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My Life, by Louis Kenoyer

Reminiscences of a Grand Ronde Reservation Childhood

Louis Kenoyer, Henry Zenk and Jedd Schrock

Published in cooperation with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde

Dictated in Tualatin Kalapuya to Melville Jacobs. Introduction and Commentaries by Henry Zenk. Translation by Jedd Schrock and Henry Zenk. Foreword by Stephen Dow Beckham

7 × 10. 30 B&W photographs. 2 maps. 320 pages.

2017. ISBN 978-0-87071-883-0. Paperback, $35.00s.


Available May 2017

My Life, by Louis Kenoyer was dictated in Tualatin Northern Kalapuya by Louis Kenoyer, the last known speaker of that language. A rare, first-person narrative by a Native American describing life on an Oregon reservation, Kenoyer’s account tells the story of his childhood on the late-nineteenth century Grand Ronde Reservation. It includes compelling descriptions of daily life in the reservation community, capturing the intermingling of new Euro-American ways with persisting indigenous beliefs and practices.

Kenoyer recounts his experiences at the government boarding school on the reservation (known as the “Sisters’ school,” after the Catholic Sisters who staffed it); daily farm work; shamanistic rituals and curing séances; off-reservation trips to harvest and hunt and to work for Euro-American farmers; and intertribal gatherings with their associated games and gambling. The narrative documents the continuing vitality of aspects of indigenous culture on the nineteenthcentury reservation, alongside the community’s near-universal adoption of rural Euro-American material and work culture.

The manuscript originals of Kenoyer’s narrative are archived in the Melville Jacobs Papers at the University of Washington. The first quarter of the narrative was dictated to Jaime de Angulo and Lucy S. Freeland in 1928, the remainder to Jacobs in 1936. Kenoyer died in 1937, before Jacobs could complete a translation in the field with Kenoyer. Jacobs subsequently prepared a transcript from the translated portions of the text, but the last quarter of the complete narrative has remained untranslated until now. To complete the translation, the present authors digitized the entire text of the narrative, drawing upon information in its previously translated portions to translate the remainder. The result is a complete bilingual
English-Tualatin text, accompanied by extensive notes and commentary providing historical and ethnographic context.

Member of AAUP