Most estimates suggest that there were 19 tribes and bands of the Kalapuyans. This estimate was made in the early 20th century and does not really address the complexity of counting tribes and bands. In the 1850s there were probably less than 19 due to amalgamation of communities because of a huge reduction of populations from disease and settlers pushing tribes into smaller areas. The 19 tribes and bands estimated likely relates to the period from 1805 to 1835 when the Kalapuyans maintained their original village structure before the full effects of diseases were felt.
Boyd and other scholars have suggested that Malaria was the main disease from 1829 to 1835. I have also written elsewhere that Malaria may have been to most likely culprit of the epidemics of the 1830s, but we have yet to address the issues of secondary illnesses caused by malaria and other illnesses that are less recorded. The initial illnesses could be survived, but people have compromised systems, and would get secondary bronchitis or pneumonia and easily died from these illnesses. There is another theory advanced by scholars that suggest that there was a large extermination attempt in northwestern Oregon, but there is no evidence for extermination by the fur traders from Fort Vancouver or later settler folks from the 1820s to the 1840s. There were a few conflicts, but they did not amount to extermination.
Previous to 1805 there is theorized a high probably of disease, like smallpox among the tribes of the region, as there were signs on Chinookans on the Columbia and other evidence. The Kalapuyans likely felt the effects of a smallpox epidemic in 1782 (Zenk 1976:9), suggesting that there may have been many more Kalapuyans bands and people, previous to smallpox.
The next period in reverse chronology would be previous to the 1770s, when the tribes lived in their traditional state, without much in the way of change brought by Europeans. In this period, the tribes felt the impact of the horse, theorized to have reached the region in around 1700. The tribes would have also had stories and rare products from the east. Products like guns and metal knives, fabrics, and glass beads etc, would have passed through native trade networks to the Northwest Coast. There are as well stories also of white people coming westward, and such stories are buried in many tribal “texts” of folklore and Tribal Oral Histories today. Additional alien trade items would have arrived on flotsam from shipwrecks. Copper nails and siding from ships, china from shipwrecks, beeswax from shipwrecks etc. The metal items would be pried from the flotsam and cold forged into jewelry or tools. Coppers, artistic and spiritual panels in plank-houses, became important spiritual products for the tribes. Many native copper items have been tested and found to come strictly from non-native sources, eliminating the possibility of Native quarrying of native copper.
Kalapuyans were part of the Columbia River Trade Network. In the Tualatin Kalapuyan mounds was found metal jewelry and tools, suggesting they acquired such products in the historic era. Such mound-building activities continued into the historic era as recorded by Leo J. Frachtenberg at Grand Ronde Indian Reservation. See my essay about the Kalapuya Mounds.
Within this context of change we now understand how the Kalapuyan populations may have altered significantly in each period. We have a variety of estimates of tribal and band numbers. The question we then ask is “Where did the estimates come from and how accurate are they?”
Population counts for Kalapuyans
The basis for many counts is Lewis and Clark with 2,000 Kalapuyans, but Zenk (1976:9) suggests that the Shoshones count of Lewis and Clark, is actually Kalapuyans as there were not Shoshones in the valley, which adds 10,600, giving us 12,600 Kalapuyans. This is likely a severe under-count as the expedition simply heard about the Kalapuyans from a Clowwewala man, and never ventured far into the Willamette Valley. They never saw any village of Kalapuyans nor appear to have talked with a Kalapuyan person.
James Mooney, an anthropologist in the later 19th and early 20th centuries, estimates 3,000 Kalapuyans at 1780, which is also a gross underestimate (Zenk 1976: 9).
Albert Gatschet, a German Anthropologist, one fo the first professionals to work among the Kalapuyan peoples at the Grand Ronde Reservation, collected the names of 17 winter village groups, which by 1850 was really only 16 villages, as one is extinct. Zenk suggests an estimate range of 15-20 groups based on the experience of the informants, and a date of 1812. Zenk estimates 50 per winter village and 750-1000 for only the Tualatin Kalapuyans. Then Zenk estimates smallpox would have reduced the Tualatins by one third to one half, suggesting a population of the Tualatins as high as 2,000 individuals at 1780 (Zenk 1976: 11). This number suggests some 200 winter villages for the Tualatin alone previous to 1780, as suggested by Zenk’s 50 individuals per village estimate. The Tualatins did have a large area rich in resources, and its possible the territory was larger previously. The Yamhill Kalapuyans spoke the same dialect at the Tualatins.
The tribes and bands count is complicated by the political framework of the Kalapuyans. Each village had its autonomy and could ally with other villages as they wanted to. Normally a powerful chief rises and other village chiefs would align with them. But with 200 villages, this would become somewhat complex, perhaps too much so, and so there was not likely one Tualatin Kalapuyan tribal Nation but several TualatinTribes and bands, each possessing their own autonomy and sovereignty.
