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Letitia Carson was one of the first Black women to settle in Oregon.
By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 07 December 2023

Pendleton, OR – Oregon Black Pioneers, Oregon’s only statewide African American historical society, is excited to announce that its Letitia Carson traveling exhibit will be on display at Tamástslikt Cultural Institute in Pendleton this winter.

Tamástslikt Cultural Institute is a world-class museum which presents the history and culture of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. The museum will host “Letitia Carson: An Enduring Spirit of Hope and Freedom” from December 8 – February 8.

“This installation is especially meaningful to us at Oregon Black Pioneers,” says Executive Director Zachary Stocks.

“Since Letitia Carson's living descendants trace their ancestry to her through this tribal community, displaying the exhibit there has tremendous relevancy and cultural significance."

Letitia Carson was one of the first Black women to settle in Oregon. She arrived in 1845 with a white man named David Carson. Letitia and David would raise their two children together in Benton County until David’s death in 1852. In 1869, Letitia received title to a homestead she claimed in Douglas County, making her the first African American in Oregon to successfully file for a federal land claim.

In 1868, Letitia and David’s daughter, Martha Jane Carson, married a Walla Walla man named Narcisse Lavadour. Martha’s daughter from a previous relationship, Mary Alice Bingham, married Narcisse’s brother Joseph Lavadour in 1884. Both families relocated from Douglas County to the Umatilla Indian Reservation in 1886, and raised large mixed-race families. Their descendants are the only living relatives of Letitia Carson today.

Oregon Black Pioneers, Black Oregon Land Trust, the Linn Benton NAACP BranchMudbone GrownOregon State University, and the Letitia Carson Legacy Project are bringing this exhibit to Tamástslikt and the surrounding Pendleton region.

For more information about Tamástslikt Cultural Institute visit: www.Tamástslikt.org.

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