The Atfalati lived here in the place of the beaver (Indigenous People’s Day is on October 10th this year)

The Atfalati lived here in the place of the beaver (Indigenous People’s Day is on October 10th this year)



The story of Europeans’ “discovery” of the Americas runs deep within our culture, often labeled an important piece of American history. The deep flaws in this narrative have increasingly come to light over the past several decades, but the problems affecting indigenous populations here are far from solved by this shift in thinking. The enduring impact of the past on the many native peoples living in what is now the United States necessitates ongoing acknowledgement and respect for these populations that have deep and vibrant roots in this land.

The area that is now Beaverton, for example, like many other places across the country, has been home to indigenous peoples and all their diverse cultures, traditions, and languages for thousands of years. The Atfalati people, also known as the Tualatin, inhabited what would become Beaverton and the surrounding areas. With such deep roots, the extent of indigenous impact on modern culture in Oregon is unsurprising. Many traditional names for natural landmarks, such as Wy’east (which refers to Mt. Hood), have persisted, and a significant portion of cities in Oregon bear names with indigenous roots. Even the name of the city of Beaverton derives from an indigenous language (Northern Kalapuya, spoken by people living in this area), though in a less direct fashion than some other places: Chakeipi, the Atfalati name for the area Beaverton now occupies, means “place of the beaver.”

Many people talk about Beaverton every day without realizing the name’s history, just as we go about our daily lives on the traditional land of indigenous nations without acknowledging the painful history that brought us to where we are today. So, next time you see or hear about a place which acknowledges the past, take an extra moment to think about Oregon’s indigenous history. Take an extra moment to appreciate and respect its native roots. We can’t change the past, but we can address it, learn about it, and – most importantly – create productive conversations about how to improve ourselves as we move forward.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day is celebrated on the second Monday of October – this year, it’s on the 10th. Though some other states have celebrated this holiday for years or decades, Oregon only began doing so in 2021. As this holiday becomes more and more of a tradition, we can all take the time to learn a little more about the rich indigenous history of the places that people like the Atfalati have called home for thousands and thousands of years before it became a city called Beaverton.


Anna Janowski is a teen volunteer at the Beaverton City Library (grade 12). Outside of school, she likes to read, write, play softball and the trumpet.