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Historian to talk on Sunday about life of Cascade Indian woman

Sundays on the Gorge

The Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum has scheduled a presentation by local archaeologist and historian Cheryl Mack.

Her talk is the result of extensive research into the life of one Native American, and is titled: "This Land was Their Land -- The Life of Ellen Chenowith Underwood and The Early History of The Columbia River Gorge."

Mack, who retired recently after 30 years as an archaeologist for the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, will speak Sunday, Nov. 20, at 2 p.m. in the DeGroote Theatre.

The event is part of the museum's "Sundays on the Gorge" series. The program is free with paid admission to the museum.

"The years between 1840 and 1860 were a tumultuous time in the Columbia River Gorge," said Mack. "Native people lived and gathered fish along the Great River as they had for millennia, while thousands of immigrants from the east streamed across the plains and down the Columbia in search of a new life."

The story of one Cascade Indian woman, who grew up in a cedar plank house along the shores of the Columbia River, provides a glimpse into the very unsettling time. This was a time when the US Army built blockhouses to protect settlers in the Gorge. It was a time when Lieutenent Philip Sheridan led soldiers up the Columbia River to rescue settlers during an Indian attack. It was a time when the area, now known as White Salmon, served as the area's first Indian reservation. It is also a story of how one woman adapted and survived, remaining in her home along the Great River.

Mack has worked in the Columbia River Gorge and surrounding area since 1979. She and her husband, Rick McClure, also a frequent speaker at the museum and former board member, published a book together, "For the Greatest Good -- Early History of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest."

She received her master's degree from the University of Oregon.

"Cheryl and Rick are great friends to the museum," said executive director Sharon Tiffany, "and we are delighted she has agreed to do a public presentation. I know people will find her talk fascinating and informative. That was an exciting but difficult time for the people of our region."

For more information about this educational program, call the museum at 427-8211.


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