Contemporaneous with the now famed Summers Collection, the Bureau of Indian Affairs was also collecting traditional implements from the tribes on reservations in the 1870s.
The Summers Collection is today a collection of some 600 articles from the tribes of Oregon. At least 300 of the articles are directly from the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation. Reverend Robert Summers, an Anglican minister was located in the 1870s in Mcminnville Oregon and extended his reach into the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation. There, Summers spend many days becoming friends with the Grand Ronde tribal people and purchasing traditional objects that they had and were using. Many of the artifacts that Summers collected dated from before the reservation began, meaning that they came to the reservation with the tribes in 1856. Many of them are trade items, acquired through trade with other tribes in the region. Summers kept very good notes about each object he acquired, rare for this time period, about their use, materials, the persons he acquired them from and their tribal culture. Summer was likely helped greatly by his wife who was a practicing naturalist. In the 1890s the collection was given to Reverend Freer, who transported the collection to Great Britain. The collection was then acquired by the British museum in 1900, and has remained there ever since. In 2018, the Grand Ronde Tribe was able to borrow, for about a year, 15 objects from the collection. The objects were on display at the Chachalu Museum at Grand Ronde in a exhibit, The Rise of the Collectors. During the year at Grand Ronde the objects were studied by tribal cultural experts wishing to understand them better and to perhaps restore the technologies of the past. In May 2019 the 15 objects were returned to the British Museum, as per the agreement. See my other article about the Summers.
The Summers collection was created in a time scholars have termed Salvage Anthropology. Anthropologists and other scholars in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were predicting that tribal peoples would someday go extinct because their populations were collapsing on the reservations. Anthropologists thought that if the tribal people were gone that their studies of tribal culture would also end. Many anthropologists began to collect cultural objects from the tribes so that if the tribes disappeared they would have some record of their existance and something to study. These collections came to fill natural history museums throughout the world with millions of artifacts of tribal cultures. The vast majority of these collections have never had any meaningful studies done on them. Some objects were acquired through legal means, while many others were stolen or dug from the ground and taken from gravesites.
Scholars today have severely criticised the notion of salvage anthropology because the anthropologists did nothing to aid the tribal peoples, the subjects of their research, who were trying to survive in the extremely corrosive United States Reservation system, while they instead only “saved” cultural objects made by the tribes. This situation continued for some 100 years and it was not until the 1950s that anthropologists began to attend to the needs of the tribes for survival. In the 1970s, after a series of critical analyses of Anthropology by tribal scholars, Vine Deloria Jr. foremost among them, Anthropology as a science turned toward developing practices and methodologies which aided tribes, helped preserve culture and languages, and worked to help solve the problems tribal peoples experienced within the United States Political system. Today most anthropologists have aspects of their practices which develop longterm collaborative relationships with subject tribal peoples, and tribes now in many ways direct the activities of a vast number of researchers to solve issues in culture and society.
The Salvage Anthropology period, inspired wider collection of native artifacts from grave sites and archaeological sites across the continent by Americans seeking to sell their acquisitions and enrich themselves. The United States federal government responded to problems presented by the “collectors” by passing a series of laws protecting tribal gravesites and archaeological sites.
Before these laws began being passed in the early 20th century, the federal officials themselves became participating in the collections activities. A letter uncovered in the Letters Sent by the Offices of Indian Affairs, the M234 microfilm set (reel 618) from 1873 suggests that the the Bureau of Indian Affairs was acquiring objects from the Indian offices on numerous reservations across the country. The letter addresses a circular sent out by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs directing the collection of “drinking and smoking” articles from the tribes. The objects sent back to the Commissioner, appear to be more than a dozen such drinking and smoking articles as directed. The following is a transcription of the letter of return.
Office of the Superintendent of Indian Affairs
Salem, Oregon March 25th 1873
Sir, In compliance with instructions from Hon. Commissioner Indian Affairs, dated January 25th 1873, to Agent Sinnott of Grand Ronde Agency, desiring “a collection of Indian implements used in drinking, smoking etc”., he has forwarded for transmission to your office the articles enumerated in the enclosed list all of which were duly mailed to you this day.
Your Obt. Servt.
J. B. Odeneal, Supt. Ind. Affairs in Oregon
By R.P. Earhart, clerk
Hon Commissioner Indian Affairs, Washington D.C.
List of articles forwarded from Grand Ronde Agency to Office of Superintendent for transmittal to Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
No 1 Drinking cup made from the horn of the Mountain Goat, and by the “Clackamas Indians” as long as that tribe has existed, supposed to be upwards of 100 years. [some of these cups are actually spoons]
No 2 Drinking cup made of wood and by the “Santiam Tribe” of Oregon Indians.[Santiam Kalapuyan]
No 3 Pipe made of iron and lead smoked for forty years by “Wapato Dave”, Chief of Wapato Lake Indians of Oregon. [Dave Yachikawa- Tualatin]
No 4 Council Pipe of the “Wapato Indians” of Oregon, formerly and in all important occasions from the best date obtainable seventy five years old. [likely Wapato Island or Multnomah]
No 5 Pipe in general use by one of the “Luckamute” tribe of Indians of Oregon. [Luckamiute Kalapuyan]
No 6 Spoon made of bone and by “Umpqua Indians” of Oregon.[this could be any one of several Umpqua tribes]
No 7 Sundry cups, spoons etc. from different tribes of the Willamette Valley. [mostly Kalapuyan, but possibly Molallan too]
The foregoing embraces all that can at present be obtained: all Indians on this Reservation now use the same kinds of pipes, spoons and cups as the whites.
The implications of the letter are startling. At about the same time as Summers was acquiring similar implements, a set of implements was also collected and sent to Washington, D.C. from Grand Ronde. The question is then, where did they end up? We can normally assume that most such ethnographic field collections would end up in the Smithsonian and perhaps are a part of the Museum of Natural History collections. This may very well be the case. A search of the NARA database online has not turned up any objects labelled Grand Ronde. There are numerous Oregon items and its possible that all of the objects sent were mis-filed, their information and context striped from them in the processes of the nearly 150 years of federal management. But another search of the Bureau of Indian Affairs has turned up another possibility.
