Saturday, April 26, 2008
The history of Cascadia, (then known as Oregon Country) reveals a very ambiguous power structure. As one of the vestiges of the frontier, men (and women) made the long journey to the Pacific Northwest as a way to escape established institutions and try their hand and a better (and wetter!) life. For many years the lucrative Hudson's Bay Company acted as a proxy government for the Cascadian people, of which the vast majority were employed under. The governments of both Britain and the US had agreed to share the land, essentially seeing it as nothing more than an exploitable resource base for their affluent Eastern cities. But as the population grew, and in turn, diversified, Cascadians realized that a structure of governance was necessary. A series of meetings were held in Champoeg, Oregon (halfway between Salem and Oregon City), which culminated in the establishment of the first government of Cascadia.
On May 2, 1843, in the bustling prairie town of Champoeg, prominent settlers of Oregon Country debated about how to establish law. Finally, a line was drawn on the ground. All those in favor of establishing an independent government were asked to cross the line. The vote was close, 52-50 but the settlers decided on a new government. Thus, the First Provisional Government of Oregon was established. The government existed for almost six full years, providing a legal system as well as a common defense for the Cascadian pioneers. On March 3, 1849 the government was absolved as the Oregon Territory was established under the United States Government. Nonetheless, Cascadians did in fact rule themselves before anyone else got the chance.
To commemorate this historic event the Cascadian Commons is hosting a Founder's Day Event in Champoeg State Park. Although the town of Champoeg no longer exists due to a devastating flood, a marker has been laid down to mark the place of the Champoeg meetings. The Cascadian Commons intends to reenact the line in the ground and ask all who believe in an independent Cascadian Government to cross it. Find out more information at their website: CascadiaCommons.org