Truth of History

This title is nearly an oxymoron. There are historic truths, but what we known of history is an invention of mostly people who did not personally experience that history. In truth, historians write histories all the time where they assume that what they are writing is true, based on the preponderance of evidence. Mostly historians get clues as to what is history from a number of sources, and they have to assign values to those sources. Some sources are reliable, some are not based on a number of factors. These factors can include the reliability of the source, the source’s closeness to the events of history, the sources’ political, religious and cultural leanings. Then many historians, the actual researchers and writers have a good number of personal biases they must work through. Many historians admire the subject of their histories, many want to prove a theory, and many desire to get noticed in their publications. Faculty at universities are usually

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David Douglas and the Sugar Pine

In October of 1826, David Douglas descends down the valley surrounding the Multnomah river (Willamette River) travelling in part through the forests on the fringe of the valley. He collects seeds and insects and notes all manner of “new” species.  He sees the valley floor was burned, as it normally is in late September by the Kalapuyan peoples, and notes they are forced into the forests to hunt for food. On the 10th of October Douglas descends into the Umpqua valley and eagerly collects new species. He travels along Red Deer River  valley, a small river which “empties itself into the River Aguilar or Umpqua, forty three miles from the sea,” and along the river he finds  a “beautiful evergreen tree” he calls Laurus Regia now called  Umbellularia californica, named finally by Nuttall as the California bay laural tree (Douglas Journals 67).  Umbellularia californica Douglas then notes that his Laurus Regia is used by his hunters, Indians hired to hunt

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Tribes Made Conscious Decisions and Travel in Annual Circuits

In anthropology there is a term “Seasonal Round” that describes, or attempts to describe, the annual movement of the tribal peoples throughout their lands. This term is now widely used in all manner of studies about tribal peoples, from history to ethnobotany,  native studies, and  geography and others. In short, the term is now widely respected as accurate and descriptive of the activities of the tribes. Here is one definition: Definition of seasonal round: Also known as the annual round, this term refers to the pattern of movement from one resource-gathering area to another in a cycle that was followed each year. And the seasonal round lends itself naturally to round modelling which in pictorial form perhaps helps people to understand better what is being addressed. Each tribe has its own unique seasonal round. There are all manner of these seasonal round images based on the culture being addressed. I use the term all the time but recently I have felt that the

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Chelamela and Chemapho Kalapuyans

The Long Tom River and its tributaries was the original homelands to two major tribes of Kalapuyan Indians, the Chelamela and Chemapho tribes. The Chelamela occupied the upper or southern part of the watershed from the Coast Range to the Willamette at Eugene, and from the Calapooia range to the Reservoir. The Chemapho occupied from the Coast Range to the Willamette and from the Reservoir to just before Philomath at the north. The tribes lived in permanent villages in the middle to upper reaches of the watershed along tributaries to the Long Tom River. The foothills of the Coast range had permanent villages, while the temporary fishing and root gathering encampments were down on the flatlands near the Long Tom and Willamette. The tribes practiced a seasonal round lifeways, with permanent winter villages above the flood plains, and annual temporary encampments in known cultural locations for root digging, berry picking, hunting, and fishing activities. The tribes used canoes for efficient

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Estuaries Saved the Coastal Tribes: Joel Palmer’s Plan in 1855

I have previously written about how the coastal tribes were relocated to several river estuaries within the Coast Reservation (Siuslaw, Yachats, Alsea, Nashesne, Siletz and Umpqua). There the tribes, mostly from the southern Oregon coast, were not given much in the way of help from the federal government, there was very little money, and their Coast treaty was never ratified.  Despite the formal promises within the Treaties and the additional informal promises of Indian agents, there were few benefits to the tribes from removal to reservations.  They were made to live in these locations on sub-agencies and feed and house themselves from 1856 until at least 1878. This story of the tribes forced to remain on the sub agencies but living in relative self-subsistence conditions was not thought of by Geary or Nesmith when they were Indian superintendents, but was planned by Joel Palmer before he was fired as Indian Superintendent in 1856.  Palmer wrote a letter about this plan

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