Palmer’s Knowledge of the Tribes, 1854

Joel Palmer got his appointment to be the Superintendent of Indian Affairs in 1853 after the failure of Anson Dart to get some 19 treaties ratified. Palmer already knew many of the tribes and the following document reveals understandings of several that rarely appear in description of some of the tribes later. Clearly Palmer here has imperfect knowledge of the tribes but there are some interesting factoids to be noted.

  • First he did know that the southern Molallas existed well before 1855, when correspondence and other accounts suggests that he suddenly learned of the existence of the tribe and had to hurry to complete a treaty withe the tribe by December 21 of 1855.
  • Palmer thought that the Clatskanie was another Chinookan tribe which is incorrect.
  • Details about the Santiam Band of Molallas is interesting because not much is known of this tribe. Besides the information on the 1851 Gibbs Starling map and their treaty for 1851, they somehow disappear after 1854 likely to be included with the Molallas on the Willamette valley treaty of 1855. Otherwise, there is some genealogy of them coming to the Grand Ronde tribe and one woman marrying a Santiam Kalapuya member.
  • Palmer’s lack of knowledge of the whole of the Oregon coastal tribes is clear.
  • Information about the Cow Creek reserve is one of the few places this reserve is addressed in federal records, besides the treaty of 1853. This is not the Umpqua reserve in the valley.
  • Chief Slacum of the Tumwaters- also known are the Clowewalla- links with information from some 15 years earlier. Slacum is not well known, we have an image and rare accounts, but he did reside as chief from at least 1837 to 1853, seemly a lengthy time for any tribal chief within the colonization era.
  • Population estimates also appear to be too large for the southern areas, because by 1856 when the tribes were removed to the Coast and Grand Ronde reserves there were only 4000 natives altogether for all of western Oregon, besides a few stragglers, perhaps upwards of 500 more not yet captured and removed. Yet Palmer is estimating over 8000 for southern Oregon. His numbers are probably way off or perhaps the massacres that occurred in the area were more costly than we know from records. 15)

January 23, 1854, correspondence to John W. Davis, Governor, O.T. (M2 R15)

I shall be pleased to have your views in regard to the adaptation of our intercourse laws, to the tribes, west of the Rocky Mountains, and such suggestions as your long experience in the management of the Eastern tribes will enable you to give in regard to forming some system by which the tribes may be perpetrated either in their tribal or national character or their nationality destroyed and they made amenable to our laws, or upon any points touching Indian Affairs in the Territory.

Tillamooks the Tillamook are in two bands the Nehalem and the Lower Tillamooks… they number about one hundred and fifty. Their lands were purchased by the former superintendent for twenty one thousand dollars but the President and senate refused to ratify the Treaty. Their numbers are diminishing. They suffered last season severely from Small Pox

Clatsops This tribe claims and occupies the country known as Clatsop Plains commencing at Point Adams on the south side of the Columbia River at its mouth, and extending south along the Coast to Tillamook Head and inland to the summit of the Coast Range of mountains. The northern and north eastern boundary being the Columbia River from its mouth, around to the mouth of Lewis and Clark’s river or creek and up said stream to Saddle Mountain. This tribe nubers about eighty, Their lands were purchased for fifteen thousand dollars. Treaty not ratified. Whiskey and venerial disease are doing their fatal work, and in a few years there will be none left to tell the tale.

Chinook Bands south of the Columbia There are four or five bands of this once powerful tribe occupying the country on the South side of the Columbia River from Youngs’ Bay to Scappoose, at or near the lower mouth of the Willamette river, & extending south to the northern boundary of the Calapooias. Treaties have been held for the purchase of their claims but as with others they have not been ratified. The price agreed to be paid for their tract of land amounts to twelve thousand and eight hundred dollars. … The whole of the bands probably amount to one hundred and fifty. They subsist upon fish and wild fowl served up with copious draughts of whiskey of which they receive an abundant supply in exchange for salmon and fowl. The are “diseased.” the name of these several bands are Klatskanies, Calaverts, Wacha mucks or Coniacks, Nama-naimans and Namaits. Some of these bands may have belonged to distinct tribes and known by other names, since many large villages have become nearly extinct and remnants have united so that it is difficult tracing their tribal connections

Twality Band of Calapooias This band claims the country between the Yamhill River and the ridge dividing the waters of the Twalatin and Columbia Rivers and between the Willamette River and the summit of the Coast Range of mountains, including Tualatin Plains & Wapato and Chehalim valleys. Their country has also been purchased for forty thousand in cash and the balance in merchandise etc. they were allowed a small reserve at Wapato lake, which has nearly all been settled by the whites. Treaty not ratified. they number some fifty or sixty.

