Summer Cycling at Minto-Brown Island Park

This summer, I have been returning to mountain biking in the local park, Minto-Brown Island park. I used to mountain bike a lot, when I lived in California. I would take excursions to parks in and around Sonoma County. Bolinas Ridge, Annadel, Sonoma Mountain were my favorite parks to visit. Annadel was my very favorite, with many different trails for serious cyclists, lots of hills and lots of fast downhills. I did tons of road riding too, throughout the county, to the coast, along the coast highway and doing the Highway 12 route, through the Valley of the Moon. I even entered two races, one road race and one mountain bike race the Rockhopper.

When I lived in Petaluma and Santa Rosa, my bike was the main transportation throughout the towns. I continued biking when I came back to Oregon, but did not continue riding mountain trails. I rode constantly to class at the University of Oregon for some 11 years of there. Since we have had kids, biking has been more difficult, as they need to be transported around. Taking a job at Grand Ronde also eliminated cycling for a few years. I became more of a summer and weekend warrior, riding into the Salem downtown for weekend study trips.

This summer its been different, the kids are grown, and now hate doing anything with the old man, and I am not heavily scheduled for work, and so I have more opportunity to get out and ride as an exercise every day I want to. I now use a bike rack and go directly to the park for riding in one hour to 2 hour excursions. The muscle memory is helping as I try to get back into riding shape. The Minto trails are quite easy with few hills as I work out kinks. I am saddle sore, and tired most days but feel better at the end of the day than if I do not ride. I also feel lighter and freer getting out into woods. I found many interesting things in Minto-Brown park, interesting vegetation and clear anthropogenic changes to the environment by previous settlers and landowners. All of the photos are taken by me.

Kalapuyan words added as I find the words for various plants. The Kalapuyan tribe in this area, or tribes, were the Santiam and Luckamiuke. The Santiam lived mostly on the east side and had a village named Chemeketa at Salem, and the Luckamiuke villages are not well known for this area, one was across the river from Independence. It is assumed that the river was the division for tribes east and west, but this island is in  the middle of the river.

One of the many sloughs off of the Willamette
An Osprey nest, they will cry out whenever I am near, because I am dangerous (no word yet found for Osprey)
One of the prairies, most have dirt single-track trails for cyclists, watch out for the Thistle trail!
A grove of lodgepole pine trees? yes at the west end of the park is a large grove of pines (Kalapuyan- amkalk- the pine), clearly planted all at the same time
A grove of W. Red Cedars (Kalapuyan- anla’- the cedar tree), also planted in straight rows, there are two such sections of cedars along the trail on the west end
A planted row of what appears to be Incense cedars also on the west end
a couple different types of willows (Kalapuyan-anuha – an+nuha -The willow tree) are also planted in rows
Maybe Red willow, would make good weaving material
Another row of pines, a different type
Lodgepole pine
I thought Douglas Fir (Kalapuyan bufbak- fir bush), but this is Western Hemlock
A short line of Oregon white oaks (Kalapuyan- amif- the oak tree) , they are smaller than the neighbors, they grow slower, but i think all of these groves are planted at the same time
a cherry (Kalapuyan -anuk- the cherry), there are a few (annuk-choke cherry)
lots of ash (Mawilick) and cottonwoods
Early Gooseberry (amptik)?
Lots of wild Raspberries (antebufi- the raspberry)
raspberries (antebufi)
Lots of Oregon Grape (Kau’-kau’)
wild rose (tsa’l)
Native Tarweed (ansawal)
nice pink flowers
White Oxeye Daisies
Juncus
Juncus along a seasonal wetland
A sea of white flowers and juncus

There is so much Himalayan blackberry in the park, it was good to find the native variety, Trailing blackberry (tkwil)
In the grove of European Hazelnuts, planted when people in Oregon called them filberts, the native variety does not appear in the park, or may be crossed with the european variety (pik)
Struggle between a big leaf maple and pine, or is it a maple-pine tree?
All geared up for the adventure
The trail ahead, whats around the corner?

The Minto-Brown park is quite accessible. People walk, run, skateboard, and bike it all the time. Its very busy. There are lots to see, nice vistas and access to the Willamette River. The groves of various trees intentionally planted in rows is an interesting thing to discover in the park. Now with easy access from the city side of the Willamette Slough, all of this is more open than ever before. Time for another trip, I will be raiding the raspberries again today, and waiting for Himalayans to be ready.

My pony. I built this bike some 18 years ago. My original GT Karakoram had been stolen at UO, and so I bought a frame of nearly the same paint job on Ebay and bought all the parts and put it together myself. I even built the wheels. Cycling mechanics is one of my talents. Recent adjustments are a new seat, a new rear wheel (the old one was a voodoo rim, always breaking spokes and out of true), and new grips. It needs a tune up, and has a odd ticking, but its a good bike.

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Tribal Boys Thrown Off Census for Years

At the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation the Indian Agent in 1907, Andrew Kershaw (Kershaw was a long-term agent at the reservation, began omitting Tribal members from the annual BIA Census (which served as the tribal roll).  His reasoning was that the people omitted had gotten their fee simple titles and so their Allotments were no longer “Reservation property” and so the Native allottees were then not living “on the reservation.” He considered them to no longer be under the supervision of the Federal government. From 1907 to 1915, over 328 Natives were omitted from the Grand Ronde Census, such that in 1914, there were only 25 people remaining, while in 1906 there were 353 members on the census. Edwin Chalcraft took over as Indian Agent of the combined Grand Ronde-Siletz agency in 1915, and noted this situation in a short note when submitting the 1915 census. In 1916, he adds most of the Tribal members back onto the census, so that there are 324 people named.

There are many questions about why Agent Kershaw thought to omit names based on the status of their allotments. There does not appear to be a directive from the Indian Office to this effect (as yet one has not been found), and it does not appear that other agents of other reservations took similar actions. Chalcraft actions and letters suggest that this was a mistaken action by Kershaw, and letters from the Indian Office directing him to add the Tribal people back onto the Census, agree with him.

There are effects from the omission of Tribal people for some eight years from the Grand Ronde Census. I documented previously that a woman of the reservation was never added back onto the Census because she lived in Portland. The following story is another couple of cases where Tribal members were left off the Tribal Census well beyond the date of their birth, and may have lost out on benefits due tribal members. The story also documents how Congressmen from the Federal Government knew nothing about what happened, could not answer questions posed to a Congressional sub-committee assembled to document the Conditions of Reservations in the United States.

Clara and Adeline Robinson were tribal members born on the Grand Ronde Reservation, in 1893 and 1888 respectively. They are listed on every tribal census until 1907 when their names are dropped from the census by Agent Kershaw, presumedly because they are no longer living on reservation land.

