The First Oregonians

The First Oregonians is a uniquely Oregon text, an edited volume of 17 chapters involving 18 authors. It tells the unique stories of Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes from their perspective. The first edition stemmed from a three-year heritage recovery project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, that focused on the native peoples of Oregon. The second edition, updated for the 21st century with support from the Oregon Council for the Humanities, shines a light on some important changes in Indian Country between the two editions. 

360 pages. ©2007.
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Reader Reviews for this Book


Review posted February 22, 2023


An extremely informative and well-written book. It dives into the history of the nine federally recognized tribes of Oregon with detail and cohesion that is difficult to find elsewhere. The pictures help visual readers imagine the lives of the Indigenous people of Oregon.


Review posted February 9, 2023


Beautiful book. I have been more interested in Oregon history lately and this book is an excellent resource!


Review posted January 25, 2023


This book provides a broad overview as well as detail about the indigenous peoples we know relatively little about. It provides a quality survey from some of the tribe leaders of our time and is well worth the read. I hope this becomes a more in-depth series.


Review posted January 20, 2023


Really interesting book that explored many aspects of Oregon natives. Many topics were things I hadn't thought about before or hadn't encountered in other sources. Definitely recommend!


Review posted December 2, 2022


Filled such interesting information. This was an extremely helpful reference to use to prepare lessons for Senate Bill 13 requirements. Really enjoyed learning so much about the first Oregonians. It was especially wonderful to have the stories told in the tribe members own words and all nine tribes are represented.


Review posted November 29, 2022


Very interesting read.


Review posted September 22, 2022


Must read for anyone wanting to call Oregon their home.


Review posted September 20, 2022


Great information

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Review posted September 9, 2022


A must read. This book will be kept in my family and read from to all the kids.

Karen Burkhart

Review posted August 3, 2022


The First Oregonians is an excellent book that describes the treatment that the nine Tribes in Oregon received from the United States as the government opened Oregon to European Americans. It is a litany of the injustices each tribe received which makes one sad that the government was so dishonest and deceitful in their treatment of the First Oregonians. It is good to learn that the tribes have overcome some of the injury and now are doing better than they did for many years. As one reads the book it makes you wish there was more that you could do and want to help at whatever opportunities arise.

Patricia Steele

Review posted July 21, 2022


Thank you for this wonderful book. I am always looking for information on the original Oregonians and I love that this book covered so many individuals across the state. I appreciate that the book was written by Native people and really highlighted their successes and achievements in overcoming so many barriers placed on them.


Review posted June 27, 2022


An insightful and easy read.


Review posted June 18, 2022


So worthwhile! Wish it was offered in schools.


Review posted June 16, 2022


I love,love loved this book and I can't begin to explain how there are tidbits of Oregon tribal history that i was not aware of or stories that I haven't heard that were included in this reading. Although it is very dated now (2007) it still have so much wealth of knowledge for those who are not firstly aware of Oregonian Tribal histories. Well worth the read and has so much insight and value within these pages. Definitely a page turner here, but I do love history.


Review posted June 7, 2022


Book was interesting than most that I have picked from lately. Love Oregon's history


Review posted June 6, 2022


I used this book as supplementary curriculum with my middle school boys to talk about the history of our home here in Oregon. It spurred great discussion and deeper dives into some topics. I appreciated the variety of voices given space through out this book.


Review posted May 30, 2022


I was so excited to read this book! So I was disappointed that it came across a bit dry to me, or sort of like a textbook. There were some interesting parts and it was great to get some of the historical context of Oregon tribes and learn about some of the languages, art forms, etc. I think this book is important to read, no matter who you are, especially if you are an Oregonian. Thank you Ford Family Foundation for continuing to educate people!


Review posted May 2, 2022


A great book of Oregon's rich Native history.


Review posted May 1, 2022


I’ve always loved Native American culture and enjoy learning about their history in my home state. Great read with beautiful photos added.


Review posted April 24, 2022


This book contains a wealth of information about indigenous Oregonians’ rich and varied ways of life as well as about the many legal twists and turns and adaptations they have gone through since colonization. I am even more saddened as I understand even more about what has been lost, not just for contemporary tribal members, but for humanity as a whole and the land base I currently occupy. I highly recommend this book!


Review posted March 24, 2022


This book is excellent for a reference manual or history text book for college level native American studies. Unfortunately what makes this book less appealing for general or local interest is that the photographs are very small grayscale images (very difficult to see) and there is no, or very little, mention of local native Americans or their family histories in the region. I can think of several right off hand that were left out. There is also no current native American events noted or ways that history is being kept alive today. Altogether this was educational but not a book that I gave more than a momentary glance over. I plan to send it on to the Native American Arts and Cultures department at our local University to see if they might consider it for a textbook for report writing.


