The Edible Plant Life of Grand Ronde

Prior to my arrival at Grand Ronde I had a longstanding fascination with plants. One of my pastimes is identifying as many plants as possible anytime I’m outside. While at Grand Ronde I had the opportunity to be introduced to many first foods. Throughout our five weeks, my peers and I were guided through the methodology used to harvest, prepare, and consume these traditional plants at several different locations. The privilege to learn from a multitude of experts during my time at Grand Ronde has left me incredibly inspired to expand on my edible plant knowledge back home in California. I hope to continue to share the knowledge I have gained with friends, family, peers, and the public so we can all strive to develop a better understanding of the plant life around us.

Please enjoy the digital journey through some of the edible plant life of Grand Ronde:

Food Sources of Grand Ronde



-Book Referenced: 

Deur, D. (2014). Pacific Northwest Foraging: 120 wild and flavorful edibles from Alaska blueberries to wild hazelnuts. Portland, OR: Timber Press.

-Link to Purchase: Pacific Northwest Foraging

-Chinuk Wawa Translations:

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Chinuk Wawa Application

-Free Links to Download:

        -Chinuk Wawa-Google Play

        -Chinuk Wawa-App Store

-Photos Taken and Edited By: Sara Aguilar

-Blackberry Picking Video Taken and Edited By: Leah Bruce




Staying connected during field school

For some, this is one of many field schools attended, for others, this is our first field school. For all of us, we are away from friends and family for an extended amount of time and we all have different strategies for connecting from the field. 

Most people assume that when you go into an archaeology field project you are completely cut off from your friends and family. For most field projects this is accurate, however here in the Field Methods in Indigenous Archaeology field school at Grand Ronde we are lucky enough to have cell reception and WiFi in camp. During field trips and field work we don’t always have it, and sometimes the cell reception or wifi signals are not strong enough to communicate but they bounce back fairly quickly.

A majority of us here are experienced with staying away from home or live on their own so connecting with friends and family is more casual or sparse, so to connect with friends and family they just send Snapchats or texts every once in a while.

Some of us live close enough to the campgrounds and sites that we can commute to and from home every day. Others wait until the weekend rolls around to go home and spend time with family.

For me this is my first time living (if temporarily) on my own away from my family and friends so I take advantage of the cell service and WiFi to stay connected with family and friends. I’ve been sending pictures texts to my grandparents (my grandpa is slowly learning how to text) and I send a few pictures to my friends too. 

Figuring out what to send can be difficult because I brought a regular camera to record my stay here which I will eventually share with everyone. But I like sending little updates or funny moments that happen when my camera is not out.

It’s been an interesting experience living away from everyone I know but it’s been really satisfying to learn that I can feel comfortable living on my own and meeting new people.

Youth Archaeology Day

Aguilar, Flintknapping 2019

On Thursday July 18th, the FMIA team along with Chris Bailey and the HPO staff facilitated Youth Archaeology Day with the Youth Ed students. The activities took place around Chachalu and included a variety of stations. The two that I primarily worked were flintknapping and the bow and arrow station. My experience with bow and arrows was exclusively with compound bows so it was really interesting to learn along with the students on how to properly shoot the more traditional type. It took a lot of trial and error but I was able to shoot off three arrows.

After the bow and arrow station I went over to flintknapping with Sara. This was my first time participating in flintknapping. I have always thought the process was incredible so it was a privilege to be able to participate as a student and to also teach the students of Youth Ed. The materials we used at our flintknapping station included obsidian, antlers, gloves, leather pads, safety goggles, and a tarp to catch falling flakes. The method Sara Gonzalez (our Field Director) taught us was pressure flaking. This involved using the leather pads for protection against the sharp obsidian as we used the antlers to apply pressure and pop off flakes and shape our points.

One student was was able to craft an Ishi1 point in roughly 45 minutes.

Ishi Point Example, Puget Sound Knappers

Seeing his dedication and expertise was inspiring and motivated me to continue working my point even after slicing my knuckles twice. The closing activity took place in the mini plank house and focused on the students asking us questions they had about archaeology and us as individuals. This included our inspiration and education journey that led to us being here at Grand Ronde. One of the questions we were asked was when we knew we wanted to be an archaeologist. I shared that it had been a passion of mine since childhood and my love for it continued to grow through the years as I read anthropology and archaeology related books and spent time in museums.

