Oregon Tribal Treaties

The 1851 Treaties

The 19 Western Oregon Treaties of 1851 were the first treaties of the purchase of lands from tribes in the west. The process of negotiating these treaties was fraught with political issues. The treaties were late, an afterthought of the federal government which passed the Oregon Donation Land Act of 1850, without purchasing the Indian titles first. The Donation Land Act enabled thousands of Americans to seek free land in Oregon, but since land titles with tribes were not settled yet there were many conflicts between the tribes and settlers.  The process of treaty-making was on a clock, with the issue of war looming in the future if agreements could not be made soon. Wars came, along the Columbia River were the Cayuse and Yakima wars, and in southwestern Oregon the Rogue River wars of 1849-1850, 1851-53, and 1855-56. The leading cause of the wars was the glut of American settlers who began taking all the land and impacting the resources of the tribes without fair payment for the lands, or appropriate justice and legal settlement for numerous conflicts in the territory.

The following essays seek to find the answers to the issues of the treaties, why they failed, and what the tribes thought of the whole process.

The 1851 Treaty Commission: the Ya-su-chah at Port Orford

The 1851 Treaty Commission: Coquille, Euchre, and Tototan at Port Orford

The 1851 Treaty Commission Journal: The Clackamas Treaty

The 1851 Treaty Commission Journal: Santiam Kalapuya Negotiations

Clatsops After Their 1851 Treaty

The 1851 Tansy Point Treaty Journal: The Clatsop Treaty

Rejection of the Nineteen 1851 Oregon Treaties

Anson Dart and the Willamette Treaty Commission

Anson Dart’s Report on the Tribes and Treaties of Oregon, 1851

Anson Dart’s Report of November 7, 1851: Contextualized

George Gibbs and Chinuk Wawa 1851

Dart’s Instructions of Colonization and Assimilation in 1850

Origins of the Willamette Valley Treaty Map of 1851

Lower Chinookan Treaty Territories in 1851

Molalla Chief Crooked Finger, the Battle of Abiqua and the 1851 Molalla Treaty

Timeline of treaties and removals in western Oregon

 The Treaties 1853-1855

In 1853 begins another era of treaties under Joel Palmer. Palmer wrote at least seven successful treaties for western Oregon and works on treaties for eastern Oregon with Isaac Stevens. Additional treaties are written with the Nez Perce, Klamath, and Paiute peoples.

Treaties are agreements between the tribal nations and the United States for sale of the tribal lands. Tribes are promised money, supplies, and services to remove to a permanent reservation for their home. By-and-large, the federal government does pay the tribes as agreed. But payments are late, supplies are cheap or not enough, and the management of the reservations is quite bad. Many native people die of mismanagement, starvation, malnutrition, violence, during the period of the early reservation. Then reservations reductions take more resources and land from the tribes. the western Oregon tribes and Klamath are terminated in 1954, meaning their treaties are terminated. This act, without the express approval of the tribes, is a breach of treaty terms. Seven tribes are restored in the 1970s and 1980s.

Treaties of Oregon tribes give some rights to tribes who desire hunting, fishing and gathering rights. But other treaties, which do not express these rights, do not address hunting, fishing, and gathering at all, and so western Oregon tribes then have the opinion that they did not have these rights taken away. Treaty debates are the backbone of all tribal histories in the present era and provide important context for tribes claiming sovereign rights.

The Willamette Valley Treaty (Treaty with the Kalapuya, Etc.) Signed January 22 & Ratified March 3, 1855

Equability of the Willamette Valley Treaty

Treaty of Peace with the Rogue River Tribes, September 8, 1853

Rogue River Treaty of 1854, Negotiated November 15, 1854, Ratified March 3, 1855

Treaty with the Chasta, Negotiated November 18, 1854, Ratified March 3, 1855

Rogue River Treaty of 1853, Negotiated September 10, 1853, Ratified April 12, 1854

Treaty with the Molala, Negotiated December 21, 1855, Ratified March 8, 1859

The Molalla Treaty: The Last Western Oregon Treaty

Treaty with the Umpqua and Kalapuya, Negotiated November 29, 1854, Ratified March 3, 1855

Treaty with the Umpqua – Cow Creek Band, Negotiated September 19, 1853, Ratified April 12, 1854

The Cow Creek Umpqua Temporary Reservation

When the Tribes Sold Everything: Oregon Tribal Treaty Payments

When Treaty Annuities End – Federal Austerity in 1876

When Treaty Annuities Ended on the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation

Meacham’s Final Appeal to Fairly Pay the Tribes Removed to the Coast Reservation.

This Place is as My Heart: The 1855 Wasco-Deschutes Treaty


The Quartux Journal