Review posted March 17, 2022


This was a wonderful read and I learned lots of new information. Important information that should be shared widely.


Review posted February 27, 2022


This book was a hard read as it was very much like reading an academic book. However since I am not a born and raised Oregonian it did provide me some insight into the beginnings of Oregon. I did appreciate that the various contributors were actually tribal members. It has inspired me to find out more about the various tribes of Oregon and as well as other regions.


Review posted January 27, 2022


This is such a fantastic document that explains the ongoing journey of the native tribes that currently live in the Pacific Northwest. The book begins with an in-depth description of the current economic and developmental status of the "officially" recognized tribes of Oregon. This is then followed by historical information on the culture and sociological aspects of each tribal people. This book was written in 2007 and I would love an updated version that explores how the current Oregon tribes are doing in 2022. A great and insightful read on the perseverance of people who have experienced far too much unjust tragedy. It celebrates their living heritage as a counterpoint to the ongoing erasure of native voices perpetrated by modern popular culture.


Review posted January 24, 2022


I recently moved to Oregon and wanted to learn more about its history. Having devoted the majority of my life to working with Native Americans in New Mexico and Alaska, I was very interested in the First People's of Oregon. The First Oregonians was an excellent introduction. The first thing I learned was there are nine Federally recognized Tribes in Oregon. This book is a collection of narratives and essays about these nine tribes; their histories and plans for the future. The First Section, "Tribal Heritage" covers the present, past and future visions of the nine federally recognized tribes. The authors of each essay were members of their tribe and were selected by their leaders and/or cultural experts. This was a chance for the authors to present 'their story in their voice.' As with any truthful reflection on the history of Native Americans, this book is a valuable resource for beginning to understand the the complicated and painful ways in which their land and culture was stolen from them and the ways they are retaining their culture, restoring land, and making healthy communities for themselves and their children. The second section of the book was entitled, "Cultural Continuum" and delves into the past to show how these tribes have maintained their identity and moved into the present. These final chapters discuss federal-Indian relationships and linguistic heritage. It contains wonderful photographs, reflecting history as the authors find instructive. The uniqueness of this book is it is composed of authors reflecting their history and not a biography or 'outsiders' view of these federally recognized tribes. It is an honest, educational look at the first people of Oregon. This book is accessible for young adult readers as well as for adults. I highly recommend this book.


Review posted January 24, 2022


This is a super helpful reference for understanding and increasing awareness of Native American cultures across the state. I'm looking forward to an updated edition in the future.


Review posted January 6, 2022


Great read!


Review posted December 14, 2021


A wonderful collaborative work that shines a light on native Oregonians.


Review posted December 14, 2021


Great book


Review posted December 6, 2021


This book is so informative. Both of my kids went through this book in one night.


Review posted December 1, 2021


Excellent information on many of the various tribes in this region. Very helpful in gaining greater insight into their history and culture.


Review posted November 12, 2021


With unique passages from the tribes themselves, The First Oregonians is a fundamental piece that all Oregon residents should familiarize themselves with for knowledge and context of the indigenous peoples whose lands we live on. Indigenous history is American history. Looking forward to the possibility of future updates to this publication!


Review posted November 7, 2021


This is an amazing and informative look into the history of Oregon's native peoples.


Review posted November 2, 2021


A wonderfully insightful and historically compelling look at the original Oregonians. A must to add to any library. I've had several people ask to borrow it already.


Review posted November 1, 2021


I really appreciated how this book included chapters written by members of the tribes. The authenticity of the writing is powerful. The book is also very readable and not intimidating like some books can be... you can pick it up and read a chapter at a time. I keep it on the coffee table to ready over a cup of coffee. I really appreciate the opportunity to learn about the tribes that live here in my state... it is part of my land acknowledgment personal practice.


Review posted September 24, 2021


It reads a little like a textbook but was very interesting to read about historical society and cultures.


Review posted September 24, 2021


As a person new to living in Oregon, this book is something all new residents should read for insight of the rich history and culture of the first residents of what would become the state.


Review posted September 8, 2021


Loved this book. The history and stories of Oregon's native people are incredible.


Review posted August 10, 2021


Great resource with rich background knowledge.


Review posted August 9, 2021


This book is an excellent overview of the 9 recognized tribes of Oregon from pre-history through European arrival to modern day. It is easy to read, informative and interesting discussion about our Oregon tribes and their history.


Review posted July 21, 2021


This book was a wonderful introduction to the history and current state of Oregon's native peoples. I particularly appreciated learning about the many language families and how ancient peoples likely migrated to the area. I would recommend this book to anyone who would like a better understanding of our state's first inhabitants and current tribal residents.


