CORVALLIS, Ore. – Charles Wilkinson, historian and author of “The People are Dancing Again: The History of the Siletz Tribe of Western Oregon,” will speak at Oregon State University on March 31, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Memorial Union lounge.
In “The People are Dancing Again,” Wilkinson tells the history of The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians – 27 tribes speaking at least 10 languages – who were brought together on the Oregon coast through treaties with the federal government in 1853-1855. For decades after, the Siletz people lost many traditional practices, saw their languages almost wiped out, and experienced poverty, ill health and a loss of cultural identity.
By 1956, the tribe had been “terminated” under the Western Oregon Indian Termination Act, their land was sold off and they lost federal health and education benefits. After years of refusal to give in, in 1977 they became the second tribe in the nation to have its federal status, treaty rights and sovereignty restored.
“The book has been an unusually comprehensive and intense collaboration between author and tribe, with over 100 interviews,” Wilkinson said. “The book is rich with the tribal voice.”
Wilkinson is Moses Lasky Professor of Law at the University of Colorado Law School, and a respected expert in tribal law and history. He is the author of many books, including “Messages from Frank’s Landing: A Story of Salmon,” “Treaties, and the Indian Way,” and “Blood Struggle: The Rise of Modern Indian Nation.”
Songs honoring Wilkinson and the Siletz tribe will be performed by a local Native American drum group.