Robinson Family from the 1906 Grand Ronde Census

Clara and Adeline reappear in 1916 on the Grand Ronde Census, Adeline is now married to Leon Reiback from Austria, and Clara is now married (Oct 30, 1912) to a “white” man named Chester O. White who may have lived in Eola. Clara and Chester had a son Orrin Orville White in 1913 in Portland, OR, and, Adeline had three sons by Leon, Harris Jerome, Vernon Alton and Westly Arnold. None of these children, all of whom have tribal heritage, are noted on the Grand Ronde Census in 1916 or for years afterwards. (another possible son of Clara White is listed as Oral Fryso born 1914 as listed on the 1923 census as a Step son of Sam Riggs. Its unclear what this is, perhaps an adoptive son of Clara’s or an affair? )

1916 Grand Ronde census sections, note Adeline’s birth year is wrong, it should be 1888..

Clara White is listed as a “wife’ in 1921 and listed in the off-reservation section of the census, living in Portland with her husband Chester. She returns to Grand Ronde with her son(s) in 1922 (unsure if divorce or estranged from Chester) as she is not longer listed in the off-reservation section of the census but her son is not mentioned. Her future second husband Samuel Riggs is still a widower as of 1922, having lost his wife Ida Wheeler in 1920. By 1923, Samuel and Clara are married and living together. (Incidentally, Clara and Adeline’s mother, Caroline, lived far past her husbands (she married twice, first to Daniel, then to , in the 1920s and 1930s she is listed as living alone as a widow. James Robinson, their brother, is also listed into the 1930s as a single man living alone.)

1924 Grand Ronde Census, Sam Riggs family, note Clara is not listed with the family, but she is listed with the family in the 1923 census.
1925 Grand Ronde Census, Sam Riggs family, note Clara is now listed with the family, and Orrin Orville is not, but note here that Oral Riggs is listed, in 1923 Oral is noted to be Clara’s son.

Clara Robinson/White Riggs still has her son with her when she joins the Sam Riggs family, but her son Orrin is not listed on the Grand Ronde Census until 1931. Orrin White is at least one quarter Rogue River and Chinook and yet is not listed on the Tribal census. There is no hint here about why Oral Fryso was listed as her son in 1923, and his name is changed on the census in 1925 to Riggs. (I suspect that Oral Fryso may be adopted by Clara and Sam.)

In May of 1931, Clara Riggs, or Mrs. Sam Riggs, advocated for her son, of 1913, to be a listed member of the tribe. Clara appeared before the Subcommittee on Indian Affairs at Chemawa Indian School, Oregon and stated her case for including her son on the Tribal census, which served as the tribal roll.



Survey of Conditions of the Indians in the United States, Hearings before the Subcommittee of the Committee on Indian Affairs United States Senate, 71st Congress, 3rd session, Hearings at Chemawa, Oregon. May 30, 1931. Pp 11752-11753.

Mrs. Sam Riggs, Grand Ronde

I would like to ask a few questions. In 1913 I had a child, so did my sister have three children and I sent their names to be recorded. Well I never knew they were not recorded until the children started to get a little interest money and when I looked into it seen they were not recorded. So I like to know why they were not recorded.

Senator Frazier. Have you got a letter stating they were recorded?

Mrs. Riggs. I did have it until I came back to Grand Ronde. I was born and raised in Grand Ronde and left, you know, and the child I had was in Salem. I came back after the child was 8 years old and burned the letter cleaning up. I depended on him and I burned the letter. Come to find out about it he had not recorded my sister’s three boys and my own. They seem to be the only children denied off the pay roll and always did not feel right and I do not like it and we cannot talk to anybody.

Senator Frazier. Your children were born away from the reservation, is that the idea?

Mrs. Riggs, Yes, sir.

Senator Frazier.

How about that Mr. Scattergood?

Mr. Scattergood. I have no information about the case.

Mrs. Riggs. There were other children born away and came back just the same and they go on the Pay roll. They claim because my child had a white father. There are other people living on the reservation and their children had white people.

Senator Frazier. What tribe?

Mrs. Riggs. Rogue River from my father. My mother is a Chinook and Umpqua and my great grandfather was a chief. He was a chief out there. I can prove it to you because we have the picture.

Senator Frazier. Do you anything about this?

Mrs. Riggs. Mr. Larsen was not in at that time. If he had been in this would not have happened. It was before his time. He has always done wonderful things for us and has helped us in every way and I find him the best we have had since I have been here.

Mr. Scattergood. There were some proceeds from the sale of tribal lands. The proceeds were then distributed among the various parties who were registered as members of the Rogue River Tribe. She claims the children were never registered.

Mrs. Riggs. It was not our neglect. When the child was born we sent it in to be registered and he writes back and said they were recorded. Mr. Larsen was not there. If he was it would have been recorded.

Mr. Scattergood. How long ago did that happen?

Mrs. Riggs. That was in 1913.

Mr. Scattergood. Did you ever make any complaint to the Indian Office at that time?

Mrs. Riggs. I went to the superintendent; yes, sir. I have talked about it. I did not get any other chance to speak to anybody else.

Senator Frazier. Will you take that up and find out about that?

Mrs. Riggs. Charley was not in. If he was it would not have happened, because he has been very honest and I can say he has done wonderful things for us.

Senator Frazier. Something ought to be done.

Mrs. Riggs. I think our children are entitles to be on there. I do not see why they were denied admission when they were born on the reservation.

Senator Frazier. Where were you born?

Mrs. Riggs. Here in Chemawa and my sister took up training as a nurse in Chemawa here.

Senator Frazier. Is she nursing now?

Mrs. Riggs. Not now. She is not now. She is getting old. She has three big boys. Of course, her children were turned off but we were on the pay roll and did receive a little money; then our children were thrown off and I did not think that was justice at all.

Senator Frazier. Do you recollect how much money they would have received if they had been on?

Mrs. Riggs. Only $33 apiece. I say if they were thrown off then they would be thrown off again if anything should turn up and I am looking out for their interest. I think they have as much right as any other children because other children have more white blood than they.

Senator Frazier. Your husband is white?

Mrs. Riggs. Was a white man. My father is Rogue River Indian and my mother is a Chinook.

Senator Frazier. I do not know what can be done, but we will have Mr. Larsen look into it.

Mrs. Riggs. I have been speaking to Mr. Larsen. He has been very good. He said he would do what he can.

Senator Frazier. Any other statement you want to make?

Mrs. Riggs. No.

[Transcription by David Lewis]



So, it appears that Clara had sent her son’s name and that of her three nephews to the Indian Agent, likely Andrew Kershaw, to be included in the tribal roll. But since both families were living in Portland at the time, none of the four boys were added to the rolls. And, when Edwin Chalcraft took over the duties from Kershaw, he did not know about the four boys. So they were excluded from the Tribal rolls for as long as 18 years. Clara notes that they lost out on some money, probably the proceeds of the sale of some former reservation lands sold during the heirship sales in about 1918, and were not included as heirs of the Robinson family. Dan Robinson had an on-reservation Indian allotment.