Review posted July 14, 2021


Overall, this is great introduction to the peoples who have lived in Oregon for time immemorial. It is one of the few books of it's kind. I always wish there were more Indigenous voices included, but it's still a valuable read.


Review posted July 13, 2021


The book has a lot of good information, but it also contains a colonizer organized and edited perspective on Indigenous people of the Northwest. The contents themselves need to be updated to reflect what is factual and appropriate, including modern day terminology and current events. There is a much more robust, heartbreaking and rich story to be told once the whitewashing is removed. Case in point, Chemawa Indian School is the oldest continuously operated residential boarding school for Native American students in the U.S., and it is under investigation for undocumented remains of Indigenous children. The book refers to the school on pg 20, "The school bought these lands with the money earned by generations of Indian student labor...," which is fair, but then on pg 30 gives a revisionist description, "This Indian boarding school, which the BIA started in the 1870s as an elementary school focusing on vocational skills, operates now as a high school for native youth from Alaska to to Arizona and is located near Salem." The truth is much more disturbing, given the United States took the children of "The First Oregonians" in order to break them and claim their land. I look forward to a new version, preferably edited by a Native historian.

Brittany Lee Young

Review posted July 6, 2021


I got this book to read with my 4th grader. We really enjoyed it! Me more than him. I love reading about Native American History, especially the true history and not the white washed stuff. I also liked that it was specific to our state.


Review posted July 6, 2021


Very interesting. Worth a read.

Review posted June 30, 2021


Great book that is very informative. Learned allot.


Review posted June 17, 2021


Full of interesting information about Oregon's native tribes, both historical and contemporary. Each essay is thorough and literate without being pedantic. Highly recommended.


Review posted June 4, 2021


I thought this book was somewhat insightful, but also in depth enough that I had to take many breaks so I wouldn't get burnt out on it. Good for the avid reader and one who knows how to do so- but also I recommend keeping this one around as reference for younger generations that don't know about Oregon's history.


Review posted June 3, 2021


Expertly compiled and edited collection of essays that give too often overlooked perspectives from Oregon's indigenous peoples. From the turbulence of western expansion to the struggles of maintaining identity in a modern world, The First Oregonians has something to offer everyone. A great starting point for those interested in Oregon's tribal history and a must for those looking to gain insight into the challenges Oregon's tribes must face now and in the future. Highly recommended.


Review posted May 19, 2021


This was a great book for those interested in the indigenous people of our past.


Review posted May 17, 2021


Next time I am standing in the buffet line at the Spirit Mountain resort, this book will have me thinking about the implications of this: The most important historic artifacts of the Grande Ronde tribe are not housed there on the the reservation, or even in Oregon. No, they are in London and belong to the British Museum, who won't give them back. The book is written by a variety of tribal scholars and leaders, so it is completely from the point of view of native peoples. It has elevated my understanding of history and deepened my day-to-day experience.


Review posted May 15, 2021


Fantastic learning comes from this read. If you want to understand Oregon's history more fully, this is a must read.


Review posted May 6, 2021


Great book for the historical perspective of the first peoples of Oregon. We learned so much and value the stories told by those whose land we live on.

Oregon Karen

Review posted April 29, 2021


Excellent book about the life and challanges of the first Oregoneans how yhe fealt with changes brought with settlers, how they are managing and thriving. Faascinating eye opener, easy to read


Review posted April 18, 2021


This book is a great reference to the many indigenous tribes and how they shaped Oregon. We need to incorporate their visions on the land and our ancetors.


Review posted April 13, 2021


Love it. Very interesting


Review posted April 11, 2021


This is an incredible book that has led me down a rabbit hole of learning more about Native American history and culture in the land where I grew up. I only wish I had learned more about this sooner.


Review posted April 4, 2021


A wonderfully detailed collection of information about Oregon tribes. There was quite a bit, perhaps too much, facts, data and numbers, which could use some transitions. More images or maps would've been helpful (maps to help track where things were happening for each chapter). As each chapter had different authors, the flow varied. This would be an excellent tool for people in school, and great for history lovers generally, especially if supplemented with a podcast or other materials to help explain the context or significance. Everyone should have this book, but not everyone will be able to understand it or get through it without supplemental help.

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Review posted March 26, 2021


Excellent Book!


Review posted March 23, 2021


Interesting perspective of the federally recognized 9 tribes of Oregon. I work in a Tribal child care center and this helped me understand the lasting effects of historical and generational trauma endured by the tribes of Oregon.


Review posted March 22, 2021


The First Oregonians is a great book that introduces the first Oregon Native Americans. The way in which this book is written, the storytelling, greatly displayed the rich history from the past to present. Great read.


