The Southern Exploring Expedition and The Kalapuyans

The Charles Wilkes Exploring Expedition came to Oregon in August 1841. The expedition split into two parties with some of the expedition venturing up the Columbia, and a number of the scientists and naval men (The naval men were dispossessed from their duties due to the sinking of the Peacock.) traveling down the Willamette Valley and through the interior valleys into California. Wilkes’ journal is a summary of the journey but does not include all of the details from the journey as many of the officers and scientists kept their own journals. I took note of details that address the … Continue reading The Southern Exploring Expedition and The Kalapuyans

Persistence of Genocide Upon the Chetco People

The Chetco Indians, perhaps more than nearly any other tribe on the Oregon coast, were repeatedly attacked by racist white settlers before their removal. In a previous set of essays I presented the story of the Tolowa and Chetco massacres by a group of paid vigilante militia, perhaps members of the famous Red Caps who committed similar atrocities to the Yurok, and other tribes on the Klamath river. They were certainly the same men who committed genocide at the Tolowa village of Yontocket. On the Chetco river the two villages at Chit were burned, more than twenty people killed on … Continue reading Persistence of Genocide Upon the Chetco People

Near Extinction of the Grave Creek Band

The experiences of the Grave Creek Indians of southwestern Oregon mirror those of the other tribes in the region. They however hardly survived the 1850s as most of their people were exterminated by settler and militia before they could be saved by federal Indian policies of removal. Hardly anything is known of the Grave Creeks, because few of these people lived to talk to anyone of their culture. Their area was south of the Cow Creek Umpqua basin and north of the Rogue River. They were related to and likely spoke the Takelma language like their neighbors. They wee never … Continue reading Near Extinction of the Grave Creek Band

Draining Lake Labish

In 1981, I took a job weeding onion fields out Hazelgreen Road on the outskirts of Salem, Oregon, as one of my first jobs. In the summer after high school got out, I began cycling out Cordon Road, on my Raleigh Reliant, from my house near Sunnyview Drive, at 7 in the morning. From my doorstep, I would arrive at the onion fields in about 45 minutes of hard riding through the cool morning fog. The onions, likely Wallawallas, were large and grew in long rows in near-black soils. The weeds too grew large as the soils were rich in … Continue reading Draining Lake Labish

Nestucca Accounts of the Great Fire of 1845 and First Encounters with White Men

There are numerous oral histories from tribal people in Oregon about catastrophic events, fires, volcanic eruptions, floods, tsunamis. Many of these stories are fantastically imagined and are likely stories of long ago historic events. These stories feature giant animals and figures like Coyote who is consistently tricking humans in some manner, and the action of tricking helps humans learn the lessons of Coyote. Stories in Oregon of creation and earth changes many-times feature Beaver who is pursuing his role of creating ecosystems on river systems. Coyote and Beaver fighting together, in Wasco and Wishram oral histories, created the Columbia Gorge, … Continue reading Nestucca Accounts of the Great Fire of 1845 and First Encounters with White Men