The federal policies were even worse than this. For some reason, Adeline Robinson Riebach was left off the tribal rolls for a time in the 1920s likely because she living in Portland. The early 1920s censuses were divided up by on-reservation members and off-reservation members.

1921 Grand Ronde census. Off reservation section
1930 Adeline appears again, she is missing from the 1929 census, note her 3 sons are not listed and they are living in Portland.

Clara’s son is not listed as living with the blended family until 1932. This is one year after Clara Riggs states her son’s case and that of her nephews before the sub-committee.

1932 first appearance of Orrin Orville White on the Grand Ronde census

Similarly, Adeline’s sons are listed the same year.

1932 Adeline and 3 sons are now listed

The birth date listed for Adeline, on the 1932 census (and many others) appears incorrect as the early census records show she is born closer to 1888.

1890 Grand Ronde Census, showing Adeline is 2 years old. the son is James.

Its interesting that the federal officials did not know about the problems of Gfrand Ronde the census issues. They, during the hearing, turn the matter over to Charles Larsen to rectify. Its clear that Charles did his job appropiately, and that Clara’s trust in him was justified. Charles Larsen, was himself a Native, of the Siletz Tribe, who had a distinguished service at several Indian boarding schools in his carreer. His papers are at Willamette University Archives.

The impact of the removal of tribal people for some eight years is still to this day not well known. As more research occurs I will continue to reveal the facts of Grand Ronde history as best as possible. Its very clear in many examples that the federal uthorities were very bad at record keeping, imposed rules and policies imperfectly and this has likley affected the descendants of these Native peoples. While in Clara and Adeline’s cases, they solved the problem with minimal effects, I wonder how many other tribal members were caught up in the erasure of tribal mebership on the censuses and never returned and therefore may never return to the tribe in the present era.


BIA Indian Census records 1890 to 1932 are available on the Internet Archives,  For Grand Ronde they are reels 169, 458, 459, 505, 506. Reel 506 has a hidden set of Grand Ronde census records not listied in the description for the years 1916 t0 1925.

Ancestry.com internet site helped me find the first husband of Clara, Chester White. Chester’s son Orrin Orville is incorrectly listed as a Riggs in numerous census records and in the Living in the Great Circle book by Olson. Its understandable that this can be confusing because tribal families are incredibly confusing. It may be the case that Orrin was adopted by Sam Riggs, but I do not have records suggesting this. In addition sometimes the cnesus records liusted (White) next to Orrin’s name, which could be confused as a racial category.

Family Search.com site helped with some lookups.

Joel Palmer Returning Indians and Feeding Natives, Siletz 1871

Joel Palmer was the Indian Agent at the Siletz Agency in 1871 and had responsibilities, as emphasized in his 1871 journal, over continuing to removing Indians from the Southern Coast to the Coast Reservation, some of whom had run away from from the reservation earlier. 1871 removal of Tolowa and Chetco to the Coast Reservation. In November Palmer began to gather the necessary supplies together to remove some few Indian families from the coast. Palmer was also engaged in trying to figure out how to feed the people already on the reservation, these two responsibilities split his time significantly.

The 1871 Palmer Journal (all excerpts from the journal)

Memorandum of expenses incurred in collecting Indians who have run away from reservation… the total from several pages of expenses, including food, lodging, and ferriage was $653.59.

Palmer has with him five men and 8 horses from Siletz, L.H. Sawtell, Lorenzo Palmer -his son, and three Indians from the reservation John Howard, Depo Charly, and Chetco Charley. Palmer paid the Indians $37.50  each for their services. (it may be the Sawtell remained behind in Charge of Siletz while Lame Jim was instead the 6th man)  Lame Jim is mentioned as being with the party from the Umpqua to the Coquille, and serves as a guide for the party.  The party is in Crescent City on November 28, a Tuesday and stays overnight for several nights at Smith River where he incurs a $40 bill for room and board. While there Palmer takes stock of the number of Tolowa and other Indians in the area is a short census.                

Cresent City Indians 25

Lagoon Indians about 100

Yontocket south bank Smiths River about 75 (Yontocket is a Tolowa town south of Smith River, CA, the town was attacked numerous times by whites)

Smith Riv. Indians about 150

Clamaths (Yuroks) 25 miles below Crescent City number about 15.00 [could be 1500] no reservation

Palmer Does not initially note the number of Indians he gathers to return to Siletz, however his return ferriage costs reveal the number of people in his party.

At the Coquille, “for ferrying 18 head horses and seventeen persons,17.00, across Coquill River.”

At Coose Bay, “for ferrying 17 horses,18 persons and bagage, across Coose bay.” (they apparently pick up another person and lose a horse)

With the five initial men, plus Palmer, they gather 12 other people from the coast from various locations, mainly Tututni tribal locations. The party would travel up the coast and hire messengers to travel quickly inland to tell camped Indian families to come to the coast to return to the reservation. Several entries suggest that they at times had to find hidden people or chase them down.

On the return trip, the party gathers Indians at Mule Creek, at Mussel Creek (3 sisters), and at 4 Mile Creek. The biggest challenge occurred at 4 Mile Creek

“12th- Joshua John & wife lives at 4 Mile Creek, Sixes or Port Orford John with six women and several children live at Curlis & Emmitts 4 miles above Murrys up 4 mile creek. on Tuesday 12 went there but all had fled to the mountains returned & sent Mr Murry with letter to Curlis & Emmett setting forth a synopsis of the new pollicy in treatment of Indians and urge them to aid in inducing the Indians to return instead of advising them to flee to the mountains, stating that they or any others would be [prosecuted?]2 if they persisted in that folly, 13th- Murry did not return. started women and part of men on the Coquill with letter to postmaster to furnish quarters untill I came up… Murry returned at one PM bringing with him Curlis, Indians agreed to come up in the spring. Reached Coquill at dark.”

Palmer ends up leaving the Indians at the Alsea Agency on December 20th, and continues to Newport and Siletz without them.

On this trip, Palmer successfully returns 12 Indians to the Alsea Agency, but he also takes stock of the other Indian families that remain living on the coast outside of the reservation.  Palmer notes about the families suggest that he gave them all permission to remain off the reservation. This was the policy of the time, that Indians could not be off-reservation without a pass. (We have found a passbook for Grand Ronde, but I have not seen a similar ledger for Siletz.) Palmer notes clearly denotes a pass or “leave”, which is permission by him to remain off-reservation. Palmer for some reason is also concerned enough about Indian-white marriage to capture a few of these relationships.

