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A Chinook Educator in 19th Century Japan: The Story of Ranald MacDonald

A Presentation by

Atusmi Tsukimori (Author, Unsung Hero),

Masaru Yatabe (Chairman, Friends of MacDonald), &

Stephen Kohl (Associate Professor Emeritus, Japanese Literature, Asian Studies, University of Oregon)


Join us for an engaging presentation and panel discussion exploring the connections between native cultures of Japan and the Pacific Northwest through the fascinating figure of Ranald MacDonald. This is a free event (included in Garden admission) and is open to the public.

The history of connections between Native Peoples of the Pacific Northwest and the Ainu of Hokkaido, Japan goes back to the 19th century. Ranald MacDonald, Oregon native, was born at Fort Astoria in 1824 to a Chinook mother and Scottish father. In his quest to explore distant lands, he became a sailor in 1848 on the whaling ship Plymouth and convinced the captain to leave him at Rishiri Island, Hokkaido. There he encountered the native Ainu people, who took him in before he was taken to Nagasaki, where the educated MacDonald became an English teacher to officials of the Tokugawa Shogunate. As MacDonald said in his autobiography, “My plan was to present myself as a castaway … and to rely on their humanity.”