Survival on the Slough
This sewer drains into the headwaters of the Columbia Slough at Fairview Lake where pollution and development have increased rapidly in the past 20 years. Photo by Donna Sinclair
People living along the Columbia Slough have long strugged to survive. For centuries indigenous people hunted, traded and socialized, creating homes near and making use of the resources of the Slough. The native people were quickly pushed aside to make way for white settlement in the mid-nineteenth century. New residents of the Slough made use of its bounty, fishing and navigating the waters, and establishing communities along its banks.
By the the end of the twentieth century issues of social and environmental justice became apparent in many Columbia Slough communities. Beginning in the 1940s, as Portland's population expanded, the city tried to segregate some groups in the Lower Slough. Despite resistance, these same North Portland communities then became sites of commercial and industrial expansion. The area's commercial potential engendered additional conflict when in the 1970s many Slough residents protested expansion of the Portland International Airport into Upper Slough farmlands. As greenspace diminishes in the Metro area, many in both Lower and Upper Slough communities continue to struggle against urbanization, environmental degradation, and social injustice.
This section explores ways in which various groups have lived, struggled, and survived life on the Columbia Slough.