Federal Policy Embedded in Oregon Tribal Territory Maps

Maps of Oregon tribal regions have existed since 1805. Lewis and Clark published the first maps in 1810 and their hand-drawn maps date to 1805-1806. Their drawings show the Chinookan peoples to have many villages, mant settlements, and great diversity on the Columbia. Their journals emphasize the numbers of Chinookans from various tribes were found in villages far from their homes. Today, we now understand that what the expedition was documenting was the Columbia River Trade network, where thousands of villages and hundreds of tribes would send their traders to visit neighbors close and far to trade for unique wealth items and for other staples of their lifeways.  But the Lewis and Clark maps do not  note tribal nations, there appear to be no tribal borders on their maps, which is perhaps indicative of the brief time of their stay in the region, their unfamiliarity with the tribes, their lack of ability to communicate such things, and their orders from President Thomas Jefferson, to find a passage to the Pacific and to document the peoples and resources along their way.  It has been suggested by me, that the expedition was spying upon the tribes of the Columbia, collecting intelligence to help politicians in the United States make decisions about colonizing the Northwest Coast.  Their journey of intelligence gathering was hardly an innocuous “Corps of Discovery” as it has been framed by many historians.

“Portland Area” tribal villages on the Columbia River 1805-1806 , Lewis and Clark maps, Bieneke Digital collections
Map From a Skilloot Chief , from Capt. Clark 1806. The only map of its type from the Columbia, from a native perspective.

Similarly, United States Exploring Expedition, or the “Wilkes Expedition,” of 1841 came into the Columbia River and travelled the Oregon coast, surveying the coastline and documenting the river depth, and tribes, and natural resources which they encountered on their trip. The expedition  had numerous scientists, the Philologist and Ethnographer being Horatio Hale.  Hale collected vocabularies of tribal langauges from the Pacific, Oregon, and California, and descriptions of the tribes, in their characters and cultures.  Hale’s descriptions can only be termed as “highly biased” as he tended to run down the character of the tribes in “racialized” language. Hale does publish his own Philology volume from the Expedition (12?) and likely had input into the maps created by Wilkes and his cartographers, two of which have references to tribal territories. The 1845 Wilkes expeditionary maps have some tribal names in their locations and a few divisions, likely based on very little understandings by Hale of the diversity of tribes, from his very short-term experience in the region, and perhaps little or no direct communication with native peoples of the tribes they place on the maps. Much of their information may have actually come from Hudson’s Bay Company fur traders, at Fort Vancouver,  who had extensive interaction with the tribes, but may not have known exact territories and boundaries.

Wilkes expedition map 1845
Wilkes map as it appears in the Philology volume by Hale, 1846, notes some attention to culture areas within each tribe

The next two government produced maps are the Gibbs-Starling  and Belden maps of 1851  and 1855. These maps are based on tribal territories identified during the treaty making talks between the tribes and the federal Indian agents.  The 1851 Gibbs-Starling map was produced during the meetings which took place over 2 weeks in May 1851, at Champeg, Oregon, between the Willamette Valley tribes and the Willamette Valley Treaty Commission. The notes and transcript from the commission suggest that the tribes were able to stand over the map and point out their territories during the proceedings. George Gibbs and Edward Starling were at the proceedings and were able to directly record their claims. Interesting enough, the Indian Superintendent of Oregon, Anson Dart, took over the treaty-making responsibilities after this time, and for his later meetings at Tansey Point, Port Orford, and Oregon city, there were not maps made of tribal land claims. These 1851 treaties, however, did  record their claims, a description of their lands, in narrative language. These 1851 treaties were never ratified by the U.S. Congress.  Very few ethnographers appear to have used these treaties when conducting research on the tribes, even though there is significant information in them about the tribes, where they lived and even native placenames. There do not appear to be any published maps created from the areas covered by the treaties besides those recorded on the Gibbs-Starling map. It may be because the treaties were originally lost in the NARA archives in Washington, D.C. for some 50 years. and many ethnographers either did not know about them or did not think them important enough to access for their studies. As well since they were never ratified, they have lesser value compared to the ratifed treaties that came later, in 1853 to 1855. However, the 1851 treaties do give us a snapshot into the tribal lands of 1851.

Gibbs-Starling Map 1851
Section of Gibbs-Starling map of 1851 showing location of the Kalapuya tribes of Chehalem, Chempoeg, Chemaway and Chemekitty.
Lewis 2019, map of treaty defined areas from Treaties of Tansey point, 1851, Tualaty is inserted for comparison, areas from north to south are Shoalwater bay, Wheelappa, Upper Chinook, Clatsop, Clatsop reservation, Naahelm Tillamook, Tillamook (Proper); south bank of Columbia- Nuc-que-clah-we-nuck, Kathlamet, Koonaak(south) (Skilloot), Klatskanie; North bank- Waukikum, Koonaak(north)

Similarly, the 1855 Belden Map is drawn to record all of the landclaims or ceded lands of all Oregon tribes up until 1855. The boundaries are again, drawn so that there is no overlap and no unclaimed territory.

Sketch map of Oregon, Belden Map 1855, NARA
Cascades area of Columbia, portion of the Sketch map 1855, NARA

It initially stuck me as strange that the Molalla tribes are noted to claim the whole of the Cascades Range in Oregon, while ethnographically, they actually lived within and had villages in the western foothills on the eastern side of the Willamette Valley. As well, tribes like the Wascos, Klamaths, Paiutes, Kalapuyans and Molallans all utilized the Cascades for the same purposes, picking berries, using trade trails, and hunting elk. So how can the Molallans be assigned, on nealry all tribal territorial maps, the whole of the Cascades as their traditional home when so many other tribes utilized the same range and no tribes appeared to live there? There may very well be an answer in the mission of the federal Indian agents, to purchase all of the Tribally-held lands for the United States. Within this mission there was no room for unclaimed lands or lands commonly used by several tribes. These federal agents likely did not perceive of such a thing, they would percieve of the tribes as sovereign nations (as is appropriate), and had to treaty them as such for treaty-making, and as any sovereign nation they could not have overlapping claims to the same lands. The model for American landclaims was very European, imbedded in a western civilization model, where shared lands or overlapping claims did not occur, and so it was not concievable from the “Euro-American” perspective that Tribal nations would have such a thing. If this reasoning holds, then some tribes may have been assigned larger and more expansive landclaims, into commonly used areas like the Cascades, so that the United States could buy all tribal claims, and own all the land, without any unpurchased lands. This constitutes a political and legal claim as established by the United States, and tribes today are bound to these legally defined claims because of their ratified treaties which guarantee some level of responsibility of the federal government to the tribes, and establishes (creates) a landbase for tribal rights. Even so, tribes could choose to adopt a more traditional model in their working relationships with one another, one which recognizes that some lands were commonly held shared areas for specific types of activities, otherwise they will continue operating under a vision of land ownership and landclaims completely defined by the United States.