The BIA has a museum, of several million objects. The BIA museum website is very limited and there does not appear to be any type of finding aid or collection which may be accessible in the internet. But there is another revelation, the Department of the Interior also has a Museum, of some 24 million objects which is similarly inaccessible. It is quite possible that these objects from Grand Ronde could have ended up in the DOI museum. The two museums, the BIA and DOI museums, are revelations which few people known much about. The scope of their collections appear to rival that of Museum of Natural History but without the public access that the Smithsonian allows.
Research continues on the BIA museum, and requests have been forwarded to those who may have more information. The images presented above are representative images of what these items may look like.
Fear of the Kalapuyans
Fearing of “Indians” in the 1850s in Oregon was a real and powerful thing among the white settlers. tribal people did not live like white people, dd not obey the laws of the United States and seemed to have their own harsh forms of justice. As such the humanity of the tribes was severely questioned and dismissed in numerous settler narratives of the region. Settlers and other used stereotypical characterizations fo the savage and heathen tribes to revalue and dehumanize them. once sufficiently dehumanized, tribes could then be destroyed and removed from the path of American progress, what has been termed “manifest destiny.” About many small communities there are stories of the savagery of the tribes, and the reactions by early settlers. This collection is from Linn County, Oregon.
In the mid-1850’s, the “Cayuse War” was happening in skirmishes along the Columbia, and many tribal chiefs of several tribes saw what was happening; that the “Whitemen” were coming in ever-increasing numbers and would soon take all the land and drive the Indians out. Molalla Chief Crooked Finger noted this, and participated in the actions of resistance and retribution towards the Whitemen, not unlike many other tribal leaders. Numerous reports of small thefts in the valley, as well as numerous reports of Indian men, like Crooked Finger, entering White homesteads and ordering White women to cook for them, suggests that some tribal chiefs were exacting a form of retribution upon the settlers, for taking land without permission, for not paying the tribes, and for not paying deference to previous long-term tribal occupation and authority.
All of these conflicts in various regions of the Oregon Territory caused stress with settlers towards Indians. The fears of the settlers towards the tribes, were stirred in part by rumors, and later by stories and editorials published in the newspapers. The Statesman Journal in Salem was the “conservative” newspaper for Oregon at the time, and published numerous editorials and letters about Indian depredations upon White settlements on the Columbia and in Southern Oregon. Numerous letters published in the paper called for the “extermination of all Indians” before they could gather their forces and attack the Willamette Valley Settlements. Fears of an attack by a confederation of tribes caused the raising of volunteer militias from among the settler communities, who trained to resist attacks by Indian tribes. In fact only two such threats occurred in the Willamette Valley, the Battle Creek incident (1846), and the battle of Abiqua (1848). Both instances most likely involved outsider tribal visitors to the valley, Klamath bands. The militias worked to push the Klamaths out of the valley and back to their home territory, even though they were friends to the Molalla.
After 1851 the Oregon Gold Rush causes a similar response as genocidal gangs of white militia, also called Volunteers or Rangers, and paid by the Oregon Legislature, committed genocide on numerous Indian villages for minor depredations claims, like theft of cattle or horses. It is more likely that these actions of the Rangers caused the feared response. Additional attack on tribal centers at Chetco, Coquille and Crescent City cause tribes in the south to be on edge and ready for retribution against the Whitemen who stole their land, murdered their people and raped their women. In 1855, the tribes at Table Rock Reservation become fed up with the continued attacks on their people on the reservation and choose to act. The Rogue River Confederacy of tribes, gathered under Chief John and left the reservation to fight a total war against all settlers, in an attempt to drive the whites from their lands, take back their lands and save themselves from genocide.
There were increasing calls for extermination of the tribes during times when wars were raging in the region, which caused backlashes against the settlers from the tribes. Extermination fever was raging in northern California after 1849 as settlers and miners sought to claim the best resource rich lands, and in the process committed innumerable acts of genocide on the tribes in California and Oregon. Settlers and ranchers joined together as companies of Ranger militia, supported by the states of Oregon and California, and worked to exterminate villages of tribes in the region encompassing northern California and southern Oregon. General John E. Wool, Commander of the Pacific, investigated the allegations of tribal aggression and determined that the blame belonged solely to the whites, publishing his opinion and report in the newspapers of the time.
The authority for the militias began with early fears of an uprising of the tribes among prominent pioneers in 1843 when these fears prompted them to begin forming the Oregon Provisional Government. In 1841-43, during the Wolf Meetings these prominent settlers gathered, wrote, and voted upon laws for the new government, including a law to form an Oregon militia, created in order to protect the American settlements from Indian attacks. Some scholars suggest that the whole reason for forming the government was to protect the settlements from the Indians. This may have been one of the reasons; the other being to secure Oregon for the United States, and away from Great Britain.
Military and volunteer actions on the Columbia, at Yakima, and in the Rogue River Valley, against tribal confederacies caused there to be a lot of tension in the Willamette Valley towards tribal people.
Much of the fears by these settlers were stirred by real fears that the war on the Columbia, against the Yakima and Columbia Tribes, would spill into the Willamette Valley, and include the Kalapuyans and Molallans. In fact, there were federal records of Klickitat Indians going among the tribes to attempt to form a larger confederacy, and of Klickitat bands serving as the middle-men traders of guns and munitions with tribes in conflict areas, like Rogue River. For the Kalapuyans, the reality was that they were so devastated in the 1830’s by diseases that they had little will or people to make war against the Whitemen, even if they saw themselves losing all their lands and rights. As well, the Kalapuyans and Chinookans had begun the process of integrating their society with that of the white settlers. The settlement culture employed Native people as general laborers for agriculture, woodworking, hunting, fishing, and there was much intermarriage between the two peoples. By the 1840s the Kalapuyans were so immersed in culture change, and assimilation, that they were not going to join a confederation to eject the settlers from their lands.
Still, the stereotypes of tribal societies were common among the settlers. Some people in Linn County recalled times when they feared the local tribes. There had never been any conflict with the Kalapuyans in the county, and so their fears were built upon, in part, much misinformation in local newspapers from editorials written to demonize tribes. This editorializing helped create a layer of mis-characterization, helping settlers feel that they may be ethically eliminated, killed and removed, once they were commonly thought of as somehow less than human, more akin to wolves, and therefore less deserving of any rights in society.
