Port property picked for planned Chetco Indian memorial

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Curry Costal Pilot - Nov. 28th 2009

The Chetco Historical Indian Memorial is one step closer to reality after the Brookings Harbor Port Commission voted to dedicate a piece of land where a Chetco Indian village once stood to the memorial in perpetuity.

The memorial, planned by descendants of Lucy Dick, the last full-blooded Chetco Indian to live in the Brookings area, includes a bronze statue of Dick, a salmon pond and waterfall, native plants with a guide to their uses, and an interpretive trail.

"It's going to be a beautiful project," Chetco Indian descendent and project organizer Lynda Timeus said.

The memorial property sits atop the remains of a Chetco village, which contained about 40 houses near the mouth of the Chetco River.

The location of the memorial directly on top of the south bank village site was serendipitous, memorial designer Patrick Chew said.

The original location was to be at the end of a boardwalk extension to be completed in the near future.

After a meeting with Port Manager Ted Fitzgerald and the Oregon Department of Transportation supervisors who were planning the boardwalk, a new layout emerged.

The result of the collaboration was a curved boardwalk design that followed the natural contours of the waterline and a larger area for the memorial, just south of the original site, Chew said.

When the new site was presented to anthropologist Scott Byram, who has been a consultant on the project, Byram produced an 1891 map that showed the village to be located on exactly the same place as the memorial's new proposed location. "I got goosebumps when I realized the memorial is exactly where the village was," said Timeus. "I still get goosebumps when I think of it."

Port commissioners noted that, given the existence of the village remains, it is unlikely they would ever be allowed to build anything else on the location.

Initial plans included only a simple circular memorial at the end of the boardwalk. Later plans added two phases to the memorial, a salmon pond which will double as an aeration pond for the boat basin, and a grassy picnic area.

The Chetco descendants asked that the 0.1 acre corner where the memorial site be dedicated as a monument in perpetuity, and granted use for an adjacent 0.1 acre used for the salmon pond.

In the commission’s final directive, the first two phases of the initial plan proposed in September were incorporated into a single 0.2 acre property. A resolution to that effect is being prepared by Fitzgerald for a Dec. 15 vote.

An adjacent 0.4 acre grassy park area, currently used for boat trailer storage, would be used conditionally and would be returned to the port if it is needed for other purposes.

The park phase will be considered at a later date. The park area will not be a permanent part of the memorial and would be converted to other uses according to the port's needs, Chew said.

The water features will serve multiple purposes. In addition to its decorative value, water from the boat basin will be pumped to the pond through aeration sys tem, then run through a stone "rapids and cascade back into the boat basin for additional aeration.

"This will take care of our aeration problem in the boat basin," Fitzgerald said.
BC Fisheries has agreed to give up some of the land currently within its fences to the memorial, he said. A decorative wall is planned to separate the memorial from the BC Fisheries property.

The wall will also serve to visually separate the commercial port fishing and cold storage facilities from the tourist and shopping area near the boardwalk, Fitzgerald said Chew and Fitzgerald are in discussions with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to stock the pond with salmon smolt. "We just need to find a way to do it without creating a seagull feeding pond," Fitzgerald said.

Once the design is complete, the next step is to raise $238,000 to fully implement it, Chew said.

The memorial’s design phase was funded by a grant from the Confederated Tribe of the Siletz Indians.

In a recent letter from Marva Scott, culture development director at the Smith River Rancheria addressed to the Siletz Tribe and the Port of Brookings Harbor Commission, the Tolowa are also eager to collaborate in the project.

"A wonderful project such as this can only serve to educate and create a renewed sense of awareness for the history of this area," Scott wrote.

Support for the project has been found in other parts of the Brookings-Harbor community.
Marion Carrillo's third- and fourth-grade students at Kalmiopsis Elementary School have been enthusi- astic about the project since they learned about it during local history lessons and placed a change jar in their classroom to collect donations for the $230,000 project.

The students may be among the first to have their class listed as donors to the memorial, Timeus said.

Timeus, Adrienne Crooks and Karen Crump, descendants of Lucy Dick and the Chetco Indian Tribe, are the driving members of the Chetco Memorial Committee.

In his 1884 "History of Southern Oregon," Albert G. Walling wrote that the Chetco people were the "most numerous of 12 coast tribes."

Some 30 years earlier the Indian agent for this region, Isaiah L. Parrish, had enumerated members of the Chetco tribe: 117 men, 83 women, 22 boys, 19 girls.

These numbers were greatly reduced from an earlier population of more than 1,000 Chetco.
The Chetco inhabited more than 50 sites in the Brookings area, including Lone Ranch, and multiple sites up the Chetco River. The Chetco had villages on both sides of the Chetco River mouth.

The Chetco people were removed from the Brookings-Harbor area in 1857 in what came to be known as the Oregon Trail of Tears and housed on the Siletz reservation with many other coastal tribes.

By 1910 only 10 full blooded Chetco were found. Dick, a daughter of the chief (Tyee) of the Chetco Indian tribe, was born in the early 1840s in the Chetco village on the north bank of the Chetco River.

After living on the reservation, Lucy eventually returned to the Harbor area with her husband, "Chetco" Dick and remained in the area until her death in 1940.


Memorial: Picnic area, salmon pond planned for site