This is a collection of oral history interviews centering around the Redheart Ceremony, which occurs every year on the grounds of Fort Vancouver, to honor the Nez Perce Redheart Band who were imprisoned there during the Nez Perce Wars.
The Vancouver Land Bridge was constructed to provide quick access from the Columbia River to Fort Vancouver. Lined with native plants, it has inscriptions in nine different Native languages and art by Lillian Pitt.
The Vancouver Land Bridge site was rich with biodiversity prior to settlers’ advancement. Seated on a floodplain near Mt. St Helens, it was home to savanna, hardwood forest, and prairie. Today it is home to Ft Vancouver.
The densest population of native peoples north of Mexico, the Lower Chinook, Klickitat, and Cowlitz all made the Vancouver area their home. As companies and settlers encroached, the tribes were scattered from this area.
The Chinookan and Klickitat words for the area now near the Confluence Land Bridge mean “land of the mud turtles.” Both the Western Pond (Mud) Turtle and the Burrowing Owl have disappeared from their native habitats.
Some of the earliest pioneers to Fort Vancouver, the Metis are French-Native American individuals. Although Metis were brought to Fort Vancouver on false promises, they found success for themselves in their new home.
Orinthologist John Kirk Townsend provided valuable descriptions not only of the Columbia River’s bird populations but also of Cape Disappointment. A portion of a letter describing Cape Disappointment is reprinted here.
Etched into the wooden slats of the Confluence blind are the names of the birds noted by Lewis and Clark during their journey. These species captivated people such as John Kirk Townsend, thirty years after Lewis and Clark canoed down the Columbia River.