Jenne or Charley Davis boy is at Whales Head at Smiths, Jenne is living with Rev. Tichner at Big Bend. Jenne is also claimed by Miservy living at same place by whom she has 2 boys one 9 y old named George one Elisha about 7

Thomas Moore has 3 children by woman from sailor diggins in Josephine who is dead one boy 10 y old at Wm Southerlands at scoocumhouse  (head mans house) one, 6 yrs old, at darky Jo Lewis on Smith river a girl 13 years old at Crescent City Charles Strands

George Watson, moved, lives at big bend has an Illinois woman a Chasta has 3 children 1 girl 2 boys. (non-Native with Native wife? and children)

McMullin has one of (Harney’s) Rogue River women no children lives at John Mule Creek. (non-Native with Native wife)

Port Orford John with seven women & 2 children leave to remain on four Mile Creek untill spring

brother to Osker, for home, who will put in on Dick a Chetco and wife have pass to remain on Smith River untill 4th July 1872

Bradford Charley and family leave to remain on Smith River on account of sickness

 Billey & wife – Jo & wife and Jack leave to remain at Chetco untill spring Baby sick

Charley, wife, and mother leave to remain at Chetco untill spring – wife sick


Finally, now that some Indians are returned to the Coast reservation, Palmer must keep his word (which he is famous for doing) and pay the leaders what they have asked to peacefully return to the reservation. The last pages of the journal documents additional payments, gifts, to the Indian men who joined him on the trip, and the leaders, head men likely, who returned. Ironically most of the tribal people likely left the reservation because they were starving and not given supplies and provisions that were originally promised.  It was common for the agents to give provisions to head men who would then divvy it up among their tribal people on the reservation.  But, as I address later, the agency has a food shortage problem.

Issuances from Dec 24th 1871 to January 3rd 1872

Mustak (he may have a been a chief due to the provisions given him)

Gave Mustak one horse valued at $35.00, 1 ax – one fry pan, one bread pan

Mustak one half ax, one sissores

Mustak – 10 lbs salmon, 1 sack flour, 1½ B Potatoes 50 lbs Beef,

Mustak 1 sack flour

issued to Mustak 1½ B Potatoes

Mustaks wife

8 yds prints                                                 1.20

1 pair shoes                                                 2.50

1 “ stockings                                                .62½

2 wife 8 yds prints                                      1.20

1 pair shoes pr stocking                              3.12½

1 Blanket                                                     4.00

Selchuck

Gave Selchuck 2 sacks flour

Issued to Selchuck, one sack flour,  $3.00

Selchuck 1 fry pan, 1 tin pan, 1/4 tea

issued Selchuck 1½ B (bushel) potatoes

Gave to Selchuck one pony bought of Barrett  $25.00, in place of one lost on trip

Selchuck33 one Blanket                                $4.00

pair shoes pair socks                                 $3.12½

Charley

Charley  pony, 1 sack flour

to Charley 1½  B Potatoes

Charley poney, 1½ B Potatoes,  6 lbs fish

Charles Poney wife

8 yds prints                                                 1.20

1 pair shoes                                                 2.50

1 “ stockings                                                .62½

Charley 1 pair shoes                                    2.50

1 pr socks                                                       .62

1 Blanket                                                     4.00

John Murry

John Murry 1 sack flour

to John Murry 1½ B Potatoes

and-

Tootoon Jack 1 sack flour                                             

James Biddle Indian,  to sack flour, by services of mule on trip to collect Indians forty days at .50 coin $20.00 (lease fee of a mule), Mule in place of his that died in the service

Barney, one sack flour, $2.50


Palmer visited the southern coast under orders to gather escaped Indians. Previous efforts like this in the 1860s were conducted by the Army and by contracted Indian catchers, whose fees exceeded $20,000 for only a few trips. Palmer was able to conduct the same service for less than $1000. The situation at Siletz in the Fall and early winter of 1871 was grim with Palmer predicting the failure of crops, and starvation on the reservation.

September 1871 Siletz Report, Joel Palmer Indian Agent

The Late planted Potatoe crop will be an entire failure on account of a severe front the sixth of this month, a few fields planted early & those in sheltered positions may possibly mature… There can be no longer any doubt that the crops produced upon the Reservation this season will fall far short of subsisting the Indians until another harvest, and we must look to other sources to supply the deficiency. Fish will constitute one of the chief articles, and many are now preparing to take the fall and winter run of salmon. We are also fitting out hunting parties to take elk and deer, with those two resources we hope to materially lessen the expenses of subsisting these Indians through coming winter. A few of the families will have an abundance of provisions and to spare, while many others will be destitute of food. (Palmer 9 9 1871 M2 Oregon Superintendency records)

January 1872 Siletz Report, Joel Palmer Indian Agent

Palmer’s next report in January 1872 tells us the results of his activities for much of the winter.

My absence from the Agency collecting fugitive Indians per your instructions prevented me from submitting my monthly report… Considerable sickness prevailed among the Indians during the month of November but no deaths occurred but in December a visible improvement in their sanitary (health)  condition was observed, Just at present however quite a number of chronic cases in the adults, and some few cases of complaints among children exists. .. I am granting passes to quite a number to go outside (of the reservation) & work for the whites during the winter season, also I have given employment to Indians upon the reservation, in farming, clearing brush, land etc. at the several farms, both for the improvements of the agency and as a means of subsisting themselves and families & as encouragement for them to remain upon the agency. .. We are now compelled to supply quite a number of the destitute Indian families with subsistence, as many of them are without any kind of food and are unable to obtain anything with which to subsist upon… I have during the winter slaughtered several head of the old and crippled cattle and issued them to the Indians, as they were unfit for service…(Palmer 1 3 1872 M2 Oregon Superintendency records)

In the midst of what was an annual problem, feeding Indians, Palmer is ordered to go south and gather up Indians, and so cannot work on the problems on the reservation as he is gone nearly two months. In his reports, the Native people are anxious to get parcels of land so they can grow their own crops and feed themselves. The Farms (upper and lower) addressed in the reservation records at this time are Agency farms ran exclusively by the Agency to common feed the Natives, the land is at this time not owned by Native people yet. It is not until 1872 that the reservations in Oregon are surveyed in preparation for allotment. Then the allotments are quite small, 20 to 125 acres at the most for most. It is not until 1889 that the Natives are issued 260 acres as part of the Dawes Act (1887). Land allotment was promised in the Indian treaties, and yet it took the federal government nearly 20 years to partially complete this treaty right of the tribes on all reservations in Oregon.

The Natives returned to the reservation were from the Chetco and other Tututni tribes of Indians of the southern Oregon Coast. These tribes signed the 1855 Coast Treaty and then over the course of about a decade were removed to the Coast Reservation to live on the estuaries in subagencies of the reservation. The treaty was never ratified and so these native people lost their lands without any compensation by the federal government. The tribes were partially paid after they sued the federal government in the 20th century, but much too late for the original signatory tribal people. As such the “returning” or even the “removal” of the tribes to the Coast Reservation may have been illegal, as there was no law (that I am aware of) that stated that it was illegal for tribal people, even non-US citizens to live off the reservations, it was only Federal Indian Policy.  (please let me know if I am wrong about this)


The 1871 Palmer Journal is a privately owned journal which I have gained permission to publish out of. The owner is a descendant of Joel Palmer.