The mutual learning environment that was created during Youth Archaeology Day solidified my desire to focus my leadership project on creating curriculum for junior high through high school students to work in the collections and archives in the Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO). In having a background in both anthropology and education, I think it’s vital to listen to what is important to the students when crafting a curriculum. Understanding their strengths and skills and learning from them is just as important as any lesson plan I could craft and teach with my expertise. I look forward to creating a collaborative learning space at Grand Ronde that can be used for years to come.

Ishi Point Photo CreditPuget Sound Knappers

For Additional Information on Ishi: “Ishi, the Last Yahi”


From Auctions to Archaeology

In my previous life as an auction professional I would walk into a house, sort, evaluate, and catalog every material thing. From pencils to pictures, everything was assessed as to whether it held value or not. I found myself examining those homes and speculating on the life of the persons who inhabited them as told by the way they arranged and constructed their space as well as the things they accumulated over their lifetime.

It’s amazing how much you can tell about a person based on what is in their daily living space: What values did they hold? What was their socioeconomic background? How did they shape their cultural identity?

My undergraduate degree in religious studies and courses in anthropology added layers to my analysis that further shaped the hypothetical life of the person or people. Now that I am a graduate student at the University of Missouri I have been able to use these skills to deepen the understanding of how religion and material culture work together.

The focus of my research is on what material objects categorized as religious do in the context of Native American traditions, but also describing, identifying, and placing objects within their historical context. I often find myself walking a line between art history and anthropology. Through this work I hope to contribute to changing attitudes toward indigenous communities and help undo the perpetual misrepresentation of Native Americans as well as aid in efforts to reunite communities with their tangible and intangible cultural heritage. 

My current research project centers around religion’s role within indigenous knowledge systems and the post-colonial effects of salvage anthropology in the Pacific Northwest.

As a participant in FIMA this year, I am excited to incorporate low-impact archaeological methods into my reseach, working with the Grand Rhonde community. But…I really miss my furbabies back at home in Missouri.


We are not done yet! (Lab work–barney’s leadership project)

Students getting prepared for the field school—-buying excavation tools, getting camping gears, and saying goodbye to family and civilized world; going to the field and doing field works; and then going back home; are they done with it then? No, at least not for me, there are lab works to do.

Part zero/(literal heavy-lifting )

Artifacts and equipments will not go into places by themselves since they usually don’t have legs or wings so it has to be people to carry them up to wherever they are supposed to go. It is supposed to be simple work which might just take a little bit of time, only if everything went swimmingly. Of course an unfunctional keycard definitely does not fit in the category “swimmingly” and because of that we had to call UWPD for help, to help us get into our own department building. So, with the help of one UWPD officer, cart from fourth floor(since the elevator was broken we had to carry it up and down stairs), and our own hands, we successfully finished all the moving process within one and half hour. Finally, equipments and miscellaneous went to the storage and the artifacts were in the lab.

Part one/(cleaning the room)

Before we get our hands on those precious artifacts, these is still a lot to do, actually the work took a whole day: cleaning up the lab room and rearrange the cabinet. To put collections from the first two field school-yes, these ones need to be done as well-away to make space for FMIA 2017 artifacts, we first checked all the old drawers to see if there is anything problematic: mislocated, mislabeled or can’t even be sourced (isolated from nowhere). Fortunately, there is no artifact that we can not find in the database (if so it will be extremely hard for Ian and Yoli to try to track it down). Then we relabeled  all the “new drawers” that we rearranged, for FMIA 2015, 2016, and 2017 artifacts. In the drawers, we put all these artifact bags in order as well. And in the end, just to make it look better, we also separated used/blank bag slips and labeled them as well. After that things got nice and easy: cleaning up the room, washing up bins, trays, and plates to be ready for the future works, and making the room tidy, which is not for the artifacts’ sake, but for the people who will work here.

Part two/(washing artifacts)

Only cleaning up the lab room is not enough-lab people don’t usually have mysophobia-i am saying that we need to clean the artifacts and put them into categories(it might not be necessary to do at this step but it will make people’s life easier for sure). It is very interesting that washing reveals how “careless” sometimes people in the field can be, by figuring out that something in the bag that we thought were artifacts are actually good for nothing-natural rocks, twigs, or even just dirt(to be fair, sometimes a chunk of dirt with high percentage of clay could look very alike something worth picking up-but it really isn’t, since it melts in water!). Not everything we can wash in water though, things like wood/charcoal; tiny pieces of unknown material; twines/fibers; and anything that is too fragile to undergo regular washing, we could only use brush to dry clean. No matter which method we use it is always important to be gentle when we are doing it, because it is easier than people think to break an artifact that doesn’t look or feel brittle. One more thing needs to be mention is that when drying the artifacts they must be put on somewhere safe along with the plastic bags that they are taken out of-this helps the future steps-in order to make people’s life easier, like I said.

