Southwest Oregon Research Project (SWORP) Collection
Scope and Contents
The SWORP collection dates primarily from the 1850s to the yearly 1920s, though a few documents date from between the 1920s through the 1950s. The paper manuscripts are photocopies of primary documents while the other media, microfilm, photographs and audiocassettes are copies of originals from the same repositories.
The Southwest Oregon Research Project (SWORP) Collection consists mainly of photocopies of widely scattered and overlooked original documents pertaining to the history of the Native peoples of greater Oregon. The collection dates primarily from the 1850s to 1920, though a few documents are from as recent as the 1950s. Over this 100-year period, there was a great amount of interest in collecting information on the Native peoples of western Oregon. This is also the period in which the United States government implemented its philosophy of acculturating all Native peoples through the use of boarding schools, missionaries, privatization of Indian lands, and terminations, making the ethnographic materials from this period especially important.
The collection consists of 32.25 linear feet of material arranged in 49 vertical and horizontal boxes. The paper manuscripts are photocopies of primary documents while the other media, microfilm, photographs and audiocassettes are copies of originals from the same archives. The collection is currently divided into eight series:
Series 1: National Anthropological Archives, contains copies of manuscripts from the National Anthropological Archives of the Smithsonian Institution. These are primarily linguistic and ethnographic manuscripts collected from the Native peoples of western Oregon, northern California, and southwestern Washington. Because of the worldly and multi-national nature of many anthropologists and linguists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many of the manuscripts contain information about Native peoples throughout the Americas and even from China (Series 1, Box 8, Folder 13, Gatschet 3436). The linguistic materials cover more than 60 distinct tribes. Also contained in the collection is correspondence from anthropologists and linguists who worked in this area; this correspondence includes information about the circumstances and results of their research.
Series 2: National Archives and Records Administration, contains correspondence, reports, data sheets, affidavits, etc., from the Department of the Interior and Office of Indian Affairs (OIA) (later renamed the Bureau of Indian Affairs, or "BIA" in 1947) or National Archives Record Group 75. There are also reports and transfer documents to the United States Senate, National Archives Record Group 46, which come from various government offices from 1851-1865. Many of the manuscripts copied from Record Group 46 are published in the Congressional Serial Set. Record Group 75, Indian Affairs, are divvied into various entries, like education (board/day schools), sanitation (medical/health), correspondence received, and allotment applications, and others. The bulk of Series 2 is the OIA Letters Received from 1881-1899 and land allotment documents. A complete description of Record Group 75 can be found in guide to Records in the National Archives of the United States Relating to American Indians (Hill 1981).
Series 3: Potlatch, contains documents concerning the 1997 Coquille Tribe/University of Oregon Potlatch.
Series 4: Microfilm, contains microfilm positives and negatives from the National Archives and National Anthropological Archives.
Series 5: Audiotapes, contains copies of the Harrington audiotapes.
Series 6: Photographs, contains copies of photographs from different collections.
Series 7: Maps, contains maps from the National Archives and National Anthropological Archives.
Series 8: Oversize, contains oversize manuscripts of Series 1 and 2.
When searching the finding aid, the researcher should note that variant spellings of peoples and places are used in the finding aid. For example, the names "Calapooia" and "Kalapuya" and "Chihalis" and "Chehalis" are used.
- Creation: 1850-1950
- Southwest Oregon Research Project (Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time. Collection includes sound recordings, moving images, and digital files to which access is restricted. Access to these materials is governed by repository policy and may require the production of listening or viewing copies. Researchers requiring access must notify Special Collections and University Archives in advance and pay fees for reproduction services as necessary.
Conditions Governing Use
Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.
Biographical / Historical
The primary purpose of the Southwest Oregon research Project (SWORP) is to gather photocopies of widely scattered and overlooked original documents pertaining to the history of the Native peoples of greater Oregon. Many of these documents have been languishing in national repositories, particularly in Washington, D.C. SWORP aims to repatriate these materials to the Native American Tribes. Through the agency of Native Americans themselves, the archive and continuing project allows Native American and university scholars to continue to research and rewrite histories of colonization that have been imposed upon Native peoples.
