There are several islands in the Columbia River named Memaloose, which is a derivation of the Chinook Indian word “memalust,” meaning “to die.” The largest and best-known of these islands, Lower Memaloose, is near the south shore of the river a short distance east of Hood River.
Historically, Indians of the area used the island as place to lay their dead to rest. Bodies were wrapped in reed mats or sometimes buckskin, then stacked one atop another in structures made of split cedar planks. Lewis and Clark landed on the island in 1806 on their return journey up the Columbia and counted 13 structures full of bodies.
Also buried on the island is a pioneer of The Dalles area, Vic Trevitt. He requested that he be buried “with my Indian friends.” His grave marker can be seen from the Memaloose Island rest area along Interstate 84.
Credit: Lyn Topinka.