Yamhill Band of Calapooias This band numbers some forty five or fifty and claim the country lying between the Yamhill and Luckamute rivers and between the Willamette River and the Coast range of mountains. Their country has been purchased by treaty for twenty eight thousand dollars in twenty annual installments of fourteen hundred dollars each, three hundred dollars in cash and the balance in merchandise. Treaty not ratified. They are allowed a small reserve on Deer Creek in Yamhill County, nearly all of which has been taken by whites. This band is rapidly decreasing.

Santiam Band of Calapooias This band claims the country from the Butes [sic] in Marion County, to fifteen miles above the mouth of Calapooia Creek in Lynn County, and east of base of Cascade Mountains. They number some one hundred and fifty. A treaty of the purchase of their country was entered into on sixteenth of April 1851, by the Board of Commissioners to treat with the Indian tribes in Oregon by which they were to receive fifty thousand dollars in twenty annual installments of twenty five hundred dollars each, five hundred in cash and the balance in merchandise. A small reserve was made for them in the forks of the Santiam River, but it has since been nearly all settled by the whites. the treaty has not been ratified.

Luckamute Band of Calapooias This band numbers some twenty five or thirty and claims the country between the Luckamute and Mary’s rivers which has been treated for but the treaty has not been ratified. they were to receive twenty thousand dollars in twenty annual installments of one thousand dollars each, three hundred dollars in cash & the balance in merchandise etc. They were allowed a small reserve on the south side of Luckamute, portions of which have since been taken by whites. The country on the west side of the Willamette River above this band is occupied and claimed by Bands called Lumtumblers or Long toms, Lamalees etc. Then are but a few of them. The Clickitats occupy this portion of the country but lay no claim to it, as their country lies north of the Columbia River. They occupy it only as a hunting ground and trade extensively with the numerous tribes and bands south of this valley.

Main Band of the Mollalla Tribe The band claims the country between the Willamette River and the summit of the Cascade Mountains and between the northern boundary of the Santiam Band of Calapooias bear Buteville and Abernethey’s creek which enters into the Willamette River below and near Oregon City. This band numbers some twenty five. The purchase price of treaty was twenty two thousand dollars in twenty annual installments. Three hundred of which was to be in cash, the balance in merchandise etc. Treaty was not ratified. Their reserve is at the base of the Cascade Mountains on the waters of Silver Creek to the summit of the mountain, embracing an extensive tract of mountainous country. They live by hunting & fishing and on berries.

Santiams or Upper band of Mollallas Claim the country from the Western base of the Cascades Mountains to the summit of the same and between the Middle Forks of the Willamette River, to the Southern boundary of the main band of the Mollallas it being east of the lands ceded by the Santiam Band of Calapooia Indians. The consideration agreed to be paid this band is twenty thousand dollars in twenty annual installments. two hundred dollars in cash, the balance in goods etc, but the treaty has not been ratified. Their reserve embraces quite an extensive portion of mountainous country with some good agricultural lands portions of which has been claimed by settlers. They number some 80 or 90 & subsist chiefly by hunting and on berries.

Tumwater or Falls Indians Known as Slacum’s Band occupy the country immediately on the North side of the Willamette River at the Falls opposite Oregon City, commencing a few miles above the mouth of Tualatin River and extending down to the neighborhood of Linton and back from the river to the dividing Ridge on the Northern boundary of Tualatin Band. They number some twelve or fifteen. Their chief Slacum died last fall. They claim the fishery at Linn City. This band as with many others is now principally made up of liberated slaves and their descendants who were originally purchased by the chiefs & headmen, but upon the death of their masters become free and by marriage and otherwise have become heirs to the dominions of their masters. They have refused to sell unless a large proportion of the purchase money be paid in hand.

Clackamas Tribe This tribe claims the country between the Mollalla’s country and Columbia River and between the Willamette River and the Summit of the Cascade Mountains. The main band resides on the Clackamas River near the base of the mountains; others reside on the Columbia River. They number some fifty or sixty. They have a few horses. Their country was purchased by the former Superintendent for which they were to receive twenty five thousand dollars payable in ten installments; five hundred in cash and the balance in goods etc. The treaty was not ratified. But few of the original tribe are left. The remarks in reference to the origin of the Tum Water tribe is equally applicable to this tribe. The slave having become the owner of the soil, and the master of slaves.

The country between the Tillamook and Umpqua River is claimed by the tribes and bands as follows- Yaquina, Nikas, Alcie, Seletse and Siuslaw. But little is known as to their number and condition. It is supposed however that there are some three hundred of them. This region possesses great facilities for colonizing the Indians of this valley and the Lower Columbia than any other portion of the country west of the Cascade Mountains as the streams are abundantly supplied with fish, the mountains with bear and elk, and the small bottoms and valleys with a variety of roots, the sea coast with a great abundance of wild fowl. The valleys being too small to admit of white settlement, and the streams not of sufficient size to permit vessels to enter, and being separated from all agricultural portion of the country by high rugged mountains.

