This astonishing portrait of Alice Slim Jim was taken by Archie McKeown in 1954. She was about 79 years old according to notes on this photo (though her gravestone at Mountainview Cemetery says she was born in 1882, so she would be about 72 if that is correct). When she died in 1972, The Goldendale Sentinel reported that she was "believed to be the last survivor of the Hood River Indian tribe, the Watlalas of the Chinooks."
The image is inscribed, "For Arline- with sincere admiration. Archie and Martha." It is almost certainly a message to Arline Moore, who was known for her work with Native Americans of this area, and a friend of Archie and Martha McKeown.
I chose this portrait to mark a special milestone: this is post #1000 at Historic Hood River. Since the first post in March 2011 we've seen 1000 of my favorite images from the collection at the History Museum, and yet I can assure you it does not take me very long to select more images whenever I have time to prepare a few posts. The collection is rich, and grows every day.
A few statistics: In just under four years, HHR has served up over a million images in a quarter million visits. The typical weekday sees about 180 unique individual viewing about 900 images, though that frequently spikes with a popular image. Weekday viewers spend and average of 3-4 minutes perusing the site, but on the weekend that number shoots up with some users spending hours at a session.
There have been almost 9000 legitimate user comments adding all sorts of interesting information (along with ~15,000 comments a day trapped by my spam filters). Two or three years after posting people are still adding comments-- frequently family members with answers to questions raised years before. You can see comments as they come in by following the Comment RSS, which is always linked at the bottom of an image window.
Thanks to all the viewers and commenters for keeping Hood River history alive.
The changes those eyes have seen...
And a big thanks to you Arthur for devoting your time and energy to this project! To many thousands more, I offer a toast of my morning coffee to you!
spinsur on 27th January 2015 @ 7:29am
Been fun Arthur. Would have been interesting to talk with her. Hope someone can enlighten us that may have known her personally.
Buzz on 27th January 2015 @ 7:57am
I join you in the toast Spinsur! Amazing milestone, amazing history...congratulations Arthur on your efforts and the History Museum's support. Future generations will look at this work and will admire and appreciate the wealth of knowledge it presents. Full steam ahead!
Arlen Sheldrake on 27th January 2015 @ 8:11am
What a neat photo! And a great photo to exemplify the passage of time, just, as we have seen here at HHR.
There are Native Americans today, who will tell you they are neither Yakima nor Warm Springs, but they had to choose. We have lost the identity of many of these smaller, local groups.
Once again, HHR gives back some of that identity of forgotten times.
Thanks so much Arthur and crew for our years of enjoyment. (Who thought it would be years, when Arthur first started this?)
And thank you for deleting all of the spam. Remember what that used to be like?
And thank you for the RSS feed, because I really enjoy the comments on early photos, from someone who has just found a family member at HHR.
l.e. on 27th January 2015 @ 8:30am
I left out Grande Ronde. I think some of the Watlalas were also absorbed into the Grande Ronde Condfederation.
l.e. on 27th January 2015 @ 8:45am
If it were not for Archie McKeown and his camera, Martha McKeown, my teacher and his wife with her ability to record things and ""Grandma Moore" also contributing to all this we would have lost a lot of the informations about the local Indians.
The majority of the Hood River area indians were initially from the Yakima tribe, but little groups splintered off and ended up known by other tribal names.
I recall going into Moore Electric there on east Oak one afternoon and Arline was busy with two or three Indians from Celilo and in the process of explaining to them some legal/government papers they had. This was just before the government flooded Celilo Falls, so may have had something to do with that, as there was a lot of chit-chat going on at that time over it.
Charlott on 27th January 2015 @ 8:53am
I have a print of Alice that Gilbert Clarke did several years ago bought it at a estate sale. John Delepine may have more as he did the sale.
Lee on 27th January 2015 @ 8:53am
Sculpture of Alice Slim Jim Charley
And this might be a good time and place to put the link for the 1999 Interview with Chuck Williams. It is long, and some of it a bit confusing, but it might be of interest to some of you. Some of Williams' early family may have been related to Alice Slim Jim as part of the Cascade Indians.
l.e. on 27th January 2015 @ 9:01am
l.e. on 27th January 2015 @ 9:13am
My mother, Lois Sheribon Sheldrake, talked a lot of her early years growing up on the Netherby (sp) Ranch in Odell and finding arrowheads around the lake on their property.....must have been an early Indian campground. Yes, sometime in the future, Celilo Falls will return from it's sleep......
Arlen Sheldrake on 27th January 2015 @ 9:38am
Arthur....I'm thinking possibly, what might be meant by "last survivor of the Watlalas" is that she was the last known with a flattened head.
There are Watlalas who were part of the Grande Ronde, which became a political issue a few years ago.
l.e. on 27th January 2015 @ 9:47am
The Siletz reservation was comprised of Indians from many areas of the Northwest. Nearly every river that emptied into the Pacific was the home of a few families or larger groups that could support themselves at that location.
Buzz on 27th January 2015 @ 10:12am
I raise my coffee cup to you, Arthur, and to your "regular" contributors to your posts who lengthen and embellish the stories. I do so enjoy it all!
Jill on 27th January 2015 @ 3:56pm
I didn't know how important Archie and Martha McKeown's contributions were to history until Arthur and Charlotte mentioned them here.
