Research > Grand Ronde Land Tenure Project

Grand Ronde Land Tenure Project

The Grand Ronde Land Tenure Project combines archival research and GIS analysis to document competing conceptions of land use and ownership on the Grand Ronde Reservation during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Federal reservations were predicated on spatial and cultural control of Native communities. At Grand Ronde, surveillance from Fort Yamhill, policies such as allotment, and religious and educational institutions contributed to this goal. Native communities were not passive participants in this process, however. Research on numerous reservations has shown that they consistently frustrated the government's assimilationist agenda through creative refashioning of pre-reservation practices and relationships.


The Land Tenure Project examines maps, agent reports, and oral histories to recover evidence of these cultural strategies, or acts of survivance. The project has revealed that the cultural composition and location of Grand Ronde settlements reproduced centuries-old relationships between reservation bands and tribes. This settlement pattern persisted for nearly fifty years, faltering only after the government redoubled its efforts to dispossess Native landowners under the Dawes Act. Current research includes tracing family histories during and after the allotment period and identifying additional strategies the community used to transform the reservation into a culturally familiar home.

Loss of individual trust land (red) on the Grand Ronde Reservation, 1856-1954

Project Team

Denny Hall 457

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