Public Lands: Indian Languages Along the Trail (Photo Diary)

The Discovery Historic Loop Trail in Vancouver, Washington, runs from historic Fort Vancouver National Historic Site across the Vancouver Land Bridge designed by architect Johnpaul Jones, in collaboration with artist Maya Lin, to the Old Apple Tree Park. Along the Vancouver Land Bridge there are several areas acknowledging the American Indian languages of the area.

Long before the arrival of the fur traders—the British Hudson’s Bay Company, the Canadian North West Company, and the American Pacific Fur Company—the Columbia River had served as a major American Indian trading highway. This was a polyglot whose Indian languages included:

Chinook Waya: a trade language developed to facilitate communication among the many different cultural groups in the Pacific Northwest.

Cayuse: a Penutian language most closely related to Wishram.

Wanapum: a Penutian language closely related to Walla Walla and Palouse.

Yakama: a Penutian language closely related to Kittitas and Taitnapam.

Walla Walla: a Penutian language closely related to Wanapum and Palouse.

Umatilla: a Sahaptian language closely related to Tenino-Tygh and Celilo.

Nez Perce: a Sahaptian language.

Cowlitz: a Northwest Coast Salish language.

Upper Chinook: a group of closely related languages which includes Cathlamet, Multnomah, Clackamas, Cascades, and Wasco-Wishram.

With the establishment of Fort Vancouver by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1830, more languages began to be spoken in the area, including Iroquois, Hawaiian, Scots Gaelic, French, and English.


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