There is evidence of human habitation on the area that is now Oregon as early as 15,000 years ago. As the ice retreated, humans settled through the region, with greater density around the Columbia River which the Chinook called Wimahl (“Big River”) and the coastal estuaries. Like others who lived off the plentiful natural resources of the pacific northwest, the Chinook hunted elk and caught salmon. They lived in longhouses made of red cedar trees that could be 150 feet long with upwards of fifty other people with whom they shared kinship ties. The origin of the name Oregon is disputed but some of theories point to native sources, including appropriation of an Abenaki name for the Ohio River and a corruption of what the local peoples called the Columbia River.

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