Three examples of the assignment of the whole of the Oregon Cascades to the Molalla peoples in linguistic and ethnographic maps

Ethnographically drawn maps begin with the Wilkes maps of 1845 and continue with those from George Gibbs in 1877, and a great many more such maps created in the 20th century. Most maps follow that of Wilkes, or adopt the base descriptions of ethnographers from periods 1841-1900. Even linguists’ maps tend to follow suit and base their tribal cultural  boundaries on the original federal maps. Few maps try to designate the political boundaries of tribes based on ethnographic descriptions, and none access Native peoples’ perspectives about their own lands. It does seem interesting that on the Gibbs-Starling map, there are no spaces between tribal landclaims, and there is no overlap in their claims, because, when we compare the map to ethnographic evidence of what areas the tribes living in, travelled to, or utilized for hunting, gathering, fishing or even trading, we find that there is significant evidence that the tribes had overlapping landclaims.

Gibbs map of Chinookan territories 1877
Section of Powell’s Linguistic map 1890

Today, tribal territories are significant issues in conflicts over tribal casino siting, tribal fishing rights, and tribal land management rights. Tribes are working on or have established maps of their ceded lands, based on lands ceded to the U.S. by treaties. These maps also incorporate Usual and Accustomed places (U & A) which are cultural use areas documented in tribal narratives. These maps as almost completely tribally produced, but again much of their ceded lands boundaries are heavily informed by the federal treaty making goal to buy all the land. The larger contemporary U & A landclaims are analogous to the original traditional ethnographic claims of the tribes. These U & A maps do not always show it, but when comparing them to the footprints of maps of neighboring tribes, there is significant overlap in the landclaims.

Warm Springs Ceded Lands 2016, https://fisheries.warmsprings-nsn.gov/2016/05/ceded-lands-2016/
Grand Ronde Ceded lands, file:///C:/Users/dglco/Downloads/thpo-land-culture-dept-confederated-tribes-grand-ronde.pdf

The overlapping claims are now a significant place of contention between tribes, when there are cultural resources management needs. In Oregon, resources like Willamette Falls has significant salmon and lamprey runs. There are now at least five tribes with claims to Willamette Falls, Grand Ronde, Siletz, Warm Springs, Cowlitz and Yakima. Grand Ronde has the most significant claim, because the original Clackamas people who lived at the falls for as long as 10,000 years, and who signed the Willamette Valley Treaty, removed to Grand Ronde. Siletz claims this same treaty and has individuals in the tribe who relate to the Clackamas through intermarriage and resettlement. Similarly, Warm Springs, Yakima, and Cowlitz have various levels of claims to the falls through U & A claims, mainly from stories of their peoples using the falls for trade or fishing. There is also a significant history of Warm Springs peoples coming to the falls in the last 50+ years just before or after their traditional fishing areas on the Columbia and at Celilo were inundated by dams. There is as well a history of intermarriage in the region that predates treaties and reservations, which makes all of the tribal peoples in the region one larger tribe of interrelated families, some of whom may have had familial rights to fish at the falls previous to treaties and removal.

It seems reasonable to expect that the tribes need to understand their collective history better, to collectively agree to relieve themselves of the colonial layers of land claims and boundaries, and find a way to work together for mutual benefits. Understandings of why federal authorities created maps, for that purpose, really need to be looked at to understand better their influence over descendant maps concerning the tribes. Efforts need to be made to take corrective action concerning tribal ethnographic territories and cultures so that information known about the tribes, their resources, lifeways, and traditional homelands,  is as close to the traditional culture as possible.




Beginnings of the Umpqua District, Agency, and Reservation

The Umpqua Reservation was located on the central Oregon Coast and was established as a reservation in May of 1856. Previously, there had been another Umpqua Reservation located in the Umpqua Valley, created to hold the Upper Umpqua, Yoncalla Kalapuya and southern Molalla peoples  of the valley, who had begun signing treaties selling their lands to the United States in 1854. In late January 1856, the Umpqua Reservation was the first temporary reservation vacated, and the tribes removed to the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation by late February. A few bands of tribes yet remained in the Umpqua Valley, and they were also brought to Grand Ronde in subsequent months.

In the region and down the Umpqua River were additional tribes, those at Scottsburg, and those on the Lower Umpqua who had not been party to the 1854 treaties which were ratified. These tribes, along with their neighbors, the Siuslaw, Coos Bay, and Alseas were party to a different Treaty, the Coast Indian Treaty of 1855. The Coast Treaty was negotiated by Joel Palmer during the summer months of 1855, beginning with the Chetco Tribe at the south and ending at the Umpqua River at the northern where Palmer had several meetings with the coastal peoples who all agreed to sell their lands in exchange for a permanent reservation. The treaty included all coastal tribes from the California-Oregon border to the Nechesne (Salmon River). (It has been assumed by most scholars that the treaty was with the whole Oregon Coast but this is not the case at all.) In preparation for the Congressional ratification of the treaty the tribes from the coast to convinced to remove to the north, to the already approved Coast Indian Reservation (1855).

A good many tribes were delayed in their removal because of the Rogue River Indian war. This war erupting in the summer of 1855 carried on into the summer of 1856 and much of the attention of the Indian Office and the Military were focused on ending the war. Removals from the already organized temporary reservations commenced in January 1856 with the (interior) Umpqua Reservation, then in February 1856 the Table Rock Reservation was vacated. At the same time, Palmer worked to remove the tribes from the small temporary reservations in the Willamette Valley and on the Columbia River; such that by May 1856 the majority of tribal people in Western Oregon were resettled on the Grand Ronde Reservation, and along the central Oregon Coast between the Nechesne and the Siletz river, about 4000 people from some 27 to 45 tribes.

The Southern Coastal peoples then began being removed to the north toward the Coast Indian Reservation. This project proceeded slowly because there was not yet enough funds allocated for removal or civilization of the tribes due to their Coast Treaty not yet being ratified. In order to aid the removal, Joel Palmer started with the relatively easy task of removal of the Coos Bay, Scottsburg, and Lower Umpqua to the Umpqua River, in close proximity to the Umpqua District agency Office. This District was created in 1854, by Palmer, and manned by E.P. Drew as a sub-Indian Agent in charge of the tribes from Port Orford to the Siuslaw River. According to the Agent Drew’s letters, his Umpqua District was turned into another Reservation in May of 1856 to accommodate all of the tribes from his district.

May of 1856 was on the cusp of the last battles of the Rogue River Indian War. In this period, Joel Palmer, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Oregon, was working closely with the U.S. Army to end the war and get the Rogue River Confederacy tribes to surrender and come peacefully onto the Coast Reservation. Palmer actually took several trips to the Rogue River and began a process of parlaying with the confederacy and was able to gain the agreement of several bands in the Confederacy to surrender at Port Orford, and be removed to the reservation under U.S. Army protection. These assurances were necessary because for the extreme racist actions of the Volunteer Militia toward the tribes. They were known to take revenge on tribes for any slight, and had made numerous attempts to exterminate the Southwestern Oregon tribes forever.

