Clackamas Community College is honoring Chief Dan Wacheno in naming its new student services center.
CCC's Board of Education approved the Wacheno Welcome Center name at its Jan. 20 meeting. The building, currently under construction on the college's Oregon City campus, will pay homage to the chief, who signed the Willamette Valley Treaty of 1855 on behalf of the Clackamas people and was later removed to the Grand Ronde Reservation, as well as his family, which included his son, John.
Wacheno Welcome Center will house most of the college's student services, including advising, enrollment, financial aid, testing and placement services and education partnerships. Though the college wanted the building's name to be easily identifiable for students as an obvious place to get started, there was also a desire to demonstrate inclusivity in the building and to honor those who occupied the land before the college existed.
Former Grand Ronde Tribal Council Chair Reyn Leno and current Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy are direct descendants of the Wachenos.
"It's humbling to have my grandfather, Chief Wacheno, recognized by Clackamas Community College in this way," Kennedy told the tribal newspaper, Smoke Signals. "The Wacheno Welcome Center will stand as a reminder of the Tribal history surrounding the area, recognition of his significance within that history and serve as a platform to tell the story of the Clackamas people."
"I think it is great any time organizations such as Clackamas Community College recognize the Indian people that once populated this country in vast numbers," Leno said in the tribal newspaper. "It not only brings recognition to our ancestors, but reminds people that Indian people have always been here and allows for education about our people and our contributions to this country and this state."
Early last year the college conducted face-to-face interactions, surveys and presentations with students, CCC employees and the CCC Board of Education to explore what names resonated most with the college community. One well-supported suggestion was to name the building after Wacheno.
A cohort from CCC met with the Grand Ronde Tribal Council with the proposal and received members' support. The tribe has a long history with the college, having been involved in its Environmental Learning Center, collaborating on art projects and attending conferences and summits on the college's campuses.
In a letter to CCC, Grand Ronde Cultural Resources Manager David Harrelson wrote, "Naming the Welcome Center after the Wacheno family not only honors the first people of the land that Clackamas Community College sits on. It also follows the traditional cultural customs of the Clackamas as the indigenous people of this place. These customs include the obligations of the people of a place to be good hosts by welcoming and caring for their guests.
"Naming the Welcome Center after the Wacheno family allows for this cultural teaching to be represented on the college campus named after the people and customs it will honor."
CCC President Tim Cook said the Cascades and Tumwater bands of Chinooks, as well as the Tualatin and Pudding River bands of Kalapuya and the Northern Molalla people also shared the land where college campuses are now located.
"I am honored to affirm our ties to the Clackamas people … which the college is named after," Cook said. "I look forward to continuing our relationship with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and educating our students about the Native Americans who lived on these lands before us."
The construction of the Wacheno Welcome Center is part of a $90 million bond approved by voters in 2014. The project also includes the remodeling of the Bill Brod Community Center and is expected to be completed this summer.
To learn more about CCC's bond projects, visit clackamas.edu/bondinformation. For a live webcam of construction of the Wacheno Welcome Center, visit dwpwebcams.com/sscc.
This story was updated from its original version online to include information from Smoke Signals and the college's correction about which Wacheno the naming intends to honor.
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