Valerie Grussing: Briece Edwards is the senior archeologist based in the Tribal Historic Preservation Department in the confederated tribes of the Grand Ronde community of Oregon. He coordinates the archeology and research program within the department reviewing cultural research on tribal lands as well as developing and maintaining the tribes cultural sites inventory. As the archeologist he is dedicated to developing partnerships with agencies and organizations for the protection of cultural resources throughout the tribes seeded lands, which are 21,322 square miles. He also has many other duties that I suspect he would rather tell you about himself than me read them to you over lunch.
Briece Edwards: Thank you, everybody. Thank you for the invitations. Thank you to the people whose land, people who call this place home. Because of time I’m going to try and keep this short, so bear with me. I kind of have three parts here. I apologize, but I kind of need some stage setting before we can get to what, I think, is the cool part with the pretty pictures.
First off you may have heard yet another landscape study project out there. Val mentioned it, a couple of other people have, and this is the Tribal Cultural Landscapes Project. It is a little bit different. It’s a little bit unique from other projects that are agency driven in that this one started from a tribal perspective. It was initiated by tribal response. It was found to be of value by federal agency, and that led to yet another unique element which was collaboration between tribes. For the West Coast project that BOEM was initiating we received one of those lovely letters that tipos get: “Hey we’re doing cool things, tell us everything you know about it”. We hate those letters. This was a unique opportunity because normally we just brown file. In this case it was, “No, this is significant”. Here’s an agency that actually is listening, so let’s turn this around. Let’s say we appreciate what you’re after, but you’re missing the voice and perspective that can actually give from a tribal position, value and meaning to what you’re after.
There it is. Meaningful consultation is what we’re actually after. We proposed, let’s look at developing methodology. Let’s look at proposing recommendations at the conclusion, and let’s run a case study to see if methodology has legs. It’s great to have ideas but if it’s not going to work, if it’s not actually going to make peoples life easier, it’s just going to fall to the wayside. The products out of this proposal were an analysis guide and a case study.
The participant, core participants because there were a lot; BOEM, NOAA, Marine Sanctuaries Program, the Tribe, Grand Ronde, Macaw, Urlock, as well as 27 other tribes and 25 federal and state agencies. You think getting two guys to agree on something is hard, it’s a miracle. We started from a position of, we’ve got this concept, we kind of all have a sense of where we want to go with it, but because we’re dealing with agencies and we want something that has legs and longevity let’s find a definition. That’s where we started was let’s get a definition established and created by tribes that other tribes can get on board with. Then let’s see how well that definition will stand with technical staff in agencies. Whether it’s the state shipos, other tipos, how’s it going to do with Forest Service, or National Parks, so we held workshops. What we got out of this is that’s pretty much the definition along with some modification. It took a good solid 12 hours on day one to come up with that.
It’s pretty simple. Loosely translated; “Tribes say what’s important to tribes”, that’s it, or indigenous groups. You’ll notice that’s there with an astric cause not all indigenous groups have federal recognition. Whether it’s Hawaii, Alaskan corporations. This isn’t, and for those of you in federal agencies, that’s going to be your hurdle in how you choose or not to apply this. Tribes determine what’s important to them. That’s not at the exclusion of any other tribes understanding.
For instance, Mount Hood, Grand Ronde holds a lot of understanding about that place, about the practices that go on there, so do our neighboring tribes have connection. Our understanding doesn’t exclude the others. This kind of comes back to what Cons was bringing up yesterday, the multiple lenses of understanding a landscape. Whether we dial it in for whaling perspectives, or whether we’re dialing it in for the spiritual understanding across the landscape, or world history epics. I’m going to quickly try to page through this.
We came up with framework, you can see there. One of the key points that came out of this amongst the tribes that we were engaging with is stop focusing on place. It’s good archeo training to start from finding a place, but when it comes from actually understanding a landscape, shift the lens, take a half step over. Look at it from a place of practice. Once you understand practice it’s a lot easier to go find a place, and when you do find place you’ll actually have a better concept of what you’re looking at. That’s easy to say from a West Coast perspective. With tribes there’s a lot more understanding that’s not as fragmented as you find in other places in the country, but that information still resides out there. It’s professionals scratching the surface, digging a little deeper into it. Looking at how wide. Looking for bounds. Ways of defining an extent of a shell midden or the distribution.
One thing that we came up with in tribal understanding is, again, shift the perspective, step away from the desire to go with the intent of drawing lines, but let’s say no. The landscape is as big as it needs to be. It goes as far as it goes until you stop thinking about it. It’s hard to put a line around that and it probably makes every federal agency cringe a bit, but we’re talking about identification practices here. Not regulatory, not enforcement, not necessarily protection, we’re talking about identification. The other thing is, and I already mentioned this, one tribe’s understanding, one groups, one individuals understanding is going to be different than another. This approach is to the all-encompassing.