One of the strategies pursued by the Indian Superintendents of both Oregon and California was the forced removal and even imprisonment of tribes that bordered on the Rogue River conflict area. The Tolowa Deeni peoples (from Smith River to Crescent City CA), some 150-300 of them were imprisoned at Battery Point in Crescent City until the succession of the war. The Coos Bay peoples were sequestered at first at a temporary reservation at Empire. The Coquelle Peoples were removed to Port Orford, and the Indian Agents from these districts kept close watch on all the tribes to make sure they were not influenced by the leaders of the Rogue River Confederacy to join the Confederacy, which would have made extreme problems for the American settlers, and the U.S. Army tasked with keeping the peace and ending the war.

The removal of the tribes from Coos Bay in May 1856, to the Umpqua District, was likely part of this same strategy, to keep the Coos Bay people from joining the Confederacy. Nearly at the same time, the Coquelle people were removed from Port Orford to the Coast Reservation to be resettled on the Alsea River, which was even further away from the battlefields than other tribes were removed. The Coquelles were deemed a bigger threat as they had actually attempted to join into several battles, like the Battlerock event (1851),  and had committed several acts against Indian Agents and their employees from 1851 to 1855, in part causing the establishment of the U.S. Army detachment at Fort Orford. For their actions, the Coquelles were punished several times by the U.S. Army, and were a tribe to be closely watched. This tactic of removal and sequesting of tribes in the vicinity, to create a relatively deserted area of potential support, was largely successful, because if Chief John. the leader of the Confederacy, had been able to gain fresh troops from other tribes, many just as angry and disgusted with the Americans as he, the war would have dragged on for quite a while.

Section of 1909 map of the Oregon and Western Colonization Company, showing Old Fort Umpqua.

The following series of letters, from Microfilm set 234, rolls 609 to 611 give a fairly good history of the early Umpqua Reservation from the time when it was created as an Indian district to becoming a full-fledged temporary reservation with upwards of 700 tribal peoples as semi-permanent residents. The Umpqua Reservation was not created by any executive order, or by treaty, but served as a barrier to tribal people wishing to escape the Coast Reservation  and moving south on the Coast, and a receiving station for tribes being removed north to the Coast Reservation. In about the same location as the Umpqua Agency Office, was Fort Umpqua (the first U.S. Military fort named thus) with a detachement of U.S. Army troops. In scholarship it has been stated that the Fort was in charge of the reservation, but this is not the case as numerous requests for help by the Umpqua Agents were nearly always met with denial from the Army headquarters at Fort Vancouver, as the command was always concerned that their men were too thinly placed on the coast and could not afford to send troops to remove Indians, unless there was direct threat to an American citizen.

[E.P. Drew] On November A.D. 1854 I was assigned to duty on this Umpqua District bounded as follows- The Coast from the mouth of the Coquille River north ward so far as to include the Siuslaw Band of Indians, thence eastward to the summit of the Coast Range of Mountains, thence southward so as to include all the bands of Indians below Umpqua Valley proper thence to the head waters of the Coquille river thence to the Coast, the place of beginning so as to include all the Bands of Indians residing along the waters of the Coquille. In the month of September following I was officially informed that hereafter the Coquelle Indians would be attached to the Port Orford District and placed under charge of Spec. Agt. Wright that this (Umpqua) District would be extended northward- how far I have not been informed. (RG75 M234 R 610 July 14, 1857 Drew to Nesmith)

By April 13, 1856, Joel Palmer was ordering the Coos Bay Indians to go to the “Umpqua River,” or “Umpqua.” The Coos Bay Indians arrived at the newly established Umpqua Reserve at the Umpqua estuary in late May 1856, a total of 285 people, and it was reported that 56 people still remained in Coos Bay (letter of June 14, 1856).

E.P. Drew- May 12, 1856: We the chiefs and head of families of the Kol-la-wot-sett tribe of Indians now encamped near the Umpqua sub-agency acknowledge the receipt of Four hundred and  twenty-nine dollars from Sub Indian Agent E. P. Drew in the sums and articles appended to our names in part payment of annuities according to provisions of the treaty of August A.D. 1855- with the Confederated Bands of Coast Indians in Oregon.

Partial recreation of original table of the report of this date.

[E.P. Drew, July 14, 1857] The Indians immediately under my charge at present are all of the Kal-la-wot-sett Tribe, divided into several Bands (vis) The Siuslaw and Alsea Bands located on the Siuslaw River numbering about two hundred and forty (240).  The Scottburg, Lower Umpquas, and Kows Bay Bands [Coos bay] located on the Umpqua river near this Agency numbering about four hundred and fifty, making an aggregate of six hundred and ninety (690).

They are at present and have been so far as my knowledge always friendly towards the whites many of them manifest a disposition and drive to cultivate the soil. Those located on the Siuslaw River have several rows of potatoes and some have vegetables now under cultivation. With slight encouragement from the Federal Government I assume that they would all apply themselves quite readily in agricultual pursuits. Yet they would rely for subsistence to great extent upon fish and abundant supply of which is easily obtained from the waters of the Siuslaw, Umpqua and Smith’s Rivers.

As buildings have yet been erected for them- many now reside in low cabins which they have constructed of lumber furnished them in part by the Department. It will be absolutely necessary to erect a few houses for them before the rainy season, and a small supply of clothing and blankets would be very desirable. (RG75 M234 R 610 July 14, 1857 Drew to Nesmith)

[E.P. Drew November 10, 1858] In the encampment at this point we have about five hundred Indians Constantly residing, where fifty or sixty only were accustomed to reside, and these during the winter months alone. Two hundred more located at the Siuslaw River – making a aggregate of seven hundred now under the immediate supervision of this office; comprising all of the Kal-la-wat-set Tribe of Coast Indians (lower Umpqua). Since the negotiation of the treaty in 1855, there has been an increase of about two hundred in this tribe, arising in part from Indians of the other bands, south, voluntarily joining this band, and in part from actual purchase. [RG 75 M234 R611]


[Full text of 1857 Letter, The original from microfilm is quite tough to read. The letter was found in the Montana Memory project digital collections.]

July 1, 1857, Office Umpqua Sub Ind. Agency

On November A.D. 1854 I was assigned to duty on this Umpqua District bounded as follows- The Coast from the mouth of the Coquille River north ward so far as to include the Siuslaw Band of Indians, thence eastward to the summit of the Coast Range of Mountains, thence southward so as to include all the bands of Indians below Umpqua Valley proper thence to the head waters of the Coquille river thence to the Coast, the place of beginning so as to include all the Bands of Indians residing along the waters of the Coquille.

In the month of September following I was officially informed that hereafter the Coquelle Indians would be attached to the Port Orford District and placed under charge of Spec. Agt. Wright that this (Umpqua) District would be extended northward- how far I have not been informed.

The Indians immediately under my charge at present are all of the Kal-la-wot-sett Tribe, divided into several Bands (vis) The Siuslaw and Alsea Bands located on the Siuslaw River numbering about two hundred and forty (240).  The Scottburg, Lower Umpquas, and Kows Bay Bands [Coos bay] located on the Umpqua river near this Agency numbering about four hundred and fifty, making an aggregate of six hundred and ninety (690).

