Superintendent Christy Perry visited the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde community in Yamhill County last week. Below is a message from Superintendent Perry in recognition of Native American Heritage Month.

Superintendent Perry visits Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde community in Yamhill County, one of nine federally recognized tribes in Oregon. It is a beautiful expansive 10,800-acre reservation of healthy forests and wildlife. Streams of salmon also run on this ancestorial land rich in history, culture and stories of Oregon’s first peoples and home to 30 tribes and bands that come from western Oregon, northern California and southwest Washington – the tribal bands from the Kalapuya, Molalla, Chasta, Umpqua, Rogue River, Chinook, and Tillamook.

Sharing this experience with the tribal members and our Native Education Program staff from Salem-Keizer, I bore witness to what the people there refer to as having a welcoming and caring spirit. That is how I felt upon entering the community and the entrance of the Chachalu Museum and Cultural Center for the blessing ceremony. The Yamhill Kalapuya people called this place Chachalu, meaning “place of the burnt timbers,” which was reflected peacefully in the center’s surroundings with carvings of native ancestors. The intimate setting also had a pit with a warm fire where we stood for the blessing led by Grand Ronde citizen Kevin Simmons. Kevin described himself as a father, a son, uncle, a social worker, and product of Indian Education. He explained that the blessing was a way “to align our hearts minds and spirits to recognize the ancestors who came before us, the true owners of this land and the youth behind us.”

In his own language of Chinuk Wawa, Kevin said “hayu masi” to his daughter Seq’hiya Simmons, a student at Sprague High School. Hayu masi (hi-you mossie) means thank you. You will see Seq’hiya give the land acknowledgement in the video we produced at Grand Ronde for Native American Heritage month, to appear on Salem-Keizer’s social media, YouTube and web channels. Seq’hiya reminded us that the land acknowledgement is about building the necessary trust to coexist in harmony with one another.

November is Native American History Month

Today marks the first day of Native American Heritage Month. Throughout November, I invite you to look at this not just as a celebration, but a foundation to further understand our true history. Learn about tribal lands, customs and cultures and current tribal governments. Learn more about Grand Ronde and some of the activities they host.

As a great resource, visit the ODE website and read about SB13 tribal history/shared history Nine Essential Understandings: Since Time Immemorial; Sovereignty; History; Tribal Government; Identity; Lifeways; Language; Treaties with the United States; and Genocide, Federal Policy and Laws. And set your calendar for Nov. 6 at 6:30 p.m. to join virtually for the 2021 American Indian/Alaska Native Celebration on Capital Community Media’s YouTube Channel and in this web post on the district website. The district will also share stories and resources on its social media and website channels throughout November.

Community listening sessions

The first session focuses on government-to-government relations and will be led by Angela Fasana, Education Manager from the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. The session will be virtual, and we encourage our Salem-Keizer community to experience this special evening with us on building trust.

Zoom Registration

To our staff and community members and Salem-Keizer’s 1,800 students and their families who identify as American Indian or Alaskan Native – hayu masi. We thank you for always welcoming us with your caring and resilient spirit. You are our link to the ancestors, the elders and coming generations of peoples who blessed this land.

With deepest gratitude, I will always cherish Grand Ronde as my community of friends and relationships.

Superintendent Christy Perry

Superintendent Christy Perry

Superintendent Christy Perry

Christy Perry is superintendent of Salem-Keizer Public Schools, which is the second largest school district in Oregon serving more than 40,000 students. She is the 2021 Oregon Superintendent of the Year.