Umpquas This tribe is divided inot numerous bands called Lower Umpquas, Upper Umpquas, Yoncallas, Myrtle Creek, Cow Creek and others not known to me. They probably number in all, three hundred and fifty. A great part of the country occupied is portioned off to families each family having exclusive control over that portion of country claimed by them. many of them are industrious and a few have commenced the culture of the soil. The country claimed by the Cow Creek Band, amounting to some eighteen thousand square miles was purchased in September last for the sum of twelve thousand dollars. A temporary reserve was assigned them until a more suitable selection should be made. This band numbers fifty two. I confidently anticipate the treaty will be ratified.

Mo-lal-la-las A tribe occupying the country along the western base of the Cascade Mountains between the headwaters of the Willamette and Rogue River, and the mountainous regions of the Deschutes or Fall River & ranging with the streams emptying into Clammath Lake. but little is known of this tribe- their number is supposed to be two hundred. they have had but little intercourse with the whites and have been supposed to be a branch of the Mollallas of this Valley, but they have no connection with them at this time and speak a different language.

Coose Indians These Indians occupy a country watered by a river of the same name and around Coose bay at its mouth, which opens into the ocean twenty five miles south of the Umpqua. They are friendly to the whites and number some two hundred. It is said they are anxious to sell their country but desire to reside in it.

Port Orford Indians Port Orford District embraces eleven bands or tribes and number in all five thousand souls and named as follows viz:

  • 1st. Nasoes, or Coquilles residing on Coquille river
  • 2nd. Quartoes, around Port Orford
  • 3rd U-que-shes south of Port Orford
  • 4th Ja-shoes north of Rogue River
  • 5th Too-too-tans Up Rogue River
  • 6th Ma-que-no-tons farther up Rogue river
  • 7th Cis-ti-coas-tas, Big bend of Rogue River
  • 8th Toke-cin-nah-tins on the coast south of Rogue River on Ford’s River
  • 9th nal-ti-na-tine, south on Rock Creek
  • 10th Chil-tis farther south
  • 11th Whoo-quits south to the California Line

Several of these bands have been treated with for the purchase of their country, but the treaties have not been ratified. It is feared that unless the military force at Port Orford by strengthened so as to restrain reckless whites who are crowding into that country- serious difficulties if not general Indian war will be the consequence.

The difference in orthography between the names of these tribes as set forth in the treaties made by Dr. Dart, Mr. Parrish & Spalding, and this renders it very difficult to distinguish the tribes by name. Their locality is the only means by which to arrive at it.

These Tribes however claim all the country commencing with the Coquille River and extending south to the 40th degree of North Latitude and between the ocean and summit of the Coast Range of mountains. It is gold region. Much however is a good agricultural country, with heavy forests of timber and come open land.

The Cis-ti-ces-ta have recently manifested unfriendly feelings but are generally friendly if treated kindly.

Rogue River Indians These Indians are also divided into several bands known generally by the name of the Chief who presides over the band; as Joe the head Chief who has a band. Sam the war chief has his band, and Jim a subordinate and civil chief has his Band. These three are called the principal chiefs and the two former have to a great extent controlling influence over all the other bands. Jim, I believe however has the greatest number in his band and there is John and his band, Limpie’s Band, & Taylor’s band together with several others the names of which are not known to me.

The whole number in the bands above named is reported by Mr. Culver agent I that district to be one thousand and one, & it is presumed there are other tribes indirectly connected with these Bands, such as the Grave Creeks, Sucker Creeks, Althouse Creeks, etc, amounting in all to some five or six hundred more.

the country claimed by the five first named bands, was purchased by treaty in September last for the sum of sixty thousand dollars. Item embraces an area of some three thousand five hundred square miles and is rich in minerals and much of it unsurpassed for fertility of soil by any lands on this coast.

A tract included in the above purchase has been set aside for a temporary Reserve for them until the policy of the government in regard to the final settlement of the Indians in Oregon is known, and a proper selection made for a permanent home, whether when removed, they are to receive fifteen thousand dollars in addition to the sixty thousand. However it is not yet known whether the treaty will be ratified, but a failure to ratify could not but be a serious obstacle to the maintenance of friendly relations with these and other tribes. Admitting the estimates as herein given to be correct and I have reason to believe them so as nearly as possible at this time, there are in this territory west of the Cascade Mountains about eight thousand four hundred Indians.

One thought on “Palmer’s Knowledge of the Tribes, 1854

  1. excellent information, fine comments,this article clearly shows to what degree natives were decimated by disease. Dr. Lewis’s comments are to the point and very informational. He is a very reputable scholar.

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