They are at present and have been so far as my knowledge always friendly towards the whites many of them manifest a disposition and drive to cultivate the soil. Those located on the Siuslaw River have several rows of potatoes and some have vegetables now under cultivation. With slight encouragement from the Federal Government I assume that they would all apply themselves quite readily in agricultural pursuits. Yet they would rely for subsistence to great extent upon fish and abundant supply of which is easily obtained from the waters of the Siuslaw, Umpqua and Smith's Rivers.

As buildings have yet been erected for them- many now reside in low cabins which they have constructed of lumber furnished them in part by the Department. It will be absolutely necessary to erect a few houses for them before the rainy season, and a small supply of clothing and blankets would be very desirable.

For a few months a school was in operation, but from the uncertainty of receiving funds applicable to that purpose  (it having been established without special order) it was deemed expedient to suspend the same for the present. During the few months it was operating there was a constant average attendance of from forty-five to fifty scholars, they all seemed anxious to improve and did so much more rapidly than could have been anticipated under the circumstances. Should the school again be established much good would result from it.

No treaty having yet been ratified with this tribe (to my knowledge) I would most respectfully suggest that immediate steps be taken (if possible) to locate them permanently and I know of no country so well adapted to their wants and desires as the Country south of Cape Perpetua, extending southward so far as to include the extensive fisheries on the Siuslaw, Umpqua and Smiths Rivers. The country between Umpqua and Siuslaw is generally level and lightly timbered and would offer sufficient agricultural lands- while the lakes of which there are several abound in fish and wild fowl in the fall and winter months, while the surrounding mountains furnish an abundance of their, deer, elk  and other small game.

Should the Southern boundary of this reserve as originally designed be brought south some eight (8) miles making Umpqua and Smiths Rivers the southern boundary the object desired is obtained and sufficient country is embraced for these Indians who have ever been friendly towards the Whites (south of Cape Perpetua.) separated by said cape from those Indians who have from time to time become hostile.

After they shall have been thus located and the General Giovernment have rendered them proper assistance toward engaging in agricultural pursuits etc, they will be enabled to a great extent to provide for themselves. Until this shall be accomplished they must have aid from the General Government - or be permitted to return to their former homes and pursue their original mode of life- hunting the forest for game, and following the rivers to their source in the summer months for fish, and returning to the Coast again during the winter.

Appended to this you will please find an estimate of funds necessary for the present year, as required by your order.

I am Sir, very respectfully your Obt. Servt

E.P. Drew, sub. Ind. Agt.

To Gen. J. W. Nesmith

Supt. Ind. Affrs.



(RG75 M234 R 610 July 14, 1857 Drew to Nesmith)

David Douglas and Sir Edward Sabine: A Discovery

In recent research, (May 2018- ) I found an interesting relationship between David Douglas and Edward Sabine. They shared many similarities, both were explorers, both were interested in botany, and both were members of the Linnaean Society of Great Britain.

Macnee’s 1829 portrait of David Douglas. Linnean Society, London

Sabine was a UK naval officer and specialized in developing magnetic dip measurements and equipment. In his travels around the world, he perfected magnetic dip measurements and taught many other explorers how to take such measurements. So throughout the 19th century, the initiated would take measurements and send their results to Sabine who would gather them all up and publish them in a series of journals. They were very scientific and would use several different magnetic needles to get different reading and by doing this they can eliminate as much as possible errors in their readings, as each needle would give slightly different readings.

Sir Edward Sabine

An archive of Sabine manuscripts is on the Adam Matthews Digital site, and this collection led me to discover how Sabine helped David Douglas to collect magnetic dip readings.

David Douglas shared lodgings with Sabine during his stay in London, and in 1828 began assisting him in his geomagnetic measurements. When the naturalist secured approval for a second collecting trip to the Northwest, he reached out to Sabine for some practical advice. “While preparing for his departure in the summer of 1829, I heard [Douglas] frequently express his regret that his limited education prevented his being able to render those services to the geographical and physical sciences,” Sabine later wrote. “He spoke with particular regret of his inability to fix geographical positions.” (http://www.lewis-clark.org/article/3189

Fisher Collection Dip Circle NAV0699

Sabine also appears to have served as a mentor and advisor to Douglas and helped Douglas publish articles about the plants he discovered in the Linnaean Society journals, Curtis’ Botanical Magazine. These magazines were common in this period as scientists were very interested in collecting and documenting as many new species in the far parts of the world as possible as part of the era’s naturalist conservationist traditions.

Sabines collection on Adam Matthews contains some Douglas documents. I wondered how these documents got to be included in the Sabine collection. I first thought they had been left at Fort Vancouver because Douglas used the fort as a base of operations when in Oregon during two different expeditions. I acquired further letters from Sabine from the National Archives in the UK and they revealed that Sabine and Douglas maintained their communications while Douglas was in the field. I then thought maybe Douglas left papers with Sabine in 1828 when working to understand Magnetic dip. Then, I stumbled upon a copy of some UK collections which had been sent to Canada and were in publication, a copy of which is on Google books.

The Report of Canadian Archives,  where a copy of a British correspondence collection was sent, has revealed a timeline for the transfer of the collection. (Google Books- https://tinyurl.com/y7o2n54x)

  • March 23, 1834 – report of the death of D. Douglas, who fell into a pit for capturing wild bullocks.
  • June 11, 1834 – Three cases containing objects left by D. Douglas have arrived, John Douglas, his brother, is to attend and open the cases.
  • June 21, 1834 – Edward Sabine – He shall be happy to receive Douglas’s papers.
  • June 30, 1834 – Edward Sabine – Box received containing books and papers of the late David Douglas

This timeline definitively proves that the collection came from Douglas’ last camp in Hawaii here he had died by falling in a bullock pit. Later I discovered in Jack Nesbitt’s books about Douglas, that there was a list of the documents sent to Great Britain and collected by John Douglas. Sabine detailed in letters that among the papers sent to him were 1 volume of field sketches, 3 papers of magnetic dip observations, and 7 papers of meteorological observations. I believe that the collection included in Adam Matthew Digital’s Age of Exploration are the field sketches and meteorological observations from Douglas.

I began searching for whether Sabine published the collection, and did find a record in his books of Magnetic dip that he did indeed publish Douglas’ readings of some locations.  in additional reports from the National Archives of the UK Sabine reorganized Douglas’ fieldnotes of magnetic dip measurements and published some of the coordinates in his book, Contributions in Terrestrial Magnetism.

However before my finding of the longtime hidden archive of Douglas documents in the Sabine collection no other researcher appears to have found this collection and attributed it to Douglas. The collection dates from Douglas’ first trip to the Northwest Coast, 1825-1826, and from his second trip to the Pacific 1830-1833. The first set of documents are hand-drawn maps determined to be drawn by Douglas in 1826 as he traveled from Fort Vancouver upriver on the Columbia. They are some 43 maps in this part of the collection. The remaining pages, up to about page 199. are some letters and notes and the bulk is his magnetic dip calculations and readings in the Willamette Valley on the Columbia, in British Columbia and in California. These measurements may lead to the finding of Tribal villages where Douglas stopped throughout his journeys.

