Rogue River Treaty of 1854, Negotiated November 15, 1854, Ratified March 3, 1855

The second Rogue River Treaty, that of 1854, was a treaty of peace and ratifying the joint occupancy of the Table Rock Reservation by many tribes subject to the treaty in the region. The Chasta treaty of 1854 states that the tribe will remove to Table Rock Reservation, where the Rogue River Tribes are already removed too. This treaty of 1854, ratified that the tribes will live peacefully on the reservation, and confederate together. There is no additional land ceded in this treaty.

Tribes in the region would typically raid one another for slaves and resources. It was common for there to be skirmishes between unrelated and distant tribes. Some tribes and bands had enemy tribes and would make war upon them. The treaty here seeks to assure this will not occur on the reservation. The tribes are also to share the resources and the treaty funding provided for various services. Essentially the treaty helps to confederate the tribes together as one tribe.

Belden Map 1855, a section showing the Table Rock Reservation, NARA

Contemporary scholars may think it’s strange for the United States to write a treaty such as this, to assure peace between tribes, when the Federal Government did little to control its own citizenry in their zeal for killing Indians, and raping their women, at every opportunity,  many times without cause. However, it was one of the specified duties of the Superintendent of Oregon Indian Affairs to make sure Indians lived peacefully with one another. There were few hostilities between the tribes at Table Rock, while there are some reports of hostilities between the tribes at Grand Ronde and Siletz, in later years.

Some details of the treaty appear to be inaccurate for the time. The original Rogue River People were the Takelma tribes, but the tribe in this treaty was likely not Takelma but instead Shasta. There was a common miss-use of the term Rogue River which Americans applied to any tribe in the region, including Takelma, various Athapaskan tribes, northern Shasta, and even Cow Creek Umpqua. This practice was institutionalized in 1855 with the breakout of the Rogue River War which featured a confederation of four or more tribes working together to drive the Americans from the region. Thereafter the Rogue Rivers were the tribes that had joined the confederation. This practice has caused much confusion in the histories of the time and region.

Chief John (Tecumtum) Principal chief of the Rogue River Confederacy

The most famous individual here become Chief John, Tecumtum, fourth signer on the treaty, who in 1855 becomes the leader of the Rogue River Confederacy, where many tribes join him to leave the reservation and make war upon the Americans, who have been attacking the tribes on the Table Rock Reservation without any protection being given by the Indian Agent. After the Confederacy is defeated in the summer of 1856, they surrender at Port Orford, and are shipped in three removals to the Grand Ronde Reservation, and the coastal plain of the Coast reservation south of the Salmon River encampment of the Nechesne Indians. Chief John is moved to the Siletz Agency in 1857, and within a few years is arrested taken to the Presidio at San Francisco with his son to prison for inciting the tribes at Siletz to leave the reservation, an illegal act in this time.

Anticipated Indian Troubles.— By the arrival of the schooner D. L. Clinch, we have later news from Umpqua. Apprehensions were entertained that there would be another Indian outbreak, as John, the principal chief of the Rogue River tribe, during the late war in Oregon, had left the Grand Ronde Reserve at the head of his warriors, with a view of returning to their own country. The new military fort at Umpqua, which is directly in their route, had been reduced by sickness and desertion to twenty-five men, and can therefore offer no effectual resistance either to the return of the Indians, or to the destruction of the agency and post at the place. Capt. Stewart is, on the alert, and if speedily reinforced will prevent any serious disaster. (Nevada Democrat, Volume 4, Number 39, 1 July 1857)

They are freed in the 1860s and John is then sent to Grand Ronde to live the remainder of his days as Tyee John. His tribal ancestry is much debated by scholars, but in this treaty, he is clearly Shasta. Family stories of him also suggest he is Shasta but much of the literature suggests he is Rogue River, again a confusing term which really does not denote a correct tribal heritage. There is some confusion over what were the territories of each tribe, and which tribe many people were associated with. It is clear that all of the leaders of the tribes were of a leadership class of people and it was common to have arranged marriages forming complex kinships and alliances between many tribes of different languages in the same region. Its highly likely that Tecumtum’s father was Shasta and mother was of another tribe, perhaps Takelma, and so he enjoyed some inherited privileges within several tribes. These would all be factors in consolidating the confederacy.

