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Trail along Oregon Coast near Yachats connects communities, cultures

AmandaLast year, when the 3 1/4-mile path known as Amanda's Trail was dedicated – no less than 35 years after efforts began – it seemed that would finally be that.

The goal was met, a Native American woman's tragic story recognized, and two cultures brought closer.

But that's not the way it worked out.

Instead, Amanda's Trail has continued evolving, with new steps, a bench and there are now plans for a new bridge and more. It's also turning what started out as a nice path to a coastal summit into a testament to compassion, community spirit and truth.

"This community has opened the door to finding common ground between the two cultures in a very respectful way," says David Petrie cultural director of the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians. "This is really a turning point. It elevates the human condition."

Amanda's story is recorded in the journal of Army Corporal Royal Bensell.

Amanda De-Cuys was a blind woman forced in May 1864 to leave her daughter Julia -- when her common-law husband refused to marry her -- and march with dozens of members of the Coos and Lower Umpqua tribes from Coos Bay to Yachats, where they were interred.

In his journal, Bensell wrote, "This coast along our route today seems volcanic, rough ragged, burnt rock here and there a light rock which I called pumice-stone. Amanda who is blind tore her feet horribly over these ragged rock, leaving blood sufficient to track her by."

In the 1970s, Loyd Collett , a forest ranger with the Siuslaw National Forest, learned of Amanda's story after hearing a talk by Dr. Stephan Dow Beckham, author of "The Indians of Western Oregon: This Land Was Theirs."

Collett had built other trails and liked to name them for events and people of historical significance. After hearing about Amanda, he came up with a trail that would run from the top of Cape Perpetua north toward Yachats.

See the maps and read the entire Oregonian Article