Reservation of the Santiam Band of Indians under Chief Jo 1855

One band of the Santiam tribe, Chief Jo’s band, lived within the north and south forks of the Santiam River. Alquema or Jo (Joseph) Hutchins had earlier signed the 1851 treaty with Anson Dart. During the treaty negotiations, the first for the tribes of the Willamette Valley, Alquema and Tiacan (possible the leader of the other Santiam band, Louis, located at Lebanon) held out to remain in their lands. They negotiated a permanent reservation between the forks of Santiam. Their transcribed speeches over the course of five days are important to understanding how deeply they felt about remaining on their lands.

Example of 1851 Treaty signature page for Chinook Tribes, NARA Washington, DC
Example of 1851 Treaty signature page for Chinook Tribes, NARA Washington, DC

On April 11 and 12, 1851 at the Santiam Treaty Council in Champoeg, Oregon Territory,  between Indian Superintendent Anson Dart and the Kalapuya tribes. The leaders of the Santiam Kalapuya tribe expressed strong opinions about where they were to live. The Santiam leaders Alquema and Tiacan  maintained their desires to remain on their traditional territory, between the north and south forks of the Santiam River.

Tiacan they were friendly to the whites and had always been and that they were willing to do as their Great Father (President of the USA) wished and part with all of their lands, except a small portion, that they wished to reserve to live upon, feed their horses and cattle and cultivate.

The Board asked if they would be willing to remove beyond the Cascade Mountains provided our Government would give them as good a piece of land there and pay all of their expenses in the removal. They all answered decidedly “No.”

Alquema they had once been a great people but now they had decreased to nothing, and in a short time the whites would have all their lands, without their removing.

[after a night for consideration]

It was time to get the exact boundaries of the territory claimed by the tribe… They claim from a point on the Wallamette River called Butte [at Butteville near Champoeg]; thence up the Wallamette River to a point about 15 miles above the mouth of the Kallapooya River, for a western boundary, thence East in a direct line to the foot of the Cascade Range to a point East of the head waters of the Moo-lal-le River, for an Eastern boundary; thence, west in a line about midway between Moo-lal-le river and Butte Creek that empties into Pudding River until within about five miles of the mouth of the Moo-lal-le River, where the line turns, and runs about southwest  to the place of beginning for a northern boundary.

1851 Proposed Santiam Reservation, based on the 1851 treaties, Gibbs- Starling map
1851 Proposed Santiam Reservation, based on the 1851 treaties, section of Gibbs- Starling map

The Tribe appeared willing to make a Treaty, selling all their lands, except that between the forks of the Santiam, which they wished to reserve.

Governor John P. Gaines (Oregon Territory) asked if a reserve could be made there without taking the claims occupied by white Settlers. It was said it could not be done. Gaines [stressed again removing beyond the Cascades for the good of the tribe]

Alquema objected to removing, said that they could now see that they had thrown away their country; but that they wanted to keep this piece of land as their reserve.

Tiacan their hearts were upon that piece of land, and they didn’t wish to leave it.

Alquema they had thought over it and they had determined to reserve the country between the forks of the Santiam and that all the Indians would go together into this reserve.

Alquema We don’t want any other piece of land as a reserve than that in the forks of the Santiam River. We do not wish to remove.

The 1851 treaties failed to be ratified by Congress. American settlers complained that they did not want to live among the Indians. Anson Dart resigned in 1852 and Joel Palmer took over as Indian Superintendent for Oregon in 1853.

In 1855 Palmer approached the the Willamette Valley tribes for one large confederated treaty. On January 22nd 1855 the treaty was signed at Dayton Oregon. In March Palmer set about organizing for temporary reservations for all the tribes and bands. Joseph Crank, who lived north of Crabtree and just west of Scio, agreed to serve at special Indian agent and look over Chief Jo’s band of Santiams

I Joseph Crank of Linn County O.T. do hereby agree to permit the Santiam Band of Indians under Chief Jo to reside upon and cultivate for four years from date or until the said Indians shall be removed according to treaty stipulations if within that period, the following described portion of my land claim, beginning at a point on the Thomas fork of the Santiam River near two Balm of Gilead trees; thence north eighty rods; thence east eighty rods; thence south eighty rods and thence west following the course of the creek to the place of beginning containing forty acres, the same to be regarded as an Indians reserve for the period afore specified. Witness my hand this 10th day of March 1855. Joseph Crank, attest Edward R. Geary.

