The Treaty with the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua is the first treaty in Oregon to be negotiated and ratified. The treaty establishes the Umpqua Reservation for the Cow Creek tribes. This reservation eventually became the temporary reservation for the Yoncalla Kalapuyans, Umpqua Tribes (upper Umpqua River), and the southern Molallans. Records from Douglas County Museum suggest that the settlers were not happy with this reservation in the western section of the Umpqua Valley. It contained many valuable pieces of property and vast stands of forest-lands desired by the settlers for building materials. Settlers from Roseburg and other smaller communities would steal logs from the reservation to such an extent that the Indian Agents could not manage their access.
Belden Map 1855, Umpqua Reservation section, NARA
The Tribes at the Umpqua Reservation are removed in January 1856 which is chronicled in this account from Robert Metcalf. The reservation is not abandoned, and the Coos Bay tribes are removed there for a time before their removal to Yachats Sub agency on the Oregon Coast. The reservation remains in existence well into the 1860s with a scattering of tribes from the region.
The Cow Creek tribes are enumerated at Grand Ronde Reservation for a few years. Eventually many of these tribal people leave Grand Ronde to return to their region. Indian agent reports suggest that the existence of these people back in their homelands at Days Creek near Roseburg was unwelcome by the white Americans, and there were calls to remove them. But many of the families in the tribe remained and found ways to integrate with the southern Oregon pioneers. A few family names are shared between Grand Ronde, Siletz, and Cow Creek tribes today due to intermarriage (ex: Lachance). The Cow Creek people married with French-Indian fur traders, and others, and many maintained their residence in their homelands, eventually gaining off-reservation Indian allotments through the General Land Office at Roseburg.
The lands contained within this treaty, and ceded to the United States, are relatively small compared to other treaties in the region.
Belden Map 1855, Cow Creek Ceded area, NARA
The Tribe occupied a mountainous transition zone between the Umpqua River tribes and the Rogue River tribes, Canonville and Days Creek, essentually where the Seven Feathers Casino is today. Some accounts of the removal of the Rogue Tribes suggest that they were interrelated with the Cow Creek Band of Umpquas. Individuals at the tribe today feel that their language was Takilman rather than the Athapaskan upper Umpqua language. The following is Kappler’s transcription of the treaty.
TREATY WITH THE UMPQUA—COW CREEK BAND, 1853.
Sept. 19, 1853. | 10 Stats., 1027. | Ratified Apr. 12, 1854. | Proclaimed Feb. 5, 1855.
Stipulations of a treaty made and entered into on Cow Creek, Umpqua Valley, in the Territory of
Oregon, this 19th day of September, A. D. 1853, by and between Joel Palmer, superintendent of
Indian Affairs, on the part of the United States, and Quin-ti-oo-san, or Bighead, principal chief, and
My-n-e-letta, or Jackson; and Tom, son of Quin-ti-oo-san, subordinate chiefs, on the part of the Cow
Creek band of Umpqua tribe of Indians.
The Cow Creek band of Indians do hereby cede and relinquish, for the consideration hereinafter
specified, to the United States, all their right, title, interest, and claim to all the lands lying in that part
of the Territory of Oregon bounded by lines designated as follows, to wit:
Commencing on the north bank of the south fork of Umpqua River, at the termination of the high-
lands, dividing the waters of Myrtle Creek from those of Day’s Creek, thence running easterly along
the summit of said range to the headwaters of Day’s Creek, thence southerly, crossing the Umpqua
River to the headwaters of Cow Creek, thence to the dividing ridge between Cow Creek and Grave
Creek, thence southwesterly along the said divide to its junction with the ridge dividing the waters
of Cow Creek from those of Rogue River, thence westerly and northerly around on said ridge to its
connection with the spur terminating opposite the mouth of Myrtle Creek, thence along said spur to
a point on the same northwest of the eastern line of Isaac Baily’s land-claim, thence southeast to
Umpqua River, thence up said river to place of beginning.
It is agreed on the part of the United States that the aforesaid tribe shall be allowed to occupy
temporarily that portion of the above-described tract of territory bounded as follows, to wit:
Commencing on the south side of Cow Creek, at the mouth of Council Creek, opposite Wm. H.
Riddle’s land-claim, thence up said creek to the summit of Cañon Mountain, thence westerly along
said summit two miles, thence northerly to Cow Creek, at a point on the same one mile above the
thence down said creek to place of beginning. It being understood that this last-described tract
of land shall be deemed and considered an Indian reserve until a suitable selection shall be made by
the direction of the President of the United States for their permanent residence, and buildings erected
thereon and other improvements made of equal value of those upon the above reserve at the time of removal.
