What Happened to Caroline Mercier

I have thought over the years about the tribal people from Grand Ronde who have disappeared from the tribe. In essays, I have written about some of the reasons for people leaving the tribe. The reservation at the turn of the 20th century was developing into a set of Native farms as people took advantage of their new Indian allotments, granted in 1891. The allotments came on the heels of some 40 years of poverty, neglect, and loss for the people at the reservation. The change began in the 1870s with the informal allotments, and some families were able to make a go of it and prospered, others remained impoverished living in multifamily houses in extreme poverty. By 1891 260 Grand Ronde people gained allotments, men, women, and children. But in the allotment act, there were no specific allowances for allotting people after the initial allotment. So those tribal people born after 1891 did not get allotments except in rare instances.

The remainder of the tribal lands were then packaged by the Indian agents as surplus lands to the sold in a public offering. The newspaper report of this public offering in 1905 and thereabouts, suggested that there was something wrong, something perhaps illegal about the way that most timber companies were able to snag all of the excess lands, and few individuals received lands. But by 1907 all of the surplus lands were gone, sold mainly to timber companies. These logging companies then spent a good 13 years planning their entry into the Coast range, laying small gauge tracks to efficiently haul logs out of the range. There they developed the many logging towns which we known today.

The Grand Ronde reservation changed significantly in the 20 years after the allotments were assigned. Most people developed farms and while the farms produced little food, they did what they could to produce hay, run some cattle, horses, and most had hogs and chickens, just enough to feed themselves and their families with few profits. The soils in most of the Grand Ronde valley were not good enough to sustain commercial food grain crops annually so hay was the most common crop. Most families would plant their hay in the spring, then travel into the Willamette Valley to harvest crops from various American farmers. Grand Ronde people normally traveled to Independence, Salem, Wheatland for much of their migrant agricultural work. In the later summer, most families would return to their allotments to harvest the hay.

However, once their children of the Grand Ronde people grew up, especially those who had missed the allotment period, there was no land for them to acquire as an allotment. They could not even inherit the allotted land, should their parents die, because the federal government decided to sell the land of people who had died without proving up on it in the 20 years period, and simply divvy up the money among the descendants. They either had the choice of marrying an allotted member, remaining on their family’s farm, or leave the reservation to find work elsewhere. These children on the Reservation were shown to have attended and graduated from the Grand Ronde Industrial and Vocational School and many left the school with skills and education that they could not use on the reservation. Therefore, many chose to instead integrate into the cities of the Willamette Valley, normally marrying outside of the tribe and remaining outside fo the reservation their whole lives. They may return to the family homestead for events, Thanksgiving, Christmas, the Fourth of July, or birthdays, but lived in Salem or Portland.

Many of these people who left the reservation lost all association with their families and were not included on tribal membership lists. The annual Federal Indian reservation censuses became the de-facto tribal membership lists until the tribe to control of the rolls in 1936 under Reorganization. In about 1909, Indian agents began taking people off the annual census, as I have detailed in a previous essay. By 1916 the census was restored to counting all tribal people, even if their fee-simple (former allotment) lands were technically not reservation lands and so they technically no longer lived on the reservation.  In the intervening years, many people who were not detailed on the census were lost from the tribe.

Jasper Luce (Siletz) and Mary Petit Mercier Luce on the Siletz river. When Mary Left Francis she had an Indian marriage with Jasper

The story now turns to the life of Caroline Mercier. She was born on the Grand Ronde Reservation in 1893, just two years after the people at Grand Ronde were allotted land. She was born to Francis Mercier and Mary Petit Mercier. Francis was a Belgian man who came to Grand Ronde to become an assistant to his uncle, Reverend Adrien Croquet. Croquet returned to Belgium in the 1880s and Francis stayed on, married to a  Clackamas and Chinookan native woman of a prominent family. Francis and Mary remained on the reservation for a few years, previous to the allotment, then left the reservation, reportedly moving to Sheridan, Oregon. As a non-native, Francis could legally move his family in this fashion. The family reappears again on the reservation when Mary and her previously born children gain Indian allotments.  Caroline is born two years later.

Federal Indian Census records and Federal census records show that Caroline lived in the family household until she was at least sixteen.

Mercier household in 1893, Caroline is 1 year old. Francis is not noted because he is not a native.
Mercier household in 1906, they have had two other children, Eloise and Francis, two daughters, Caroline is 13.
Transcription of the Federal Census of 1910, detailing Francis and Mary Mercier Family, Caroline is 16, her older brothers have moved out and have their own families now (Familysearch.com)
1916 Federal Indian Census, Mary and Francis Mercier are now empty nesters, all their children survived and moved out, there is no record of Caroline on the reservation at this time

There is now some mystery of what happened to Caroline. She does notappear on the 1916 census of people on the reservation. She is never again listed on a federal Indian census. I was recently contacted by a family genealogist who was searching her DOWNER family ancestry. She asked,

“Through Ancestory.com, I discovered (her husband’s) great-grandfather Joseph L. Downer married Carrie Mercier (b. abt 1893, in Grande Ronde). Carrie was the daughter of Francis (Frank) Mercier and Mary Petit. 
 According to US Census and the 1913 marriage certificates, they were living in Portland, Oregon, but married in Clarke County, Washington. The 1920 Census, they were living in Portland with Carrie’s sister, Francis Mercier. After 1920, absolutely nothing is pulling up. I’ve contacted the State of Washington, Oregon, genealogical societies, libraries, Clark County Courthouse, and the Grande Ronde Tribal Council. Sadly nothing has turned up. I have no idea what happened to Carrie. I do know that Joe remarried, twice. But as far as divorce records or death certificates, nothing is coming up. 
Do you have any insight on the mystery of Carrie Mercier-Downer?” (Personal Communication)
A few weeks later, I did have a few minutes and began searching for her.  I found that she did not appear in any censuses from Grand Ronde, and even though these censuses sometimes list off-reservation members, like Francis Mercier the daughter, who lived in Portland. So the mystery did deepen, and Ancestry did not have the information as the researcher had hit a wall for the past 6 years of searching. I decided to try a different genealogy site, a newer free site, Familysearch.com and after a few minutes found what happened to Caroline.
This record came up
Name: Caroline C. Mercier Brautlacht
Maiden Name: Mercier
Event Type: Burial
Event Date: 1923
Event Place: Portland, Multnomah, Oregon, United States of America
Photograph Included: N
Death Date: 08 May 1923
Affiliate Record Identifier: 150693510
Cemetery: Lincoln Memorial Park

She died on May 8th, 1923. The record from her husband at the time, Richard Brautlacht shows he died the same day. I thought then that this is suspicious and something happened, like a car crash, or a capsized boat, but the truth is more tragic than that.

Caroline, in a fit of jealousy, shot Richard twice at the breakfast table, then shot herself.  Our researcher was able to find the Oregonian newspaper article about the tragedy.