Review posted March 19, 2021


This book is a very enlightening look into the the tribes of Oregon and PNW. I think it's well worth the read for everyone to understand the lands and history we are on.


Review posted March 15, 2021


I am happy to have this book. I am currently learning about SB13 Tribal History Shared History and how to implement it in my school library. The First Oregonians book is actually easier to grasp than it appears. The organization is approachable and searchable. The bibliography and index are comprehensive. I think that the statement by Dow Beckham and Michael Bond in the chapter called Patience and Persistence The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians is apt "The story of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians is one of inequity, misrepresentation, tantalizing hope, deep frustration, triumph, and persistence. The tribe's ability to survive is testimony to unquenchable human spirit and determination to shape a better future."


Review posted March 14, 2021


Honored to review and receive. This book tells the stories of native Americans in all regions of Oregon. It includes history of both known in lesser-known tribes. It accounts for the survival of the cultures despite being taken over by white settlers. I think this book does a good job telling stories from the viewpoint of the lost voices of the indigenous people of Oregon. Not only do you hear about the past but of present views, stories, histories and recollections. Part one of the book is broken down into different tribes. And part two describes the continuation of the cultural knowledge. I would definitely recommend this book to everyone especially Oregonians. I feel like it’s important for present day Oregonians to know and understand the history of their surroundings.


Review posted March 2, 2021


Although I don't know how many Indigenous people participated in the writing of this book, this book is much more truthful and accurate than any of the other books that I've read that spoke of Indigenous people and what happened to them.


Review posted March 1, 2021


"The First Oregonians" is an interesting and well researched history of Native American history in Oregon. The local connections made this book particularly interesting. I am born and raised in Southern Oregon and truly love learning about local culture and the actual history of what has actually happened rather than the history that is removed from textbooks. This book does have a bit of a textbook feel to it. There are pictures to support the real stories and information provided. The book is well researched and provides sources for deeper and continued learning.


Review posted February 8, 2021


The First Oregonians is a thorough and necessary dedication and to the indigenous people of Oregon and especially enlightening for non Indians. It's a history recalling early settlements, their struggles with trying to hold onto their land, how tribes lived as well as a current commentary from living Indians. This book helps to convey a sense of place in Oregon, as well as the deep connection to the land, their lifestyle, and the spirituality these tribes had and still have. It's not only a history book that I plan to reread, but an insight into who the Indian people of today are.


Review posted January 28, 2021


Very informative, I love hearing all the different perspectives.


Review posted January 11, 2021


Very informative and well written book. I am a big fan of history and love my state, so this provided me with a beautiful narrative of both.


Review posted December 15, 2020


This is a beautiful book with lots of good history. I would recommend all read this book.


Review posted December 9, 2020


It was very informational and easy to read.


Review posted December 4, 2020


This book provided the perspectives that are so often omitted from history books- the perspective of the subjects. Growing up with Chichimeca ancestry (Zacatecas), I was discouraged from claiming my heritage out of the need to fit in. Reconnecting as an adult has been rewarding and empowering. Reading about the tribes whose lands I occupy was heartening.


Review posted December 1, 2020


The First Oregonians is a great resource and would be especially helpful for those who teach social studies in early grades. Very detailed with chapters from tribal group perspective and by topics (language, for example) I hope an update will be available to continue the story. I wish I want to know more to honor the people who were here first and understood their connection to land resources. I wish there were more maps. Thank you for opportunity to learn.


Review posted November 23, 2020


I wanted to read this book because we moved to Oregon 4 years ago and I wanted to learn more about the Native Americans who live in Oregon and their history and culture. This book is a wonderful resource for anyone to learn more about the nine federally recognized tribes in Oregon. Each chapter is written by a tribal member sharing stories of their people. They discuss art, linguistic heritage and their different perspectives. Their values, including great respect for the earth and it's creatures, provide valuable lessons for all of us. There is also a good list of additional resources, including websites, events and pow wows in Oregon where one can learn more and experience some of the celebrations of music and culture. I plan to use this book as a resource when we travel to various parts of the state to hike, camp, and visit museums and cultural centers.


Review posted November 18, 2020


Good quality, good read, love this program.


Review posted November 15, 2020


I have always been interested in Native American culture. Now since I live in Oregon, it was nice to read about the Native Americans here. I think it was very effective using the Native American perspectives and having them tell the story in their own words. I think this book is very relevent today as we are now looking at racial inequalities. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read the "real" story about the Native American culture.


Review posted October 30, 2020


A very informative resource of our Oregon told by through the eyes of original inhabitants.


Review posted October 28, 2020


I love the detail of this book! It’s well rounded and explains so much! The integrity of the book is wonderful