A guide for learning about the histories of the Native peoples of Oregon, especially the Tualatin Kalapuya (Atfalati) tribe on whose land the Forest Grove & Hillsboro campuses of Pacific University stand.
Pacific University's campuses at Forest Grove and Hillsboro are on the land of the Tualatin Kalapuyas.
The Tualatins, or Atfalati, once lived throughout the Tualatin River watershed to the west of Portland, Oregon. Their territory included the modern towns of Forest Grove, Gaston, Hillsboro, North Plains, Beaverton, Cedar Hills, Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood, covering most of modern Washington County and some of northern Yamhill County.
The Tualatins spoke the northernmost dialect of the Kalapuyan languages. Other Kalapuyan-speakers lived throughout the Willamette Valley. This is why they are often called Tualatin Kalapuyas: because they were one branch of the Kalapuyan tribes. In their own language, they called themselves Atfalati. The stress falls on the second syllable: ah-TFAL-uh-tee. (See a video on how to pronounce Atfalati.) The name Tualatin may have come into English secondhand via Natives from another tribe. In its earliest versions, it was often spelled Twality or Twallatty, revealing its closer link to the original pronunciation. The last known fluent speaker of Tualatin, Louis Kenoyer, died in 1937. (For more on the tribe's name and language, see Zenk, "Contributions to Tualatin ethnography: subsistence and ethnobiology.")
It is not known how many Tualatins there were at the peak of their population. The first documented epidemics swept through Oregon in the late 1700s, long before any records of the population numbers were written down. After suffering through repeated waves of severe epidemics, only about 60-70 Tualatins survived in the 1850s. Evidence of their winter villages, estimations of how many people the land could support, and of how many people died in the epidemics of the 1830s suggest that there were at least 1,000 Tualatins living around the year 1800. There might have been many more than that a century earlier. To learn more about the Tualatin villages and what daily life was like for the Tualatins before Europeans arrived, see the readings below.
The last chief of the Tualatins, Kayacach (also known as Kiacut), tried to save a portion of their homeland for the tribe. In 1851, he and other leaders signed a treaty with the U.S. government that would have created a reservation centered on Wapato Lake, which used to lie just east of Gaston. If this had been honored, there would have been a Tualatin reservation a few miles south of Forest Grove. (On the map here, the location of Pacific University is marked with the label "Pres. Accademy.") Sadly, Congress did not ratify this treaty. The Tualatins were forced to sign another treaty in 1855 which required them to give up all of their ancestral land. They were removed to the Grand Ronde reservation about 45 miles to the southwest the next year.
Descendants of the Tualatin Kalapuyas intermarried with other tribes who had been removed to Grand Ronde and other reservations. Kalapuyans are still a part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde today. Grand Ronde's Chachalu Museum & Cultural Center is open to visitors who would like to learn more about their tribes' past and present.
Jetté, a descendant of a Native/French family from Oregon, recently published this deeply researched book on mixed-race communities around the Salem/Champoeg area. She includes a succinct summary of the ethnographic research on the Kalapuyan tribes, including basic details about their linguistic divisions, political and social organizations, as far as is known by Western scholars today. See especially pp. 14-21 on the ethnography of Kalapuyan tribes including the Tualatins.
This book includes the original words of the Tualatins from the late 1800s as they were being dispossessed of their traditional lands through treaties. See especially pages 117-126 for the Tualatin Tribe's 1851 Treaty proceedings. A lot of other original material about the Kalapuyan tribes is also compiled in this volume.
This book, recently published by the Grand Ronde tribes, includes the original words of the last speaker of the Tualatin language, Louis Kenoyer. His words are shown in the original Tualatin with a parallel translation into English. The book also includes some words by his father, one of the last chiefs of the Tualatins. The introduction by Henry Zenk (a long time friend of Grand Ronde and the most accomplished living linguist on the Tualatin language) gives a good overview of what is known about the Tualatins both before and after their removal from their homelands.
This book is regarded as the best-written academic source on the early history of Washington County overall. Its first chapter, “The People of Washington County, 1830-1860,” includes an overview of the various groups of people who were present here in the 1830s-60s: the Tualatins; fur trappers and Métis (mixed native/Euro heritage); missionaries; and immigrants from America seeking to farm. See especially pages 41-69.
This book was written to be a resource for schools wanting to teach about the culture of the Kalapuyan tribes who once lived throughout the Willamette Valley. A fair amount of the evidence derives from ethnographic interviews with Tualatin people, dating from the late 1800s through early 1900s. It is relatively short (about 125 pages) and has chapters on things like “Kalapuya Society,” “The Kalapuya Year,” “Villages, Camps, and Shelter,” “Furnishing the Kalapuya Household,” “Tools,” “Food,” “Medicine,” “Clothing,” “Storytelling and Stories,” and so on.
This thesis, written by the scholar who is now the most accomplished linguist of the Tualatin language, provides: notes on the name “Atfalati” vs. “Tualatin”; descriptions the traditional territory of the tribe and their relationships with neighboring tribes; and many other details about the Tualatin way of life. He also lays out the evidence for the names and locations of Tualatin winter villages, as far as they were known in the 1970s, with several maps included.