Wife Slays Mate Then Ends Life
Murder enacted because of Jealousy

… Describes Agony

Breakfast table chosen to snuff… careers made stormy… throughout two years

with a pistol lifted from the folds of her house dress, Mrs. Robert C. Brautlacht, 25 shot and killed her … husband yesterday morning just before 8 o’clock, and then .. a bullet into her own body to … the death that came five minutes later. Over the breakfast table … home at 784 Sandy Boulevard.. did it, when a resolve that had been in her brain for six months … in a head and was not put … by the smiling eyes of her husband across the table over his …..

… jealousy, and one found to …  led to the deed, po-…, when they read a … and painfully-written note… prepared the night before in which Mrs. Brautlacht set the reasons for what she was … do. She said that rather than give up her pleasure-loving … whom she characterized as … neither “heart, conscience, … self-respect, or anything… goes to make a man.” and …. very sure that her heart .. “last to be broken.” she … resort to murder and suicide. … and friends, shocked by … in which the couple, whom… considered so happy, had … insisted that all her statements came from an overwrought ….

… Fern, druggist, living but … away, heard the shots and found Mrs. Brautlacht unconscious … a wound in her head, heaped … lifeless body of her husband. … seemed to embrace him. … died before aid was had. … had risen from the … appeared , and staggered to … room. there the bodies….

…(read the rest as you can)

Caroline settled their affairs and simply said Goodbye. The rest of the article is like an obituary, listing their surviving family and that her parents who reside in Grand Ronde, and that the family is said to be relatives of Cardinal Mercier of Belgium. Cardinal Mercier in this period was a heroic figure in the world, the Cardinal of the Belgian archdiocese who had publically spoken out about the imperial practices of Germany in Belgium during the recently ended WWI.

Caroline’s previous husband, Joseph Downer, had grown up in Oklahoma, and there is little information about their marriage. Our researcher said that family members who knew him thought Joseph was something of a womanizer. It may very well have been the reason Caroline and Joesph split up, and perhaps what caused her jealousy in her second marriage as well. They apparently divorced sometime around 1920. Joseph dies in 1980, having lived a very long life.

Here then comes to rest the story of one of the disposessed of Grand Ronde. Caroline apparently had no children with either husband. It remains to be seen if any of the Mercier family have additional stories of Caroline. There is no explanation of why she never appears to have returned to the reservation. Her parents, Francis and Mary, reportedly had a stormy relationship and in the 1920s Mary finally divorced Francis, the divorce papers (Oregon State Archives) suggest that she was abused by him as they included evidentiary sheets of abuse. The household may very well have been stressful to remain in, and Caroline may have had enough and left forever as many children will do.

Such a dysfunctional and abusive household on reservations in this time would have not been uncommon. Many tribal people had gone through an extremely stressful life on the reservation and during the time of this story, there were deepening losses to the reservation and community in the form of land loss and cultural changes. With the lack of ability of the newest generation of tribal kids to gain land on the reservation and the fact that they were still not American citizens, they had few opportunities. Many people engaged in any activity which would somehow benefit them, women married outside the tribe for American status. These actions were prompted by the actions of the Federal government, whose politicians, each generation, passed new laws regarding Native peoples, most of which tended to lead the tribes to the eventual termination of their status. When tribal children could not inherit lands or gain allotments they would be apt to leave and find opportunity, therefore causing the disintegration of the community center which in turn affected the culture and viability of the tribe. In this manner, very many of our relatives may be forever lost to the tribe.

The references to the above article are intext. This story was interesting as this is directly my family line at the reservation. Julius Mercier, Caroline’s older brother is my Great Grandfather. Caroline is then a Great Great aunt.



Nachicolcho or Siletz: a Place on the Oregon Coast

The Siletz placename is something of a mystery. Leo J. Frachtenberg, the ethnologist assigned to collect native languages on the Grand Ronde and Siletz reservations in about 1913,  in about 1914 thought the word “Siletz” to be of Athapaskan origin and suggested that the origin is in the word “Si’is/Silet” meaning Black Bear. I have looked at Frachtenberg’s paper on the word numerous times over the years and normally have stated that the word was probably not Athabaskan but instead Salish as the Siletz Indians were said to be Salish/Tillamookans. They were perhaps the most southern of the Tillamookan tribes on the Oregon Coast. So in my thinking then, that as a native word, it could not be Athapaskan in origin as most of the Athapaskan tribes were from southwestern Oregon. Only recently when teaching about this, another notion occurred to me, mainly because I have now done a lot of work to understand the forced movements of the southern Oregon peoples northward, to the area of the Coast Reservation, beginning in 1856 (see other essays this blog).

About a year ago, I encountered a U.S. Coast Geodetic Coast Survey map of the Siletz area of the coast, and on the map are listed two different names for the Siletz River. The appearance of the many unique Tillamookan-Salish names on this draft map suggests that the survey gathered information from a Tillamookan informant, perhaps even taking a Tillamookan informant onto the schooner to help name the places on the coast as they slowly traveled northward.

Section of U.S Geodetic survey map noting Siletz Bay, Siletz River with secondary placename os Nachicolcho, these maps are in the OHS Map Library

The first name, Siletz, is clearly more well known and is the present official name for the river. The second name, Nachicocho, not known at all, yet appears to align with the place names we have seen for the Tillamookan territories, names like Nachesna, and Nehalem, where the prefix Ne- or Na- is a placename identifier.  The name is actually listed in two places on the map, as the place name at the Bay, and as the river name Nachicolcho R.

Siletz Bay and Nachicolcho placenames, US Geodetic survey, OHS map library

If it is the case that the original name for the river is “Nachicolcho“, then the notion that the original name for the river is Siletz is inaccurate. How could this have occurred? Frachtenberg in his paper does not mention the historic removal of the southern Athabaskans to the Coast Reservation. In fact, this history in around 1914, when he is working at the Siletz reservation in Oregon, is not well known or remembered. The tribes in 1914, had just re-discovered their Coast treaty, in about 1908 (perhaps inspired by Frachtenberg- a subject for another story), and the tribes were working on a plan for filing a lawsuit against the U. S. Government for non-payment for their lands. The Coast Treaty was never ratified and so for some 80 to 150 years the tribes who came from the Southern Coast, in fact, tribes from the whole of the Oregon coast where never paid for their lands in their lifetimes. The Indian Claims lawsuits were not fully paid until about 1959, for most tribes.

Leo J. Frachtenberg manuscript 1731, an NAA document now copied into the SWORP collection

Since, in 1914, and after, the history of the removal of the tribes, the details of what happened in the removals was not well known or remembered by elderly tribal peoples. Narratives and scholarly books did not really begin to appear until the 1970s. Even these sources do not necessarily follow the progress of individual tribes to their ultimate removal but instead followed the program of wars with few details of removal of individual tribes up the Coast, and instead drew broad brushes strokes of the history of removal.

