced as a producer of cultural heritage films. He is the founder and Executive Director of the Archaeology Legacy Institute. In 2006, he won the Society for American Archaeology Award for Excellence in Public Education, symbolizing his recognition worldwide as a leader in public education about archaeology and cultural heritage. He has recently turned his attention to the project “Establishing Kalapuya County,” proposed two years ago by David Lewis and Kalapuya elder Esther Stutzman. He earned a BA in psychology from Stanford University and an MA and PhD in anthropology from the University of Oregon.

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