In the next year, I will be developing this collection further, first with a series of essays and journal articles, then working to align the maps and measurements to journal entries for a larger project.

This is the second essay, the first is now hosted on the Adam Matthews site.  I will continue collaborating with them to develop the collection further, they have already been very helpful and are extremely excited about this find. I participated in the Adam Matthews’  booth at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Gathering in Seattle, WA, January 26, 2019, where I gave three presentations to the crowd about this find. That presentation is the foundation for this essay.

The Adam Matthews’ article will be published in two parts, the first is here:

The Columbia River Maps and Meteorological Calculations of David Douglas: An Archival Discovery

Fishery Politics with the Yakima Reservation Peoples: 1890s

Chilluckittequw: In what was to become Skamania County, the first residents called themselves Chilluckittequw (Ruby and Brown) and they lived along the rivers that drained into the Columbia between Beacon Rock and about Hood River. They spoke a language later classified as the Upper Division of Chinookan and could communicate with other tribes that lived along the Columbia from The Dalles to the mouth at the Pacific. Explorers Lewis and Clark (1805) called them the Smock-shops and other observers dubbed them Sahellellah, Shahala, Ninuhltidihs, and Kwikwuilits. American settlers named them the Cascades. (http://www.historylink.org/File/7811)


The Cascades/Watlala peoples of the middle Columbia River lived in roughly three main communities in the 1850s. Those Cascades on the south side of the river at Cascade Rapids; those on the north bank of the river at what is now Stevenson, Skamania County; and those at Dog River, now called Hood River. The Cascades were ethnographically all one larger tribe. They were direct neighbors of one another and well interrelated. The Cascades people would habitually live through the Spring, Summer, and Fall at their villages at the Cascades and may have in the past traded sides and locations of the villages. The villages were strung out along the river from Sandy River to White Salmon on both sides of the river and were mapped by Lewis and Clark and later ethnographers. At the time of the Middle Oregon Treaty of 1855 (Yakima, Wiahram, Wasco, Deschutes, and Cascades), the Yakima claimed the Cascades on the north bank as their people, even though the chief at Hood River on the north bank Chief Wallachin refused to acknowledge this, and instead refused to sign the treaty because he did not like the Wasco people. Wallachin did not want to remove to any reservation at all.

Lewis and Clark’s map of the vicinity of the Cascades, October 30 1805, Bieneke Digital Collections, Yale University.

Later the Hood River Cascades did move to Warm Springs, and some cascades on the North Bank integrated with the Wishrams and Klickitats at White Salmon reservation and removed to Yakima by 1859. A good number of Cascades were also integrating with the white people and took important roles in the industries along the Columbia. These Cascades, or part Cascades, never removed and simply assimilated with the new American culture. And, as I have argued elsewhere, some Cascades families, likely those at Cascades Rapids, did remove to Grand Ronde. The Cascades had a winter village at Government Island, and this was very close to the Clackamas/Multnomah region, and there were kinships with the Clackamas. three of the last Clackamas leaders at three villages near Willamette Falls were sons of Chiefs of the Cascades.

Ethnographically, culturally, the Cascades were one tribe. When the Americans came the Cascades are was divided into three administrative areas, and so the three principal culture area was likely created with the imposition of Indian Superintendency administrative districts.

After the establishment of the E. Washington Superintendency, which was variously managed by the Washington Territory Indian Superintendent and the Oregon Territory Indian Superintendent, the Cascades peoples on the north side of the river were treated differently from those on the South side. The tribes on the South Side, were expected to remove to reservations, Grand Ronde and Warm Springs, mainly as part of Treaties (Middle Oregon 1855, Willamette Valley 1855), but after the Cascades Massacre of March 3, 1856, as a necessity to keep the peace on the Columbia. The Tribes on the North side were generally ignored for a time, while Wallachin refused to sign the treaty of middle Oregon. The north side in this vicinity was also very lightly settled by whites, so there was less chance of conflict with whites. In fact, Skamania County at the Columbia was lightly settled up into the 1880s.

The main differences between the treaty of Middle Oregon and the Willamette Valley treaty, is fishing, hunting, and gathering rights. The Willamette Valley treaty did not name these rights for the signatory tribes, while the Middle Oregon treaty does. The naming of these rights likely enabled by Isaac Stevenson, the first governor and Indian Superintendent of the Washington Territory, who, along with Joel Palmer, the Indian Superintendent for the Oregon Territory. Palmer did not include these named resource gathering rights in the Willamette Valley treaty. The tribes themselves may have been a big factor in the Treaty of Middle Oregon, as the tribes in this treaty all had prominent fisheries on the Columbia and wanted to maintain these places and practices. The fisheries were not just culturally valuable, not only a part of the culture for over 10,000 years, but were also proving to have value in the new economy being brought to Oregon by the Americans. The tribes saw this and wanted to maintain their economic dominance of salmon fisheries on the Columbia.

Lewis and Clark’s map of Celilo Falls, October 22, 1805, Bieneke Digital collections, Yale University

This is an important point because while mostly we hear how fishing is part of the culture of the tribes, it also has significant economic value, which was a resource which the new American settlers wanted to get ownership of. In fact, most of the impetus for colonization of the West is an economic discussion, about the removal of the tribes from their lands and resources, and giving the land and resources to white American Christians who could “properly use and develop the land and resources.” Competition by tribes in the path of  American development, really a part of their manifest destiny, was heavily discouraged, and tribal peoples were murdered and removed to make way for American dominance. These removals were supported by the Federal Government in order to “keep the peace” and if the tribes were too vengeful and violent in the face of mounting American settlement, the Army would be called in to punish, attack, subdue and remove the “savage” Indian tribes. At the heart of most of the conflicts like this was American settlement and the protection of the American settlers’ rights to make wealth unimpeded by tribal savages. Some extreme examples of this include, the Rogue River Indian war (gold mining and settlement); the Chetko-Tolowa conflicts (gold mining, settlement, port town development); the Nez Perce War (gold mining and settlement) for a few examples.

Yakima Ceded lands, cultural lands, Reservation, Cascades are in the Wind River-White Salmon Tract

The Yakima Fishery

Interestingly, today the fisheries of the Columbia Gorge are well compensated by the Federal government for four tribes who lost fisheries with the building of dams on the Columbia in the 20th century. Billions of dollars are allocated to the Warm Springs, Yakima, Umatilla and Nez Perce, as per their agreements with the United States. Even so, the compensation for the loss of the fisheries will never replace the fisheries and nearly all members of the tribes would rather have the fisheries returned, rather than take the money. But this compensation is a new development, a part of 20th-century Indian policy and law. In the 19th century, for decades following the signing and ratification of the treaties, even the Treaty of Middle Oregon, there was little protection for tribal fishing on the Columbia even though the language of the treaty suggests this directly.