 

Joel Palmer’s Defiant Cattle Drive Through Grand Ronde, 1874

In 1874, Joel Palmer was again an independent contractor for the Indian service, after having completed a two-year stint as the Indian Agent for the Siletz Agency. Palmer was constantly working on business deals, and one which he hatched was a plan to raise cattle on the Coast, where they would be in readily available to be sold to the Siletz Reservation. In this period Siletz was very remote and in the winter months, it was exceedingly difficult to get supplies or food into the reservation, as the trails were muddy and the rivers fast and treacherous. Palmer’s plan was to raise cattle and crops on the reservation and to also build a wagon road to the Siletz Agency from the Coast to more completely link the two communities, and therefore more efficiently provision them

Palmer knew well the tribal peoples living at the Salmon River encampment, at this time, the Nechesne and Nestucca tribal members. Palmer had established the early plan for the Coast Reservation, even planning to use the Coastal estuaries to help feed the tribes (there is a letter about this). Joel Palmer had experience working for the Indian Service from 1853 to 1856 as the Superintendent of Oregon, which taught him that the federal government was slow to pay its bills and tribal peoples would likely starve and suffer from exposure for months if the agents solely relied upon the government. As Superintendent, Palmer relied on credit with local farmers, ranchers, and supply merchants to provision the Indian communities before and after the reservations were formed and settled. Palmer’s signed invoices from his early career as Superintendent were being submitted years after he was fired. It’s very clear that the Federal government did not really understand the expenses of managing Indian tribes in the West, likely did not understand travel and provisioning expenses, nor understood the dramatic environmental factors which were not as prevalent in the East, but which made travel extremely difficult and expensive in the winter period.

Joel Palmer, Oregon Indian Superintendent 1853-1856, Siletz Agent 1871-72

The nine-mile stretch of coast, from Siletz River to the Nechesne River, was relatively flat and had plenty of grassy prairie lands and a good freshwater source at Devil’s Lake, to subsist a large herd of cattle until they were ready to be slaughtered. Palmer managed to easily secure the pre-approval of the tribal people living at the Salmon River Encampment, to run cattle on the unused portion of this coastal plain. Then he approached the new agent Fairchild for a contract. Subsequently, Fairchild had a meeting with the tribes on the coast and gained their approval for Palmer to run cattle, and so wrote a contract with Palmer for the enterprise.

One section of the survey map 1872 (Sinnott 1874)
Detail of 1872 survey showing some allotted settlements at the Salmon River

In fact, Fairchild’s meeting with the tribes revealed a great depth of trust they assigned to Palmer. They stated,

Skaley:… I am glad to hear of this- I think it’s a good thing- I think you are doing a good thing for the Indians in making this lease. I am glad to see Gen, Palmer here. Last winter I had nothing to eat but fish and muscles and if Gen. Palmer comes I know I can work for him and sometimes get flour and beef. Long ago when he was Superintendent, he brought us here. I heard what he said at Port Orford in my country. He brought us from there on a fire ship. When we passed this place he called us all on the deck of the Steamer and pointed out this country and told us that all below the mouth of Salmon River was to be our home. Our hearts were glad to see this country and we have always considered it ours.

Leggins:… If Gen. Palmer lives here he will help us. It is very good for him to come, though probably I shall never receive any benefit from the rent of this land. The first time I saw Gen, Palmer I was a boy. When I saw him again in my country I was a man.

George Chief of the Sixes:… It is good for Gen. Palmer to come here. All the old people knew him long ago and if any of his cattle are killed it will not be the old people that will do it. If Gen. Palmer lives here he will not permit bad white people who come to the coast in the summer to abuse us.

Old Man Charlie:… I think it good for him to come here. We all look on Gen. Palmer as one of our people. No matter who is the agent the old people of Siletz will always regard Gen. Palmer as one of their chiefs. My heart is glad to think he will come here. Long ago he was a good friend to us and we all like him. He has always been our friend (Letter of August 3, 1874, from Fairchild).

Palmer was clearly well trusted by the tribes. He helped them when they were in greatest need during the Rogue River Indian wars. He negotiated all of their treaties and removed them to safety, and fed them. He kept his word to the tribes, even when it cost him his career as the Indian Superintendent of Oregon.

Palmer’s contract with Agent J. H. Fairchild was signed on March 13th, 1874. The contract stipulates, that Palmer and his associates may run cattle, horses, and sheep, for dairying and grazing from the Salmon River south to the boundary of the Siletz Reservation, and 3 miles inland, as well as the privilege of cultivating as much land as necessary to grow vegetables for family use and oats for livestock, as well as cut timber as necessary, as long as the areas they are using,  are unoccupied by the Indians and that they do not interfere with Indian hunting, gathering, or fishing. The term of the contract is for ten years, Palmer will only hire Siletz Indians for laborers, and he will pay the agency $200 a year as a lease fee (Fairchild March 13, 1874).

Opposition by the Grand Ronde tribes was immediately heard by those tribal people living on the coast. Chief George of the Sixes sums it up, “The Grand Ronde Indians are always trying to get the best of us in some way- they say we are like horses and eat oats- It is true we do not get all we want and are hungry many times. At Grand Ronde the agent has mills and can give the Indians flour while our agent has none.” And the statement of Leggins, “Why do Grand Ronde Indians want to prevent our leasing this country, it was never theirs, this country was given us by Gen. Palmer long ago…”(Letter of August 3, 1874, from Fairchild), The funding situation of Grand Ronde was much better than the Coast Reservation. Grand Ronde was receiving annual funds for six and a half treaties ratified from western Oregon. The Coast reservation was funded by “about” one-half of the annuities of a treaty (likely the Rogue River Treaty of 1853), for those people who had never went to war against the United State. Those Tribal people who had joined the Rogue River Confederacy were not funded, and so the majority of funds to the Coast Reservation were totally dependent on the will of Congress to continue funding. Because of this, Grand Ronde was able to get built saw and grist mills and better provisions through the early history of the reservation. (It remains to be determined how much of the Rogue River Treaty was actually paid over to Siletz, and how much federal Indian funding was reapportioned by the Indian Superintendents for Oregon based on local needs.)

Some months later, Indian Agent P.B. Sinnott heard of the leasing deal, from the Grand Ronde Indians, and began complaining loudly through a series of letters to the Indian office. Sinnott was a medical doctor and served also as the Indian Agent, and had a long tenure at Grand Ronde Indian Reservation at the agent. Sinnott was surprised and upset at the contract, mainly, apparently, because he had not been told about it. The Indians under Sinnott’s care he stated were critical of the contract which gave Palmer freedom for many years to run cattle over large areas of the Coast without much return in the form of lease fees, an agreement which suggested some preferential treatment towards Palmer. Agent Sinnott, as well, had already denied two other contracts for similar proposals.