“Mother has often told me how one day while picking blackberries on the Muddy Creek, near where the Oakville Cemetery is situated, a large and ugly looking Indian suddenly came upon her and how she ran home like a frightened rabbit.” (Agnus Smith, Peoria, p. 92)
“The Indians along the Calapooia in Linn County were almost always harmless and peaceable. However during the Rogue River Indian troubles everyone was nervous and anxious. We had one Indian scare during that time. My father was away at Albany and my oldest brother was cutting wood along the river at some distance from home. He saw some Indians passing through the country and ran home to report that Indians are coming. My mother has just hung out a wash to dry and was baking. She has some cookies in the oven but she left everything just as it was and started out with his family to seek safety. They went away as far as the Shedd farm where Shedd now stands. There they met a man and told them their troubles. He said “I do not think that the Indians mean any harm. I will go back with you.” When mother had put out the wash to dry she hung one red handkerchief across the head of a cabbage in the garden. When they came near home my brother said “I see one Indian, See his red head down near the house.” The man then said , “If it is an Indian I will shoot him. He shot, the supposed Indian did not move. He shot again. He said, “I am sure I didn’t miss it. If it is an Indians he is dead.” They went up and found the red handkerchief on the cabbage head with two bullet holes in it.” … (Thomas Bird Sprenger- Shedd, p. 22)
“The Indians were very numerous about this valley when I was a boy. It is the truth that I used to see many more Indians than whites, but that was because the Indians were always traveling about and the whites stayed at home and worked and attended to their affairs. An old Indian would come along in the rainiest day, turn his ponies loose and settle down to camp without any other shelter than a big fir tree. Sometimes they became very troublesome, but it was rather dangerous to try to restrain them. However, it is said that Riley Kirk, father of Andrew Kirk, who still lives in Brownsville, would thrash the Indians soundly whenever they became too troublesome, a thing that most settlers did not dare to do.” (Lewis Tycer, Crawfordsville)
“At one time in the early days, there was a great Indian scare in their neighborhood. Something startled my sisters family and they ran out from their home and ran to the nearest neighbors. They joined them in their flight and so the panic spread from neighbor to neighbor and from house to house. One woman who was carrying a small child, hit the child’s head against a tree in her flight, and for a time it was feared that its head had been crushed. All finally took refuse among deep brush in a deep canyon. There they waited throughout the night. Once while they were waiting they heard the dogs back at the settlement begin to bark, & they said to each other “now the Indians are at the cabins. They will carry off everything that we have and burn the houses.” In the morning however when they finally returned cautiously they found their houses still standing and not a thing touched. It was finally decided that the cause of the panic was the low flight of an immense flock of wild geese, which, confused in storm and fog had dropped very low and frightened a band of horses. These horses, stampeding through the night had been mistaken for wildly riding Indians.” (Lewis Tycer, Crawfordsville)
Alsea Valley, 1854, Once when mother was alone with the children the Indians had a camp just across the river. In a drunken quarrel their chief was killed. Mother could hear the shouts and screams and expected any minute they would cross the river and attack the cabin. Father was out of the Valley at the time working. (Thomas Judson Risley, Alsea, p.82)
Relationships with the Kalapuyans
From the 1830’s to the 1850’s, before the tribes were removed to the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation (1856) the Kalapuyan tribes were living in their homelands alongside the white American settlers. The settlers to Donation land claims, registering their claims at Oregon City’s General Land Office without regards to the previous settlement of the tribes. In a sense the settlers treated them as either a class of indentured servants, or as a vermin they put up until the federal government removed them. The Kalapuyans, for their part accepted settlement of the whites, as they saw the great wealth in new things brought to them. Metals, fabrics, weapons, and beads for jewelry were much sought after. But with settlement came diseases, competition for food and land, and competing worldviews. Tribal people would envision the whites first as neighbors, where they could count on them in times of need, while the white settlers saw the tribes mostly as a nuisance, and would not share their property, food, or good will with the Indians. The settlement itself by the Americans was technically illegal, because none of the land had been purchased from the tribes until the second treaties signed from 1853 to 1855 were ratified. Tribal laws and former occupational rights were ignored, regardless of the Northwest Ordinance, or any statements of tribal lands rights by the Oregon Provisional government.
During the intervening years, there were many levels of trust paid to the tribes as both peoples sought to live together. Some settlers formed good bonds of trust with tribes, respected them even, and got along well. Some relations were very poor as tribal people challenged the patience of the Americans who refused to try to understand what the tribal nations were experiencing. Much of the abhorrent behavior of the tribes was likely based on the stress of several generations of loss from diseases, of lost land, of lost family, of culture, of pride, and of sovereignty or agency over the situation of their tribe. During settlement, the Kalapuyans lost vast food resources which were plowed under or fenced away from their normal traditional gathering practices. Deer and elk were hunted out and salmon and other fishes were fished and canned away. Begging for food from the stingy white was futile. Starvation became the motivation for many tribal people to begin stealing from the whites and taking what little they could to survive in their lands.
The following are experiences from the settlers passed down through the generations. The grandparents and parents who experienced the Kalapuyan people, saw symptoms of the losses of the tribes. In many ways, the tribes also influenced the settlers as they took roles in society, introducing new foods, providing labor and trade, and exhibiting unique and exotic ceremonial entertainment.
“The Indians often came to the house to beg for food. One day my mother was sewing near a window when suddenly she noticed that the light was shut off. She looked up and there was a sick Indian looking in. He made motions and asked for “Camas” “Blue Flower”. Mother has no camas and made him understand he was free to look for it anywhere on the place. We never ate the Camas as we always had plenty of flour and meat without resorting to Indian foods.” (Thomas Bird Sprenger- Shedd)
“when the Ridgeway ferry was running the Indians would come to cross on it and especially when drunk, would make some trouble. There was one bad Indian (named “Three finger Jack”). One day he was at the ferry and making trouble. Father tried to quiet him and he aimed his gun at father and fired, but, fortunately missed. Most of the Indians were good. When we were young mother always had a big Indian woman to do her washings. There were no electric washing machines then. Just a washboard and hand made soap”. (George and Joseph Smith -who’s father was George Messersmith- Ridgeway p.6.)
