Archaeological remains show that Oregon has been inhabited for at least 10,000 years. The Indians who inhabited this territory belong to the Chinook, Clackamas, Kalapuya, Multnomah, Tillamook, Cayuse, Paiute, Umatilla, Klamath, and Nez Perce tribes. The Spaniards and the English sailed along the Oregon coast during the sixteenth century. In 1542, the Viceroy of New Spain, Antonio de Mendoza, organized an expedition along the northern coast of California, an expedition that was entrusted to Juan Rodríguez de Cabrillo. When Cabrillo died on the island of San Miguel, Bartolomé Ferrelo took command of the expedition. Ferrelo sailed to the 44th parallel north, and landed at Port Orford in 1543.
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Despite this, the European powers showed no interest in this territory until the eighteenth century. Thus, during the reign of Charles III, the Spaniards organized expeditions along the Pacific coast to learn about the activities of the Russians in Alaska, which began to expand southwards. Juan Pérez was commissioned in 1774 to sail to the 60th parallel north, and during this expedition he explored the coasts of Washington, Oregon and British Columbia. This expedition was followed in 1775 by another led by Bruno Heceta and Juan Francisco de la Bodega and Cuadra. Heceta was the first to recognize and describe the Columbia River, whereupon he gave the name of the San Roque River. In 1778 Captain James Cook and later in 1792, George Vancouver and Peter Puget explored the Oregon coast for England. At the end of the eighteenth century, the European countries had some disagreements over the ambition to control this region, since on some occasions, several expeditions from different nations found themselves in these territories at the same time. In fact, alongside the English expeditions organized starting from 1792, there were Spanish and American explorations, such as that of Robert Gray who sailed along the Columbia River in 1792. Spain finally gave up claiming this territory after the Nootka agreements (1790-1794 ).
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Colonization of Oregon was slow, and at the beginning of the 19th century there were only camps of British leather traders from Canada. The first of these camps was founded by John Jacob Astor, who gave the name to the city of Astoria. Britain, which at first asserted its rights over the territories of Oregon, signed a treaty with the United States in 1818 under which it pledged to allow free trade in the area. Along with the fur traders came missionaries, such as Jason Lee, a Methodist who created a mission in 1834 which later became the city of Salem, the state capital. As for the southern border, Spain and the United States reached an agreement in 1819 where the sale of Florida was negotiated, and where the 42nd parallel north was established as the limit of Spanish possessions. The territory that the United States administered was, starting in 1840, the end of one of the most important routes of western colonization, the Oregon route which began in Missouri. In 1843, the settlers of the Willamette Valley decided to create their own government, which was later confirmed when the United States Congress created the Oregon territory in 1848. Earlier, in 1846, the United States and Great Britain defined the common border between the province of British Columbia and the territory under American control. The Oregon territory was delineated as a vast territory that included the current state of Washington. In 1859, the Oregon territory became a state of the Union, although it did not include Washington, which broke away in 1853 to organize itself as a territory.
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The establishment of thousands of settlers, (encouraged by laws that encouraged colonization, after the approval of the Land Allocation Act in 1850), evidently affected the interests of the Indian tribes in the region. These disputes resulted in frequent confrontations such as the Cayuse War (1847-1848), the Rogue River Indian War (1856), the Modoc War, 1872-1873, and the Nez Percé War (1877) which resulted in the defeat of Indian tribes., which were transferred to reserves. The discovery of gold in 1860 and the conclusion of the Pacific railway in 1880 were fundamental elements for the rapid colonization of the territory.
In the twentieth century, during the depression years of the 1930s, the federal government invested in the construction of the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River to facilitate communications, to provide the region with low-cost electricity, and to tackle the shortage of jobs. With the beginning of the Second World War the economic crisis ended definitively thanks, above all to the fact that Oregon became a center for the construction of ships and for the supply of Pacific troops. After the war, these industries continued to give prosperity to the state, together they attracted new companies dedicated to the production of aluminum and electrical and electronic components.
Salem: capital of Oregon
Salem city and capital of Oregon, located on the banks of the Willamette River, in the north-west of the state, is the administrative center, and an active commercial axis for the Willamette Valley. Its main industries are related to food and high technology. Among the main products of the city, there are also electronic equipment and paper and metal packaging. Among its main points of interest, the state capitol, the history of the state is illustrated here. Above the small dome is a gilded statue of a pioneer, while a marble group of Lewi and Clark stands alongside the entrance, as are the murals depicting Captain Robert Gray.
The Bush Pasture, park where they can be found, the Bush House Museum and the Bush Barn Art Center, named in honor of the banker and publisher of the Oregón Asahel Bush, next door is the historic Deepwood Estate. The village of Mission Mill is home to various ancient buildings, including some of the oldest buildings in the state, including the home of Jason Lee, one of Salem’s founders, dating back to 1841, the Kay Woolen Mill which still has water wheels from around 1890, and the Thomas Kay Textile Museum. Also of interest to visit are the Marion County Historical Society Museum, the Gilbert House Children’s Museum, and several wineries. Very close to the city are the parks of Silver Falls and Champoeg. The Oregon State Fair is held annually in Salem in early September and the Salem Art Fair in August.
Salem was founded in 1840 by Methodist preacher Jason Lee. In 1851 it became the capital of the Oregon Territory, and when it became a state of the Union, Salem, despite its slow initial growth, remained the capital. The name of the city is the English form of the Hebrew word shalom, ‘peace’ which was probably chosen because the place was formerly called Chemeketa (‘resting place’).