Friday while conservation groups celebrated the protection of nearly 100 acres of land on Rattlesnake Butte near Junction City, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde rejoiced in the return of part of a home taken from them hundreds of years ago.
The celebration began with ceremonies and speeches revealing the history of the area and the project. The tale dates back to the 1850s when the tribe entered into peace treaties with the government. The feds got the land and the group got nothing but broken promises.
Centuries later, members say the return of the land is a long overdue act of justice, and as the area’s original stewards, the act has great meaning to them.
“This is all part of making us whole again, about recognizing our tribal culture, about recognizing the values that have safeguarded this community and that we continue to be partners in this community to do what is right for all of our fellow Oregonians,” said Public Affairs Director Siobhan Taylor.
The transaction was made possible by The Nature Conservancy, which worked out an agreement with Bonneville Power Administration and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to purchase the land to give to the tribe.
Once all the speeches and ceremonies were done, members of the tribe led a hike up to the butte to just survey the area and take in and appreciate the long-awaited return to their homeland.