“the exclusive right of taking fish in the streams running through and bordering said reservation is hereby secured to said Indians; and at all other usual and accustomed stations, in common with citizens, of the United States, and of erecting suitable houses for curing the same; also the privilege of hunting, gathering roots and berries, and pasturing their stock on unclaimed lands, in common with citizens, is secured to them. And provided, also, That if any band or bands of Indians, residing in and claiming any portion or portions of the country in this article, shall not accede to the terms of this treaty, then the bands becoming parties hereunto agree to receive such part of the several and other payments herein named as a consideration for the entire country described as aforesaid as shall be in the proportion that their aggregate number may have to the whole number of Indians residing in and claiming the entire country aforesaid, as consideration and payment in full for the tracts in said country claimed by them. And provided, also, That where substantial improvements have been made by any members of the bands being parties to this treaty, who are compelled to abandon them in consequence of said treaty, the same shall be valued, under the direction of the President of the United States, and payment made therefor; or, in lieu of said payment, improvements of equal extent and value at their option shall be made for them on the tracts assigned to each respectively.” (Article 1, Treaty with the Tribes of Middle Oregon 1855)

At the Yakima Reservation from the ratification of the treaty in 1859 into the 1890s, fishing rights were not assured. Numerous annual reports suggest that the Yakima Tribes did not have an adequate fishery on the reservation, and even their rights to fish on the Columbia were not secured.

Annual report 1891- The Indians complain very bitterly that they have been and are being treated unjustly by the Government in regard to their fishing grounds, especially at Tumwater fishery. The Indian still claim this as their fishing ground under the treaty, but on account of the trails being fenced and fish wheels being placed in the Columbia River, they are practically prevented from catching any fish. I quote the following from a report of Deputy Special Indian Agent Thomas S. Lang,  1889, in which he says; There is no doubt that these land jobbers intend to worry the Indians out of all rights they have in the fisheries, and to my certain knowledge have annoyed and molested their free enjoyment of their treaty rights under the decree of the court of Washington Territory in their favor, and intend to drive them off from the enjoyment of this great privilege. What was predicted in that report has come to pass, and very bitter if not hostile feeling exists among all the Indians in regard to this matter.  (Annual Report of COIA 1891 p 462)


Annual report of the COIA 1894- The disputed fishery rights of the Indians along the Columbia has given me a vast amount of trouble. They have had a great many councils during the past year, and urged the inspector, the special agent, and myself to use every effort to restore to them their accustomed fishery. During the month of May I visited the Tum Water and Wishram fisheries on the Columbia River, where Indians have fished from time immemorial. (Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for Yakima Reservation Washington, 1894, p326)


Annual report of COIA 1895- Wisham fisheries on the Columbia River- From time immemorial the Indians have been accustomed to fish in the Columbia River; but inch by inch they have been forced back by the whites from the best fishing grounds and not allowed to fish with the whites in common as provided in the treaty concluded June 9, 1855 (12 Stats,. 951). They have borne this denial with patience but urged that they be restored to their ancestral and treaty rights. Agents have twice been sent to investigate and ascertain the best method of settling the matter. Both agents reported that it was the duty of the Government to protect the Indians in their treaty rights to their valuable fisheries, and recommended that the treaty rights to their valuable fisheries, and recommended that the attention of the United States district attorneys for Oregon and Washington be called to the existing state of affairs, in order that proceedings might be instituted in the Federal courts looking to the protection of the Indians, and with a view of enjoining encroaching parties from further interferences with them….The Indians have used the fisheries in question as their chief means of subsistence from time immemorial. Should they be deprived of their rights their main source of support would be gone. Very respectfully, your obedient servant, D.M. Browning, Commissioner (Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1895, 108-109)

Yakima Tribal council complaints were heard by the Indian Agent Jay Lynch in 1892, who pointed out that the Yakima treaty guaranteed fishing rights, yet they did not have any rights,  at that time, on the Columbia. A court case in 1887 had given Americans the upper hand in fishing the Columbia and several companies had installed fish wheels and worked to eliminate Native fisheries. The Agent was fired in 1893 for unspecified reasons, but it’s clear that he had raised the Indian rights issue in an official report, and for some reason, this was not something the Federal government wanted to give the tribes.

Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1896- The fishery rights of these Indians and the stipulations of their treaty were brought before and defined by the supreme court of Washington Territory January 25, 1887, in the case of the United States v. Frank Taylor, reported in the Pacific Recorder, volume 13, page 333. Under that decisions the Indians have the right to use and enjoy their fisheries as they had done before the conclusion of the treaty of 1855; and the court held that where a person obtained, under an act of Congress approved subsequently to the treaty, a patent to land abutting upon the Tumwater fisheries and erected and maintained thereon a fence which obstructed the approach to the fishery which had been reserved by treaty to Indians, equity would interfere by an injunction and cause the removal of the obstruction; and that persons so obtaining patents hold such lands encumbered and charged with such easements and rights…. The decision was a victory for the Indians, reversing the judgment of the district court, which had been against them; but Agent Erwin Yakima Agency, Wash., stated in his report of February 2. 1895, that although the supreme court of Washington Territory remanded the case for further proceeding, in accordance with the stipulations contained in the decree, it was never prosecuted beyond that point, as he was informed… Since the decision of 1887 was rendered, the Winans Bros. and the Seufert Bros., and others have erected fish wheels in the Columbia River, denied the Indians the right to fish therein, and obstructed their ingress and egress there. (Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1896, 98-100)

By 1892 a proposed solution was being worked on by regular and special Indian Agents for a land swap. A portion of land on the Yakima Reservation which had proved useless as a fishery, was by 1896 traded for the Wenatchee fishery, after a survey occurred

Annual report of the COIA 1894- During the month of November Col. John Lane, special U.S. Indian Agent, and myself were appointed as a commission to buy what is known as the Wenatshapam fishery, a body of land comprising 23,000 acres upon the Wenatchee River. After many councils and much deliberation, we succeeded in making the purchase. The Indian recognized the fact that this was not the proper place for a fishery. It had not been used for such and was too far up the Wenatchee River for salmon. The sale of this property has given perfect satisfaction to the Wenatchapam Indians who live in that vicinity, and a large majority of the Indians upon this reservation. There is however, a dissatisfied element who are opposed to selling the white men any more of their land. (Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for Yakima Reservation Washington, 1894, p326)

The land swap was made law by a Presidential Executive order of Benjamin Harrison, November 28, 1892,

Yakima reservation fishery- By Executive Order, November 19 1892, setting a tract of land for a fishery, as provided by article 10, United States treaty with Yakima, 1855, I have to report: The survey of this tract has not as yet been made, although I am informed the contract for the survey has been let. I am led to believe that if the matter were properly presented to the Indians they would be willing to dispose of this tract of land containing about 2,300 acres, at a fair and reasonable price. (Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for Yakima Reservation Washington, 1893, p 340)

Such was the solution worked out by the Yakima Tribal Council working with wa=hat appears to be sympathetic Indian agents. This was not at all the case with most Indian Agents, and Jay Lynch may deserve recognition for raising the alarm officially, for which he lost his job.

