16 Stunning Historical Photographs of Oregon’s First Nations

A Klamath man rests next to a Ponderosa Pine, 1923. / Image via Library of Congress

Since the advent of creating images with a camera and light-sensitive film, humans have had the predilection to document the beauty around them. At the turn of the 20th Century, photographers like Edward S. Curtis, Peter Britt, and Benjamin Gifford were turning their lenses to our indigenous peoples, leaving a lasting reminder of the rich cultures that should never be forgotten. Oregon was the ancestral home of the Siletz, Atfalati, Cayuse, Paiute, Kalapuya, Umatilla, Klamath, Coquille, Tekelma, Chinook, Nez Percé, Wishram, and so many other nations that have left their indelible mark on us; the interlopers in their world. The following are just a handful of images that captured and captivated my eye.

“We have been here since time began. We have been here since the first human got here.” --Don Ivy, Coquille Indian Tribe

1. A Tekelma Woman Displays Her Handcrafted Regalia, 1900

Jenny, or Lady Oscharwasha, Rogue Tribe of the Tekelma, in ceremonial dress. Circa 1900. / Image via Wikimedia Commons / Photograph by Peter Britt

2. Trinidad Siletz Peoples in Gold Beach, Oregon

Mayme Keparisis--Trinidad Siletz peoples, Gold Beach, Oregon. / Image via csuchico.edu / Dorothy Hill Collection

3. A Klamath Man in the Ponderosa Forest, 1923

A Klamath man rests next to a Ponderosa Pine, 1923. / Image via Library of Congress

4. Newport, Oregon, 1900

Native woman with a canoe near Newport, Oregon. 1900. / Image via Oregon Historical Society

5. Chief Joseph With His Family, 1880

Chief Joseph of the Nez Percé and his family, 1880. / Image via Washington State Historical Society

6. Nez Percé Man, 1905

Nez Percé man, 1905. / Image via Library of Congress

7. A Klamath Woman Prepares Food, 1923

A Klamath woman preparing food, 1923. / Image via Edward S. Curtis Collection / Library of Congress

8. Young Wishram Woman, 1910

A young Wishram woman. 1910. / Image via Edward S. Curtis Collection / Library of Congress

9. A Wasco Man With His Canoe at the Columbia River, 1897

Wasco or Wishram man with a Chinookian-style dugout canoe. Columbia River, 1897. / Image via Benjamin Gifford Collection / Oregon Historical Society

10. Chinook People Seining

Chinook People seining (fishing), Sand Island, Oregon. / Image via Oregon Historical Society / J. F. Ford Collection

11. Cayuse Twin Babies in Cradleboards, 1898

Cayuse twins Tax-a-Lax and Alompum in cradleboards, October 2, 1898 / Image by Lee Moorehouse / Seattle Historical Society Collection

12. Chinook Woman on the Beach, 1910

"On the Beach—Chinook", photograph by Edward S. Curtis, c. 1910 / Image via Library of Congress

13. A Klikitat Woman With Woven Basket

Sally Waukiagus of the Klickatat Peoples poses with a basket. / Image via The Oregon Encyclopedia

14. Woman and Child of the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde

A Grande Ronde woman with her child. / Image via Oregon Historical Society / Andrew Kershaw Collection

15. A Klamath Chief at Crater Lake, 1923

A Klamath chief in ceremonial regalia stands on a hill above Crater Lake, Oregon. 1923. / Image via Library of Congress / Edward Sheriff Curtis

16. Wasco Tribe Members, Date Unknown

Members of the Wasco Tribe celebrate the Celilo Falls fishing agreement. The Dalles, Oregon. / Image via the Oregon Historical Society