IN NATIVE AMERICAN HISTORY2021-01-18T14:12:20-08:00

Land Acknowledgment

The Oregon Synod respectfully acknowledges that our offices are on the ancestral homeland of the Chinook, Cowlitz and Clackamas nations. In 1851, 19 local tribes signed treaties with the federal government in good faith, but Congress ratified none of them.  We further acknowledge that the territory covered by the Oregon Synod is on the ancestral homeland of at least 27 native tribes. We offer our respect and gratitude to the people who were the original stewards of this land.

Why introduce the practice of land acknowledgment?

  • Offer recognition and respect.
  • Counter the “doctrine of discovery” with the true story of the people who were already here.
  • Create a broader public awareness of the history that has led to this moment.
  • Begin to repair relationships with Native communities and with the land.
  • Support larger truth-telling and reconciliation efforts.
  • Remind people that colonization is an ongoing process, with Native lands still occupied due to deceptive and broken treaties.
  • Take a cue from Indigenous protocol, opening up space with reverence and respect.
  • Inspire ongoing action and relationship.

Portland Metro History

It is believed that settlement of North America and the Pacific Northwest began several thousand years ago when indigenous people from Asia made their way to the American Continent. Here in the Northwest, they discovered the mild climate and economically rich forests, prairies, wetlands and rivers. They also discovered an abundance of mammals, waterfowl, fish and plant life that developed and grew over thousands of years.

By the time Europeans made contact with these inhabitants in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the area we now call Portland was one of the most densely populated of the North American Pacific Coast. Most of the Portland Basin was inhabited by Upper Chinookan speakers, including the Clackamas and Multnomah peoples. The area known as Washington County was inhabited by Kalapuyan-speaking Tualatins and Salish-speaking groups clustered near St. Helens.

From PDXhistory.com.

Denouncing the Doctrine of Discovery

The Doctrine of Discovery is a legal principle that colonizing European nations who “discovered” the “New World” could claim the land, and that its Native American inhabitants had no property rights of their own.  Click here to learn more.

At the 2016 Churchwide Assembly, the ELCA passed the “Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery” resolution.

To offer a statement of repentance and reconciliation to native nations in this country for damage done in the name of Christianity

This resolution not only repudiates the doctrine, it also calls for both repentance for the past evils of colonialism in America and for the church to take healing action in the present to right this historic wrong. The proclamation gained endorsement from more synods than any other in the history of our young church. We want to acknowledge and express our gratitude to the Montana Synod for their leadership within the ELCA on this important work. It still needs years, decades, or generations, of intentional unpacking and dismantling.

Discovered? Or Stolen! Repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery

Boarding Schools

We must also be aware of the generational trauma of forcing children from their families through mandatory attendance at abusive boarding schools aimed at “civilizing” the children.

Our Spirits Don’t Speak English: Indian Boarding School


Indian mascots subtly, (and not-so-subtly), demean and disempower our Native American siblings today.

Proud To Be (Mascots)


Let’s challenge ourselves to move beyond inaccurate and harmful colonizing Thanksgiving myths!

Thanksgiving | Native Americans | One Word | Cut

Other issues in consider:

  • Treaties betrayed by greed and “manifest destiny”
  • Resisting romanticizing or appropriating the heritage of our Indian neighbors.

If you would like to suggest resources to add email Jemae.