Teaching the History of Our Valley

We believe in educating our kids about the history of the Valley, because historical knowledge gives children the power to see the forces that shape their world today. These forces are both good and bad, light and dark. We believe the best learning environment allows children to engage and grapple with questions about what came before them, and in so doing nourishing their social and ethical development. 

 

The Illinois Valley is a place that fosters independence and living off the land. However, not all of the history of the Illinois Valley is easy to swallow. Much history has been exclusionary and oppressive towards people of color. Black people were historically excluded from Southern Oregon settlements. The Chinese built much of the mining infrastructure and many Oregon mining companies were Chinese-owned until the Chinese exclusion act of 1880. These communities now make up less than 5% of our local population combined.

At Art and Science Kids we strive to cultivate diversity and tolerance within our program. Along with teaching the history of our community, we also train our staff and families in inclusive practices, and we bring in workshop-leaders and stories from diverse cultures and backgrounds, to nourish a culture of curiosity and open mindedness in the children, discouraging prejudice.

 

The Early Caretakers of the Illinois Valley

Our school is founded on the homeland of Tolowa speaking people. The Illinois Valley, from the lower Rogue to the Smith River, is traditionally inhabited by the Takelma band and other bands including the Rogue River band, which are all Tolowa speaking people. Karuk, Hoopa, and Yurok people also traversed the valley for centuries. When white settlers arrived in the region and mining ventures began, these Indigenous communities were force-migrated off their traditional lands. All Tolowa speaking people north of the California state line were sent to the Siletz reservation.  Many of them died along the way.  At Siletz, tribes have mingled with people from other tribes, cultures and language groups. Rogue and Takelma band people make up only a fraction of the confederated tribes' population at Siletz, and their language is rare. Their website is http://www.ctsi.nsn.us/

 

South of the California state line, the Tollowa speaking people were sent to live in Smith River. They are often called Smith River Indians, but the tribe is called Tolowa-Dee-Ni'. Their website is https://www.tolowa-nsn.gov/

Despite cultural oppression by settlers, these cultures are a present and vital part of the Illinois Valley and Southern Oregon today. The Karuk (https://www.karuk.us/) continue to live on their homeland in Orleans and Happy Camp in California. We seek to bring awareness and build curiosity and relationships with these original, past and present cultures to our students and parents through our programs, activities and outreach.