“The Indians ate many roots and fruits which I do not know, but I do remember the sacks of camas which they sometimes carried with them. One year an Indian brought a sack of dried camas and left it with my father to keep for him. There was a little hole in the bottom corner of the sack. I was very fond of dried camas, and whenever I happened near the sack I would reach into that hole and take out some to eat. When the Indian returned the sack was decidedly empty, and the Indian was very angry. Father pacified him by telling him to go into the garden and help himself to whatever he thought fair. The Indian filled two or three sacks of carrots, beets, turnips, etc. and went away feeling better.” (Lewis Tycer, Crawfordsville)
“When I was small my father used to grow hops. He was among the first to secure Indian help from the Siletz Reservation for his hop picking. In those days it was no possible to just go out and hire individual Indians to pick, but all business had to be transacted through some chief or agent who would bring in a crew at the required time. The old Indian whom my father used as a go-between was called Wappato Dave. He was the hardest looking Indian that I knew in all my life. He said “Indian big fool, let white man come. Indian should shoot white men when few. Then have land like old time. Now too many white men, no can do.” He meant every word of it to.” (George B. Wells, Buena Vista, p.56)
“When the Indians came about in the early days, they were always anxious to receive food. They almost always seemed hungry. My parents always gave them food, and they appreciated it greatly. My mother used to tell an amusing anecdote about one old Indian who came to her house. This old Indian came along “heap hungry” and asked for something to eat. Mother gave him food then asked his which he would like, coffee or milk. He answered, “I take coffee and milk.” Mother brought him out both, and he would eat a bit and then take a sip of coffee, eat a little but more and then take a sip of milk, and so on. It was very amusing.” (A.T. “Bud” Morris, Sweet Home. p.23)
“The old Arlington Hotel one of the first hotels in north Brownsville stood at the north-east corner of North Main and Spalding avenue. I can remember when it was being built. When the foundation was completed and the ground floor laid the people of the town celebrated and hired a lot of Indian hop-pickers to come and hold a war-dance on the new floor. They painted up and put on their full dress and howled and danced for hours. I can remember my sister Josie and I hanging on to our mother’s dress and watching them, scared to death of the yelling savages.”(Perry Ross, Brownsville. p.77)
“the first house on Father’s claim was a log cabin, built in 1851… the cabin was near a small creek and nearby was a favorite camping place of the local Indians but father always said that they were good and honest people, better to get along with than most white people. Father often had to go for supplies to Oregon City and leave his family alone. There were one or two Indian families who were especially friendly and honest. When father was about to leave home he would speak to these families and ask them to care for mother and the children. They would immediately move their camps across the creek and camp closely surrounding our cabin. In that way they kept at a distance the bothersome members of the village.” (Clara C. Morgan Thompson, Saddle Butte, Shedd, p.83)
“Milton Hale was always very good to the Indians and got along well with them. He owned the land near the old ferry on the Santiam near the town of Syracuse, and on that land there was a cemetery. When Old Lucy and Old Pete died Milton Hale took them to the old family cemetery near Syracuse and had them buried there.” (Emma Sneed, Albany)
“John Crow… bought the claimed [land] rights of Chief Buckskin Bill, a Calapooia and a close friend to Skookum John known as the Indian rail maker of Lane County [Loraine, Oregon & Crow Road]. Few people know that the Indians made most of the rails for the “Pioneer worm fences.” Skookum John and his band of Indians made the rails for the McAlisters, Daniel Lucas, A.J. Barlow… John Crow, … and many other pioneer settlers of the late 1840’s and early 1850’s. Skookum John … was a powerful man. His wife was named Mary. After the death of my grandfather in 1868, Skookum John and his wife Mary, moved to the Gibson ranch ten or fifteen miles west of Eugene. They set up quarters for him and he worked for the Gibsons many years. There is a story that when very old, Mary would beg Skookum John to kill her and get her out of her misery. Old Skookum John would pet her and cheer her the best he knew. So it went for several years. Someone at the Gibson ranch killed a wild hog, skinned it and put the green hide in a smoke house. Mary discovered this and knowing there Skookum Jon was working, and also knowing that he always took a gun with him, she put on this wild boar skin and went on hands and knees through the timothy on the other side of the fence from Skookum. She grunted like a hog and Skookum John grabbed his gun, poked it through the fence and shot his wife, Mary at the “butt of the ear,” killing her instantly. Court investigations were made, but Skookum John was released without censure.” (Register Guard July 20, 1953)
The essay was assembled to help inform a new exhibit at the Linn County Historical Museum in Brownsville which is being installed in May and June 2019. The research for this essay was conducted in the summer of 2018 with the aid of the staff at the museum and using their set of settler narratives. This selection is not comprehensive.
The story of the Dick Johnson and Old Mummy murders of 1858, was of well known Klikitat settlers in that period. None less than the prominent and politically powerful Applegate Family who lived in Yoncalla, Oregon, were their friends and neighbors and tried to help Dick and his extended family of in-laws maintain their settlement in the Umpqua Valley. Letters from Jesse Applegate in this era were received by Territorial politicians and the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, James W. Nesmith, first to help the family secure their land in the Umpqua Valley, then to help stave off the impending attacks by white settlers, and finally after the murders, there was a flurry of correspondence attempting to get the territorial and the federal officials to bring the murderers to justice. But, Indians in this time, by territorial law, could not testify in a court of law, and so there were no legitimate witnesses to testify against the murderers.
Native peoples between 1850 and 1855 could have gotten a land claim if they were dissociated with a tribe. Dick Johnson and his family did not have such a claim, only a letter from the superintendent allowing them to remain on their land. This was not enough for some of the white settlers in the Umpqua basin. As you read the following narrative you can see that the family was constantly being harassed, just because they were Indians. The Klikitat people were not originally from Oregon but were well known for coming into Oregon to hunt elk, especially on the Umpqua River. There were numerous Klikitat people who chose to break off from the main band and take up residence in the new American settlements. They normally would be laborers for the white farmers. Old Chief John who lived in locations near Oregon City and near Blue Lake, was one of these Klikitat settlers, as well as William McKay (pronounced Ma-kye) who settled in Dallas, Oregon and married a native woman of the Grand Ronde Reservation.
The writer of this narrative is Sallie Long, one of Jesse Applegate’s daughters. She was clearly intimately involved in the history of the area and was present when the events happened. It would be a future project to integrate Long’s memory here, with other Applegate accounts in letters in the future. Long is writing to the Oregon Historical Society, suggesting that George Himes, the President of the Society, use her narrative in some way. A search of the OHQ has yet to turn up a story in print associated with Long. The Reed College Bulletin, however, appears to have printed a version of the story, as well as a version in the book Jesse Applegate: A Dialogue with Destiny by Leta Lovelace Neiderhaiser.