Part three/(organizing/cataloging)

After drying for a day, the artifacts that have been washed are finally ready to be touched(no, we are still not studying them, not yet). For this step, the ultimate goal is to put these artifacts back into the drawers-organized, classified, and in specific bags(in the same level bag they came from, that is why in the last step we are supposed to keep those plastic bags). In order to do that, there are several paper works that need to be mentioned: check out sheet (for us to check out each time we do anything to artifacts which could be to catalog and to wash), typology sheet (this one contains how many categories we divide one unit into, sometimes artifacts with the same material will be put into different groups), and a isolated sheet to keep record each step we did(this one needs the description of the artifacts). These sheets will go to different binders, there are also paperworks that go into the bags with the artifacts, like the new bag slips(annoying but yes, we have to redo it and throw the old ones away after we have the new one complete). Surprisingly, other than the extra paperwork, there is not really a difference than what we did in the field: put each category in its own plastic bag along with the bag slip; lable each bag as in the field and by the instruction(which could be found in lab), and put all the new bags in the same level bag that these artifacts came from. And don’t forget to put the name on as cataloger.

Part five/(future plans/works)

Something this blog post can not really emphasize is how time-consuming the process I just mentioned could be. It really depends what the artifact is, how many stuff each level bag contains, and how “messy” the stuff we found in the field could be. FMIA 2017 units occupied at least two layers, which sounds not that bad but it took us almost a week to finish washing and cataloging only the surface collection units which is not even twenty percent of the artifacts(it could be that we only have four people working for that week). We have to be really careful and concentrate when we are doing this since it is really difficult to fix problems after we put things back into the drawer. People work in lab have to be patient and invest huge amount of time. Fortunately I learned how to be patient and also I at least have some time to put into lab work. To finish the process earlier so that we can finally “study” these artifacts after all and to make people’s life easier(like I’ve been saying all the time). I will return.

Engaging Nature Through Photography

While most of my experience with photography has been spent around busy people and bustling places, getting out into a more natural setting requires a fresh review of the skills I thought I had as a photographer. It also allows a chance to weather down the distinctly different sense of busyness that comes when engrossed in an full, flourishing, and unfamiliar environment.

After finding some free time one afternoon, I decided to wander down some trails that I had previously visited briefly in the weeks before. Coming from an urban environment, it really is a shock to the system to be somewhere with so little noise.

This is a close-up of the Douglas fir that is seen to the left of the previous photo. Partially because there was nobody else around, and because the sun began to set in a fantastic way that shone through the flora, I spent around twenty minutes in a stretch of the trail not more than five meters long.

During a trip to Fort Yamhill State Heritage Area, the small group I was with repeatedly heard a bird call that we could not place. Instead of putting on my city lens and walking away without paying the event any mind, I decided to stop and look for the culprit. The wait between each call was a struggle with impatience, but after a couple of long minutes, we spotted this (most likely) osprey hanging out and yelling at us from about 50 meters away.

One of the first things that was pointed out to our group on a trip to Mt. Hebo was the existence of wild strawberries that grew practically everywhere around the visiting areas. The size of the berries surprised me at first, while I was not expecting full grocery store sized strawberries, the wild ones were no larger than a dime. Getting a decent photo of them took becoming uncomfortably familiar with the low lying plants in the area as I had to nearly lie down on top of them.

Wild berries have since lent themselves a much more central role in the free time we find ourselves, resulting in our crew planning our weekends around the optimal times to go collect more.

Queen Anne’s lace or poison hemlock? A question that was asked far too many times for anyone’s comfort on our trip to Cape Meares. I found myself noting the more subtle differences between the similar looking plants as we wandered. In an effort to take pictures of the flower with the prettier name that is markedly less poisonous, I ended up with over a dozen pictures of very similar looking flowers. In the end, this one was my favorite… and it is definitely poison hemlock.

At the end of the fourth week of the program, it still feels like there is so much to learn and do out here in the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. We are kept busy every day with new projects and fresh dirt, all of which offer new photographic opportunities on site. Photography offers a window to focus on a subject that can be as broad or specific as one’s own technology allows. In my case, preferring a longer lens forces me to consider more definite and distinct focal points, helping me slow down and take in the environment piece by piece. Each of those pieces has a story to tell, and I’m hoping to capture a single perspective of the massive narrative around me.