Native peoples of greater Oregon have undergone a history of genocide, discrimination and federal termination by the Unites States government in the past 200 years, but this history has been largely concealed in various archives and federal research institutions. Coquille tribal elder George Wasson, Jr. noticed this problem and termed it "a cultural back hole" (Wasson, 1994). Wasson conceived the idea for a project like SWORP in the 1970s while doing research at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
The project itself was executed in three phases, and further work is planned for the future. The first effort, SWORP I, was carried out in 1995, with a research team that combined Coquille tribal members with University of Oregon graduate students. In 1997, the materials gathered by SWORP I researchers were shared with five Oregon and Northern California tribes in a unique event--a Potlatch, or "giveaway"--organized by the Coquille tribe and the students. After the Potlatch, work began on SWORP II, an effort to gather further materials on the Oregon tribes. Additionally, SWORP II expanded the focus of research to include Northern California and Washington tribes. In 1999, the SWORP collection was reorganized to make the materials easier to use. The reorganization included material descriptions, indexes, and a finding aid for researchers. As yet, SWORP does not exhaust the material that exists about Oregon Native peoples in worldwide collections. In the future, SWORP researchers will reach out to other archives to bring back additional manuscripts of longer and wider historical importance. For more information about the history of the project see "A Detailed History of SWORP," below.
SWORP is the first known project of its type to be undertaken for a Native American Nation in cooperation with a major university. The SWORP process of using research teams with a combination of Native and non-native researchers significantly breaks away from previous models of anthropological research upon Native peoples by academic institutions. Historically, non-native historians, anthropologists and ethnographers have defined the parameters of the field of American Indian and Native American history. Some academic researchers sought to exploit Native peoples by mining their languages, artworks and culture as part of the "dying culture" theory. The early efforts of research on Native peoples have mainly benefited those in academic disciplines, while Tribal governments and peoples have not equally benefited from this unbalanced relationship. In addition, Native cultures have been studied by researchers who had a European cultural bias, and such a cultural filter does not usually recognize a Native cultural worldview when interpreting Native culture and society. Donald Fixico writes "Historians who study Indian history must think in terms of culture, community, environment, and metaphysics (Mihesuah 1998:87).
The sharing of SWORP materials through the potlatch by the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Oregon and the Coquille Indian Tribe creates a unique "gift of history" in which all of the regional tribes receive portions of the SWORP collection relevant to their cultural context. In addition, part of the SWORP collection contains letters and petitions from Native people struggling to survive within the reservation system. Through the use of these letters, and other correspondence from United States Indian Agents, teaches at Day and Boarding schools, physicians and the ethnographic documents of this same period, we can now reconstruct an informed history of the early Grande Ronde and Siletz Reservations.
A Detailed History of SWORP
The first effort, SWORP I, was carried out in 1995 under the direction of University of Oregon graduate students and Coquille Tribal members George Wasson and Jason Younker. At the University of Oregon, Dr. Jon Erlandson, then an Assistant Professor of Anthropology, served as faculty advisor and helped raise and administer the funds and provided liaison and logistical support. The SWORP I research team combined Coquille tribal members with University of Oregon graduate students. Team members included R. Scott Byram (University of Oregon), Dennis Griffin (University of Oregon), Mark Tveskov (University of Oregon), Shirod Younker (Coquille/University of Oregon), Denise Mitchell (Hockema) (Coquille/University of Oregon), Jeff Weidemann (University of Oregon), Jason Younker (Coquille/University of Oregon), and George Wasson (Coquille/University of Oregon. SWORP I was co-funded by the Coquille Economic Development Corporation (CEDCO), the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History's American Indian Program and the University of Oregon Graduate School (Younker 1997:24). The field research team spent 10 weeks working under the direction of Dr. JoAllyn Archibald at the National Anthropology Archives and the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
In the spirit of the original efforts to create the SWORP collection, the Coquille Indian Tribe and the University of Oregon initiated a potlatch or "giveaway," the first of such events in a century for the tribe. The purpose of the Potlatch was to disseminate copies of the entire SWORP collection to five federally recognized tribes of western Oregon and northwest California: the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde; the Confederated Tribes of Siletz; the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw; the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians; and Smith River Rancheria Subsequently a copy of the archived materials was given to Elk Valley Rancheria of northern California. The Potlatch was jointly sponsored and funded by the Coquille Indian Tribe and the University of Oregon to "honor and celebrate the memory of the indigenous people who lived through he holocaust-like conditions of the early settlement period of Oregon (Younker 1997:23).