The period following 1812, and until 1840s is thin on estimates. (until I find some related to the fur trade companies)
Joseph Lane’s 1850 census lists Calipoa 60, Tualatin 60, Yamhill 90, and Luckimier (Luckimiute) as 15, a total of 225 of these four Kalapuyan tribes. The Calipoa are likely Ahantchuyuk or Pudding River if these are all northern tribes. He does differentiate total Kalapuyans from the main band. For the Tualatin he lists 50 for the main band, and for Yamhill 19, and Luckimiute 5. This suggests that as late as 1850 the main Kalapuya tribes he lists, had more than two bands, and likely two villages, aligned with the main tribe. Lane also listys 200 Umpquas, a number which seems large. The count for Umpqua may have included Yoncalla Kalapuyans, as they lived in the Umpqua Basin along with Upper Umpqua tribes like the Cow Creek band and the upper Umpqua Band at Elkton.
The census of April 22,1851 by Rev. Spalding, lists the count of Kalapuyas at 560. In his report, Spalding states that he is personally visiting the tribes and that the number is an estimate based on the villages he has visited and the village yet to be visited. The number also includes the band on the Umpqua.
Rev. Spalding takes another census on August 25, 1851 and has more detailed counts. For McKenzies (Winefelly) 63; for Kalapooya (Tekopa?) he lists 41; for Santiam 66; for Forks Santiam 21 (there were two or three Santiam bands), Marys River (no number); Long Tom (Chelamela) 71; French Prairie (Ahantchuyuk) 54; and for Yamhill 59, for a total of 375 people. Spalding lived in Brownsville and so he would have had good knowledge of the local tribes and he did not get numbers for Tualatin and a few other major bands.
Spalding’s Letter of 12/8/1850 states 15 bands of the Kalapuyans speaking 7 different dialects.
Anson Dart’s report of 1851 lists 560 Calapooyas. Its highly likely that Dart got his numbers from the Spalding report of April 22 ,1851, because Dart did not go and visit tribes much during his tenure, and the Willamette Valley Treaty Commission negotiated with the Tribes in May of 1851, without Dart involved.
Joel Palmer’s numbers for Kalapuyan tribes from 1854 is inexact for many. Long Toms, “few”; Luckamute Band of Calapooias 25 or 30; Santiam Band of Calapooias 150; Yamhill band of Calapooias 45 or 50; Tualatin Band of Calapooias 50 or 60. Palmer’s total estimate of Kalapuyans is 290 people. His inexact count definitely missed a good number of the people from the main tribes.
March 1856 Journal: The First Census at the Grand Ronde Reservation
In March of 1856, William Raymond’s Journal of the Grand Ronde Reservation is likely first census for the reservation. Raymond was assigned to the new Grand Ronde Indian Reservation to help resettled the incoming tribes. However, the Journal appears to be written in the hand of Robert Metcalf. Metcalf had been in charge of the removals of the Umpqua, Yoncalla and Molalla from the Umpqua Reservation from January to February 1856. Therefore, the March 1856 journal is really the first opportunity at the new Grand Ronde Reservation to take a count of the Natives. As well, the Census list does not have any Rogue River tribes, suggesting that the census was taken before the Rogue Rivers arrived at Grand Ronde, and were still on the trail from the Table Rock Reservation at this time. (below listed only the Kalapuyan tribes)
French Prairie Band, 20 People; Spores Band, 65 people; Santiam, 53 people; Louis Band, 43 people; Long Tom Band, 32 people; Marysville. 35 people; Yamhill 20 people; Lakamiuke, 8 people; Calapooia, 89 people, which equals 365 Kalapuyans.
The Following image is from the first pages of the Journal (as transcribed by David Lewis). Once written as a transcript it was discovered that all of the Kalapuyan Tribes and bands had not yet been removed to the Grand Ronde Reservation. The Tualatins are not yet represented, as well as the Clackamas, or any groups on the Columbia.
This is the first time the March 1856 Census is used in a publication.
The Hazen Map of 1856 of the Grand Ronde Reservation, lists 392 Calapoyahs in three camps and 137 Tualatins in a camp. The five Umpqua camps likely have a number of Yoncalla Kalapuyans. The Kalapuyans count total is 529 persons. It is not known when the census counts were taken on this map, but we assume it was in 1856, after all removals had occurred, therefore sometime in the summer because the Rogue River tribes are noted.
The first complete census of the Grand Ronde Reservation of November 1856 lists Tualatins 75; Marysville 22; Muddy 21 (Muddy River, Chenapfa); Long Tom 16; Yamhill 26; Luckamute 22; Calapooia (Ahantchuyuk) 22; Mohawk 20; Winefella 23; Santiam 81 and Calapooia Band Calapooia River (Tekopa)16; for a total of 344 persons. Another section of this census lists Calapooia of the Umpqua tribe (Yoncalla) at 30 persons. Grand total would then be 374 persons. Comparing the total with those from March 1856 suggest that only a few temporary reservations from the Willamette Valley had been emptied and resettled by March 1856, and that more tribes and bands came later.