Joseph Crank Allotment with Possible location of the Chief Jo reservation among the Thomas Fork of the Santiam
Joseph Crank Allotment with Possible location of the Chief Jo reservation along the Thomas Fork of the Santiam, Oregon GLO map 10s 2w

The placing of the reservation, between the forks of the Santiam is very much similar to that described in the 1851 treaty. The Thomas Fork is one of the middle forks of the Santiam, now labelled Thomas Creek.

North and Thomas forks of Santiam River, Crank DLC is center right, GLO map10s 2w
North and Thomas forks of Santiam River, Crank DLC is center right, Note: surveyor notations about the Balm of Gilead (Poplar trees) at center, Oregon GLO map 10s 2w

This area aligns well with the contemporary Thomas Creek farmlands south of West Scio and west of Scio.

Likely history site of Chief Jo Reservation, using Thomas Creek to align the placement. south of West Scio and west of Scio, Google Maps 2016
Likely history site of Chief Jo Reservation, using Thomas Creek to align the placement. south of West Scio and west of Scio, Google Maps 2016


Chief Jo was one of the most respected Chiefs that came to the Grand Ronde reservation in the winter of 1856. In 1859, Chief Jo approached the new Oregon and Washington Indian Superintendent Edward Geary, in Salem, and asked for his mare returned. He had left this mare at his village near Scio, Oregon. Geary looked into the matter and found that the mare had been captured and sold several times and was now owned by Washington Crabtree. Crabtree is another local town. Geary, newly appointed Superintendent of Oregon and Washington, and now confronted with the needs of all of the tribes, wrote John Miller, Indian Agent at Grand Ronde, to figure out a solution. It was extremely common for the tribes to lose many of their possessions when they were forcefully removed. Promises were made by the Indian agents, but many times never followed through, as the promises were simply inducements to have the tribes remove willingly. Many tribal leaders had herds of cattle and horses among their possessions, and lost them all during removal.

June 6th 1859- J. F. Miller

Dear sir, Jo Hutchins, a Santiam Chief is here seeking to regain a mare left on the range at his old encampment near Scio, at the time of his removal to the Grand Ronde Reservation. The animal it appears was afterwards taken up and sold under the law referring to strays. Since then it was several times resold and is now held by Washington Crabtree. The Mare in question has had one colt, since lost by Jo. This seems to be an old difficulty, you probably are acquainted with the facts and it properly belongs to to your supervision. I therefore refer the whole matter to you, satisfy, if you can the mind of the Indians, and see that no rights in this case are violated. Please settle the matter at your discretion as soon as practicable. Enclosed find Crabtree note. Edward R. Geary.

The tribes at the reservation were expected to feed themselves as the government could not get the funds together in time to feed the nearly 2000 Indians removed there. By 1860 the tribal leaders had been given some land and told to produce food for themselves. Unfortunately they did not have the necessary equipment nor seed supplies to plow and plant the clay soils of Grand Ronde. Chief Jo is generally critical of what is being asked of him.

April 17th 1862     Joseph  Hutch(ins)

About 20 men & 14 children and more children than women. Have lands & no teams and no tools. It don’t do them any good they have nothing to work with. A spoon full of wheat and a spoonful of oats. Has two yoke of oxen. Tried to plow yesterday, the oxen fell down and he told them to turn them out. Did not ask the agent for seed or team. The agent ought to know he wanted them. He say the agent tell him to plow and he has about 2 or three acres and it has been plow so often it will yield nothing and is now under water and he can’t work it. Is very much bothered by Babcock who drive his cattle off out of range. Thinks the employees are all good men and have done all they can, they could not do much. There was one man right (Wright?) who worked all the time. There is one man Magoun who is away all the time, he don’t think he ought to be here, says their guns are out of order. They can’t hunt they have nothing to hunt with. Summer is coming and they will have to hunt for a living. Wants a man who will do as he says for agent. Says (Agent) Condon says one thing and does another. We never knows whether he will do as he says or not.

