Willamette Mission archeological project : phase III assessment Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/0c483p946

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  • The Willamette Mission archeological project consists of a broad program of cultural research in the fields of archeology, history, and architecture. The study focuses on the first Methodist mission in the Pacific Northwest. Archeological excavations were conducted in 1980 to locate the site of the mission, to assess the site's internal integrity, and to analyze the material content remaining from the 1830s occupation. Historical documentation provided the archeologists with necessary information on the general location, spatial living pattern, time frame and material culture of the mission occupants. Archeological data provided additional information on the location and spatial arrangement of the mission complex; the date range and the form and function of recovered artifacts; a behavioral concept of mission lifestyle; and the processes of abandonment of the mission complex in the historic period. The role of the mission enterprise within the general context of Oregon development is explored. The founders of the mission colony were not intent on accomplishing their task of "civilizing" the local Native American population in a brief visit. The missionaries brought to the Oregon country their families, personal possessions, furnishings, goods, equipment, and construction materials. They built shelters, farmed, operated a mercantile business, taught school, held services, and performed essential mechanical duties. The geographic isolation of the mission, and the missionaries response to the new environment, are reflected in the archeological record. The architectural plan and featuring of the mission house points to a use of traditional log shelter construction techniques. These techniques involved the incorporation of native construction fabric with cottage made or imported joining materials. An inadequate response to the environment is evidenced by the erection of the mission house on a Willamette River floodplain. This error in reasoning as well as visions of expansion triggered a move from the complex to present Salem after a seven-year occupation. The materials items recovered from the site reflect a material culture brought to the new country from the United States. An independency from the British Hudson Bay Company is inferred. A contradiction between the hardships of remote log cabin living and stringent missionary duties, and the retainment of New England social attitudes and customs is evident. Important to areal archeological research and settlement studies are the implications behind the presence of the American missionaries and their goods in the Willamette Valley. Enlightened information on goods available during the Northwest frontier period can be useful in deciphering early trade networks, and avenues of cultural exchange and influence. The missionaries' inducement toward the promotion of American jurisdiction and settlement in the Oregon country was significant. The success of the missionaries as colonizers cannot be overstated considering the impact of the colony on the course of political, spiritual, social and economic development of the region.
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  • Figures in original document are black and white photocopies. Best scan available. This work was written together with Judith A. Sanders Chapman and each author presented it as her thesis.

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