Sinnott’s critique picked up steam in the correspondence, and he finally sent a detailed list of issues he had with the Palmer contract, and he even initiated a letter to Palmer which told him to cease all activities on the contract, suggesting it was invalid.

Sinnott’s critique was built on an understanding he had about his jurisdiction at Indian agent of the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation. Sinnott stated that the Grande Ronde Reservation extended beyond the original boundaries of the reservation to include the two sections of coast territory from just about the Nestucca Tribal region, to the Siletz River.  “From the Siletz (river) to the Salmon River is a part of this (Grand Ronde) Reservation” (Sinnott July 1, 1874).  Sinnott pointed to a survey which had been accomplished in 1872 for the coast which listed this large coastal zone and showed allotments given to Grand Ronde Tribal Members on the coast. These 20-acre sections were also made in preparations for the removal of other tribal peoples to this section of the coast, the planned removal of the Tillamookans from the north, and the eventual and much-rumored termination of the southern Alsea reservation and removal of the Alseas to this area. “The land claimed to be leased by Mr. Palmer is embodied in this (Grand Ronde) reservation and surveyed sections of it subdivided into 20 acre lots, some of which are occupied by Indians and all of which was designed for that purpose” (Sinnott July 1, 1874)

Sinnott also referred to a common understanding that existed between him and the previous Indian agent at Siletz (Palmer) about allowed use of the Coastal zone by Grand Ronde, suggesting that this understanding gave administrative oversight to Grand Ronde. “at the time the survey was being made (1872) Mr. Palmer was U.S. Ind. Agt. at Siletz and passed through this agency… During the time Mr. Palmer was Agent it was well understood between my predecessor and him that the jurisdiction of this Agency was over that country. Further, at the time Mr. Palmer was Supt of Indian Affairs for Oregon (1853-1856) this reservation was established and he showed the Indians that portion of it telling them that they could then use it for fishing and hunting grounds and in the future when they became advanced in civilization… they could use it for farms and pasture” (Sinnott July 1, 1874).

Even though this area of the Coast, between the Nechene and Siletz rivers, is within the boundaries of the Coast Reservation, that the Grand Ronde agents for some 36 years took control over the administration of the coastal zone, from the Tillamook Region to the north, to the Siletz River at the south. Siletz agency did not take direct control of the coast until perhaps 1886, when the Tillamook tribes are included on the Siletz Reservation census. Previous to 1886, the Tillamookans were all enumerated within the Grand Ronde Reservation censuses.

In the late 1850s, the Salmon River section on the coast was developed by Grand Ronde Indian Agents into a fishery for Grand Ronde tribal members. The fishery activities likely centered at the Nechesne village, and/or the Salmon River encampment involved Grand Ronde tribal members traveling the Salmon River trail regularly to access the fishery. The Salmon River trail was then developed and widened into a wagon road to handle larger wagons of supplies. Grand Ronde people manually expanded the road and developed a toll gate system to capture a bit of revenue from the many people who began traveling this road to the coast in their attempts to vacation on the coast. The Salmon River Wagon road became the main route to the coast from the Willamette Valley.

Because of the natural affinity to the coast between the Nestucca River and the Nechesne, the many agents at Grand Ronde treated the coastal zone as their own territory, as a part of the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation. Sinnott also alludes to a decision made in 1872, to not allow half breed Grand Ronde Indians to get informal allotments in the Grand Ronde valley. Instead, they were offered twenty-acre allotments on the coast, in the area in question, which they would have to move to. Many agreed to this and moved to the Coast at the Salmon River encampment to get land. This decision makes this area of the coast part of the Grand Ronde Allotment area, a new understanding which makes the land claims of both reservations over this area of coast much more complicated.

The decision by the Indian Agent Sinnott to attract half breed Grand Ronde people to the coast has huge implications about Grand Ronde membership and citizenship rights at the Grand Ronde Reservation. If these families remained in the coastal zone after the area is formally taken control of by the Siletz Reservation and agency, they would then have fallen under the administrations of Siletz and began to be counted among the Siletz members thereafter.  It is unclear if Agent Sinnott really had the right to impose such a policy upon half-blood Indians at Grand Ronde, as there are no formal policy statements that suggested that half-blooded Indians have fewer rights than full-blooded native people. The descendants of these families may then not have been allowed enrolling at Grand Ronde in future enrollments or included in annual tribal censuses after 1886 when Siletz finally takes formal control of the Coastal area at Salmon River. (The censuses substituted for some tribes for tribal rolls.) This remains a key question of Grand Ronde history, of how much tribal membership was influenced by the actions of past Indian agents and their (informed or uninformed) interpretations of the policies and rights regarding tribal people under their supervision. As new agents came on at Grand Ronde, and later in the 20th century on the Grand Ronde-Siletz Agency (a combined agency), they would not have known of the informal allotments on the coast and would likely have discounted those Grand Ronde members in their enumerations. Normally, not much direction was given to the Agents newly assigned, nor did they have much in the way of complete records left by the previous agents and so much of the policies of the reservation were purely their interpretation of federal laws

It is very clear in the letters from Fairchild and Sinnott that both agents assumed they were the administrators of the same area of the coast. There were parallel planning efforts by both agents for removal of the Tillamookans and Alsea Reservation tribes to this area of the coast. Sinnott assumed that he was in charge, because of this history of handshake deals between the Grand Ronde and Siletz agents for the use of the Salmon River fishery by Grand Ronde Indians. Its also clear that Palmer knew the truth of the situation, knew that Siletz Agency Indian Agents were the formal administrators of the whole of the Coast Reservation. Palmer had established the reservations and knew exactly which administrator to approach for his lease deal. Sinnott also seems to have been a bit aggressive in his actions to claim the coastal sections. One factor not yet considered is the fact that the tribes on the northern section of the Coast Reservation were administered by the Indian Agents at Grand Ronde, who spent money and time on the tribal communities. This money they spent, came directly from the Grand Ronde Reservation budget. As well, if the tribes at Grand Ronde had not been allowed to use the Salmon River fishery, then the Salmon River wagon road would not have been developed so soon, and many more tribal people may have starved at Grand Ronde in the earliest years of the reservation. There are numerous situations and factors to consider in the history of the area, much of the administrative confusion created by the utter miss-administration of the Indian reservations by the Federal government whose promises, embodied in the treaties, went unfulfilled for several generations

Joel Palmer, when receiving a strongly-worded cease and desist letter from Agent Sinnott, just ignored the threats in the letter. His response suggested that he absolutely had the right to have a contract on the Coast with Agent Fairchild. Palmer even ignored Sinnott’s orders to not run cattle through the Grand Ronde Reservation. Palmer was building up the herd at the coast by running 25 head of cattle at a time on the narrow and treacherous Salmon River Trail,  driving the cattle from his allotment at Dayton, through the Grand Ronde Reservation to the Coast. Immediately after corresponding with Sinnott, he ran another group of 25 head of cattle through Grand Ronde Reservation, literally trampling Agent Sinnott’s vociferous protestations through this action.

