UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Righting history : remembrance and commemoration at Battle Rock Nading, Linda L.


Changes to commemorative signage in Port Orford, Oregon, United States, during 1998 and 1999 represent an emerging public acknowledgement of the removal by force of most of the indigenous peoples of Southwestern Oregon in the 1850s. A wide range of participants, including local area residents and nonresident members of Native American First Nations, negotiated changes to signage within a context of controversy. Hegemonic social memory institutionalized as local history and publicly displayed as text on a historical marker was challenged by an alternate version of the event commemorated: a conflict between Athapaskans and Euro- Americans in 1851 at the site now know as "Battle Rock." The alternate version is supported by oral tradition which is marginalized as a source of knowledge about the past while the official history has been privileged by repetitious inscription and incorporated commemorative ritual. Discussion includes the selectivity of public history and the creation of public memory through commemorative activity in which official and vernacular interests compete. A parallel is drawn between the remembrance and acknowledgement of events once suppressed and the remembrance and acknowledgement of marginalized indigenous American First Nations "forgotten" by the United States federal government. The Confederated Tribes of the Lower Rogue, building support for legislative acknowledgement of their tribal status, contributed positively to the production of signage text, an activity which enhanced both their visibility and the visibility and remembrance of their Athapaskan forebears.

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