By Jamie Francis | email@example.com • November 29, 2008
“Chief” Cliff Snider
Cliff Snider, chief of the Chinook tribe, got his Indian name Leloo when he was 15. “I came face-to-face with a gray wolf in the woods and we embraced each other. I talked to him and he sat there and looked at me.” Leloo means gray wolf in the Chinook language. “We have our fables, you know.”
I’m the fourth great-grandson of Comcomly, who discovered Lewis and Clark on the banks of the Columbia in 1805. I am the honorary and hereditary chief of the Chinook people; the rest are just Indians, I like to say.
I was born and bred here, I’ve been pretty close to Milwaukie most of my life. I served in World War II -- I was a technical sergeant -- and buried the dead at Hiroshima after the atom bomb.
I was one of the four quarterbacks on the Oregon State team that won the Pineapple Bowl. On New Year’s Day 1949, we beat the University of Hawaii 47-27. I played six different positions. The football stadium at the old Clackamas High is named Chief Snider Field. That’s for me.
My main goal in life today is to have justice restored to the Chinook tribe. Today there are 2,500 or 3,000 Chinook, and we are not recognized by the U.S. government. We want government-to-government relations. It would mean that we would become the survivors of our tribe and maybe have our own reservation. This is my dream. All that matters is that I am a Chinook Indian living in the state of Oregon, and I’m proud to be a native Oregonian.
Sadly Chief didn’t live long enough to see his main goal in life accomplished, he passed away in December of 2013.
How may more Chinook Elders must pass before the Chinook Nation sees justice?
Cliff Snider served on the Chinook Tribal Council from 1975 to 1993.