In my research, there were found to be Athabaskan tribes removed to the Coast Reservation at the same time as the removal of such tribes to Grand Ronde. The tactic followed by Indian agents appears to be to spread out the tribes over a larger area so they could feed all 3000+ tribal peoples removed in 1856. A good number of “Rogue River” peoples and coastal Athapaskans were then removed to the region of the coast between the Nachesna and the Siletz River, and some to the south. These Athapascan people could have easily renamed the river because they were the overwhelming majority of peoples for a few years living in that area. In fact, the “Siletz” peoples, those Tillamookans we have always thought were names “Siletz” were a very small group, they appear to disappear altogether in a few years, and likely married into other tribes and disappeared as a separate culture. These Siletz people may have been called  “Nachicolcho” people instead, similar to the Tillamookan placenames of their northern brethren, maybe there was even a “Nachicolcho” village. 

It is actually very common for tribes to be renamed by white people based on the renamed rivers of their regions. It is also common for tribal names to have originated with what they were called by other tribes. It’s quite possible that the first resettled Athapaskans called the “Nachicolcho” peoples by the name meaning “Black bear” in the Athapaskan language, and this name was also applied to the river, and later applied to the Agency and Reservation and Tribe. In Oregon, there are several names of tribes who are renamed by white settlers, names like Mohawk, or Nez Perce, and are not names that originate from this region or language.

Southern Tilamookan Names, Based on the names on the U.S. Coast Geodetic Survey maps, OHS Map Library Nastucco- Cascade Head, Nachesne/Nachesna- Salmon River, Na-ahso- Devils Lake, Nachicolcho- Siletz River and Bay. Is Neotsu an altered version of Na-ahso, this seems likely.

Update 4/13/2019

The amazing Coos researcher Patricia Whereat-Phillips, from her retreat in the foreign land of Sonoma- California wrote back about this placename issue.

“both Siletz and Nachicolcho are correct names for the river. They have different meanings in Tillamook, no surprise.

Reel 20 frame 615a – Louis Fuller – he gives nshlæch’ (with a short vowel a written above the line to indicate a short vowel between the sh and l; well it is the ‘alpha fish’ as I call it which sounds more like “uh”). The name means ‘coiled’, and in earlier frame 614 explains the river is like a rope gathered up, because it is so crooked. On that frame he also gives the name nshlæts. Then “Siletz River Indian” is nshlæts’ stiwat.

Then he also gives the name for Siletz River as nach’ikáltzu. Louis says it is another name for Siletz River, and refers to it being a quiet river, ‘as quiet as a pond’. Then he also calls the Siletz Indians nach’ikáltzustiwat, quiet river Indians.” (Whereat-Phillips)

This is indeed good news. This suggests that Frachtenberg’s assertion that Siletz relates to the Athapaskan word for Black bear is wrong.  Frachtenberg likely did not know much about the Tillamook Indians and was very focused on Athapaskan, and this may have biased his vision with respect to this name.

The Frachtenberg microfilm records are freely available online. The problem with the online version is the NAA did not preserve the page numbers. So, I have to conduct a complicated calculation to find page 615. There are 12 images per grouping, and so if you divide 615 by 12 you get 51.25, So the page is in group 51. See for your self at John Peabody Harrington papers: Tillamook, 1942-1943, Reel 20.

Acknowledgement is Long Past Due for Attempts to Exterminate the Tribes of Oregon

Presently, there is an apology bill being considered in the Oregon State Senate for the Modoc Indian War of 1872-1873.  This apology is long past due to the Modoc people who were forcibly removed to Oklahoma Indian County after the battlefield trials of their leaders. Numerous leaders of the Modocs, including Captain Jack were hung in what amounted to a battlefield-hanging immediately after they were captured in a ruse of a peace negotiation.  Modoc people today rightly point out that,

“They were tried by the very same people that they fought in the war against,” Tupper said. “And so when you have Modoc people dying after a war and no officers in the Army dying for the same things and same transgressions against the Modoc people, then that’s blatantly unfair.”

The bill would formally apologize to the Modoc for their treatment by noting that “Senate Concurrent Resolution 12 states “that we, the members of the Eightieth Legislative Assembly, commemorate the Modoc War of 1872-1873, and we recognize and honor all those who lost their lives in that costly conflict; and be it further resolved, that we express our regret over the execution of Kintpuash, Schonchin John, Black Jim and Boston Charley in October 1873 and for the expulsion of the Modoc tribe from their ancestral lands in Oregon.””

This apology is a cull-out of a larger issue which the State of Oregon has yet to confront in any manner. The fact that the state perpetrated genocide against native peoples since the formation of its Volunteer Militia, also known as Rangers in about 1843 with the ratification of the Organic Acts. One of the first acts was to form a militia to protect the White Americans from encroachments from “Indians.” In the 1850s, when settlement had advanced to the point that all good farm land was claimed in the state, the tribes were forced to the brink of survival. They were starving because their traditional territories were overrun by White American settlers, and who saw Indians as vermin to be exterminated. Numerous editorials and letters to the area newspapers, notably the Oregon Statesman in Salem, called for the “extermination” of all Indians.

Conflicts between Natives and whites began in the 1840s and continued getting worse in the 1850s. Tribal peoples, were forced to steal foods from the settlers when the settlers refused to share their newfound wealth. Settlers destroyed native food resources by plowing prairies and running pigs and cattle on their farms. Then settlers hunted out the game with their firearms. So most of the principal food staples of the tribes were heavily impacted or destroyed by changes to the land brought by settlers. Along with this, when settlers claimed all of the land, they took over tribal lands without the approval of tribes, and without the federal government purchasing the land appropriately.

For at least 11 years, 1844 to 1855, settlers took lands that the tribes still legally owned. Tribal communities lost land and food and when there were conflicts, they worked to settle the conflicts by taking back what was being stolen. Settlers called this theft, and the federal government called it depredations. This is what the volunteer militia was supposed to control.

The militia began to take action against tribal communities whenever that was a perceived “crimes” committed by tribal peoples. The word “Crime” really only applies if the tribal peoples are Americans, they were not, and all of the land was legally still theirs until 1855, for much of western Oregon. Under tribal law, if other people take from you, hunt your land, steal your land, they have the right to exact retribution and make war upon you. So, in actuality it was the settlers who were committing the crimes, taking, stealing land and resources from the tribes.

How did this happen? The federal government simply assumed that the land was theirs, as there was not a previous agreement between the tribes and the United States before treaties.

