Estuaries Saved the Coastal Tribes: Joel Palmer’s Plan in 1855

I have previously written about how the coastal tribes were relocated to several river estuaries within the Coast Reservation (Siuslaw, Yachats, Alsea, Nashesne, Siletz and Umpqua). There the tribes, mostly from the southern Oregon coast, were not given much in the way of help from the federal government, there was very little money, and their Coast treaty was never ratified.  Despite the formal promises within the Treaties and the additional informal promises of Indian agents, there were few benefits to the tribes from removal to reservations.  They were made to live in these locations on sub-agencies and feed and house themselves from 1856 until at least 1878. This story of the tribes forced to remain on the sub agencies but living in relative self-subsistence conditions was not thought of by Geary or Nesmith when they were Indian superintendents, but was planned by Joel Palmer before he was fired as Indian Superintendent in 1856.  Palmer wrote a letter about this plan

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Did the non-ratification of the Coast Treaty cause Grand Ronde to become permanent?

The Grand Ronde Indian reservation was a sudden change in plans for Joel Palmer in 1855. The original plan was to concentrate all tribes on the Coast Reservation within four years, or by 1859. The Coast Reservation, established in 1855 by presidential executive order, was completely undeveloped, with few or no roads, an intractable wilderness with few settlers and a few Indian tribes on the coast. It was not prepared to serve some 4,000 Indians removed from their homelands and under the administration of the federal Indian agents.  So, when the Rogue River war began later in 1855, and other conflicts with tribes north of the Columbia were warming up, Palmer had to initiate a faster removal to save the lives of the remaining tribal peoples, rather than wait for the Coast Reservation to be ready. Palmer worked with the Army to buy the Grand Ronde Valley and move all of the tribes there. The valley had a  developed infrastructure

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History in the Vouchers: Joel Palmer’s Expense Journal

I have spent much time on Palmer’s and other early settler’s and explorer’s letters that I have gained a good understanding of the history of the tribes.  Some periods have missing details and so much of what I do (and most historians) is fill in the blanks with suppositions about what was probably taking place. I have also avoided some records as been too cumbersome. I have avoided most of the expense reports, as relatively boring documents without much detail. The letters tend to address the culture and changes happening to the tribes while the expense reports and budgets can be very circumspect with details of the tribes in the region. However, when I examined Palmer’s expense journal I found some historic details and perhaps even new information that must become part of the history of the tribes. First there is a breakdown by each agent for what they were expending each quarter. This can be very confusing if one

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Joe Lane’s Report of the Rogue River battle at Evans Creek, 1853

In 1853, the Oregon Territorial militia commanded by General Joseph Lane was fighting a series of battles in the Rogue River valley, the main battle at Evans Creek. They were fighting the bands of Chief Jo (Apserkahar) and the bands of Chiefs Sam  (Toquahear), and Jim (Anachaarah) and other head men for the Rogue River. During the battles, many men on both sides were killed and wounded. After a day of fighting both sides were exhausted and Chief Jo called for a cease fire and parlay with General Lane, because of his respect for the man. Word was passed that Chief Jo was sick of war and wanted peace.  General Lane responded and walked into Chief Jo’s camp unarmed, finding out that there are over 200 Indian warriors, well more than his men. Negotiations took place a following day, September 8th 1853, in the shadow of Lower Table Rock. The following is a written report from Joe Lane copied from

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Are Tribes Ready for Termination, Again?

Are Tribes Ready for Termination, Again? In the past few weeks a number of federal administration officials have made statements which suggest that a concerted effort is underway to again terminate tribes in the United States. In April, the Health and Human Services department suggested that tribes should not have an exemption under Medicare and not have a requirement that their members have a job to receive the health care. If this decision is allowed to stand this could begin to unravel Tribal sovereignty in the United States. The administration assertion that tribes are a race, not sovereign tribal people suggests that the administration does not want to any longer uphold its longstanding fiduciary responsibility guaranteed to tribes under hundreds of tribal treaties, thousands of Indian case laws, and the U.S. Constitution, that collectively create laws and institute policies regarding how tribes are to be treated by the federal government, what rights tribes have, and assures some measure of sovereignty

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