All photos are my own, taken with a Nikon D7100, and are unedited.


Chinook Wawa

One of the most striking things I have noticed at Grand Ronde was the use of Chinook Wawa language during a gathering at the Achaf-Hammi Plank House, several days after arriving at Grand Ronde.  While I had expected to be introduced to new topics and subjects, language use and its importance to the local community had not really crossed my mind.

Over the following days, I learned about the Confederate of Tribes of Grand Ronde, who include Kalapuya, Molalla, Rogue River Athabaskans,Shasta, and Umpqua peoples and I also learned more about Chinook Wawa, the language that is spoken by Grand Ronde tribal members today. The history of the language is interesting in itself, and it illustrates some of the population’s history, in that it was first used as a trade language between the tribes along the Columbia long before they were forced to move to the reservation in the 1850’s.

In order to communicate the tribes began using an old trade language, a jargon comprised of several dialects. Language, as expected, is intricately linked to culture and traditions of a community, and Chinook Wawa is no different.  In the face of the trauma caused by forcible removal, extreme violence, and oppression from their colonizers, the different tribes realized that they needed to band together to survive. A common language was one of the ways in which the tribes came together to form a new normal out of the upheaval (Native-Language, 2015).

As time passed from the tribes to the reservation in 1856 to the current day, the language also experienced changes, and losses. Outside pressure to assimilate to mainstream ‘American’ society made it clear in various ways that assimilation was not only desired, but expected. For some, leaving behind their language, culture and traditions seemed to offer the chance for a brighter future. For the community at large, it was a blow that would take a long time to recover from (Lewis, 2013).

The next challenge to Chinook Wawa and the Confederate Grand Ronde Tribes was with the termination of the tribes in the 1950’s. The termination was one more attempt at forced integration of tribal people, which greatly weakened the community as some members left completely.

It is no surprise that the language also suffered. On speaking to a local tribe member, I learned that there aren’t many adults fluent in Chinook Wawa. Efforts to reintroduce and revitalized the language have proven to be successful, especially with the language program that children of preschool and kindergarten age are enrolled in. This age group has shown a grasp of the language that they carry well past those first few years of schooling, a bright sign for the future of Chinook Wawa as a spoken language.

At present, Chinook Wawa’s presence is heard all over Grand Ronde, from the bilingual street signs on the government campus, to songs, and stories told at the Plank House during gatherings, as well as at the Powwow. Speakers of this unique language have come together in many ways, from making short films like Huyhuy, which went on to show at the ImagineNATIVE festival in Toronto, to a language app that aims to create new avenues for learning the language. My short exposure to the community at Grand Ronde and the cultural events made it clear that the language not only still alive, but an integral part of the traditions, culture, and life of the Grand Ronde Tribes.

photo via



Hopinka, Sky. 2013. “Huyhuy”

Lewis, David G. 2013. “A house built on Cedar Planks.” Willamette Valley Voices: Special Edition Confederate Tribes of Grande Ronde Articles.

Native-Languages. 2015. “Grande Ronde Indian Language” Last modified 2015.

Rhodes, Dean. 2017. “Veterans’ weekend arrives with summit, powwow”

NLS About Me

Natasha has always been interested in stories, and though she took the long way around, she finally found a field of study where the stories matter.  Her background is in Biology and Anthropology with a focus on traditional indigenous architecture. She was excited to be able to participate in the FMIA field school as it intersected with all her areas of interest, and knows that what she learns during the program will be invaluable in the future.

About Me, Faye

I would like to introduce myself. I am a senior at Oregon State University in Corvallis Oregon, obtaining my degree in Archaeology. I am also a member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, a grandmother of 7, and am an avid learner.

I have been interested in Archaeology for some time but hadn’t pursued a career in this direction. This is my 3 professional pursuit; I previously ventured in Nutrition and worked as an industrial, commercial electrician. My biggest goal, I feel, in my latest learning endeavor is to overcome my fear of the computer.

About Luke

Luke is a currently a student at the University of Washington in Seattle. There he is in his senior year studying archaeology sciences. His specific interests are in Indigenous North American archaeology and ancient Western Asian archaeology.

His interests in archaeology started with the post-modern classic Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Upon realizing that most empires are well documented, he settled for the more realistic equivalent of contemporary archaeological sciences.

Luke is passionate about photography and technology. Much of his free time is spent wandering the streets of Seattle in search for interesting subjects to photograph, as well as pestering friends in an effort to fulfill his urge to take as many portraits as possible.