Two members of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde beating drums in an outdoor ceremony.

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde became property owners at tumwata/Willamette Falls earlier today when it finalized its purchase of the Blue Heron Mill site from Washington developer George Heidgerken. The 23-acre Willamette Falls property is located within the Tribe’s ancestral homelands and holds significant historical and cultural importance for the Tribe.

Once home to the Charcowah village of the Clowewalla (Willamette band of Tumwaters) and the Kosh-huk-shix Village of Clackamas people, the area is part of the lands ceded to the United States Government under the Willamette Valley Treaty of 1855. Following the Willamette Valley Treaty, tribal members were forcibly removed from Willamette Falls and relocated to Grand Ronde.

“This is a historic day for the Grand Ronde Tribe and our people,” stated Cheryle A. Kennedy, Chairwoman for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. “Since 1855 the government has worked to disconnect our people from our homelands. Today, we’re reclaiming a piece of those lands and resurrecting our role as caretakers at Willamette Falls.”

The Tribe has been working with various local, regional and state partners throughout the sale process to shape the future of the property. The Tribe has worked with Metro and Willamette Falls Trust on the Willamette Falls Riverwalk Project and established a clean-up plan with Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

The Tribe placed the property under a purchase and sale agreement back in May. Today’s closing concludes a three-month purchase and due-diligence process. The Tribe hopes to begin work on the site as quickly as possible and looks forward to continuing to work with its partners.