Back to the Militias and genocide- When cattle were taken by tribal people, the militia exacted retribution by attacking Indian villages. When settler wagon trains or supply routes were attacked by tribes, the militias would attack native encampments, killing all men, women, and children, usually killing all of the people they could find or who ran away, sometimes capturing a few women and children. They took these actions of attacking native encampments without warning, they did not try to negotiate, or bring anyone up on trial, or ask for the perpetrators of the previous attack. There were no legal proceedings and the Militia attacks amounted to battlefield executions of foreign peoples, without knowing if anyone was even guilty, without ever declaring war.

The Militia were funding wholly by the Oregon Territorial government, and after 1859, the State of Oregon. The militia was halted for a time in their genocidal action when in 1855 General John E. Wool took command in the region and employed regular army troops to defeat the Rogue River Confederacy. Incidentally, the whole Rogue River War was caused by volunteer militia of Oregon and California attacking Indian settlement on the Table Rock Reservation without provocation. General Wool investigated the problems in southern Oregon and published his opinion in the state’s newspapers, essentially, that the whole conflict was the fault of the volunteer militia. This was an unpopular political position in the territory, and a sympathy also held by Oregon Indian Superintendent Joel Palmer, who worked with the Army to save the tribes from further extermination by placing them on Indian reservations, with Army Blockhouses erected to protect the Indians from further attacks by white American militias. Palmer’s actions to save the tribes got him fired because of political pressure from white American settlers.

The tribal people had no rights under U.S. rule to take white people to court, they were not allowed in a U.S. court of law, and could not testify if they saw murder on their people. The tribes could not recover lost lands, lost resources, lost houses, horses, or any other property, and there was no process for trying white people for murdering Indians. Joel Palmer noted this when the Chetco villages were attacked and the villages and people destroyed but the U.S. court would not hold or try the perpetrators for the crimes because Indians could not be eyewitnesses in court. This was the rule across the west. White American had the right to take all of the land they wanted could kill Indians to the point of extermination by burning them alive in their houses and no U.S. court would hold them accountable for all of these illegal actions. This all occurred over and over again in many regions of the west, shattering Native communities. The tribes were eventually forced to remove to Indian reservations, but even their experience on reservations was destructive, with starvation, malnutrition, exposure, and poverty rampant for nearly 20 years.

The State of Oregon and the United States have never apologized for the attempted to exterminate the tribes, for taking all of their lands without payment for years, for administration of reservations which was criminal, and for pressing the tribes into permanent poverty for the past 150 years, without the resources to help their people. And besides this treatment, American historians ignored these issues for over 150 years in books on regional and U.S. history. Few histories have shown the depths of the evil which was visited upon tribal nations by murderous and greedy white Americans. Instead, the histories were usually cast as a righteous spiritual mission by American heroes to save the tribes from their savagery. There many never be an apology that can make any of this better, but many people believe that simply acknowledgment that this occurred would be a big step forward for tribes. Tribal peoples today are American, with the same citizen rights of any other Americans, and we deserved to have our histories told as well.

If you doubt anything here, read the stories in my blog.



Battle Rock the First Colonization on the Southern Oregon Coast

In July 1851, Captain William Tichenor decided to begin his project to colonize and claim the Port Orford area. He envisioned that the establishment of a town at Port Orford would be an entry point for gold miners into SW Oregon. Tichenor originally hired his band of men from Portland, O.T., promising them that the Indians in the region were peaceful. Tichenor convinced his men that they did not need much armament and that arms would only provoke the Natives. He said he had visited the area many times and the Indians were always welcoming. Still his engages choose to take arms with them in case something happened (Kirkpatrick, et al. 1978).[1]

It turns out that Tichenor is implicated in history as being very genocidal towards native peoples. See my other essays about the removal of the tribes from the Chetco region.

When the band arrived, on June 9, 1851, they set up camp on a mid-shore rock, a defensible location, what was to later be called Battle Rock and fortified their camp with a cannon from Tichenor’s ship. The rock is situated just off the beach and there is a narrow path to the top. The top of this long and narrow rock is wide enough to host a small encampment with a few trees growing there. On both sides of the rock is water and the walls are too steep to easily scale.  The rock afforded a defensible position for this small party (Kirkpatrick, et al. 1978).

These Native peoples, the Kwatami Tututni (Sixes band), at first were peaceful. After Tichenor’s ship left they became more confrontational and demanded the men leave. The demands became violent and an attack on the rock occurred. The cannon was fired down the path and some 11 Natives died in this first volley. The resulting battle caused upwards of 17 native deaths with a few casualties among the party.  After this skirmish, two other attempts were made by the Native people to take the rock and each time marksmen in the party shot and killed the leaders, causing the natives to stop their attacks. A parley between the party and the Natives occurred, where it was worked out that the party would be leaving in 14 days, and the Natives would leave them alone until then (Kirkpatrick, et al. 1978).

It is unlikely that the arms taken by the band of men provoked the Native people. Natives were used to people carrying weapons and owned firearms in the area. Instead, the large scale outbreak of violence and a war of extermination against Native peoples occurring up the Rogue River and in Northern California was the likely reason that the Natives at Port Orford responded with violence. Native people had well-developed trail systems and means of communication throughout their territory. When the war of extermination began on the Rogue River, prompted by the Rangers, runners would have been sent to the neighboring camps to pass on the news of the Americans killing men, women, and children (Beckham 1971; Schwartz 1997).

Port Orford area USGS map from OHS map library, Battle Rock is right

The tribes in the region were all interrelated by marriage. It was common and preferred that men and women marry into tribes further away. In addition, many tribes and bands were politically aligned with the more powerful chiefs. The chiefs at the upper Rogue were very powerful and in 1855-1856 worked to command many tribes and bands in what became the Rogue River war. Thereafter, in history the tribes in this area are called the Rogue River Tribes, when in reality this was a confederation of tribes and bands from the Takelma, Athapaskan and Shasta tribes that banded together to defend their tribes and territory. During the conflict at Port Orford in 1851, tribes from the Rogue River came down to support their brethren the Sixes tribe at Port Orford to oust the interlopers at Battle Rock (Kirkpatrick, et al. 1978).

larger tribes in the region

After 14 days, the Sixes chiefs, thinking that the party had lied about leaving on Tichenor’s ship, began the attack again. The party fended off another attack and began fortifying their camp further with tree logs cut from the trees growing on the rock. Due to this ruse, the last of the party was able to escape the rock in the dead of night to travel north in an attempt to reach American civilization.  (Kirkpatrick, et al. 1978).[2]


History after the battle: Escape to the North

The lookouts from the Natives confederation encamped to the south, saw the reinforcement of the position and were satisfied that the party was staying, and went to join their people. The ruse worked and the last of the party decided to leave the rock in haste, thinking they would not survive another attack, were running low on ammunition and without the return of Tichenor, there were no reinforcements. They left the rock in the dead of night and hastily went northward on trails. They immediately encountered a party of natives traveling south on the coast trail. These natives were presumed to be reinforcements to the large party of tribes on the beach at Port Orford, and from their direction of travel may have been Coquille or Flores Creek peoples.

