Peoples of the Slough: Wapato Indians

Map drawn by Joseph D. Meyers. Courtesy of the Portland Oregonian, November 3, 1946

The nations who inhabit this fertile neighborhood are very numerous. Wappatoo inlet extends three hundred yards wide, for ten or twelve miles to the south. . . Lower down the inlet, towards the Columbia, is the tribe called the Cathlacumup. On the sluice which connects the inlet with the Multnomah, are the tribes, Cathlanahquiah, and Cathlacomatup: and on Wappatoo Island, the tribes of Clannahminamun, and Clahnaquah. . . All these tribes. . . may be considered as part of the great Multnomah nation, which has its principal residence on Wappatoo island, near the mouth of the large river to which they give their name.
Lewis & Clark Journals, 1805

Thousands of indigenous people lived near the waterways of the Portland Basin, making it one of the most heavily populated regions in the West prior to Euro-American contact. As early explorers and fur trappers descended the Columbia River in the nineteenth century, they identified a number of "tribes" along the Slough. Such designations, however, were complicated by lack of distinction between fishing camps, permanent villages, bands of traders, and "tribes." The specific names of Chinookan peoples reflected self-designations likely based on geography or activities rather than "tribes" in the western political sense. The peoples of the Slough were Middle Chinook and they included the "Shoto" of Lake Vancouver, the Multnomah, the Nechacolee near the Slough's headwaters along Blue and Fairview Lakes, and several groups along the slough designated by Lewis and Clark as "Skilloots."

Map of Washington and Oregon

Large version of Joseph Myers Map of Portland and vicinity

William Clark's Map of the Wappato Valley

Lewis & Clark Archaeological Site Map