Mollie Kilner and Dr. Harry Blair, members of the Multnomah County Poor Farm hospital. 1916

Two centuries ago, land that is now Multnomah County was home to thriving communities of Native Americans. Having lived in the Pacific Northwest for thousands of years, indigenous tribes enjoyed a bounty of fresh fish and game and edible native plants.

But the tribes could not have anticipated the contagious diseases that arrived with the fur traders, trappers and pioneers. By the time Multnomah County was founded in 1854, many of the region’s tribal families had been decimated by smallpox, cholera, typhus, and measles.