Encounter at the Coquille River

The party of the remaining four men needed to cross the Coquille River the next day. When they arrived on the south bank of the estuary of the Coquille, the Coquille Tribe on the north side saw them and made gestures suggesting that the party was not welcome to cross and that they would be killed. They eventually lured a child in a canoe to the south bank and crossed to what they did not realize was an island in the middle. Trapped on the island, they made a raft and traveled north, disembarking above the Coquille village.

Tichenor arrives back at Battle Rock

Tichenor arrived one day after the party left, about the time that the party is trying to cross the Coquille, and saw that there had been a battle. He left to find more men to return and fortify his claim. He recruited some 70 men in San Francisco and returned to build a fortified fort to fend off the Natives. He also convinced the US Army to send a detachment of men to Port Orford to secure the area for his settlement (Kirkpatrick, et al. 1978).

Arrival of the Survivors to Civilization

The nine survivors walked north for 8 days and arrived at the most southern settlements, at Gardiner in the Umpqua valley in safety. Four if these men, including Kirkpatrick arrived in Portland Wednesday July 8th according to the Oregonian editor. Kirkpatrick was interviewed and described their journey.

Capt. K. states that his party occupied their position at Port Orford for several days, and had several fights with the Indians, but lacking sufficient ammunition to defend themselves longer had retired to increase their number for another attack. The party has several skirmishes on the way, and four of them were slightly wounded. They made their journey in eight days, four of which they were out of provisions.[3]

They were greeted with “loud and hearty cheers” from the crowd down by the docks. The whole colony of Americans in Oregon knew of the Tichenor expedition to open up a port on the southern coast to make the gold fields more accessible. The American settlers and businessmen looked on this enterprise with interest and followed its events through the newspapers. Tichenor interviewed regularly with the papers, keeping everyone updated and advertising that he was opening a settlement in the coast and that it would be lucrative once open.

Alternative Battle Rock Account

In 1851, After the severe fighting at Battle Rock near Port Orford between the garrison which consisted of the nine white men which were brought by Captain Tichenor from Portland in the Steamer “Sea Gull” and landed June 9th 1851 and the Indians, and which fighting commenced just as soon as the “Sea-Gull” had left – an interval of fifteen days, – and was well out at sea, the Indians began again, and the White men being short of ammunition had to take to the woods, and after scrambling through the brush, and men getting down getting on the coast, then back to the brush again; and again making their way to the Coast, they finally reached the mouth of the Coquille, and camped on the place now occupied by the town of Bandon, on or about July the first 1851. Those white men, and they were undoubtedly the first white men, that ever walked on the Bandon beach… were W.H. Kirkpatrick, J.H. Eagan, Joseph Hussey, Cyrus Hedden, McCune, Rideout, R.E Summers, best known as Jake Summers- Slater and P.D. Palmer. At this time there were about two hundred Indians living on the Bandon town site. Their dwellings in an irregular and straggling course, reached from Wash Creek at the bottom of Prospect hill to Ferry Creek. They expected to find the Indians friendly, but when they saw the kindling fires, and making preparation to fight, they again took to the woods, and proceeded about eight miles up the southern bank of the Coquille, where they halted, and constructed a rude raft upon which they crossed over to the northern side. They kept in the woods for about two days living principally on salmon berries, when they reached beach, where they spent four days and feasted themselves on mussels. When they reached Coos Bay which they thought was the Umpqua, they made their way up the southern side until they sighted Coos River. Here they met some friendly Indians, who in consideration of each man stripping himself of his shirt, and handing it to them, gave them a good meal, and ferried them across. They finally reached the settlements of the Umpqua, and at Gardiner, where they were well received (Bennett 1900).


Port Orford into the Present

Once Tichenor’s second party had established themselves and built a fort, the settlement of Port Orford was established. The United States army established Fort Orford there as well, to help secure the region for Americans.  The town became the principal entry for miners, settlers, ranchers and Indian agents into southwest Oregon.  In this manner the southern Coast was secured for the forces of colonization, illegally taking the region from the Sixes and other Tututni tribes. In 1855 a treaty was negotiated with these peoples, but it was never ratified. The peoples were forced to remove to the Coast Indian Reservation, in 1856 and later, and lived in estuaries on the 100 mile reservation. In about 1877 the tribes were released from the reservation, the treaty never being ratified. When many tried to return home, all of their former villages were taken over by white Americans now in the midst of colonizign the coast and establishing industrial economies in the estuaries and bays. In this manner the tribes were divested of their lands. Some of the descendants of these people are members of the five tribes of western Oregon, or living independently outside of any tribe. It can safely be said that the United States never lived up to their promises to their tribes in the treaties. In the 1950s many of these people were paid for their land through the Indian Claim lawsuit, but too late for the people who underwent so much loss in the illegal takeover of the coast. Even today many people remain uninformed of the great attrocities when occurred on the coast in the name of American expansion.

[1] Kirkpatrick offers the most complete account of the battle and follow up events. His accounts begin in 1851 with newspaper interviews and end with this book on the Heroes of Battle Rock, a book that has seen reprint many times. Scholars suggest that Kirkpatrick dramatized his account as some of the details do not match in various different accounts. Clearly the Heroes book, which was edited after his death, dramatizes the heroic nature of the Tichenor party in order to sell the book to tourists and Oregonians.

[2] The non-native Kirkpatrick account is recounted in newspapers and in small books sold to tourists of the Oregon Coast. The various accounts differ slightly, some accounts have greater detail than others. Most of the non-native accounts, do not include any of the perspectives of the native peoples of this region. Their voices have been silent and unexplored in nearly all published accounts. Because of this only about half of the story has been fully explored. This is the case for most histories of American colonization of Native American territories.


[3] Oregonian July 12,1851 p 2

Timeline of Treaties and Removals in Western Oregon

1850 June, the First treaty in the North West Coast and West Coast, a Treaty of Peace negotiated with General Joseph Lane and the Takelma- Rogue River Tribes lead by Chief Apserkahar (Chief Jo) at Table Rock.

1851 Anson Dart Treaties, Nineteen Treaties unratified

Champoeg Treaties- Willamette Valley Treaty Commission

The Willamette Treaty Commission, Governor John T. Gaines, Alonzo A. Skinner, and Beverly S. Allen, are assigned the duties of negotiating treaties with the tribes of Oregon on October 25, 1850. Anson Dart at this time is assigned the Duties of the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, to manage whiskey trade, aid in the assimilation of the tribes, set up tribal jurisdictions, maintain the peace, and undermine Hudson’s Bay Company (a British company) among the tribes.

