Greg Archuleta: Wapato Returns to the Sandy River Delta

Greg Archuleta (Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde) talks about the return of wapato to the Sandy River Delta following the dam removal, and the challenges the plant faces to thrive. 2:05.

Bio: Greg Archuleta is Clackamas Chinook, Santiam Kalapuya, and Shasta, and a member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. As an artist and educator, he teaches about the culture and history of the Tribes of Western Oregon, including ethnobotany, carving, cedar hat making, Native art design, and basketry.


“There was actually a dam along one of the tributaries to the Sandy and they took that out a couple years ago. And there was, no Wapato in that area. It’s a bulb, it’s also known as the Indian potato. But it grows in the soft mud and there’s the leaves that are on top of the water. And it needs that kinda slow moving water and then this area used to be numerous sloughs and ponds and stuff like that then they diked it up, to make the river flow narrow, into a narrow channel and keep it from flooding. But that flooding actually went and created all those sloughs and ponds and stuff and that’s where the wapato grew. So it was very heavy in this area and then once they put in the dikes and stuff it kind of greatly diminished. And so that’s what they did in the Sandy River where they went and tried to put it into one channel. And then when the Sandy River got turned to the forest service, they looked at it and they finally took out one of the dams that was on the side channels. And now we have the wapato growing in there. So it was getting in there pretty good this past year. But now it’s got to compete with all the dogs. But those are kind of some of the, you know we can now connect the plant. And we tell them when we share, we go down there and tie the old stories–pieces of the old stories–to the river there. And then, you know, ask them and talk about what’s missing, what’s not there that should be there, that was there before. And wapato was one of those. And then they can see through the restoration process of that and how the wapato came back. So that’s a pretty, pretty neat story.”

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