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Cedar Bucket and Carving Tool | by A.Davey
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Cedar Bucket and Carving Tool

On a pleasant October day, Portland State University's anthropology department held a field trip to the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge to see the Cathlapotle plankhouse and the site of Cathlapotle village.


Seen here are a wooden bucket with a traditional Chinook carving and a carving tool made of a beaver tooth attached to a piece of deer antler.


Long abandoned, the actual village, which is a long way from the plankhouse and hard to get to, was once a bustling riverside community. Lewis and Clark visited the village and recorded their experiences.


In the 1990s, the late Ken Ames, the dean of Oregon archaeologists, conducted excavations at the site together with other archaeologists and field students. Today, it is off limits and protected by fearsome stinging nettles. In any case, it's nothing much to look at. The thrill comes from listening to archaeologists' descriptions of the Chinook nation's way of life.



ɬax̣awyam (welcome)


Since time immemorial Chinookan Peoples of the Lower Columbia River have tended to the oak woodlands, camas fields, and wapato patches of what we now call the Refuge, maintaining habitat for wildlife while supporting the lives of the people who called this place home.


Based on the Chinookan village of Cathlapotle, the Plankhouse and the objects inside of it offer a tangible link to these original stewards and provides a unique site for the interpretation of our region's natural and cultural heritage.


Built in partnership with the Chinook Indian Nation, Portland State University, The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and numerous other community partners and volunteers.


This House serves as an education and interpretive center and is used by the Chinook Indian Nation for cultural events throughout the year. Visit the Cathlapotle Plankhouse and connect with local indigenous culture.


Visit The Plankhouse

Open Hours

Weekends May 4th – October 13th, 2019: 12pm – 4pm.


Self-Led tours of the Plank- house are NOT available.


Second Sunday Series


[In 2019], the Plankhouse hosts a series of presentations on Chinookan culture, archaeology, and natural history the Second Sunday of every month during the season. These events include lectures, hikes, and hands-on family activities. To view upcoming special events, please visit our events calendar.



Photos by Permission of the Chinook Indian Nation and the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge.

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Taken on October 5, 2019