Organized primarily by Jason Younker, George Wasson, and Jon Erlandson of the Anthropology Department, and staff of the Knight Library, the Potlatch was held on May 17, 1997, at the University of Oregon's Willamette Hall Atrium and had nearly 350 attendees. Don Ivy, Director of the Cultural Department of the Coquille Tribe, was Master of Ceremonies for the Potlatch. While at the Potlatch, George Wasson honored the women of the Coquille tribe for carrying on the tribal traditions despite the history of discrimination and termination against the Native people of Oregon. Also honored were all the participants and organizers of the SWORP I project. Distinguished visitors from other Native American Nations were also honored, including Dr. JoAllyn Archambault, Director of the American Indian Program at the Smithsonian Institutions' Museum of National History; Ed Edmo, traditional storyteller, and Dr. N. Scott Momaday, traditional storyteller and writer. Loren Bommelyn of Smith River Rancheria and Bud Lane of the Siletz Tribe brought their two groups of Feather Dancers for the Potlatch presentation and commemoration and presented tradition Tolowa/Tutuni songs and dances of blessings for the occasion.
As a result of the Potlatch, Jason Younker wrote a master's thesis, "Revival of a Potlatch Tradition: Coquille Giveaway," which was completed December 12, 1997 and the following year a videotape commemorating the Potlatch was also completed. Both the Master's thesis and videotape are in the SWORP Collection in the University of Oregon Special Collections & University Archives, Knight Library.
After the Potlatch, planning began for a second trip to Washington, D.C. to gather additional archival materials. SWORP's indigenous regional focus was expanded to include northern California and Southwest Washington, as the records from these areas were likely to hold important information for the western Oregon tribes. Additionally, the project team looked for more records from within western Oregon.
SWORP II was carried out in the summer of 1998 under the direction of Mark Tveskov and Jason Younker, with Jon Erlandson again serving as faculty facilitator and liaison. Field researchers Denise Mitchell and Amanda Mitchell of the Coquille Indian Tribe, Patty Whereat, Director of the Culture Department of the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw, Robert Kentta, Director of the Cultural Department of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community, David Lewis of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community, and Mark Tveskov from the Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon spent eight weeks in Washington, D.C. scanning through the National Anthropology Archives and the National Archives.
As in SWORP I, Dr JoAllyn Archambault acted as sponsor for the SWORP II team at the National Anthropological Archives. The filed research was co-funded by the Coquille Tribe, the University of Oregon Graduate School, and the Smithsonian Institution's Native American Internship Program. SWORP II was sent to the Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon, where Mark Tveskov then spent nine months organizing and indexing the collection at Southern Oregon University with the help of students in the Department of Sociology/Anthropology there.
The reorganization project for SWORP began in August 1999 when David Lewis, graduate student in the Department of Anthropology, began indexing and describing SWORP I and SWORP II. The effort was supported by a graduate teaching fellowship from the Graduate School of the University of Oregon and was supervised by Dr. Jon Erlandson of the Department of Anthropology, and Linda Long, Manuscripts Librarian, in Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Oregon Libraries. Physical amalgamation of the SWORP I and SWORP II collections began in spring 2000 and was completed in summer 2000 by David Lewis under the direction of Linda Long.
Mihesuah, Devon A. ed. Natives and Academics: Researching and Writing about American Indians. University of Nebraska Press: Lincoln, 1998.
Wasson, George B. The Coquille Indians and the Cultural, "Black Hole" of the Southwest Oregon Coast. Thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon, Eugene, 1994.
Younker, Jason. Revival of a Potlatch Tradition: Coquille Giveaway. Masters thesis, University of Oregon, Department of Anthropology, Eugene, 1997.
32.75 linear feet (65 containers)
Language of Materials
The Southwest Oregon Research Project (SWORP) Collection consists mainly of photocopies of widely scattered and overlooked original documents pertaining to the history of the Native peoples of greater Oregon. Many of these documents have been languishing in national repositories, particularly in Washington, D.C. SWORP aims to repatriate these materials to the Native American Tribes. Through the agency of Native Americans themselves, the archive and continuing project allows Native American and university scholars to continue to research and rewrite the histories of colonization that have been imposed upon Native peoples.
Collection is organized into the following series:
Series 1: National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Series 2: National Archives and Records Administration
Series 3: Potlatch
Series 4: Microfilm
Series 5: Audiotapes
Series 6: Photographs
Series 7: Maps
Series 8: Oversize
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of the Coquille Indian Tribe of Oregon.
Existence and Location of Copies
Collection is available as digital files from Special Collections and University Archives.
Collection processed by David Lewis, Manuscripts Processor, February 2003.
This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.
- Guide to the Southwest Oregon Research Project (SWORP) Collection
- Complete Description
- Finding aid prepared by David Lewis, Rose M. Nunez, and Kira B. Homo
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid is in English
- Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.