The following is yet another story of how Tribal peoples in Oregon had no rights to freely live like other people. There were a few laws but the laws could be easily manipulated to make white settlers blameless. It did not matter if the Natives in question were assimilating, living quietly and at peace, and finding ways to integrate into American society, exactly as the Federal government wanted them to do. A few racially charged settlers could still take whatever actions they wanted and destroy the native peoples and take their lands without any worries of being held responsible for their actions. Its is startling that this story, and those of the multitudes of other native peoples who had the same treatment in the West, is not being taught in our history books as US history.
The family consisted of Dick Johnson and his wife and two (I Think) little children- his sister- (name I think was Eliza) and her husband “Jim” and her little son (four or five years old) old “Lemyei” Dick’s mothers and her husband- not Dick’s father- “Old Mummy”. These were very old people- some one had named him “Old Mummy” and told him it meant a “very old person” which name was then accepted in good faith by the simple kindly old fellow. We sincerely liked the Johnson family- Mamma always enjoyed a visit from “Old Lemyei” very much- and the young woman Eliza was very intelligent talked easily- was clean and neat, in person and dress, Dick’s squaw who was an Umpqua was inferior to the others in appearance and intelligence. “Old Lemyei” like a true mother in-law did not think her good enough “Cultus Cloochman Hilloo amy Tillacum” She was young, fat and sleek looking, liked red handkerchiefs and shawls- beads etc.- Lemyei in spite of her age was straight, tall, and lean, walked with a long, strong step, wore always upon her head a little conical shaped basket from below which, her long straight hair , mixed with white, hung down her back. I don’t remember ever seeing it braided, but it was tied back with a leather string sometimes, once there were big red and blue beads on the ends of this string which took my fancy, and the old woman noticed me looking at them- so she said to Mamma “Nica-ticka saplil pe musum gleese- ict tenas me Cloochman ticka nica beads- Spose close-copa mica?” Which meant that if Mamma was willing, that she would give me the beads- and I should get her a piece of bread and butter- Sapalil pe musum gleese- The exchange was made. They were the kindliest, friendly people I ever knew, never obtrusive, never saucy, very industrious, very honest, every promise was kept, every debt was paid. My father kept a little store, and they bought a good many things for which they paid promptly- dressed deerskins were a legal tender, smoked venison, wild nuts and berries, all members of the family worked. Their little farm was not by any means the best land then unoccupied, it was away from any of the white settlers in a little nook in the hills where it would not seem that it would be coveted by anyone. They had 2 little log cabins some log outhouses for their horses- and fowls- all made by themselves, a small field where they raised wheat for their bread, and the oats for their horses- a nice little orchard, with peach and apple trees in bearing. Their desire to be like white people was intense, and every kind of useful plant, seed, or shrub, that was given them, was carefully planted, and tended. When the first gooseberries came on their bushes, they took samples of them to their white friends with the utmost pride and gratitude. They went to their grain fields step by step and pulled out all injurious weeds from amongst the growing crop- such as tarweed, thistles etc.- no one had such nice clean crops. The women asked to be taught the secret of making patch work quilts, which they greatly admired, and with the patient persistence for which they are renowned mastered, and practiced, this very laborious and useless art- that is I mean the two young women – Eliza and Mary- Old Lemyei made no attempt to imitate the mechanical arts of the white man. While the two young women wore the fashions of their white sisters and attended church (they were great church people) in ruffles and collars and cuffs.
Old Lemyei stalked about in her red blanket and basket head dress- an Indian. Strolling Methodists were the most frequent teachers of religion- in those early days. They visited us about once a month. The Indians usually attended meeting. I don’t know how much they understood of the sermons- but they liked the music which was altogether vocal- every body singing at once. Many Ideas are the children of custom- and I who have spent a life time on the outskirts of civilization- still believe that the truest worship went up from little log cabins of the Pioneers, borne on the voices of those untrained singers. That was before we learned to praise with a machine.
The Indians bought leather and made their own harness- in imitation of that used by their neighbors- learned their little ponies to work. Mrs. “Jim” acquired a side saddle and rode like her white sisters- Mrs. Dick tried it but as she always had a “pappoose” to carry- gave up the idea. But “Old Lemyei” rode her Indian saddle with a foot on each side till the end. The Indian saddle was queer looking affair- made of undressed hide stretched over a wooden frame the principal part of which was a forked stick.
Dick came often and consulted with my father in regard to his affairs- and my father wrote letters on his behalf to the different Indian agents- who gave him permits to stay on his little farm. But they did not seem to have power to protect him in the enjoyment of his labor, or to avenge his murder. The Constitution of Oregon at that time did not permit an Indian to become a witness- and the only witnesses of the murder of Dick Johnson and Old Mummy were their women and children- Jim was away from home.
Old man Canady coveted the little farm, more from the improvements than the value of the land- for at that time there were thousands of acres of vacant land in this county- better in location and quality than this- he ordered the Indians to vacate a number of times- and threatened them. My father advised Dick to be very careful to give no plausible cause of complaint and explained to him his defenseless condition but with his letters from the agents and his strict avoidance of offense he hoped to overcome the enmity of his foe. Different acts of aggression were committed against him to provoke some word or deed which could be seized as an excuse. On one occasion a big white brute John Marshal- jumped onto “Old Mummy” at Camp Meeting and beat him cruelly because he was an “Injun” – a circumstance for which the poor old fellow was not entirely to blame- as he had not been allowed any choice in that matter. It was expected that Dick would resent this outrage- and no doubt he wanted to do so, but he realized its purpose, as did “Old Mummy” himself.
It was early one evening that the murder was committed. The twilight was just coming- Old Mummy was the first of the family to be killed, he was out in front of the house cutting some wood to start the fire- and the first shot was fired at him through his back. He fell forward across the stick of wood- and was found there by those who came to bury them. Dick on hearing the shot run out of the cabin and seeing at once what had happened- tore open his shirt and turned his naked bosom towards the murderers, saying “shoot if you wish it!” They shot him at once.