The Cascades and Mary Stooquin

The story now moves to the situation of one family of the Cascades tribe. Mary Stooquin, a woman with many names, from at least three husbands, her most common being Kaliah, was a daughter of Chief Tumulth and witnessed the Cascades Attack. Mary’s second husband was Johnny Stooquin, a treaty signer and member of the Wishram tribe. Mary moved to the Wishram fishery for a time with Johnny. They were subsequently removed to the Yakima Reservation. In the period from the 1850s to 1880s details of their life are sparse.  But both Mary and her half-sister Virginia Miller were at Yakima and took Yakima allotments. These allotments were awarded by 1891 at most reservations, once surveys were completed.

Mary Stooquin (Kalliah) and daughter, Abbie Lucy Gerand (Weiser) Reynolds Estabrook (thanks to a good source)

       Mary Stooquin (Willamutit) relinquished Yakima A1-2260 in favor of Vancouver A1-11, under name of Mary Wilwyitit, was a full blood Cascade Indian who dies on December 21, 1906. Fee patent was issued covering Vancouver A1-11. Sister Abbie Lucy Stooquin Reynolds Estabrook is allotted and enrolled in the Yakima tribe as ½ Cascade, ¼ Warm Springs, ¼ non-Indian. (Affidavit of Don Umtuch and Kiutus Jim 1954)

Virginia Miller in Curtis photo

     Virginia Miller, Yakima Allottee no 3459, died July 20, 1927.  Tomalk the father of Virginia Miller, Chief of the Cascades, had four wives, Wah dei gah was mother of Virginian Miller. John Tomalk brother of Virginia, Joe Tomalk brother, Isabelle Tomalk sister and mother of Georgiana, Sally Half-sister to Virginia mother of Michel Martineau- married to Martha Brown, -Mary Henry (Stiquim) half sister of Virginia- daughters Amanda E. Williams and Abbie Reynolds Estabrook , (Affidavit of Georgiana Miller Jackson 1932)

Mary Stooquin, with Johnny, relinquished her allotment at Yakima, in favor of an off-reservation allotment on the Columbia. The site was close to if not at a former Cascade Indian village near what is now Stevenson, Skamania County, Washington. The timing of their move to the Columbia is interesting, on the tail of the 1887 court case giving greater rights to people owning land on the Columbia. It is likely that she (perhaps this was a Cascade group effort) devised this method of returning to the Columbia and gaining fishing rights again, in a political and economic climate which was against Indians fishing in the Columbia fisheries. In addition, the Cascades peoples at Yakima were a minority, and there was some disaffection between them and the true Yakima peoples on the reservation. This disaffection appears again in the 1950s when the Cascades are disallowed from inheriting land and gaining membership at the Yakima Reservation. The reasoning in the 1950s is, that their descendants are not living on the Reservation, which is in part true because Kalliah moved to the Columbia.

The second matter involving Mary Stooquin is the Fishery agreement that was given to the Cascades people by the State of Washington.

Quiuck Miller is Virginia Miller, and Kalliah Tomult is Mary Stooquin. This list is transcribed in this manner to keep the names legible and in order.


Adult members of the Cascade Tribe of band of Indians, laborers and fisherman by occupation, of Skamania county, State of Washington, parties of the first part, and Oscar Foote of the City of Washington, District of Columbia, party of the second part witnesseth, that the parties of the first part in consideration that the party in the second part shall secure to them, for their sole use and benefit the Lands and Fisheries embraced within the following described bounds, vix.:

Beginning at a point in the channel of the Columbia River opposite Wind Mountain, thence down the channel of said river to a point opposite Castle Rock, known to the Indians as Che-che-ap-tan; dividing the waters of the little White Salmon and Wind River; thence along said ridge to the Channel of the Columbia River opposite Wind Mountain, the place of beginning; all in Skamania County. Washington, and that in case they are permanently deprived of said Fishing rights and lands of which they are now dispossessed by the encroachment of settlers and others, then to secure for them a certain indemnity in money form the general government in lieu thereof, they the parties of the first part are to pay to the party of the second part a fee of one-third (1/3) of all money received from the general government as an indemnity, or compensation equal to one-third (1/3) the value of the land within  the railroad limits, and one-third (1/3) the value of the aforesaid fisheries at a fair valuation.

It is expressly understood between the parties to their agreement that the party of the second part is to have three years in which to secure the rights and indemnities heretofore mentioned.

certified by N.D. Bloomfield, Judge of the Superior Court of Skamania County.

The above agreement is quite an anomaly for this time period. Generally, the states had nothing to do with the tribes, as tribal people were completely under the supervision of the federal government. But here we see a fishing agreement with a tribe, The Cascades Tribe, by the State of Washington.

signatures of the agreement

The agreement is perplexing until we think about the context in which this is happening. essentially the tribes did not have fishing rights within the State of Washington, and their fishing on the Yakima Reservation up to 1896 was not adequate for their use. So the Cascades devised with the State of Washington a special agreement for a fishery. Their location in Skamania County would not impede white people from doing what they wanted and so they were not seen as a threat to the fish wheel operators. Then there was likely some sympathy on the part of the state for their cause of regaining a fishery at the Cascades. A report by Indian Agent Erwin at Yakima states that there was indeed some sympathy for treaty rights at the state level.

I am now in receipt, by Department reference, of a communication dated March 23, 1896, from the Attorney-General [of Washington state], stating, among other things, that the treaty of 1855 with these Indians established a kind of servitude in the ceded lands in the nature of a right of temporary injunction in favor of a tribe or tribes which had at least the right of occupancy in the lands; that, the treaty being supreme laws of the land, the State of Washington, while the owner of shore lands, with power to sell them, cannot deprive the Indians by law, patent, or otherwise of this right; that he has no doubt that the courts would enjoin all persons interfering with the exercise of the right; that a suit or suits for injunction could be instituted against past or future purchasers of  land which includes places where Indians are accustomed to fish, and that all such purchasers could be forbidden to interfere with the Indians, and that the purchasers themselves would doubtless prevent others from so interfering. The Attorney-General then suggested that it might be well to have the attention of the government of Washington called to the matter, with a view to securing legislation which would protect the Indians in the enjoyment of their rights. In view of all these facts in the case, I recommend, April 2, 1896, that the attention of the governor of the State of Washington be called thereto, with request that the legislature of that state be asked to enact such legislation as would practically protect the Indians in the free enjoyment of their fishery rights. Very Respectfully, your obedient servant, D.M. Browning, Commissioner, (Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1896, 98-100)

This back-channel notation by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs suggests that the State acknowledges that treaty rights exist, that they preceded the rights of the fishing wheel operators, and that the state needs to create special rights for tribes within the state. It is likely that the Attorney General is aware of the agreement with the Cascades Tribe and sees it as a success and is suggesting that the same agreement become law in the state for all tribes.

Additional details of the agreement need to be worked out. Files of the state of Washington would be helpful, especially those managing the fisheries, as well as the Governor files about this issue. It is unclear here whether the agreement is still in force. This would be a legal question to forward to the state.

Citizens in the area, especially at Hood River, where the majority of the population was, were incensed with this movement of the Cascades Tribe back to the Columbia,

section of the editorial.