1) 1851, April 11 to April 16,  Treaty with the Santiam Band of Calapooia,. The first meeting to purchase lands of the tribes in the North West Coast and West Coast, at Champoeg between the Willamette Valley Treaty Commission and the Santiam band of Kalapuyans. They conclude on April 16th. Five days of meetings end with the agreement to the sale of their lands and a small Santiam Reservation between the north and south forks of the Santiam River.  [unratified]

Proposed Santiam Reservation 1851

2) 1851, April 17 to April 19, Treaty with the Twalaty Band of Calapooia. The Willamette Valley Treaty Commission negotiated the sale of the Tualatin lands and a permanent reservation around Wapato Lake. [Unratified]

A portion of the 1851 Gibbs Starling map showing the Twalaty (Tualatin) reservation superimposed over and around Wapato Lake

3) 1851 April 24 to May 2, Treaty with the Yam-Kill, The Yamhill band negotiates the sale of their lands and a permanent reservation in Gopher Valley east of the Cascade Range. This negotiation is extremely long as the Yamhill do not want to leave the graves of their relatives to be destroyed by the whites. They relent with promises of seven houses, that their graves would be bought by the federal government, that they can still leave the reservation to gather camas and wapatoo.  In 1852, they send word that they would also like help with getting agricultural tools and help with farming. [unratified]

Proposal 1851 Yamhill reservation at Gopher Valley, a section of Gibbs-Starling map


4) 1851 April 30 to May 2, Treaty with the Luckamiute. Negotiated the sale of their lands. they refuse to remove beyond the Cascades mountains emphatically. The place they choose for their reservation only had one white man and they agreed he can remain. [unratified]

1851 proposed Luckimiute Reservation, note location of Simpson’s Ferry, Section of Gibbs and Starling Map

5) 1851, May 3 to May 6, Treaty with the Molala. At Champoeg the negotiated sale of the northern Molala territory, and the establishment of a large permanent reservation.[unratified]

Section of the 1851 Gibbs- Starling map showing land bought of the northern Molalla Tribe and  large section set aside for a proposed reservation

6) 1851, May 3 to May 7, Treaty with the Santiam Band of Moolala Indians, At Champoeg the negotiated sale of the Molalla lands and establishment of a permanent reservation. This tribe is distinct from the Northern Molalla, south of them, and northeast of the Santiam Band of Calapooians. [unratified]

A very large section of the 1851 Gibbs-Starling Map showing the section of the Cascades bought from the Santiam Molalla tribe and their proposed Reservation

Tansey Point Treaties- Anson Dart, Superintendent – arrangements by Robert Shortess, sub-Indian agent

Anson Dart takes control of two roles in Indian Affairs after May of 1851. He argues that the Treaty commissioners are not official representatives of the Federal Government so their negotiations may be invalid with regards to the Kalapuyan and Molallan treaties just negotiated. Dart is successful and gets the duties of the treaty negotiations assigned to him as a representative of the Federal government in Oregon. This change alters the way the treaties are negotiated at Tansey Point and at Port Orford. There is not a map created at the negotiations, and Dart hereafter has two budgets to draw from. Robert Shortess made all the arrangements and could speak Chinook Jargon and so could translate. In October 1851 Shortess writes to Dart about how a white settler has claimed the land of a native person, saying the white man should be forced to leave his claim.  Dart fires him in next months mailing.

7) 1851 August 4-August 5, Treaty with the Clatsop, Meeting with the Clatsop at Tansey Point with  Anson Dart and Henry H. Spalding Indian Agent, and Josiah L. Parrish. Robert Shortess arranges for the meetings with the tribes. Establishes a large reservation on the coast at Point Adams and to the south. The treaty is concluded on August 5th. [unratified]

8) 1851 August 6, Treaty with the Naalem Band of Tillamook Indians. The negotiated sale of their lands. [unratified]

9) 1851 August 7, Treaty with the Tillamook Tribe of Indians, the negotiated sale of their lands. [unratified]

10) 1851 August 7, Treaty with the Nuc-que-clah-we-muck Band of Chinook. There was one man remaining of this tribe, Wallooskee. [unratified]

11) 1851 August 8, Treaty with the Waukikum Tribe of Chinook, The negotiated sale of their land north of the Columbia. They maintain the right to live in their residences, fish, and hunt. [unratified]

12) 1851, August 8, Treaty with the Konnaack tribe of Chinook Indians,  Anson Dart negotiated the sale of their lands. This Tribe is also known as the Skilloot tribe and held land on both sides of the Columbia. They maintain the right to live in their residences and hunt.[unratified]

13) 1851, August 9, Treaty with the Lower Chinook Band, Anson Dart negotiate the sale of their lands. They maintain the right to fish, hunt and gather berries, and remain living in their houses. [unratified]

14) 1851, August 9, Treaty with the Kathlamet Tribe of Chinook, negotiate the sale of their lands. They maintain the right to hunt and live in the town called Old Kathlamet town. [unratified]

15) 1851, August 9, Treaty with the Wheelappa and Quillequequa tribes of Chinook Indians. This treaty is a bit more complex, they gain education and a blacksmith, have to retire back to their land cession, and will share their area with the Cheehales tribe. The Quillequequa tribe is added at the end of the treaty. [unratified]

16) 1851, August 9, Treaty with the Klatskania of Chinook Indians. They maintain the right to live in their places of residence and fish and hunt. The Americans appear to have mistakenly added “Chinook Indians” in the title when the tribe was not Chinook Indians but Athapaskan speaking natives. Note that based on the description in the treaty the Clatskanie did have a significant claim to a portion of the southern shoreline of the Columbia River, a fact that has been missed by all previous ethnographers who have drawn tribal maps. [unratified]

Port Orford Treaties- Anson Dart

17) 1851, September 19-September 20, Anson Dart Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Henry H. Spalding Indian Agent and Josiah L. Parrish Sub Indian Agent with the Chiefs and headmen of the You-quee-chae, Qua-tou-wah and To-to-tan (or Rogue River) bands of Indians. The meeting is held at Port Orford. The tribes are allowed to remain in their houses for the remainder of their lives. [unratified]

18) 1851, September 20, Treaty with the Ya-su-chah band of Indians at Port Orford, began and concluded in the same day. They may keep their houses and fishing rights. [unratifed]

Oregon City- Anson Dart

19) 1851, November 5 – November 6, Treaty with the Clackamas, The last treaty of 1851 in Oregon Territory, Meeting with the Clackamas Tribe and Anson Dart, negotiating the sale of their lands. They are allowed to stay in their houses for the remainder of their lives, and fish in their usual manner, unmolested on the Clackamas River. This negotiation was a continuation of several meetings in which the tribe refused to give up certain properties and then finally decided to cede their lands. This is the most populous area and the most valuable area of Oregon at this time.  [unratified]

1851 Treaties Conclusion

The nineteen 1851 Oregon treaties were taken to Washington, D.C. by Anson Dart. Dart never returns to Oregon and remains in the capital for a few years. In 1852, Dart consults extensively with Congressmen about the treaties. Dart supplies an argument for not ratifying them suggesting that the Willamette Valley treaties were illegitimate because the Willamette Valley Commissioners were not appropriately representative of the federal government and that they had allowed for reservations for the tribes in the valley when all of the lands were already claimed by American settlers. It would have then been too costly to buy the land back from the settlers. The treaties are introduced to Congress on August 3, 1852. Dart’s arguments, and complaints by settlers who heard that the reservations that would be established within their area, reach Congress, and the treaties are tabled forever by the Congressmen. Dart is forced to resign as Oregon Indian Superintendent having failed to get any treaties ratified and failed to remove the tribes from the Willamette Valley to East of the Cascade Range.