[Jesse Applegate’s accounts state that it was Dick who chopping wood and was shot first and found slumped over the wood, and Mummy second and Jim was shot at and grazed by the bullet which killed his horse. There were eight men in the posse, three of whom hid in the woods and five confronted the Johnsons, the first stated he was Nesmith (James Nesmith, Superintendent of Oregon Indians), which Dick knew was a lie. Charlotte Blake, Jesse Applegate: His Attitude Toward the Oregon Indians, Reed College Bulletin, November 1942]
The women and children fled to a little gully or ravine close by and hid in it- but I think no attempt was made to hurt them. “Jim” arrived home in time to see something of the matter but too far away to interfere in any way. He was unarmed and I suppose afraid. He hid from the party of murderers and as soon as he got a chance made a run for the house. He was shot at but not hurt. Soon as they were gone he gathered the women and children together and took them to the house of some friends R. Smith in Yoncalla valley. A party of settlers gathered at once when the word came to them. Went to the place and held an inquest. My father was one of these. The Indians lived in Rice valley south and west of Yoncalla Valley.
I remember my father telling that at the Inquest Old Lemyei stripped the shirt from “old Mummy’s” back and sitting down beside the body placed one finger on the bullet hole then pointed it straight at the face of an old man present- and said in plain jargon [Chinuk wawa] “Your son did this”- “The old man shook like a person with ague.” My father said- This was old man Allen- John Allen the son lives near Drain at present, the only one of the murderers band that is left. There was an attempt to bring the murderers to justice, but there were no witnesses to the deed who were permitted to give testimony. And the ashes were not cold upon the desolated hearth stone, when one of them, moved into the little cabin. There was a nice little field of grain growing two fat pigs in the pen- wheat and oats in the barn- hay in the little stable- chickens and geese- several cows. The friends of the Indians protected them in removing all movable property and live stock- but “Jim” a cowardly fellow would not attempt to live on the farm- and the family finally went to the Reservation and finally back to the same savage condition from which Dick had made such heroic efforts to rise.
What I have written you is my impression and memories when I get some accounts from the old people that I shall visit as I have time- I will write them to you, just as they are given me- perhaps they will not agree with what I have written in all respects. You will be judge and jury.
Lemyei, Dick and Jim’s wife, were Clickitats- Mummy perhaps the same. Lemyei told my mother that Dicks father was a “skookum Tyee” [Strong chief]. That he was killed in war. That she and her children became the property, or slaves of his conquerors, another chief, or tribe. That she hated her new owners. That Mummy helped her to escape with her children- and she never returned to her people. But once she and Mummy were gone for several months- some where north- when they returned she told my mother that she had been to visit her “Illahee.” [land]
Further records suggest that the family did indeed go to the Grand Ronde Reservation, likely for protection from this type of treatment. Dick’s wife Lemyei died there in the early 20th century.
From the Meacham Collection at the Oregon Historical Society.
The Census was found at the Oregon Historical Society Archives in the William W. Raymond Collection, by myself on May 9, 2019. That afternoon after my PSU class I took the opportunity to check out a few leads looking for information from Indian agents on the Oregon Coast. Raymond is not so well known, but he spent some years as the Indian Agent of the Astoria District. He lived in Tillamook and managed the Clatsop and Tillamook tribes. Then in 1856, Joel Palmer assigned him to help with the Resettlement of Tribes to the Grand Ronde Reservation. He is there with other special agents who bring tribes to the reservation by walking or traveling in wagons.
The Journal begins with lists of supplies given to native men, pans, food, pots. There also is a list of some properties, houses and barns already there, left behind by settlers whose land was bought out. Then half way through the journal begins a Census. The Census continues for several pages. It has Kalapuyan, Molala, and Umpqua people. It does not have Chinook, Clackamas, Tualatin, or Rogue River peoples. Therefore the Census was taken down after the Umpquas and some Kalapuyan tribes arrived, and before the Rogue Rivers people from Table Rock Reservation arrived. At the time of the Census the Rogue Rivers are probably on the trail to Grand Ronde.
This Census then is likely the first census for the reservation. The William Raymond Collection is an obscure collection likely not well researched by scholars.
The transcription above contains many errors. Much research still needs to occur to rectify names and spellings. The original journal, now over 160 years old still holds up well, even with the pencil writing. The writing is thought be in the hand of Robert Metcalf, as suggested by Historian Bill Lang, This makes sense as Robert Metcalf appears to have signed the page following the Census. In March of 1856 there were 633 people at Grand Ronde. By November there would be nearly 4000 people from western Oregon resettled on the reservation and at the Coast between Salmon River and Newport Bay. By that time too, Joel Palmer would be fired as the Indian superintendent, and many of the verbal agreements he made with the tribes, to get them to remove would never be honored.
William W. Raymond Collection, Journal, Grand Ronde, Yamhill, O.T. March 1856, Oregon Historical Society Library.
Most estimates suggest that there were 19 tribes and bands of the Kalapuyans. This estimate was made in the early 20th century and does not really address the complexity of counting tribes and bands. In the 1850s there were probably less than 19 due to amalgamation of communities because of a huge reduction of populations from disease and settlers pushing tribes into smaller areas. The 19 tribes and bands estimated likely relates to the period from 1805 to 1835 when the Kalapuyans maintained their original village structure before the full effects of diseases were felt.
Boyd and other scholars have suggested that Malaria was the main disease from 1829 to 1835. I have also written elsewhere that Malaria may have been to most likely culprit of the epidemics of the 1830s, but we have yet to address the issues of secondary illnesses caused by malaria and other illnesses that are less recorded. The initial illnesses could be survived, but people have compromised systems, and would get secondary bronchitis or pneumonia and easily died from these illnesses. There is another theory advanced by scholars that suggest that there was a large extermination attempt in northwestern Oregon, but there is no evidence for extermination by the fur traders from Fort Vancouver or later settler folks from the 1820s to the 1840s. There were a few conflicts, but they did not amount to extermination.
Previous to 1805 there is theorized a high probably of disease, like smallpox among the tribes of the region, as there were signs on Chinookans on the Columbia and other evidence. The Kalapuyans likely felt the effects of a smallpox epidemic in 1782 (Zenk 1976:9), suggesting that there may have been many more Kalapuyans bands and people, previous to smallpox.
