Oregon City, OR. Leaders of The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde are poised to purchase two sites along the Willamette River in Oregon City. (Tribe members have taken ceremonial fish at the falls for the past three years.) Cheryle A. Kennedy, the Chairwoman of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, explained, “Recently, the Tribe was blessed with the opportunity to place two properties within our Clackamas County homelands under purchase and sale agreements. The first property is a parcel of land that includes more than a mile of waterfront along the Willamette River. This property will provide us with access to the river as well as open up new opportunities to work with our partners on future projects. The second property, is the 23-acre Blue Heron site at Willamette Falls. That’s the site earmarked for the Willamette Falls Riverwalk project.”

The news was welcomed by the Willamette Falls Trust  which is the organization spearheading the revitalization of the falls including the Willamette Falls Riverwalk project.

Trust leaders explained that the development of the Riverwalk can proceed even if there is a land sale. With a construction contractor signed, Riverwalk Phase 1 construction remains scheduled to begin in spring 2020, with completion in spring 2022.

With a fundraising goal of $35 million for Phase One of the Riverwalk, $19.5 already contributed by the Willamette Falls Legacy Project partners, and an additional $7 million donated by individuals, the project has now raised more than 75% of the funds needed to meet the goal. A capital campaign to raise the remaining $8 million is currently underway.

Willamette Falls has always been cornerstone Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde tribal culture. In 2018 the Grand Ronde Tribe received a permit from the Oregon Department of State Lands to construct a fishing platform on state lands at Willamette Falls.

The scaffold allows the Grand Ronde Tribe to safely harvest ceremonial fish at Willamette Falls at the time of year when their ancestors historically took the first fish from the Falls. The Tribe has taken ceremonial fish at the falls for the past three years.

Here’s a Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde video about that project:

The Willamette Falls Legacy Project released a statement which explained its support of the new developments: The Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde have been a strong partner on the future first phase of the Riverwalk project, actively participating in the project’s Native American Advisory Board and engaging with programming and interpretation planning as the project has advanced. This project has been strengthened by the participation of the tribes and tribal organizations active on the project – The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, and The Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. We remain committed to working closely with sovereign tribal governments to realize a new vision for Willamette Falls, alongside federal, state, regional and local governments and the local community.

Click for more information about the Willamette Falls Trust

From Willamette Falls Trust:

Our Mission

Our mission is to champion and sustain a world-class Willamette Falls experience that offers year-round access to the grandeur of the Falls, historic and cultural interpretation, healthy habitat, public open spaces, and that showcases the hospitality of historic Oregon City.

Willamette Falls Trust is the organization bringing people and communities together to make the new vision for a world-class public space along the Willamette River in Oregon City, Oregon a reality.

We are raising the funds and creating the partnerships to support the first phase of transformation, which includes an overlook at the precipice of the Falls, a connection to Oregon City’s downtown, and opportunities to explore history.

We work closely with Willamette Falls Legacy Project—the public-sector collaboration that kick-started this work—and others, as we steward the collective vision for Willamette Falls. The project has the support of Governor Kate Brown, state legislators, local and regional council members—and has been designed with input from thousands of Oregonians.