Martha Ferguson McKeown (1903-1974)
Author, historian, teacher, Martha McKeown, a third-generation Oregonian and descendant of covered wagon pioneers, was born in Astoria in 1903. In 1911, her family moved to the Hood River Valley, where she lived most of her life near the Native Americans about whose lives she was later to write her books. Her first books, however, tell of the travels of her Uncle, Mont Hawthorne, from the Atlantic to the Pacific and of his trips to Alaska every summer from 1899 to 1906 to help build the salmon canneries in the Far North......
She began teaching school in Mosier in 1923, and continued teaching for forty-five years. In 1924, she married Archie W. McKeown of Gresham and they became partners in a family fruit-growing business in the Odell district of the Hood River Valley; they were also part owners of a hardware store which had been in the family more than fifty years.....
For many years, she was friends with the Wy-am Indians of Celilo Falls, as was her father before her. They invited her into their homes and to their feasts and rituals. McKeown is the only white woman who was taken into their tribe. Chief Tommy Thompson sometimes visited her and stayed in her home in Odell, even once when he was in his nineties. Because of McKeown's intimate connection to the tribe, her husband was allowed to join her in her visits and was able to photograph the village life,....
More here at the link.
l.e. on 27th January 2015 @ 9:52pm
l.e., there was a Chief Tommy Thompson that lived on the Siletz rez when I was there. His wife's name was Alma, and their two boys were George and Snooks. They were a few years older than me, but we were friends and we spent time together. Chief had a logging outfit and shipped logs to the same mill my dad did. I think they were originally from the Warm Springs area. Both boys were good athletes and George got a full ride football scholarship to Oregon State when Tommy Prothro was the coach. Big deal for the little school on the rez.
Buzz on 28th January 2015 @ 6:31am
Arthur, thank you so very much for this sharing of the history of our community. .I wonder if you knew how it would grow when you first started this! I regularly share this site with older citizens who are not aware of it, and then you gain another whole set of avid fans to this site. Again, thank you so much. Ever thought of giving a presentation at the retirement centers? Might open up memories and facts from our older citizens. Might have to take a microphone and a tape recorder. Maybe even set up a recorder at the museum so that people could record their information.
nels on 28th January 2015 @ 8:20am
Martha's books about her Uncle Mont were: Them Were The Days, The Trail Led North and Alaska Silver. She was writing her only novel called, "Mountains Ahead" when I was her student. Was privileged to watch it basically from start to finish. Saw the galley proofs going back and forth between her and the publishers.
charlott on 28th January 2015 @ 8:33am
Arlen....perhaps this happened close to where your mother grew up.
["Old George" Tomlike related a prehistoric story of a battle between bands of Klickitat and Simcoe (Yakima) Indians, which began at Hood River and ended in the vicinity of Odell, where the Simcoes were defeated and eighty warriors lost their lives. ]
From an old article I have called "The Booth Hill Overlook"
l.e. on 30th January 2015 @ 5:17pm
This photo took my breath away. A masterpiece. Thanks for posting and sharing. I sincerely hope the community enjoying this piece and others see how much time the museum volunteers has spent on preserving and saving local history. Thank you!
KimberlyBH on 10th February 2015 @ 7:38am
Its nice to see an interest in a old native American photo...I was trying to look up some old photos of the people who once lived in the Hood River region...My Grandmother was Elsie Thomas who passed away in the Hood River Nursing home in 2007, This was her aunt "Auttie" she called her...My Great Grand father was Jake Thomas who's father was Thomas Slim-Jim, aka Slim Jim Thomas. But we have always known that our other side is from the Hood River side...and r Husum/White Salmon is our Klickitat side. Interesting to see the interest in this Photo. Nye.
Julia on 6th April 2015 @ 3:38pm
As did Charlott, at a estate sale in Hood River, I purchased a print of "Alice" by Clarke in 2015, signed and numbered. I've been trying to find more information
Alice and Clarke seemed like quite a character, that had a diverse andinteresting life. Seems like someone should write a book about him too. I really appreciate seeing the photograph that Clarke used' also I would like to talk to or learn more from Charlott or any one that has more info on Alice or the print of Alice and or Clarke. I've ordered the book "Them Were The Day's. Thank You, John Stenberg
John D. Stenberg on 8th May 2016 @ 9:16am
As did Charlott, at a estate sale in Hood River, I purchased a print of "Alice" by Clarke in 2015, signed and numbered. I've been trying to find more information on Alice and Clarke, He seemed like quite a character, that had a diverse and interesting life. Seems like someone should write a book about him too. I really appreciate seeing the photograph that Clarke used, also I would like to talk to or learn more from Charlott or any one that has more info on Alice or the print of Alice and or Clarke. I've ordered the book "Them Were The Day's. Thank You, John Stenberg
John D. Stenberg on 8th May 2016 @ 10:28am
Does anyone know if Alice Slim Jim was in the Hanby Nursing Home in Hood River at the end of her life? From 1959 to 1962 I walked past the big picture window of the Hanby Nursing Home as I walked to and from the Hood River SDA gradeschoool. A very old Native American women would sit behind the window, and I would wave to her and wonder about her life. My father said she was Princess Alice Slim Jim and I thought he said she was part of the Celilo fishing people, but I may be confusing two of my father’s stories.
Mary Sue Henifin on 25th January 2020 @ 6:30pm