For and in consideration of the cession and relinquishment contained in article first, the United States
agree to pay to the aforesaid band of Indians, the sum of twelve thousand dollars, in manner to wit:
one thousand dollars to be expended in the purchase of twenty blankets, eighteen pairs pants, eighteen
pairs shoes, eighteen hickory shirts, eighteen hats or caps, three coats, three vests, three pairs socks,
three neck handkerchiefs, forty cotton flags, one hundred and twenty yards prints, one hundred yards
domestic, one gross buttons, two lbs, thread, ten papers needles, and such other goods and provisions
as may be deemed by the superintendent or agent most conducive to the comfort and necessities of
said Indians, on or before the first day of October, A. D. 1854. The remaining eleven thousand dollars
to be paid in twenty equal annual installments of five hundred and fifty dollars each, commencing on
or about the first day of October, 1854, in blankets, clothing, provisions, stock, farming-implements,
or such other articles, and in such manner as the President of the United States may deem best for the
interests of said tribe.
In addition to the aforesaid twelve thousand dollars there shall be erected for the use of said tribe, at
the expense of the United States, two dwelling-houses, the cost of which shall not exceed two
hundred dollars each, and a field of five acres fenced and ploughed, and suitable seed furnished
for planting the same.
The said band of Indians agree to give safe conduct to all persons passing through their reserve, and
to protect in their person and property all agents or other persons sent by authority of the United
States to reside among them.
That the friendship which is now established between the United States and the Cow Creek band of
Indians, shall not be interrupted by the misconduct of individuals, it is hereby agreed that for injuries
done, no private revenge or retaliation shall take place; but instead thereof complaint shall be made
by the party injured to the Indian agent; and it shall be the duty of the chiefs of said band of Indians,
upon complaint being made as aforesaid, to deliver up the person against whom the complaint is
made, to the end that he may be punished, agreeably to the laws of the United States; and in like
manner if any violation, robbery, or murder shall be committed on any Indian belonging to said band,
the person so offending shall be tried, and if found guilty, shall be punished according to the laws of
the United States. And it is further agreed that the chiefs shall, to the utmost of their ability, exert
themselves to recover horses or other property which has or may hereafter be stolen from any citizen
of the United States, by any individual of said tribe, and deliver the same to the agent or other person
authorized to receive it; and the United States hereby guarantee to any Indian or Indians of said band,
a full indemnification for any horses or other property which may be stolen or taken from them by any
citizen of the United States, provided, the property stolen cannot be recovered, and that sufficient
proof is produced that it was actually stolen or taken by a citizen of the U. S. And the chiefs further
agree, that upon the requisition of the President of the U. S., superintendent of Indian affairs, or
Indian agent, to deliver up any person resident among them.
It is agreed between the United States and the Cow Creek band of the Umpqua tribe of Indians, that,
should it at any time hereafter be considered by the United States as a proper policy to establish farms
and for the benefit of said Indians, it shall be discretionary with the President, by and with the
advice and consent of the Senate, to change the annuities herein provided for, or any part thereof, into
a fund for that purpose.
This treaty shall take effect and be obligatory on the contracting parties as soon as the same shall be
ratified by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.
In testimony whereof the said Joel Palmer, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, on the part of the United
States, and chiefs of the Cow Creek band of Umpqua Indians, before named, have hereunto set their
hands and seals, the day and year aforesaid.
Joel Palmer, [L. S.]
Superintendent Indian Affairs, O. T.
Bighead, Quin-ti-oo-san, his x mark, [L. S.]
Jackson, My-n-e-letta, his x mark, [L. S.]
Tom, son of Quin-ti-oo-san, his x mark, [L. S.]
Tom, Tal-sa-pe-er, his x mark, [L. S.]
Signed in presence of—
J. B. Nichols,
John D. Bown,
Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties. Vol. II (Treaties). Compiled and edited by Charles J. Kappler.
Washington: Government Printing Office, 1904.
Categories: General History Grand Ronde Reservation Kalapuya Oral History Oregon indians Umpqua Valley
Ethnohistory Research, LLC | David G. Lewis, PhD
PhD Anthropology (UO 2009) and Native history researcher. Member of the Grand Ronde Tribe, Takelma, Chinook, Molalla, and Santiam Kalapuya ancestry. Owner of Ethnohistory Research LCC, professional consultant and project researcher.
I teach at local universities and colleges and take contracts with tribes, local governments and nonprofits. I have experience in archival organization, museum development, exhibit curation, traditional cultural property nomination, tribal ethnohistoric research, tribal maps, traditional ecological knowledge, and presentations to large and small gatherings. Contact me for consultation about any of these projects.