A group of Pacific University students chose to extend their school year, devoting time to research a topic of interest as a sort of trial for a new program at the school.
Twelve students were accepted to participate in the inaugural URSCI (Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Inquiry Summer Institute) program, after the school received a multi-year, $200,000 grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation.
The three-week project focused on "interdisciplinary collaboration" wherein students traveled around the local area for inspiration, formed groups and began researching a topic with no guidelines other than the theme of "spaces and places."
One group chose to focus on the local area of Forest Grove, to better understand who came before them — specifically, the Kalapuya Indians.
"In the middle of the 19th century, they were forcibly moved off of their land and onto a reservation in Grand Ronde, Oregon," said junior Patrick Lagier. "We would like to share this not-frequently-discussed history with incoming and current Pacific students through the form of an exhibit designed for Native history month."
The four students — Lagier, Marlow Rowan, Reagan Nolasco and Sienna Ballou — have been researching the Kalapuya Indians, reading treaties and visiting the new Chachalu Museum in Grand Ronde, which helps tell the story of the tribes.
"Of course, this is only one dimension of that history," said junior Marlow Rowan. "It's not the (only) history, it's just a version of the story, slash part of the story. We just wanted to tell the story that we thought was least told."
On Thursday, June 14, the students formally proposed their idea to a small group of students and staff at Pacific: to create some kind of exhibit on campus that would help better tell the story of the land, and what existed there before the university.
"We felt that there wasn't a sense of belonging in place at Pacific, because it's kind of — you come in, you do your degree and you go somewhere else," Lagier said. "And we wanted to really tie people to the history that did happen here that's very relevant to this location, and we thought that an exhibit would be a good way to go about doing that."
Being that this year's students were the first to participate in a research program of this sort, there weren't guidelines on how the projects should turn out, they said.
"The end goal is pretty ambiguous," Lagier said. "They told us at the beginning, it could be just as much about failure ... as it could be doing something successful. It's just sort of a 'here's what we tried, here's what happened and here's where we are hoping to take it in the future.'"
But for the group, representing Native history on the Pacific campus is something they have become passionate about in just three short weeks, and something they do hope to carry out.
"What I think initially started out as just a simple research project, has at least for me, personally ... really turned into something pretty passionate and something we are all really driven towards working more on in the future," said Nolasco, a junior.
The students hope to continue developing the idea in their spare time, finding a way to hold onto history and share it with the future generations of Pacific.
By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
Follow Olivia at @oliviasingerr
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