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Clackamas County's Webster Road project to honor Native language's chinuk wawa word for hazelnut

Metro Affordable Housing Bond funds are constructing a new purpose for a former congregate care facility in Gladstone, naming the building Tukwila Springs.PMG PHOTO: CASSANDRA ROSHU - A former congregate care facility in Gladstone will be renamed Tukwila Springs in preparation for 48 public housing units.PMG PHOTO: CASSANDRA ROSHU - Construction workers are renovating a former congregate care facility in Gladstone, to be named Tukwila Springs.

Clackamas County is 80% complete with the 18000 Webster Road Redevelopment project, which is rehabilitating the facility into 48 residential studios available for low-income and homeless seniors above age 50.

A year ago, the Clackamas County Housing Board decided to name the project Tukwila Springs, which is the chinuk wawa word for hazelnut and honors the natural springs and filbert trees that surround the area. Chinuk wawa is a trade language that was used by Clackamas Native peoples and by Native Americans in British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest in the 1800s and early 1900s, consisting of elements from other languages including Chinookan, Nootkan, Canadian French and English.PMG PHOTO: CASSANDRA ROSHU - Clackamas County's 18000 Webster Road Redevelopment project is funded through Metro bond funds passed by voters in 2020.

Historians can consult a chinuk wawa dictionary, and efforts have been made by the Grand Ronde Tribe to revitalize their language. Sara Thompson, a press contact for the Grand Ronde, described the Clackamas tribal language as "sleeping" rather than completely gone.PMG PHOTO: CASSANDRA ROSHU - Clackamas County's 18000 Webster Road Redevelopment project has hired Walsh Construction to complete the renovation.

"By connecting names of developments and places to the land's original inhabitants, we are given the opportunity to learn about those who once called these places home," Thompson said.

Kim Huey, a Gladstone historian, connected the naming of Tukwila Springs with tribes researching and bringing back their languages. Huey said once all of these different tribes were removed to the Grand Ronde reservation, they were mixed together and forcibly integrated into American culture, which sought to destroy Native culture and active speaking of Native languages.PMG PHOTO: CASSANDRA ROSHU - Clackamas County has nearly completed its project to renovate 48 low-income studios at 18000 Webster Road in Gladstone.

Along with emphasizing the geographical and linguistic culture tied to the location, Tukwila Springs will also highlight the tribe's walk through hardship. According to Huey, they had dwindled down to 150 residents in the mid 1800s and faced near-starvation since they fished and gathered food resources, but did not farm.

In its affordable-housing projects, Metro emphasized its priority to advance racial equity and serve demographic groups who are not well-served by the private housing market. According to Clackamas County, the facility will also house people facing and at risk of homelessness.

"The Tribe's hope is that those who will call this development home will take the opportunity to understand more about the Tribe and our ancestors who once resided in the area," Thompson said.

Funding for the $19.4 million project has $6.4 million coming from Low Income Housing Tax Credits, $5.5 million from Metro Affordable Housing Bond, $4.7 million from private funds, $2.4 million from Permanent Supportive Housing and $400,000 from Clackamas County HOME funds. The project is due to be completed by mid-June, and a grand opening will be held in late July.


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