Chief Sam, Shasta Chief, Photo courtesy of the National Archives of Canada. Negative number: C114436

Ko-ko-ha-wah, or Sam, second chief signer on the treaty



Nov. 15, 1854. | 10 Stats., 1119. | Ratified Mar. 3, 1855. | Proclaimed Apr. 7, 1855.

Articles of an agreement entered into and concluded this fifteenth day of November, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-four, between Joel Palmer, superintendent of Indian affairs, on the part of the United States, and the chiefs and headmen of the Rogue River tribe of Indians, on the part of said tribe.


It is agreed on the part of said tribe, that the Table Rock reserve, described in the treaty of the 10th September, 1853, between the United States and the Rogue River tribe, shall be possessed and occupied jointly by said tribe and such other tribes and bands of Indians as the United States shall agree with by treaty stipulations, or the President of the United States shall direct, to reside thereupon, the place of residence of each tribe, part of tribe, or band on said reserve, to be designated by the superintendent of Indian affairs or Indian agent; that the tribes and bands hereafter to be settled on said reserve shall enjoy equal rights and privileges with the Rogue River tribe; and that the annuities paid to the Indians now residing, or hereafter to reside on said reserve, shall be shared by all alike, from and after said residence thereon: Provided, That the annuity of the Rogue River tribe, as agreed on in the treaty of the 10th September, 1853, shall not be diminished or in any way impaired thereby. It is also agreed, that the United States shall have the right to make such roads, highways, and railroads through said reserve as the public good may from time to time require, a just compensation being made therefor.


In consideration of the foregoing stipulations, it is agreed on the part of the United States to pay to the Rogue River tribe, as soon as practicable after the signing of this agreement, two thousand one hundred and fifty dollars, in the following articles: twelve horses. one beef, two yokes of oxen, with yokes and chains, one wagon, one hundred men’s coats, fifty pairs of pantaloons, and fifty hickory shirts; also, that in the treaties to be made with other tribes and bands, here-after to be located on said reserve, that provision shall be made for the erection of two smith-shops; for tools, iron, and blacksmiths for the same; for opening farms and employing farmers; for a hospital, medicines, and a physician; and for one or more schools; the uses and benefits of all which shall be secured to said Rogue River tribe, equally with the tribes and bands treated with; all the improvements made, and schools, hospital, and shops erected, to be conducted in accordance with such laws, rules, and regulations as the Congress or the President of the United States may prescribe.


It is further agreed, that when at any time hereafter the Indians residing on this reserve shall be removed to another reserve, or shall be elsewhere provided for, that the fifteen thousand dollars thereafter to be paid to said Rogue River tribe, as specified in the treaty of the 10th September, 1853, shall be shared alike by the members of all the tribes and bands that are, or hereafter shall be located on the said Table Rock reserve.


It is also further provided that in the event that this agreement shall not be ratified by the President and Senate of the United States, or that no other tribe or band shall be located on said reserve, the two thousand one hundred and fifty dollars stipulated in article second of this agreement to be paid said Rogue River tribe, shall be deducted from their annuities hereafter to be paid said Indians.

In testimony whereof, the said Joel Palmer, superintendent as a fore-said, and the undersigned chiefs and headmen of the Rogue River Tribe of Indians, have hereunto set their hands and seals, at Evan’s Creek, on the Table Rock Reserve, on the day and year herein before written.

Joel Palmer, superintendent [L. S.]

Ap-sa-ka-hah, or Joe, first chief, his x mark, [L. S.]

Ko-ko-ha-wah, or Sam, second chief, his x mark, [L. S.]

Sambo, third chief, his x mark, [L. S.]

Te-cum-tum, or John, fourth chief, his x mark, [L. S.]

Te-wah-hait, or Elijah, his x mark, [L. S.]

Cho-cul-tah, or George, his x mark, [L. S.]

Telum-whah, or Bill, his x mark, [L. S.]

Hart-tish, or Applegate John, his x mark, [L. S.]

Qua-chis, or Jake, his x mark, [L. S.]

Tom, his x mark, [L. S.]

Henry, his x mark, [L. S.]

Jim, his x mark, [L. S.]

Executed in presence of—

Edward R. Geary, secretary.

Cris. Taylor,

John Flett, interpreter.

B. Metcalfe.

Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties. Vol. II (Treaties). Compiled and edited by Charles J. Kappler.
Washington: Government Printing Office, 1904.



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