$2,544 pledged of $28,000 goal
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By robert boyd
$2,544 pledged of $28,000 goal
backers

About

     I've been working up to this book for forty years!  "Before Portland:" the Native Americans' 'Wappato Valley'" is a history and culture study of the Native American people who lived in Lewis and Clark's' "Wappato Valley" (broadly, Multnomah, Clark, Clackamas, and east Columbia counties in Oregon and Washington) between circa 1430 to 1856.  The first date is the approximate year for the catastrophic Bonneville Landslide on the Columbia River; the last is the year when most Native inhabitants were removed from the Portland area to reservations.  In-between there were major events; volcanism, epidemics, first contact by Euro-americans, trade that brought metals and guns, battles between village coalitions, missionaries and settlers, and removal of the Native people from their homeland against their will.

     Portland Basin Chinookan Indians lived in river-bank villages of large cedar-plank houses, fished for salmon and other fish, gathered wapato and camas roots, and hunted white tail deer and elk.  They had a family-based society, built huge dugout canoes and traveled widely, had a unique art style and complex oral literature of myths and tales, and practiced a guardian and nature-spirit based religion.  (for details see my author's website-- roberttboyd.com --and online "Oregon Encyclopedia" article, "Wappato Valley Indians."

     I've written about Chinookan peoples before, in articles and books on introduced diseases and Native resource management, and in two award-winning volumes from 1996 and 2013.  The first, "People of The Dalles: the Indians of Wascopam Mission," covered the culture and early 1800's history of the easternmost Chinookans, drawn mostly from manuscript missionary papers; the second, "Chinookan Peoples of the Lower Columbia," co-edited with the lead archaeologist of two major Chinookan villages and the chair of the Chinook Nation, covers the traditional culture and history of the western and central Chinookan peoples of the lower Columbia and Portland Basin.  Both books were "Choice outstanding academic titles," selected by the American Library Association from the top 10% of their annual reviews.

     "Before Portland" will be the third book in the Chinookan series.  It's about 4/5 done, and on March 1 2016 I signed an advance contract with the University of Washington Press, with a manuscript due date of May 1, 2017 and projected publication in 2018.  The earlier stages of the project were funded by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and then the Grand Ronde Tribe, to both of whom I owe great thanks!

     But it's now time to broaden the support base beyond the U.S. government and tribal peoples, and ask the third and last interested party, the residents of greater Portland, to get involved and help too. The book is an introduction to the people and environment of the Portland area as they were for centuries before there were white residents or a Portland city government.  It's a part of local history that few people know anything about, but it's fundamental for understanding our historical roots as a community and what other successful ways of living on the land were like.  And believe me, the story is fascinating, as anyone who has dipped their toes into pre-1850's local history and Native cultural studies knows.  It's long past time to introduce this essential background to the citizens of greater Portland.

    For the last fourteen months I'm asking for basic support--a little less than I had with F&WS and Grand Ronde--to allow me to devote full time to the last stages of research and writing.  $2,000 per month (before Kickstarter fees and rewards costs), for 14 months until the final manuscript is due at UW Press--or $28,000---should do it.

Risks and challenges

Completing "Before Portland" is the only project on my plate for the next year (excluding some residual marketing for the 2015 paper reprint of "Chinookan Peoples..."). There is a possibility that I will run beyond the contracted manuscript due date (5/1/17), given the size and unpredictability of the data base yet to be covered (for treaty years and the initial years of Oregon and Washington Territories, a LOT). And there's always a chance (given my record, very remote) that UW Press readers will recommend against the book's publication--in which case I'd submit elsewhere. OR I could have a health problem (at 70, I'm in excellent health, so very unlikely!).
Given how much has already been done, plus my commitment to the material, devotion to the project, and sheer persistence, however, the chances of the book not being completed or published are very small.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $120 or more About $120

    As rewards for donors, I'm offering signed book copies--of "Before Portland" when it's published in 2018, and signed copies of my other books (selection up to the donor). I can send copies of books in print after the Kickstarter campaign is over. "Before Portland" should be available some time in 2018. Rewards as follows:
    $120-249: THE BOOK, when published, signed by me (estimated list price $60)
    $250-499: two books, signed. "Chinookan Peoples..." would be a good companion volume to "Before Portland..."
    $500-799: three books, signed. The "trifecta" of books on Chinookan peoples ("People of the Dalles," "Chinookan Peoples of the Lower Columbia," and "Before Portland..." when published) would be a good selection here!
    $800-1200: four books, signed. In addition to the three Chinookan books, my other two are "The Coming of the Spirit of Pestilence: introduced infectious diseases and population decline among Northwest Coast Indians, 1774-1874, " and "Indians, Fire, and the Land in the Pacific Northwest" (editor). Both came out in 1999 and are still in print.
    Check our my author's website (roberttboyd.com) for details on these books, as well as a summary of work completed to date on "Before Portland." And then, if you can, make a contribution so that this remarkable forgotten history and culture can be introduced, once again, to the present inhabitants of Portland!

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