The next period in reverse chronology would be previous to the 1770s, when the tribes lived in their traditional state, without much in the way of change brought by Europeans. In this period, the tribes felt the impact of the horse, theorized to have reached the region in around 1700. The tribes would have also had stories and rare products from the east. Products like guns and metal knives, fabrics, and glass beads etc, would have passed through native trade networks to the Northwest Coast. There are as well stories also of white people coming westward, and such stories are buried in many tribal “texts” of folklore and Tribal Oral Histories today. Additional alien trade items would have arrived on flotsam from shipwrecks. Copper nails and siding from ships, china from shipwrecks, beeswax from shipwrecks etc. The metal items would be pried from the flotsam and cold forged into jewelry or tools. Coppers, artistic and spiritual panels in plank-houses, became important spiritual products for the tribes. Many native copper items have been tested and found to come strictly from non-native sources, eliminating the possibility of Native quarrying of native copper.
Kalapuyans were part of the Columbia River Trade Network. In the Tualatin Kalapuyan mounds was found metal jewelry and tools, suggesting they acquired such products in the historic era. Such mound-building activities continued into the historic era as recorded by Leo J. Frachtenberg at Grand Ronde Indian Reservation. See my essay about the Kalapuya Mounds.
Within this context of change we now understand how the Kalapuyan populations may have altered significantly in each period. We have a variety of estimates of tribal and band numbers. The question we then ask is “Where did the estimates come from and how accurate are they?”
Population counts for Kalapuyans
The basis for many counts is Lewis and Clark with 2,000 Kalapuyans, but Zenk (1976:9) suggests that the Shoshones count of Lewis and Clark, is actually Kalapuyans as there were not Shoshones in the valley, which adds 10,600, giving us 12,600 Kalapuyans. This is likely a severe under-count as the expedition simply heard about the Kalapuyans from a Clowwewala man, and never ventured far into the Willamette Valley. They never saw any village of Kalapuyans nor appear to have talked with a Kalapuyan person.
James Mooney, an anthropologist in the later 19th and early 20th centuries, estimates 3,000 Kalapuyans at 1780, which is also a gross underestimate (Zenk 1976: 9).
Albert Gatschet, a German Anthropologist, one fo the first professionals to work among the Kalapuyan peoples at the Grand Ronde Reservation, collected the names of 17 winter village groups, which by 1850 was really only 16 villages, as one is extinct. Zenk suggests an estimate range of 15-20 groups based on the experience of the informants, and a date of 1812. Zenk estimates 50 per winter village and 750-1000 for only the Tualatin Kalapuyans. Then Zenk estimates smallpox would have reduced the Tualatins by one third to one half, suggesting a population of the Tualatins as high as 2,000 individuals at 1780 (Zenk 1976: 11). This number suggests some 200 winter villages for the Tualatin alone previous to 1780, as suggested by Zenk’s 50 individuals per village estimate. The Tualatins did have a large area rich in resources, and its possible the territory was larger previously. The Yamhill Kalapuyans spoke the same dialect at the Tualatins.
The tribes and bands count is complicated by the political framework of the Kalapuyans. Each village had its autonomy and could ally with other villages as they wanted to. Normally a powerful chief rises and other village chiefs would align with them. But with 200 villages, this would become somewhat complex, perhaps too much so, and so there was not likely one Tualatin Kalapuyan tribal Nation but several TualatinTribes and bands, each possessing their own autonomy and sovereignty.
The period following 1812, and until 1840s is thin on estimates. (until I find some related to the fur trade companies)
Joseph Lane’s 1850 census lists Calipoa 60, Tualatin 60, Yamhill 90, and Luckimier (Luckimiute) as 15, a total of 225 of these four Kalapuyan tribes. The Calipoa are likely Ahantchuyuk or Pudding River if these are all northern tribes. He does differentiate total Kalapuyans from the main band. For the Tualatin he lists 50 for the main band, and for Yamhill 19, and Luckimiute 5. This suggests that as late as 1850 the main Kalapuya tribes he lists, had more than two bands, and likely two villages, aligned with the main tribe. Lane also listys 200 Umpquas, a number which seems large. The count for Umpqua may have included Yoncalla Kalapuyans, as they lived in the Umpqua Basin along with Upper Umpqua tribes like the Cow Creek band and the upper Umpqua Band at Elkton.
The census of April 22,1851 by Rev. Spalding, lists the count of Kalapuyas at 560. In his report, Spalding states that he is personally visiting the tribes and that the number is an estimate based on the villages he has visited and the village yet to be visited. The number also includes the band on the Umpqua.
Rev. Spalding takes another census on August 25, 1851 and has more detailed counts. For McKenzies (Winefelly) 63; for Kalapooya (Tekopa?) he lists 41; for Santiam 66; for Forks Santiam 21 (there were two or three Santiam bands), Marys River (no number); Long Tom (Chelamela) 71; French Prairie (Ahantchuyuk) 54; and for Yamhill 59, for a total of 375 people. Spalding lived in Brownsville and so he would have had good knowledge of the local tribes and he did not get numbers for Tualatin and a few other major bands.
Spalding’s Letter of 12/8/1850 states 15 bands of the Kalapuyans speaking 7 different dialects.
Anson Dart’s report of 1851 lists 560 Calapooyas. Its highly likely that Dart got his numbers from the Spalding report of April 22 ,1851, because Dart did not go and visit tribes much during his tenure, and the Willamette Valley Treaty Commission negotiated with the Tribes in May of 1851, without Dart involved.
Joel Palmer’s numbers for Kalapuyan tribes from 1854 is inexact for many. Long Toms, “few”; Luckamute Band of Calapooias 25 or 30; Santiam Band of Calapooias 150; Yamhill band of Calapooias 45 or 50; Tualatin Band of Calapooias 50 or 60. Palmer’s total estimate of Kalapuyans is 290 people. His inexact count definitely missed a good number of the people from the main tribes.
March 1856 Journal: The First Census at the Grand Ronde Reservation
In March of 1856, William Raymond’s Journal of the Grand Ronde Reservation is likely first census for the reservation. Raymond was assigned to the new Grand Ronde Indian Reservation to help resettled the incoming tribes. However, the Journal appears to be written in the hand of Robert Metcalf. Metcalf had been in charge of the removals of the Umpqua, Yoncalla and Molalla from the Umpqua Reservation from January to February 1856. Therefore, the March 1856 journal is really the first opportunity at the new Grand Ronde Reservation to take a count of the Natives. As well, the Census list does not have any Rogue River tribes, suggesting that the census was taken before the Rogue Rivers arrived at Grand Ronde, and were still on the trail from the Table Rock Reservation at this time. (below listed only the Kalapuyan tribes)
French Prairie Band, 20 People; Spores Band, 65 people; Santiam, 53 people; Louis Band, 43 people; Long Tom Band, 32 people; Marysville. 35 people; Yamhill 20 people; Lakamiuke, 8 people; Calapooia, 89 people, which equals 365 Kalapuyans.
