Significant Dates and Places in the History of the Western Oregon Tribes

All tribal nations have significant dates and places that their peoples recognize on their calendars. These dates can be the signing of treaties, the creation of reservations, or the anniversary of some event. For federal actions, like treaties, signing of executive orders and enacting of Congressional Acts, these events cause major changes to the tribal peoples, they were agreements, not unlike contracts that ceded 19 million acres to the federal government in exchange for two reservations and other benefits. For the western Oregon tribes there are many of these significant dates and places. The estimated 60 tribes had seven ratified treaties and about 21 non-ratified treaties. There are two major reservations to account for, and later major reductions to the Coast Indian Reservation. Indian allotments caused structural changes at the reservations and some 29,000 acres were sold to non-natives, mostly logging companies. The sale of much of the Coast Range out of Tribal reservation caused a logging boom in the

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Lost Cattle and Ox Hides: Starvation on the Coast Reservation 1856-60

Among the most amazing realizations I have had as a Native of the tribes of Oregon and scholar of tribal history is how pervasive starvation was once the tribes got the reservations. The Federal government and their agents were wholly unable to feed the tribal peoples once they were removed to the reservations. Then the people were not allowed to hunt as their weapons were taken away in case they revolted against the federal agents. The people were not allowed to leave the reservation to find food, as they were imprisoned on the reservations. The tribes were not given the tools to farm the land. They were not given seed, nor access to oxen, or plows, to effectively farm the reservation, even while, in all irony, federal policy was to have the Tribes feed themselves as much as possible. The following series of quotes are from letters in the M2 Oregon Superintendency records. Most letters are in roll 8, the

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Kalapuyan Eyewitnesses to the Megaflood in the Willamette Valley

Native oral history is based in actual historic events of their tribal past. For the Kalapuyans this is also true. Some  15,000 to 12,000 years ago a series of megafloods occurred (upwards of 40 in some theories) in western Oregon. The glacial dams created by the glacial masses which reached the Columbia River during this period, caused a  massive lake or series of lakes to form up to Missoula, Montana, which scholars call Lake Missoula. When the earth began warming, the glaciers began receding causing cracks to form in the ice dams. A series of catastrophic breaches of the dams occurred when the dams suddenly broke, a succession of floods rushed down the Columbia and through the Gorge and into the Willamette Valley creating a great lake in the valley. The flood water reached above Eugene, Oregon. The cause of the lake is the narrows at Kalama which acted as a hourglass to slow the rushing flood and the water

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Reconnoiter to Row River 2017

The Row (Rou) River feeds into the Willamette River just about where Cottage Grove is today. In mid-March I took a short trip up the Row River to figure out just about where the Chief Halotish village might be. I drove and stopped when I saw an interesting landmark. I took many pictures of landscapes and hillsides that would have been a common site to the Yoncalla Kalapuyans before their villages were abandoned in the mid-19th century. It occurred to me that since the landscape’s hills and many upland prairies appeared to be undeveloped and not heavily forested that they may be nearly the same as they were in the mid-19th century. There would be surviving plants and natural areas and sights that were similar to when the Kalapuyans walked this area. The area is probably a bit overgrown from the past 150 years of fire suppression. Many of the trail systems would be unaltered in the uplands. The lowlands

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Houses of the Oregon Tribes

The question of what sorts of houses the Kalapuyans had has again surfaced. Over the years this question has been of prime importance. Many Americans, ignorant of the diversity and variability of Tribal cultures have assumed that tipis were the houses for all American Indians. This notion has informed generations of Americans and has been reinforced by media and Hollywoodian images of Native societies. In addition, the extreme focus on the Indian cultures of the American Great Plains by American society (wars, buffalo hunting, studies, religions) has caused the notion of the tipi to become somewhat larger than reality. The Oregon Territory is a bit more complex in tribal and environmental diversity than the Great Plains of North America. Oregon has a large variety of environments and a plethora of different materials to make houses from. Oregon has vast semi-arid lands to the east of the Cascade Range, which suggest a different culture and housing style than the region west

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