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The Native Americans who originally inhabited Salem, the Kalapuyans called the area "Wilamut" ("willow place"), a derivative of "wilam", or "place of abundant water". The Rev. David Leslie, President of the Oregon Missionary Society in 1835, suggested that the town be named after Salem Willows, Massachusetts; his suggestion was initially rejected by Rev. Jason Lee (the leader of both expeditions) but Leslie persisted and was granted his request on June 24 that year.