Joel Palmer’s Western Oregon Treaties 1853-1855, Seven ratified, Two unratified

Joel Palmer is appointed in 1853 as Superintendent and is already a seasoned Oregon Politician. Palmer had already garnered fame for helping establish the Barlow Road and to write a journal of his travels. He later served as a General in the Volunteer Militia, in charge of provisioning.  He maintained the title of General Palmer throughout his life. He took well to the role of Indian Superintendent of Oregon, established all of the reservations in western Oregon and those in middle Oregon, was involved with nine ratified treaties, seven from western Oregon and two from middle Oregon, which he worked on with Isaac Stevens. He also helped successfully end the Rogue River Indian War, as well as removed some 4000 Indians from western Oregon to the Grand Ronde and Coast reservations. He is fired in summer in 1856 because of settler criticism of him being sympathetic to the tribes and having removed them north to the reservations, relatively close to American settlements.

1853, September 8, Treaty of Peace with the Rogue River, a Cease Fire, between the Rogue River Bands of Chief Apserkahar (Chief Jo) and Chief Sam and General Joseph Lane.

Belden Map 1855, section of Table Rock Reservation, NARA

1853, September 10, Treaty with the Rogue River Tribes, negotiated with Joel Palmer, for the sale of their lands and removal to a permanent reservation, with Table Rock Reservation being temporary. Ratified April 12, 1854 (First ratification date for two treaties on the West coast, Rogue River and Cow Creek.)

1853, September 19, Treaty with the Cow Creek Umpqua tribe, Ratified April 12, 1854, A reservation is established within their territory separate from the Umpqua reservation (inland), the Cow Creek Umpqua Reservation. The Cow Creek people are removed to the Umpqua reservation in 1855 (unknown date) likely due to the Rogue River war. (First ratification date for two treaties on the West coast, Rogue River and Cow Creek.) The Cow Creek Umpqua reservation remains largely a mystery as to how long it existed, with rare records and no map yet found.

Graphic of approximate reservation of the Cow Creek band, based on treaty descriptions, drawn by David Lewis

1854, November 15, Treaty with the Rogue River, ratified March 3rd, 1855. This is the fourth treaty from this period for the tribe. This treaty allows other tribes, Chasta Costas to share the Table Rock Reservation and respecify that they agree to move to a permanent reservation later.

1854, November 18,  Treaty with the Chasta, ratified March 3rd, 1855, the Quil-si-eton and Na-hel-ta bands, of the Chasta tribe of Indians, the Cow-nan-ti-co, Sa-cher-i-ton, and Na-al-ye bands of Scotons, and the Grave Creek band of Umpquas. They move onto the Table Rock Reservation. [ratified]

1854, November 29,  Treaty with the Umpqua and Kalapuya, the tribes of the upper Umpqua River (Umpqua) and Yoncalla Kalapuyans sell their lands and remove to the temporary Umpqua reservation (Inland) with an agreement to remove to a permanent reservation later. The treaty is ratified March 3, 1855.

1854, March 25, Treaty with the Tualatin. Joel Palmer negotiates this treaty without instructions to do so by the Indian office. The Tualatin approach Palmer first and they air their grievances against the settlers and their situation. Palmer takes the opportunity to write a treaty but the treaty has little chance of ratification. [unratified]

Willamette Valley Treaty (Kalapuya etc. 1855) [ratified]

1855 January 4, Joel Palmer at Dayton, meeting with the Tualatin, Cheluk-i-ma-uke, Yam Hill, Chep-en-a-pho, Chem-a-pho, Che-lam-e-la bands and signing of the Willamette Valley treaty.

1855, January 9,  Joel Palmer at Dayton, meeting with the Molalla band of Molallas, and of the Calapooia band of Calapooias, and signing of the Willamette Valley treaty.

Section of the Belden Map of 1855, the map shows all of the ceded territories of the tribes of Oregon

1855, January 10, Joel Palmer at Dayton, meeting with the Win-ne-felly, Mohawk, Chapen, and Te-co-pa bands of Calapooias, Wal-lal-lah band of Tum-waters, and the Clockamus tribe of Indians,  and signing of the Willamette Valley Treaty.

1855, January 19,  Joel Palmer at Linn City, meeting with thClow-we-wal-la, or Willamette Tum-water band of Indians, and signing of the Willamette Valley Treaty. 

1855, January 22, Joel Palmer at Dayton, meeting with the Santiam Bands of Calapooias, and signing of the Willamette Valley Treaty. 

1855, January 23, Willamette Valley treaty is sent to Washington, D.C. to prepare for ratification. Palmer makes notes afterward that he leaves the treaty open for more tribes from the middle Columbia to join, those from west of Sauvie Island to Oak Point. The treaty also does not settle the Multnomah and Cascades claims on the north side of the Columbia

1855, March 3, ratification of the Willamette Valley treaty by Congress.

1855 March 4, removals begin of the tribes of the Willamette and Columbia to temporary reservations (See temporary reservation essays)

Estimated boundaries of the Spores DLC and location of the Chafin village and Temporary Reservation

Coast Treaty [unratified]

1855, August 11, First Meeting for the Coast Treaty, signed by the Nachesne ( Nechesne, Salmon River), Siletz band of Tillamooks, Alsea band of Tillamooks, Yaquona (Yaquina) band of Tillamooks, negotiated with Joel Palmer and W.W. Raymond.

1855 August 17, meeting with the Umpqua, Siuslaw and Coos Bay Indians, negotiated with E.P. Drew, R. Metcalf

1855 August 23, Meeting with the Na-so-mah or Coquille bands of Indians, negotiated with E.P. Drew

1855 August 30, Meeting with the Tututni and Chetco Bands of Indians, negotiated with E.P. Drew

1855 September 8, Meeting with other bands of the Coquille Indians, negotiated with J. Flett

[Geary notes in his letter of October 3, 1855 that the Upper Tillamooks [Nestucca, and Tillamook proper) and Clatsops had not been party to the treaty, and Geary also notes in 1857, inaccurately, that the treaty begins at the mid-point of the Columbia River]

Coast Treaty Conclusion

The Coast Treaty is never ratified. The treaty areas stretched from the California border to the Nestucca territory. The tribes faithfully honored their words and remove to reservations at Port Orford, Empire, Umpqua, and the Coast Reservation. Most of the southern Coastal tribes remain until 1877 at the coastal estuaries in sub-agencies managed by either Grand Ronde Agency, Siletz Agency, Alsea agency, or Umpqua Agency. After some 17 years of waiting for the Coast Treaty to be signed the tribes are released to return to their lands, only to find their former towns and houses taken over by Americans. Some natives choose to remain at Siletz or Grand Ronde reservations, others leave and integrate, in part, with the American communities. The tribes who lost land without payment sued the federal government in the 20th century and some win their Indian Claims cases and receive payments.

