In recognition of Oct. 9 as Indigenous Peoples Day, the city of Philomath advanced beyond the act of approving a resolution and offered citizens a special program featuring an Oregon State University assistant professor.
Luhui Whitebear is associated with the California-based Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation and has a Huastec and Cochimi ancestry. A resident of Oregon for many years, she has ties and works with the the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.
Before introducing herself to the 21 people sitting in the audience on a Monday evening, Whitebear made a series of remarks that set the tone for the 46-minute program.
“Colonization has taught me that I don’t listen. … Colonization has taught me that I’m an outsider on my ancestral homelands. … Colonization has taught me that I am viewed as something to be owned. … Colonization has taught me to hide, to stay silent, to not make waves.”
Then she continued.
“Colonization has taught me but faith, love and compassion have taught me that my spirit was meant to soar. … But faith, love and compassion have taught me to listen to the wind and stars. … But faith, love and compassion have taught me that stories are memories and instructions. … But faith, love and compassion have taught me we belong to Earth, not the other way around. … But faith, love and compassion have taught me we are meant to survive, to live, to renew.”
And the final point.
“But faith, love and compassion have taught me and that is what I listen to.”
Indigenous Peoples Day, celebrated annually on the second Monday in October, commemorates their histories and cultures. Oregon formally started recognizing it as a state holiday in 2021.
Whitebear covered a lot of ground during the program, which included a Q-and-A toward the end. She also read an interesting selection of poems.
Among her works is a poem that relates to salmon mate selection (check out the video above), which she wrote through an OSU project.
“There’s this idea that salmon don’t have a choice in it and they just randomly reproduce and spawn when they get to that point in their lives,” she said. “They’re finding out through research that salmon actually do know what they’re doing just like other living beings and they choose who they’re going to make with, which I think is pretty awesome.”
2. Trunk or Treat makes move
The downtown area is a bit of a mess right now with the ongoing streetscapes project, so the Philomath Area Chamber of Commerce had to make a decision on how to set up its annual Halloween tradition — Trunk or Treat.
Don’t worry, the fun will go ahead as scheduled with a two-hour run from 3-5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 31. But the little ones in cute costumes won’t be collecting treats out of the trunks of cars down on the main drag. Instead, the event is moving this year to Philomath Museum.
In case you’re new in town, here’s what Trunk or Treat involves. Several local businesses and organizations in town get together to offer treats out of the trunks of their vehicles (or as part of a sidewalk display, at a business counter, off a table that’s been set up, etc.).
There is no charge to participate, just put on your Halloween costume and head down during that two-hour stretch with hopes that you’ll avoid any serious rain.
Trick-or-treating in downtown Philomath has been around for several years with participating merchants giving away treats. It evolved into the current trunk-or-treat format in 2011.
3. Low-volume road maintenance
Many of the roads we’re driving on may not be getting better anytime soon — that’s based on program cuts seen in the 2023-24 budget for the Oregon Department of Transportation. It appears that road maintenance on rural roads is one of the casualties.
Rep. David Gomberg (D-Otis), who represents the district that includes Philomath, said the issue comes down to ODOT being forced to make hard decisions while living within its budget.
“In Oregon, the majority of our funds for day-to-day operations and maintenance of our roads come from the gas tax,” Gomberg said in his Oct. 9 newsletter. “Because of increased vehicle fuel efficiency and increased numbers of hybrid and electric vehicles, that tax revenue is declining. At the same time, we’re facing increased costs for inflation, labor and materials.”
Gomberg said everyone who uses road systems in Oregon — and that includes bicyclists and pedestrians — will continue to see a reduction in the service.
“ODOT now reports that, despite their very best efforts over the past few years, the only way to further reduce costs and live within their budget is by reducing services,” he said. “These reductions have already started and will become increasingly visible and tangible in the coming months.”
Road maintenance on major highways will continue but roads that see less volume could be left out. According to Gomberg, 30% of the state’s highways are low-volume roads.
For example, in his review of statewide reports, he noted that faded edge lines will not be restriped on Highway 34 from Philomath through Alsea and all the way to Highway 101 on the coast. Restriping is also not scheduled for Highway 180 from Eddyville to Blodgett, a route that goes through Nashville and Summit.
Gomberg’s full commentary on the topic is available in his newsletter.
(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at News@PhilomathNews.com).