Oregon State University

Professor Emeritus Dick Ross Complimented for His Contributions

dick-rossDavid McMurray ran into Coos and Kalapuya tribal elder, Esther Stutzman at a wetlands preservation meeting in Eugene this spring. When David told her he was from OSU, Esther said, “Oh yeah? I know Dick Ross from OSU. Let me tell you about him.”

The story Esther told is a glowing testimony to the impact Anthropology Professor Emeritus Dick Ross has had on relations between the tribes and Oregon State University. His compassion and respect for the people he studied presents a model worth emulating. Here is her story:

“I was a ‘militant Indian’ in my youth and we were sick and tired of archaeologists always coming down to the coast and digging all over the place without ever talking to the Indians. They never seemed to think that we might have something to say about what they were doing. One day around the mid 1970s I got a call that an archaeologist and his crew were excavating in the park along the river in Bandon. That really ticked me off. I drove out to give him a piece of my mind, but he was gone. I found out that it was someone named ‘Ross’ who worked at OSU. I called him up and read him the riot act. We yelled at each other for about ten minutes, but then we stopped. We slowly realized that we were both interested in the same thing: cultural preservation. I talked a lot with Dick Ross after that and he and I entered into a long friendship and relationship that stretched over twenty-five years. We never really had trouble with OSU archaeologists on the coast after that. Dick’s students learned to respect us the way Dick did. Dick invited the Tribal Council of the Coos, Lower Umqua and Siuslaw up to talk to the OSU  Anthropology Department about cultural resources. We had never been invited before. He went on to raise a whole generation of archaeologists that were different from the ones of his generation. They wanted our help and they wanted us included in what they did. That kind of respect made a world of difference to us. I will never forget him for the changes he made.”

For more stories about the Anthropology Dept. see our Fragments Newsletter.

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