Letter to the Editor: Restore Roy Wilson to Place of Honor in Cowlitz History


This is a copy of a letter sent to the chair of the Cowlitz Tribe.

Dear Cowlitz Indian Tribe Chairman Phillip Harju:

As a local history writer, long-time friend and colleague of Rev. Roy I. Wilson, I’m writing to ask your recognition of his contributions. “Grandfather” Roy is retiring from public life at age 94 with a long history of promoting an understanding of Cowlitz history and Native legends. He has single-handedly created a bridge between Christian and Indian belief systems throughout the entire Northwest. His messages have reached thousands of people for the enlightenment of both groups.

As an author, “Grandfather” Roy has written and produced nearly 50 books, many of them reflecting Cowlitz traditions and legends. (In fact, I edited some of them personally.) He served as tribal chair during your tribe’s struggle for recognition and as your spiritual leader for many years.

In the last decade, he constructed an amazing longhouse, museum and Indian library on his property in Winlock where he has hosted Indian church services and many, many ceremonies for your people — and mine — including his lessons with the medicine wheel.

It is my understanding that the Cowlitz Tribe has rejected his offer to share this legacy with the Cowlitz people and instead your heritage will go to another tribe on his passing.

Although there may be other issues, to discount his entire life’s work in the name of the Cowlitz Tribe and cast Roy Wilson aside is a shameful act indeed, against all the Biblical teaching his life has stood for.

As a local historian, I ask that you restore Roy Wilson to his place of honor in Cowlitz history.


Sandra Crowell