Its unclear how accurate the counts were of the Kalapuyans previous to the reservation. The numbers from various Indian agents fluctuates dramatically from 200 to over 500 persons. The named villages count may prove to be the most accurate count of some tribes. In 1851 The Gibbs Starling Map lists a number of named villages on the Willamette. The map was likely based on a river passage chart prepared by steamboat captain Leonard White. White was an early Salem resident and pioneer of finding passages up and down the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. The 1851 map lists these tribes as Chehalem, Chempoeg, Chemaway, Chemekitty, and Chehalpen, and areas called Chehn-to-uck at the Santiam river, and Tsi-yahm-hil in the Yamhill basin.
Ethnographers notes will list more villages. Ethnography did not really begin until the 1877 with Albert Gatschet who collected much from the Kalapuyans. Anthropologists like Melville Jacobs collected Kalapuyan village names into the 1930s.
Melville Jacobs Field Notebook #33
p’inefu and halpam people
(Kalapuya & Santiam) Salem to Jefferson on E. and S. side of Willamette
antpu’saq (People) W & N side of Willamette
(laqmyut) alaqmayuq (People) (Independent to Lakamiyuk R. at Buena Vista)
Melville Jacobs Field Notebook #34.
Tsani-hoi- a town between Monroe (Pinefu People)
Han ter yuk- Mary’s river, Kalapuya, Santiam
Santefaq people- they understand Santiam, good
Halpam people- Santiam
Hanter yu k
Pi ne fu (Mary’s R.)
Tsantce manq la qua- near Albany
Tsa yam hala (Yamhill)
Antatawa- maybe around Corvallis, Same as Pi ne fu
Ne twalati (Atfalati)
Begin Jacobs Field notebook #46
Tcan tku’pi; name of a Kalapuya- speaking place region and band. JBH knows no woman of this name. They lived along the McKenzie R. near Eugene- say between the McKenzie to Eugene. The Yonkallas are immediately to the south, from Cottage Grove on. Jim Spoyse (Spores?) was a Tku’pi’, and he married a ske’nan woman.
JBH, tca’nu’ha, a band, talking a Kalapuya dialect somewhere near Eugene. One man JBH remembers called Jim Sboyse (Spuiz) [Spores?] , was probably of Nu’ha origin. Their territory was along the MacKenzie river. Sboyies wife was named Ske’nan, who came from the same tribe as Frank Wheeler’s mother, who was also named ske’nan. Cindy Jackson’s mother was still a third woman, named Ske’nan.
JBH, The Kalapuyas JBH says are those on “this side” of the Yonkallas – the bands by Corvallis and beyond – to Eugene. But the Santiam or Ha’lpam
Pi’ne fu’ or Marysville (Marys river)
La’qmaywq or Lakmyuts
Ha’nt’ayuq or half prairie people
Nu’ha, a band near Eugene
Are all called Kalapuyas, so JBH says, they are all to be included in the term Kalapuya. They all talked one language: one band spoke just a little different from the other, but all were mutually intelligible.
Jacobs Field notebook #78
Kallapu’ya includes these and perhaps others, Santya’m, Ha’lpam, P’I’nefu
Eustace was 7 yrs pf age when his Santiam- Penmana’fu father died. At 9 or 10 he heard these old stories from some fine old ladies. His mother was Santiam and most of the rest of his relatives.
Penmana’fu people, close to Salem, near Hukwil, other side of Wheatland – along in that valley there; talked a slightly variant dialect
Ha’lpam, close to Albany, and north of it, and dialectically close to Santiam.
Pi’nefu, people along by Corvallis, macefield, Marysville people, or south of Corvallis. Dialect intelligible to Santiam
Santyam’ ami’m , Santiam people
Punma’nafu, People living beyond Salem some 6 miles in a valley near Hopewell. [across Willamette from Willamette Mission state park]
Jacobs notes contain a mixture of town and tribal names. That is really the nature of the Kalapuyan tribes. Each town was its own sovereign entity. So a Town could be considered a tribe, or it could be a band, which means they are subject to a larger tribe. Jacobs in these notebooks lists some 20 tribe and bands and towns, and without some work aligning them with tribal territory they all need to be considered separate and distinct. The Tualatin (Atfalati), Santiam (Halpam), Marys River( Pinefu). Lakamiuke, Yonkalla, and Yamhill standout as the primary tribes, and they in turn had numerous bands and villages aligned with them. It is wrong to assume that because a village speaks the same dialect of a language that the tribes is politically related to the primary tribe.
All of these Kalapuyan tribes were at the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation where there was at the most 374 Kalapuyans resettled by November of 1856. From a high of as many as 20,000 sixty years previously. The decrease for 60 years being some 98% from disease, and small conflicts.
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.