The decision about this contract was left up to Special Agent Vandever to decide. Vandever took some time gathering information and was engaged in audited the funding for the Oregon superintendency. As yet there is not a decision found from Vandever. But in 1875 Palmer was engaged with charges from the Indian Office that his record keeping was not correct and he had to get his records in order. In a letter, Palmer complains about the losses, some $500 in losses he incurred. It’s clear that the lease of the coastal plain did not occur and Palmer likely lost much of his investment, selling the cattle at a loss.


It is unclear which reservation had formal control over the northern section of the Coast Reservation, north of Siletz River. History suggests that Grand Ronde agents had more direct control, while federal records suggest that the Coast Reservation was one entity from 1855 until at least 1865, and then was divided into Alsea Reservation at the South and Siletz Reservation at the north. There was as well a third district, the Umpqua Reservation which is not well known or studied but managed a good portion of the Umpqua River and parts of the Alsea region of the Coast Reservation well into the 1860s. These were local and manageable districts for Indian agents who were hard-pressed to satisfy their roles of managing hundreds if not thousands of tribal people, many who did not want to be removed to a foreign land. The history also suggests that the original Coast Reservation was not well planned to manage as many as 4,000 Indians, the federal government was not prepared, and their agents manipulated the administrative districts and budgets to pay the bills to keep the tribal people alive despite the lack of good administrative oversight by the Indian office. The initial plans set forth by Joel Palmer appear to be prophetic, as he initially planned in an early letter to establish concentrations of Indian communities near the river estuaries, because he foresaw the failure of the federal administration and the overwhelming need of the tribes for food and shelter, when he was the Superintendent of Indian Affairs. This discussion by Palmer became the plan for some 30 years along the coast for the tribes. Today Grand Ronde and Siletz, and the Coos Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw engage in various degrees of claims over sections of the Coast Reservation. These claims dod not access the incredibly divisive political history of the region that the Federal government thrust the tribes into. The reality is that the region is a shared administrative tribe region, with shared overlapping territories. This is a tough understanding for the original tribes of the Coast Reservation.

 

 

Eliza Young: Brownsville Basketweaver

 

Eliza Young (Indian Eliza, Liza), was a native of the Mohawk Valley. The Mohawk Indians, were originally called the Peyu (Pee-you, Pe-u) Kalapuyans and were re-named by settlers after the river was renamed by early settler Jacob Spores. The Spores family had come from New York in 1847, the original homeland of the Mohawk Seneca peoples, and brought that name with him. It was a practice for settlers to  rename their new settlements with names they brought from their original settlements from the east.

Section of 1851 Gibbs Starling treaty map, Note Pe-U Creek, and the closeness of the Spores place

Eliza appears to have been orphaned, likely as a result of the epidemics, perhaps malaria, which raged through the region in the 1830’s. There may easily have been a number of recurrences of the disease in the southern part of the valley such that in the 1840s her parents and perhaps the whole tribe, died. Many early explorerers, Like David Douglas, reported abandoned villages in the 1830s. She may have come from one of two tribes that existed in 1855, the Peyu Band, or the Chifin band, as each had temporary reservations in 1855 within their lands in very close proximity to the Mohawk Valley. The Chifin reservation at the Spores DLC may be the origin of Eliza coming into the Spores household because the reservation notes stated that there was a native village in the property.  When the tribes were removed to Grand Ronde Reservation in February 1856, Eliza may have stayed behind, adopted by the Spores who then “raised” her.

Eliza’s father is suggested as being Tekopa Kalapuya, having lived along the Calapooia River. He marries a Peyu Kalapuya women, the tribe directly to the south, and they have Eliza sometime in the 1830’s.  By the  early 1840’s Eliza’s parents die, and she was likely a teenager when adopted into the Spores house. She likely spends the better part of the 1840’s with the Spores.  Its likely that they taught her American culture and English and she operated as a servant to the family doing the chores, cleaning and cooking. Later stories suggest she was a good cook and did laundry jobs around Brownsville, suggesting that her experience came from early-on being taught how to cook and clean by the Spores, perhaps as their servant. This was a very common practice among the early settlers to have both men and women from the Kalapuyans living in “guest houses” outside sheds, or the barn, while they worked for the settlers helping to establish and maintain their farms and households.

During Eliza’s life she is recorded as having two husbands, the first she leaves because he beats her. This is the Indian way of marriage, women could divorce their husband by leaving them, but in this case she was purchased. His last name is Spores, perhaps adopting the surname from the Spores family. Spores may have been Yamhill, or that may be an association with when the Spores family moved to the Yamhill area to go live at the Grand Ronde Reservation. It was a common occurrence among tribal people to adopt the name of an influential white settler. Some of the Spores family, go to Grand Ronde Reservation, and one man hangs himself in the Dallas jail because he killed his wife from the reservation. Eliza evidentally falls in love with Jim Young (Indian Jim) who  buys her for ten ponies, a gun and $15 in gold, and they move to Brownsville. Bride-purchase was very common for area tribes.  Most stories suggest that they never went to a reservation. However, there is an 1886 census entry for the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation of Jim Young, age 40, living with his wife Eliza, age 50, and their son, age 16. They are not mentioned in the census for 1885, nor 1887, so it appears that the family lived for about a year or less on the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation before returning to Brownsville. Perhaps they went to Grand Ronde to get an Indian allotment? Jim was in and out of trouble with the law for stealing and for fighting, and so these may have been factors in the family movement to Grand Ronde, and later movement back to Brownsville.

1886 Grand Ronde Census images

Jim Young gets into trouble with the law in 1870,  and is placed in the State Penitentiary twice for Larceny (#1 sentenced: July 2, 1870, released, January 14 1871; #2 sentenced December 4, 1871, released September 22, 1873). His records state larceny and grand larceny, and at least one settler account suggests murder. They have two children, a boy (L.B.- Albert) and a girl (Susan), both of whom die young, before having children. They are buried in the Brownsville Cemetery.  Eliza survives her husband, who died in a brawl, by several decades.  She supporting herself on the good will of some families in the community who host her by giving her a small cottage to live in. The Kirk family took care of Eliza early on when she was in Brownsville. (The Kirks arrive in the 1846 wagon train, and then leave to go to Pendleton.) Town stories suggest that she does day jobs laundry and cooking for people in the community until she goes blind, likely in her 70s.

Eliza is well-known for her weaving skills as she continues to practice her native art and makes woven basket handbags, purses, from traditional materials she gathers, like juncus. through much of her life. When she goes blind she continues to weave baskets. There are numerous photos of her, her baskets, and her cottage when she is apparently blind. Most museums in western Oregon have examples of her weavings. She dies on August 19, 1922.