The Following image is from the first pages of the Journal (as transcribed by David Lewis). Once written as a transcript it was discovered that all of the Kalapuyan Tribes and bands had not yet been removed to the Grand Ronde Reservation. The Tualatins are not yet represented, as well as the Clackamas, or any groups on the Columbia.
This is the first time the March 1856 Census is used in a publication.
The Hazen Map of 1856 of the Grand Ronde Reservation, lists 392 Calapoyahs in three camps and 137 Tualatins in a camp. The five Umpqua camps likely have a number of Yoncalla Kalapuyans. The Kalapuyans count total is 529 persons. It is not known when the census counts were taken on this map, but we assume it was in 1856, after all removals had occurred, therefore sometime in the summer because the Rogue River tribes are noted.
The first complete census of the Grand Ronde Reservation of November 1856 lists Tualatins 75; Marysville 22; Muddy 21 (Muddy River, Chenapfa); Long Tom 16; Yamhill 26; Luckamute 22; Calapooia (Ahantchuyuk) 22; Mohawk 20; Winefella 23; Santiam 81 and Calapooia Band Calapooia River (Tekopa)16; for a total of 344 persons. Another section of this census lists Calapooia of the Umpqua tribe (Yoncalla) at 30 persons. Grand total would then be 374 persons. Comparing the total with those from March 1856 suggest that only a few temporary reservations from the Willamette Valley had been emptied and resettled by March 1856, and that more tribes and bands came later.
Its unclear how accurate the counts were of the Kalapuyans previous to the reservation. The numbers from various Indian agents fluctuates dramatically from 200 to over 500 persons. The named villages count may prove to be the most accurate count of some tribes. In 1851 The Gibbs Starling Map lists a number of named villages on the Willamette. The map was likely based on a river passage chart prepared by steamboat captain Leonard White. White was an early Salem resident and pioneer of finding passages up and down the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. The 1851 map lists these tribes as Chehalem, Chempoeg, Chemaway, Chemekitty, and Chehalpen, and areas called Chehn-to-uck at the Santiam river, and Tsi-yahm-hil in the Yamhill basin.
Ethnographers notes will list more villages. Ethnography did not really begin until the 1877 with Albert Gatschet who collected much from the Kalapuyans. Anthropologists like Melville Jacobs collected Kalapuyan village names into the 1930s.
Melville Jacobs Field Notebook #33
p’inefu and halpam people
(Kalapuya & Santiam) Salem to Jefferson on E. and S. side of Willamette
antpu’saq (People) W & N side of Willamette
(laqmyut) alaqmayuq (People) (Independent to Lakamiyuk R. at Buena Vista)
Melville Jacobs Field Notebook #34.
Tsani-hoi- a town between Monroe (Pinefu People)
Han ter yuk- Mary’s river, Kalapuya, Santiam
Santefaq people- they understand Santiam, good
Halpam people- Santiam
Hanter yu k
Pi ne fu (Mary’s R.)
Tsantce manq la qua- near Albany
Tsa yam hala (Yamhill)
Antatawa- maybe around Corvallis, Same as Pi ne fu
Ne twalati (Atfalati)
Begin Jacobs Field notebook #46
Tcan tku’pi; name of a Kalapuya- speaking place region and band. JBH knows no woman of this name. They lived along the McKenzie R. near Eugene- say between the McKenzie to Eugene. The Yonkallas are immediately to the south, from Cottage Grove on. Jim Spoyse (Spores?) was a Tku’pi’, and he married a ske’nan woman.
JBH, tca’nu’ha, a band, talking a Kalapuya dialect somewhere near Eugene. One man JBH remembers called Jim Sboyse (Spuiz) [Spores?] , was probably of Nu’ha origin. Their territory was along the MacKenzie river. Sboyies wife was named Ske’nan, who came from the same tribe as Frank Wheeler’s mother, who was also named ske’nan. Cindy Jackson’s mother was still a third woman, named Ske’nan.
JBH, The Kalapuyas JBH says are those on “this side” of the Yonkallas – the bands by Corvallis and beyond – to Eugene. But the Santiam or Ha’lpam
Pi’ne fu’ or Marysville (Marys river)
La’qmaywq or Lakmyuts
Ha’nt’ayuq or half prairie people
Nu’ha, a band near Eugene
Are all called Kalapuyas, so JBH says, they are all to be included in the term Kalapuya. They all talked one language: one band spoke just a little different from the other, but all were mutually intelligible.
Jacobs Field notebook #78
Kallapu’ya includes these and perhaps others, Santya’m, Ha’lpam, P’I’nefu
Eustace was 7 yrs pf age when his Santiam- Penmana’fu father died. At 9 or 10 he heard these old stories from some fine old ladies. His mother was Santiam and most of the rest of his relatives.
Penmana’fu people, close to Salem, near Hukwil, other side of Wheatland – along in that valley there; talked a slightly variant dialect
Ha’lpam, close to Albany, and north of it, and dialectically close to Santiam.
Pi’nefu, people along by Corvallis, macefield, Marysville people, or south of Corvallis. Dialect intelligible to Santiam
Santyam’ ami’m , Santiam people
Punma’nafu, People living beyond Salem some 6 miles in a valley near Hopewell. [across Willamette from Willamette Mission state park]
Jacobs notes contain a mixture of town and tribal names. That is really the nature of the Kalapuyan tribes. Each town was its own sovereign entity. So a Town could be considered a tribe, or it could be a band, which means they are subject to a larger tribe. Jacobs in these notebooks lists some 20 tribe and bands and towns, and without some work aligning them with tribal territory they all need to be considered separate and distinct. The Tualatin (Atfalati), Santiam (Halpam), Marys River( Pinefu). Lakamiuke, Yonkalla, and Yamhill standout as the primary tribes, and they in turn had numerous bands and villages aligned with them. It is wrong to assume that because a village speaks the same dialect of a language that the tribes is politically related to the primary tribe.
All of these Kalapuyan tribes were at the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation where there was at the most 374 Kalapuyans resettled by November of 1856. From a high of as many as 20,000 sixty years previously. The decrease for 60 years being some 98% from disease, and small conflicts.