Oregon Black Pioneers exhibit set through May at Champoeg

Visitors to Champoeg State Heritage Area can learn about Black Pioneers and early Black history in Oregon at an exhibit that runs through May at the visitors center from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.

Champoeg partnered with Oregon Black Pioneers to bring the traveling exhibit to the state heritage area.

“These stories enrich understanding of early pioneer life in Oregon and the contributions of Black Americans,” said Park Manger David Figgins. “These were courageous Americans who overcame the odds to reach for the dream of safety and prosperity for themselves and their families. They’re an important piece of the tapestry of stories that make up Oregon history.”

The exhibit features eight interpretive panels that highlight just a few of the approximately 400 Black residents who came to Oregon from 1840 to 1870. What little is known came from newspaper articles and public records.

Topics include the Oregon Trail, Black exclusion, slavery in Oregon, challenging the laws and land ownership. The traveling exhibit was created by Oregon Black Pioneers, an African American historical organization that has been preserving the history of Black Oregonians for more than 30 years.

“We are so proud to display The Black Pioneers at Champoeg State Heritage Area,” said Oregon Black Pioneers Executive Director Zachary Stocks. “People of African descent are often left out of the stories of early Oregon, but this exhibit demonstrates the determination of the first Black men and women to call Oregon home.”

People can also view the exhibit online at https://oregonblackpioneers.org/exhibit/the-black-pioneers/. If you are interested in hosting this or other traveling exhibits or would like more information on other resources and services, reach out to the Oregon Black Pioneers at their website https://oregonblackpioneers.org/.

Champoeg State Heritage area was home to the Kalapuya Indians for thousands of years and eventually the site where pioneers voted to establish Oregon’s first provisional government.

For more about the park including hours, visit the webpage https://stateparks.oregon.gov/index.cfm?do=park.profile&parkId=79.

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