The mythology of Indian Eliza continues to grow after she passes. Maude Turnbow, a local writer and historian, likely is responsible for some of this. Maude writes a series of articles about Eliza which are published in 1953, some republished from their original 1902 publication. In these articles Eliza is said to be the “Last of the Kalapuyans.” This is of course inaccurate as there are several hundred Kalapuyan people at the Grand Ronde Reservation at the time of her death and afterwards. She is said to be a blind basketmaker, likely accurate, and there are plenty of baskets identified as having been made by her to substantiate this. She is also said to have been over 100 years old, aclaim that is likely false. It is more accurate that she was in her 80’s when she died, which would align well with the assumed birth date in the 1830’s.

The townsfolk of Brownsville had very fond memories of Eliza. The original name of Brownsville is “Calapooia”, and it is renamed in the 1850s.The town stories are full of inaccuracies.

My mother was well acquainted with Indian Liza, who is commonly called “the last of the Calapooias.” Just how old Liza was when she died (about year 1932) no one knows. Liza often said she was over one hundred years old. However my mother lived next to Liza when Liza was young married woman with two small children. Mother at the time was about seventeen years old. (Lewis Tycer Crawfordsville)

Albert and Susan Young

The Last of the Calapooias by Maude Turnbow

In this city today, old blind and dependent upon charity, resides the last representative of the once powerful, brave and numerous Calapooia Indians, after whom the beautiful Calapooia Valley derives its name.  Where once the noble band of redmen trod the valley and mountains and dale undisturbed by the impatient palefaces now stands the peaceful city and farm dwelling. Civilization forced westward by the adventuring paleface has changed the face of nature where the tribe was wont to roam, so that today the last representative of the Calapooias- could she but see, would scarcely recognize a mark to distinguish the haunts of her childhood home.

Poor old Indian Liza, the last of the Calapooias. She is now very old and but a short time yet remains before she enters the happy hunting ground to join her ancestors! Aunt Eliza as she is familiarly calledis now wholly dependent upon the charity of the people who have known her for lo these many moons. She is now totally blind and resides alone in the eastern portion of the city. … Some pioneer friend of this interesting relic of by-gone days at her dictation has composed the following verses which pathetically tell the story of the Indian woman’s life.  (Register Guard Aug 25, 1953, repeated from Brownsville times July 4, 1902) [verses not transcribed]

 

Indian Liza dead- Last of Race

Indian Liza lived a life of varied experiences. In her childhood the members of her tribe roamed the valley, numerous and powerful. In a little over three quarters of a century she has seen the great tribe of the Calapooia disappear before the advance of civilization until she found herself the last one to depart to the happy hunting ground. Indian Lize, however was not a pure Calapooia. Her husband, a Calapooia brave, bought her from Lane county where she had lived at Spores Ferry. She was half Mohawk and half Calapooia. [Here is where there is a lack of knowledge about Oregon history] Her Husband’s name was Jim Indian, who served two terms in the penitentiary for murder. He was finally killed in a drunken brawl with a number of other Mohawk Indians. … Indian Liza had been blind for many years. Two children, Susan Indian and Elbee (L. B.) Indian are buried in the Masonic cemetery and beside them Indian Liza was laid to rest… (Eliza Young died sat aug 19 1922)

I saw a Calapooia Indian win a battle. This was in the Dry Goods Store in Brownsville about 1906 or 1907. Indian Liza was there having a big argument in a squawky, high-pitched voice of part English and part Indian. He nightgown was worn out, no good, the back full of holes and wouldn’t keep her warm. All she wanted was just enough outing flannel of any color to put a new back on it. The clerk was holding forth for the economy of a whole new gown, When it was over, Indian Liza had just enough for the back. She had just that much money anyway. She was brown, leathery of skim, thin drably dressed and blind, maybe 100 years old people thought. … She told my mother that before the white man came, her people used moose excrement for burns. Her hand was badly burned that day. Her death in August 1922 ended her race. (Maude Turnbow-RG June 21, 1953)

Eliza’s father was a full blooded Calapooia brave living on the Calapooia River in the upper valley. He wandered south into Lane County where he found his bride, and it was there that Eliza was born. He parents died when she was a small child and she was for a time actually a slave in the camps of other people. She ran away and was taken in and cared for by Joseph Spores and wife at what is now Coburg. Eliza, in search of her father’s people ran away from Spore’s Ferry to Brownsville. She was just entering into womanhood when the Blakely-Brown-Kirk emigrant train (1846) arrived at the old ford on the Calapooia. It is understood that she was cared for at a very early day by the Kirk family. But she slipped away and went into the Southland again and there married a Mohawk Brave. This man drank incessantly and beat Eliza unmercifully. She frequently ran away. A length Calapooia Jim, with the assistance of Riley Kirk, bought Eliza. Jim had been raised by Kirk since the farmer was 12 years old.  … Calapooia Jim was later killed in a brawl. Eliza supported herself as long as she could by making baskets but went blind. The County then placed her in a good home, where she was at, the time of her death…. Indian Eliza used to sit with the speakers at the Brownsville Pioneer Picnic, a place I avoided. (Maude Turnbow- RG June 22 1953)

Down at Spores Ferry, at Coburg, there was an Indian girl named Eliza, living with the Spores family. She was a good cook and very neat. She married a Yamhill Indian and went to live with him. He was very cruel to her and frequently beat her. On a trip to the Calapooia , or while living at Spores ferry, Eliza and Jim met and became fond of each other. After that Eliza often ran away from her husband and came down to the Calapooia to see Jim. Her husband who had three other wives, would follow her and compel her to return. He would ride behind her, she walking and whip her all the way back. This happened a number of times, finally my father (Riley Kirk) advised Jim to buy Eliza for a wife if he liked her so much. With my father’s aid Jim bought her for ten ponies, a gun and $15 in gold. Jim and Eliza were most commonly known as Indian Jim and Indian Liza, their real names were Jim and Eliza Young. (George Fruitt Letter 1953)


Eliza holds several distinctions. She lived most of her life off of a reservation and was well respected by a settler community. This was not always the case for tribal people who were living next to or within settelr communities, manytimes settlers would either harass them into leaving, or notify the authorities to remove the Indians to the reservation. Eliza’s story is also a very rare story of  Native woman in Oregon. The majority of narratives abotu Native peopels in Oregon are about men, and women are relegated to being supporters of men. It may be that the attention paid to Eliza by Maude Turnbow maintained her fame all of these years.


The research for this essay was aided by the Linn County Museum at Brownsville. They supplied the books of pioneer transcripts about their town, and numerous files of photos. All photos are courtesy of the museum. The project of the museum to correct and install a new exhibit about the Kalapuyan history of Linn County is being installed in June 2019.  Tom Connelly, Paul Baxter and I are co-curators of the exhibit with Melody Muger the project manager and museum executive officer.

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