By 1869 the Tribes at Grand Ronde had learned to not trust the promises of the Indian agents and the government. Indian Agent Edward Meacham understood this and worked to give the tribes a bit more control over their funding and affairs by having a meeting of the reservation chiefs at the First Methodist Church (The church began by Jason Lee) in Salem. Meacham lectured the tribes that they begin accepting non-native doctoring and education.  Jo Hutchins was very critical in his statements at this time.   He stressed how many promises have been made and broken by the government and how poorly the tribes were living at the reservation.

Chief Alquema/Joseph Hutchins 1841
Chief Alquema/Joseph Hutchins 1841

Jo Hutchins (1869)

Chief of Santiams- said, “ I am watching your eye. I am Watching your tongue. I am thinking all the time. Perhaps you are making fools of us. We don’t want to be made fools. I have heard tyees talk like you do now. They go back home and send u something the white man don’t want. We are not dogs. We have hearts. We may be blind. We do not see the things the treaty promised. Maybe they got lost on the way. The President is a long way off. He can’t hear us. Our words get lost in the wind before they get there. Maybe his ear is small. Maybe your ears are small. They look big. Our ears are large. We hear everything. Some things we don’t like. We have been a long time in the mud. Sometimes we sink down. Some white men help us up. Sometimes we sink down. Some white men help us up. Some white men stand on our heads. We want a school-house built on the ground of the Santiam people. Then our children can have some sense. We want an Indian to work in the blacksmith shop. We don’t like half-breeds. They are not Injuns. They are not white men. Their hearts are divided. We want some harness. We want some ploughs. We want a sawmill. What is a mill good for that has no dam? That old mill is not good; It won’t saw boards. We want a church. Some of these people are Catholics. Some of them are like Mr. Parish, a Methodist. Some got no religion. Maybe we don’t need religion. Some people think Indians got no sense. We don’t want any blankets. We have a heap of blankets. Some of them have been like sail-cloth muslin. The old people have got no sense; they want blankets. The treaty said we, every man, have his land. He have a paper for his land. We don’t see the paper. We see the land. We want it divided. When we have land all in one place, some Injun put his horses in the field; another Injun turn them out. Then they go to law. One man says another got the best ground. They go to law about that. We want the land marked out. Every man builds his own house. We want some apples. Mark out the land, then we plant some trees, by-and-by we have some apples. Maybe you don’t like my talk. I talk straight. I am not a coward. I am chief of the Santiams. You hear me now. We see your eyes; look straight. Maybe you are a good man. We will find out. Sochala-Tyee, God sees you. He sees us. All these people hear me talk. Some of them are scared. I am not afraid. Alta-kup-et, I am done. (Wigwam and Warpath, Meacham).

Chief Jo’s statements collectively represented some of the most powerful speeches to come from the Grand Ronde Reservation in the 19th century. They represent the feelings of the tribe for their land and culture as they worked to survive through decades of attempts to assimilate them.  Jo’s descendants are the Hudson families of the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation, many member of whom have carried on the family leadership role to the present day.

(Chief Joseph Hutchins is my ancestor)


7 thoughts on “Reservation of the Santiam Band of Indians under Chief Jo 1855

  1. One of the most complete information with primary documents I have seen on the Santiam people. I have read from a 1970 article in the Stateman Journal that the Santiams live near the confluence of the Santiam Rivers. I have looked in Hines, Jason Lee, Hines, & Bancroft writings but have not found any confirmation that this is true. Do you have any opinions about this?

    1. Interesting information. Yes this is likely true. I have found information that there were villages on the islands at Syracuse and Albany, these were 1840s period villages. there were other villages too but we have not confirmed the location of all. they were pretty fluid from the 1830s to the 1850s as they had to move around the settlers. The Santiam were not just one village of people but several villages under at leadership of three chiefs, plus there were village encampments for fishing hunting and camas gathering. In the 1830s, David Douglas recorded 2 villages near the confluence, one abandoned and the other occupied.

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