Now, again I’m going to delve into a kind of perspective here. You’ve seen this model in a lot of different ways. Most of you have addressed this in different ways. Tangible, intangible concepts. We use a model of a tree. Trust me if I could make that model cider or spruce I’d be much happier. Oaks work too. Imagine culture as a tree. You’ve got the tangible, that’s the part you can see. It’s very expansive, it goes all the way out to the leaves of intimate knowledge. The individuals experience on a landscape. For everything you see above ground it’s also reflected below surface; that intangible, that out of site, but you know that it’s there. It’s as far reaching, any of you do forestry or been ground foresters, the root system is as broad as the reach of the branches above ground. Same concept applies here. With that, that is one of the founding elements, one of the Lego’s, if you will, that we were operating with when we set this up.
Methodology, and I have Val to thank for this wonderful graphic. Really simple method. Conceptualization, data acquisition, tear reference, synthesis and presentation. The cool parts in the data acquisition and the synthesis. Presentation is this. We set out with another kind of side board on this project which was sensitive information. What are we not going to present. We have elders telling us, we have other traditionalists in the community saying “We don’t want to talk about this”. We said “No problem”. How about if we can find it printed and published, or somehow already in the public domain are you good with that? Begrudgingly, yes, so that’s where we went.
Oregon has had a lot written about it. There’s been a whole spread historical work done in the late 1800s, early 1900s, where there was a lot of world history recorded. We sat down and went through those ethnic graphic field notes line by line and recorded every man, animal, mineral, vegetable and place. Where a sentence mare refer to multiple things, you kind of categorize pigeon hold in each one. Then we geo referenced it.
What we came up with is that as a resolution on that, the further away we get from shore we get a broader understanding, but it’s still a valid presentation of what’s understood out there from a land based community. What you’re seeing there is the three study areas that we took. These are defined on land area, land forms, concentrations of data, and diversity of information. The other side board that we were operating on is a traditional understanding of the landscape. Roughly on three levels that would be described as time in western concept. I apologize for the word historic. If you imagine today we feel our understanding of the landscape is firm. We understand it because we have a first person experience with it. We have a greater reliance on that understanding. Take a look further back in time we get a little less confident. Maybe the sources we’re not familiar with, we’re using newspaper articles from the 1820s, there’s yellow journalism, it’s a little spotty, but the information is still there and you kind of pick and pull, kind of squint and make sure that it fits right.
With the Grand Ronde tribes, those that make up the confederation, we also had the econme. That’s that myth time. That’s that time that sits in the back. That’s the stories of south wind. That’s the stories of coyote. These are the foundations of understanding life, how they live it correctly, how they read that book that you’re seeing there. That landscape is a chapter. Each component on that is a chapter of understanding. It’s far back in time, so we have, supposedly, a lot less reliance on what it’s telling us in a western lens. What we did is we compressed all that information, it’s all equal in a data stat.
Quick notion of data sources. One of the first and foremost, and one that is often forgotten, is what’s actually happening there today. We want to see tribes indigenous understanding as something in the past. Still canoeing on the ocean. I love pointing out that they’re these points. Those red spots there are places where south wind set the world, or elements of the world, in order. That’s a map of Lewis and Clark. It gives us great ethnic graphic information. I’ll point out all this cultural and tribal understanding in the landscape and whaling and this and that and like “Oh, really”. Lewis and Clark recorded it, “Oh, that’s really right on.”
This is an interesting point. There’s a single point of land form there. Surviving today, the lower left of the foundations of that middle site and dock that you see there photographed in the 1880s, 1890s. That’s an advertisement from the Portland newspaper for taking the boat, I think, Astoria down the general miles. Now the general miles had a crew member on crew, a tribal member on crew coming in. On their photograph there’s a plank house on the top of that hill behind the mill. Half the mill workers were tribal members, and as you’ll see later, that entire bay, Tilamek bay, is a stories landscape going back to Tyman memorial.
I’m going to wrap up very quickly, which is two things. This is what taking all those data points look like together; language, places, place names, final resources that have been recorded. The size of the dock refers to how many times that boat shows up in historical records and archaeological site, and then the amalgamation of all of them. What that looks like when you start learning lines of site between them because that seems to be a key variable, this is the tool that we can use for management and development of future plans in the area. So that we can start engaging all of the proprietary information is behind the scenes. We don’t run the risk of violating taboo, but we’ve now got a tool and a mechanism to start talking. I’ll point out there are some very cool hot spots off shore. This is all land based for the most part, but you see hot spots of where there’s strong cultural connection based on lines of sight. With that, and paleo-landscape stuff we can talk about that.
There, Thank you.