History in the Vouchers: Joel Palmer’s Expense Journal

I have spent much time on Palmer’s and other early settler’s and explorer’s letters that I have gained a good understanding of the history of the tribes.  Some periods have missing details and so much of what I do (and most historians) is fill in the blanks with suppositions about what was probably taking place. I have also avoided some records as been too cumbersome. I have avoided most of the expense reports, as relatively boring documents without much detail. The letters tend to address the culture and changes happening to the tribes while the expense reports and budgets can be very circumspect with details of the tribes in the region. However, when I examined Palmer’s expense journal I found some historic details and perhaps even new information that must become part of the history of the tribes. First there is a breakdown by each agent for what they were expending each quarter. This can be very confusing if one

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The Significance of Salmon River Encampment in 1875

In 1875, the United States Congress passed an act, March 3, 1875, to reduce the Coast Reservation. This act, terminated the Alsea Reservation, that section on the south, and opened that section to white settlement. The previous act in 1865 (President Andrew Johnson signing the Executive Order of December 21, 1865) had eliminated a section in the north and a section in the center, in part because of the Yaquina Bay oyster rush. This last southern section held the encampments at Alsea and Yachats. The tribes here were the Alsea, Lower Umpqua, Siuslaw and Coos Bay peoples. Federal records had many of these peoples on the Umpqua reservation, on the coast just south of the Coast Reservation, for 6 or 7 years until they were all removed to the Alsea Sub-Agency in about 1861. In 1865, when the Coast reservation was divided in half by opening lands for settlement, the Alsea sub-Agency was then called the Alsea Reservation. The 1875

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Indian Catchers of Coastal Oregon 1850s

A truly remarkable fact of Oregon history presented itself while conducting some coastal research. In 1856 and for years after, the Indian agents employed and contracted with enterprising individuals to seek out and capture Indians still remaining in the lands or escaped from the reservations, and return them. The image recalled when hearing about this profession, is that of the Child Catcher in the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. In the movie, this truly evil character went around German towns hunting down children to imprison them, using candy for enticement. The Child Catcher is perhaps a direct reference to how the Germans in WWII had squads of Gestapo soldiers that were deployed with the sole purpose of seeking out Jews to capture and imprison them. As well, many non-Jews participated in identifying and informing on hidden Jews in their towns. In Southern Oregon, the new settlers in the various coastal towns would inform on the Indians living in the forests, mountains

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Canoeing the Yaquina, Coast Reservation, November 1856

The story of the Coast Reservation of Oregon is complicated. The Coast Reservation is created in 1855 by Presidential Executive Order and then for some months remains undeveloped by the Oregon Indian office. Joel Palmer, the Indian Superintendent for Oregon, planned to move all of the tribes of western Oregon to this reservation, because the 100 mile stretch of coastline and coastal mountains (100 miles long by 20 miles wide in most estimates) , were relatively unsettled, and were an intractable wilderness to the White settlers. The Coast Reservation extended from Siltcoos Lake at the south to about Cape Lookout at the north, and to the peak of the Coast Range at the east. On various maps the boundaries can change dramatically.   Palmer knew that he had to remove the tribes from living in their villages as they were in the way of White settlers, who would not put up with tribes living on the pristine prairie lands of

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The Gateway on the Central Oregon Coast, Fort Umpqua and the Umpqua Sub Indian Agency

  The southern and central Coast of Oregon is a relatively unknown area in Native American history. As the area is not well researched it is generally assumed to have been vacated during the Indian removals of 1856. However, federal records show us that this is not the case at all. That there were tribes and bands living on the central coast, even below the southern border of the Coast Reservation, and there was quite a lot of traffic of Native groups moving up and down the coast as they were either forced into the reservation and its encampments, or tried to escape the enforced poverty, starvation, and oppression of the reservation. In 1856, tribes from the Table Rock, Umpqua and other temporary reservations in the Willamette Valley and along the Columbia were removed to the Grand Ronde Indian reservation, and to habitable parts of the Coast Reservation. The Grand Ronde Reservation was conceived of, in the beginning, as being

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