1855, December 21, Treaty with the Molalla. These are the southern Molalla of the Umpqua Valley, this is the last treaty Palmer negotiated which is successful. The Molallans agree to the provisions in the Treaty with the Umpqua and Kalapuya (1854) as well.  There is an addendum to this treaty in which the Umpqua and Kalapuyans sign and agree to the new provisions in the Molalla Treaty, which states for the first time that they will be removed to the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation. The Molallans are then removed to the temporary Umpqua Reservation for less than one month. This treaty is not ratified until March 8, 1859. 

Removal Period

1853, September 19, Creation of the Cow Creek Umpqua Reservation which was likely occupied soon after their treaty was negotiated. This was common for tribes to remove to their designated reservation ahead of the final ratification. Ratified April 12, 1854, which then made funding available.

1855, October and November, Indian Agent Mcgruder working to remove tribes to the Umpqua Reservation (inland). (letter of November 7, 1855)

1855 November- Coos and other coastal tribes removed to two temporary reservations, Coos at Empire reservation, and others at Port Orford (inferred from a letter of E.P. Drew November 10, 1858)

1855 Coast Indian Reservation

1855, November 9, Creation of the Coast Indian Reservation by Presidential Executive Order of Franklin Pierce. 100 miles of the Oregon coast from Tillamook area to just south of Florence, 1.1 million acres.

1855-1856, winter, John Flett has a small encampment of Klickitats at his DLC, Chief Mckay had refused to go to the encampments at Fort Vancouver or Milton and had been living on Sauvie Island with six men and their women. (Oregon Indians are Removed, Tacoma Ledger Sept 11, 1892)

1856, January 8, Palmer requests the Chiefs of the tribes at temporary encampments at Molalla, Spores, Santiam, Corvallis & Tualatin to meet him at his house in Dayton and they will go with him to Grand Ronde valley to inspect the valley so they would agree to removal. Wapatoes will come in the Spring. (Palmer to Flett, 1/8/1855 Bieneke MSS 370)

1856, January 10th –First Trail of Tears-Tribes at the Umpqua reservation (inland) begin walking north to Grand Ronde Reservation. (Report of R.B. Metcalf,  31st March 1856)

1856, February 2, Tribes from the Umpqua reservation (Inland) arrive at the Grand Ronde reservation. (Report of R.B. Metcalf,  31st March 1856)

1856, N.D., Flett is ordered to the encampments at Luckiamuke, Spores, Abiqua to tell natives to remove to Grand Ronde or not get supplies (Palmer to Flett N.D 1856 Bieneke MSS 370)

1856 <Shortly after> February 2, Flett moves the Klickitats at his encampment to Grand Ronde. (Oregon Indians are Removed, Tacoma Ledger Sept 11, 1892)

Path of Rogue River Trail of Tears

1856, February 22 –Second Trail of Tears– Tribes at Table Rock Reservation under Chief Sam begin removal to Grand Ronde. (Letter of 1856 (no month or day) George Ambrose, to Joel Palmer, M2, reel 14)

1856, March 25th, Tribes from Table Rock Reservation arrive in Grand Ronde Reservation, (Letter of 1856 (no month or day) George Ambrose, to Joel Palmer, M2, reel 14)

1856 April 13, Joel Palmer ordered the Coos Bay Indians to go to the Umpqua River (coastal) (Palmer letter of April 13, 1856),1856, May 27- 28- battle of Big Bend, fighting for 3-4 days and surrender of 255 Indians.  (Palmer letter of 7 3 1856)

1856, May 24,  Palmer plans to meet some 600 friendly Indians to arrive at Dayton the next day, from Port Orford, refugees of the Rogue River War. They are en route to the Coast Reservation to be located at the Siletz River.  (letter of June 23, 1856, M234)

1856, June 13, begin marching to Port Orford from the Illinois River with 708 Indians for removal. (Palmer letter of 7 3 1856)

1856 June 21-  710 Indians sent by steamer to Grand Ronde (Schwartz, Palmer letter of 7 3 1856)

1856 July 2. Tecumtum surrenders at Fort Orford, marks the end of the Rogue River War (Schwartz marks the end with the removal of the tribes from the region, but this removal went on for another decade) (Schwartz).

1856 July 9, – Coastal Trail of Tears– march of Tecumtum followers, Chetco and Pistol Rivers up the coast to Coast reservation. They arrive about August 9th. (Palmer letter of 7 3 1856)

1856 September 24, Sub-agent Drew reported,  fifty-two (52) Coquille Indians arrived onto the Umpqua Reserve (coastal). (letter of 9/24/1856)

1857, June 30, Creation of the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation by Executive Order of James Buchanan. It is located in the Grand Ronde valley, a western offshoot of the Willamette Valley at the edges of the Coast Range, and surrounding mountains and hills, two quadrangles of 60,000 acres.

1856-1860, continuous removals of small bands to the Coast Reservation by either U.S. Army troops or contracted Indian catchers.

1863, June- Closure of the Umpqua Reservation (coastal) and removal of the tribes from the Reservation to estuaries on the Coast Reservation. The Coos go to Yachats.

Coast Indian reservation reductions

1865, December 21- the reduction of the Coast Reservation by opening out the Yaquina strip for settlement. This action happened because of Americans called for more land to be available for settlement and for access to Yaquina Bay Oysters. This opening divides the reservation into two parts, the northern area managed by the Siletz Agency, the southerm=n area managed by the Alsea Agency. (Executive Order of December 21, 1865)

1875, March 3 – The reduction of the Coast Reservation by the termination of the Alsea reservation and the territory above the Salmon River. The Reservation is reduced to the area of “Lincoln County” from the Coast to the Siletz Valley. The reservation is also renamed “Siletz Reservation.” (Act of March 3, 1875)

1877, December, Alseas and other tribes at the former Alsea reservation remove to the Salmon River Encampment. They are promised housing and food yet get neither. Coos peoples from Yachats are released to return home but all their lands are taken. They live with the Siuslaw for a few years until they are able to move back to Coos Bay.


There is much more to be included. The result as we can see is the sale or taking of the tribal lands and their disenfranchisement from their resources. The final phase of this was the termination of the tribes in 1954-1956.

Most references Intext

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