Tribal Elder Kathryn Harrison receives two awards in one week
By Ron Karten
Smoke Signals staff writer
PORTLAND -- Tribal Elder Kathryn Harrison stood among Oregon’s leading “History Makers” on Thursday, Sept. 27, at the Oregon Historical Society on the park blocks in Portland, where she received one of four awards presented to well-known Oregonians.
Former Secretary of State Norma Paulus, Gerry Frank, former chief of staff for Sen. Mark Hatfield, and former Portland Trailblazers President Harry Glickman also were “History Makers” recipients at the society’s fourth annual awards banquet and fundraiser.
The society’s executive director, Kerry Tymchuk, said that the award winners make up “the Oregon Hall of Fame. They’re contributors to Oregon history in their time – living legends.”
“Nobody has shown more grit,” Tymchuk said in introducing Harrison. “And today, she continues to show consistency and love in the presence of animosity. Kathryn’s path was clear early in her life, but it took a long time to fulfill.”
“My parents instilled pride in us,” Harrison said in accepting the award. “The first 10 years gave me the hope and pride I would need for the rest of my life. And I knew how to pray.”
So, when trouble came, Harrison said, “I knew I had to stand up.”
Tymchuk described Harrison’s visits to Washington, D.C., with family and other Tribal members in the effort to restore the Grand Ronde Tribe in the eyes of the federal government. He praised her persistence over the years.
“I have such respect for Kathryn Harrison,” said former Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who attended with his wife, Mary Oberst. “Kathryn is one of those people who would be a leader in anything she did.”
“Kathryn personifies for me the quality of leadership that we see in Tribal women today,” said former Oregon Congresswoman Elizabeth Furse. “She is a heroine to me (because she) has done so much for her Tribe.”
“It’s a great honor for Kathryn to be here,” said Tribal Chairman Reyn Leno, who attended with his wife, Liz. “Her being the first Native American honored by the Oregon Historical Society.”
“This is a very proud moment for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde,” said Tribal Council member Jon A. George, who attended the event with his wife, Lynn. “For such a prestigious organization to recognize a Tribal member … It’s an honor to know Kathryn and if I could follow her example, in just a small way … what a great example she is. It’s an honor to be part of this special occasion.”
Oregon’s newest congresswoman, Suzanne Bonamici, also attended and offered congratulations to Harrison and the Tribe. “There are lessons we can learn from people who have overcome adversities. The way (Harrison) has, this is well-deserved recognition.”
Harrison joins such other Oregon History Makers as movie director Gus Van Sant (2011). Previous winners David Adelsheim (2010), author Jean Auel (2010) and Dr. Albert Starr (2011) attended the evening’s event.
From the Tribal community, Harrison was joined by her daughter, Tribal Elder Patsy Pullin, of Carson City, Nev., who said, “Each time I attend one of these awards, and there have been many, it just makes me very, very proud of her and all that she has accomplished in her life.”
“All Tribes should take pride in Kathryn receiving this award,” said Kulongoski.
“I’m 88 years old,” Harrison told the audience of more than 250, “and I’m still trying to make my life pleasing to my parents, my God and my Tribe. I’m so honored.”
Also on hand for the award ceremony were Spirit Mountain Community Fund Director Kathleen George and her husband, Rick; Community Fund Board Chair Sho Dozono and his wife, Loen; Community Fund Program Coordinator Louis King; Antoinette Hatfield; former Congresswoman Darlene Hooley; Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler and his wife, Katrina; and Oregon Historian Laureate Tom Vaughan.
The next night, at the Governor Hotel in Portland, Harrison accepted the 2012 Betty Roberts Woman in Leadership Award, the third annual Woman of the Year event hosted by Emerge Oregon, a Portland-based training program for Democratic women. Roberts was the first woman to serve on Oregon’s Supreme Court.
At Emerge Oregon, a Tribal drum group including Tribal Elder Dolores Parmenter, Greg Archuleta, Eric Bernando and his mother, Tribal Elder Debi Anderson, and Jordan Mercier performed in Harrison’s honor.