…Chapman gathered the Indians known as the Cascades tribe at the Cascades and obtained from them the agreement appended, each Indian was given a copy of the agreement and cautioned to keep the matter secret. The agreement speaks for itself, and it suggests some very ugly things. If these Indians are entitled to anything from the government they are entitled to it without cost, and certainly without giving up one-third of the value of the tract to Oscar Foote or anyone else. that the whole matter is a gigantic fraud is self-evident. The tract asked by Captain Coe to be set aside would be not to exceed ten miles square, and would contain all the Indians need. The tract proposed to be captured by Oscar Foote is an unknown country to the Indians….(Hood River Glacier, OR, Nov. 21, 1891)

By the 1890s, the present population of Americans would be well into their second generation of settlement. Many of these settlers were newly arrived and really knew nothing about the tribes, their culture or original locations. Most people in this situation would see the Cascades as invaders into their area, as unwelcome usurpers of their rights to fisheries and lands. The opposition went on for a few months as the editorial was posted at least twice.

The Cascades Indians were one of the fishery tribes that needed to return to the Columbia. They found a way to get the rights that were being denied other tribes on reservations and under ratified treaties, outside of the regular practice of working with federal agents exclusively. Their advantage in 1891 was that they proposed to inhabit a thinly populated area which was just seeing growth in the 1880s. Additional details of the agreement; who originally proposed it and how they convinced the official of the state to go forward with it; how long people took advantage of it and whether it is still a viable agreement, need to be understood better.  As well, maps of off-reservation allotments in Skamania County would help us understand how many Cascades may have returned to the Columbia in the same manner.

This story is a small part of a larger story about the tribes regaining fishery rights on the Columbia. I have not looked yet at whether the Wenatchee fishery was successful or not, and how the state found a way to satisfy the treaty. The story of the Cascades Tribes is a rare story which needs further development.


References in-text

Chinook Survey of Indian Claims 1962, Pt. 2

The Clatsop Chinook Indians won their case against the United States in 1958 (Findings of fact in the The Chinook Tribe and Bands of Indians vs. United States, Docket 234, April 16, 1958). By 1960 the Chinook tribe was beginning the survey of their lands so that they may recommend to the court what they were owed for their lands. The survey was quite extensive, included the going prices of timber, salmon sturgeon and other products that had commercial values. The land was also valued at a 1851 price. The date 1851 related to the year that they had a treaty written with the United States and agreed to sell their lands. The treaty was never ratified by the U.S. Congress, so the Clatsop peoples lost their lands, effectively stolen from them. The Indian Claims cases were meant to rectify this illegality, over 100 years after the land was stolen from the tribes.  The survey by the Chinook tribes was completed in 1962.

The value set for the payment of the land was estimated at $568,600 for 76,592.44 acres for a value of $7.42 an acre. This was well below what the land was worth in 1958 or 1962, instead the court chose the  year 1851 as the date the land was taken. $7.42 still seems low for that year. However settlers were gaining free land allotments in 1850, of one miles square, and reselling them a few years later for 1.25 per acre. The tribes with ratified treaties received collectively about .01 cent an acre for all of the lands of Oregon.

The survey result of 1962 suggested that the Chinookan were owed $568,600 for only the land. Additional survey results were needed for the resources on the land.

The value of the furs, fisheries, and tidelands was much more difficult to measure. For over 100 years salmon, sturgeon, and Eulachon had been harvested from the rivers and ocean in their vicinity. The Americans at Astoria had extensive processing of river and marine fishes, much of it exported to other countries or states for profit. In addition, the fur companies had taken hundreds of thousands of furs from the lands. Then logging was a mainstay of Oregon and the coast range in Clatsop County, Oregon and Pacific County, Washington, where the Clatsops resided, had dense forests which had been logged by American owned logging companies for 100 years.

For the Indian claims case, Docket 234, maps were also created to detail where resources came from.

Recorded also were the major villages of the Clatsop and other Chinookans.

Finally, it is very clear that the lawyers were using the unratified treaties because one of their maps was a drawing of the narratives of the territorial outlines in the treaties.

Map detailing 1851 treaties territorial areas of various Chinookan tribes.

The 1851 timber valuation equaled 120,000, for both Pacific and Clatsop Counties. There was not a valuation for the 100 years since the Clatsops lands were taken, because the culture of the Clatsops was not traditionally in a practice of harvesting commercial timber for sale. 

The Salmon harvest valuation was much more difficult as seasonal salmon harvest was part of the Clatsop culture. Therefore an annual harvest had to be estimated until at least 1892.

Sturgeon as well had to be figure out by its annual harvest. Caviar, sturgeon eggs were harvested from the fish to export to Russia.



Eulachon or Ooligan or smelt is not as well known fish today, but was a much more prominent fish to be harvested for eastern markets in the past. Their spawning grounds have since been heavily impacted by development in the Columbia. Native people depended on smelt for late winter and spring harvest of the small greasy fish.

Finally the vegetable harvest also had important seasons for the tribes. Inland tribes depended on roots and berry more than Columbia river tribes who always had plenty of fish and game.

The survey included an extensive cultural ethnographic survey of the Clatsop and related Chinookan tribes.

“as of the date of the making of the unratified Treaty of August 5, 1851, with the Clatsop Indians, the population of this group did not exceed 80 people who were apparently living in the village or villages at or near the mouth of the Columbia River on its south shore near Point Adams.”

Its clear that not all of the tribes in the 1851 treaties were accounted for in the Indian claims suit, docket 234. Map by David Lewis

This population in the report seems low, but is exactly the same number reported by the sub-Indian agent Robert Shortess for the Clatsop tribe, and Joseph Lane reported one year earlier 72 people, while Lewis and Clark had noted their numbers to be 200 in 1805.  The Chinookan population had been decimated by malaria and other mariner and trader born diseases following the period of the fur trade on the Columbia in the 1830’s. However, the numbers do not equal up when we figure in the people of the other tribes who had treaties in 1851. Many of these tribes got treaties which were ratified later, some other tribes and and bands had gone to other reservations., Some Chinooks of this region got land at Quinault, while others went to either Grand Ronde or Siletz reservations, usually by marrying in. At least two young Chinookan boys came to Grand Ronde as orphans.

The final numbers are here inexact. It appears that ,many of the Indian Claims documents were taken from their online website recently, but the Clatsops and other Chinooks party to the case stood to clear some $3 million accounting for land and resources.  However  the final award by the federal government was much less than what the survey found here. The settlement did not come until 1970 and the final number was so low, about $75,097.4, that  the Chinookans refused to accept the award and it is still held in trust for the tribe.

“The Indian Claims Commission found that this land was worth 98¢ an acre in 1851 or about $25 an acre in today’s
dollar. Chinook was appalled by this settlement, and to this date has not accepted the funds which are still held in
trust for our community.” (Chinook Nation website: http://www.chinooknation.org/justice/inserts/8-24_insert.pdf)

This whole history is clear to all an injustice to a once powerful set of tribes and bands of the Columbia River.


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