Rogue River Mary, young Native leader in Oregon

"In 1855 the Battle of Hungry Hill....... happened where a 13 or 14 year old "Rogue River Mary" rode her horse along a mountain ridge, hollering and taunting the U.S. Army, citizen militia and volunteers who were down below organizing to attack and probably massacre this "hostile" band of Rogue River Indians. There were about 100 of them and about 400 of the Army soldiers. According to Army documents, she screamed and hollered like a wild animal throughout the night. The next morning Rogue River Mary organized, coordinated and led her people to victory at the Battle of Hungry Hill. This battle compares to the Battle of the Little Big Horn (Custer's demise) and her techniques, fierceness and leadership are used at West Point when discussing military strategy. The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, where Mary's people ended up, have applied for historical battlefield status for this area; a first for any tribe in the west. Talk about girl power!"

The Rogue River genocide (not "war"): "the final Rogue River War began early on the morning of October 8, 1855, when self-styled volunteers attacked Native people in the Rogue Valley. It ended in June 1856 with the removal of most of the Natives in southwestern Oregon to the Coast Reservation, which later became the Siletz Reservation. From 235 to 267 Indian people are thought to have been killed in the war, together with fifty soldiers, among them thirty-three volunteers and seventeen regular troops. By one account, Indians killed forty-four white civilians.

"Before colonization, an estimated ninety-five hundred Indian people lived in the region where the Rogue River War was fought, including speakers of Takelman and Shastan languages to the east, in the main Rogue Valley of present-day Josephine and Jackson Counties, and speakers of Athapascan languages to the west and along the coast. Fewer than two thousand Indian survivors of the war were counted on the reservation in 1857. [So white militias killed at least 7500 Native people on their own land.]

"The people of the Rogue Valley had a reputation for violence among non-Indians, although trappers who killed Native people in 1834 were responsible for the first recorded deadly encounters with outsiders. Travel on the trail through the valley to California increased in 1848 due to the Gold Rush, and tensions in the valley increased as well. Jacksonville was established in the Rogue Valley after the discovery of gold on Jackson Creek in late 1851 or early 1852.

"Volunteer companies organized in the summer of 1853 after a series of violent exchanges. Two battalions commanded by Joseph Lane, territorial delegate to Congress, pursued Native people into rough country north of the Table Rocks. After volunteers made an assault, Indian leaders asked for negotiations; and Lane and Indian Service superintendent Joel Palmer made treaties on September 8 ("a treaty of peace") and September 10 (for "cession and relinquishment" of land). Native leaders sold roughly two thousand square miles to the Americans and accepted a reservation of about one hundred square miles north of the Rogue River.

"Clashes in nearby Northern California in the summer and autumn of 1855 and agitation by rival politicians led to an anti-Indian meeting in Jacksonville on October 7. Most of those present expressed approval of a plan put forward by a newly elected Democratic territorial representative, James A. Lupton, to exterminate Native people living off the reservation. Early the next morning, seven parties of about 115 men set out to attack Indian camps. In those attacks, Lupton and another white man were mortally wounded, and ten more were injured in the initial assault, by one report; forty Indians were killed in the first attack. One witness said half the dead were women and children."

Here's a better source:

"The first Rogue River War was a series of skirmishes and battles between mainly gold miners and the tribes. The miners had no regard for the tribes and tended to treat them badly. Some miners, the worst of the bunch, would murder native men on sight and take native women to rape them. It’s very hard to find the ultimate beginning of the conflicts, but it likely resides in the treatment of the tribes, and the histories from the 1840s of white encroachment into the region seeking gold riches. Other white men established settlements on the coast in both California and Oregon and these forced settlements also involved murders and attempted genocide of the tribes, most notably those settlements at Crescent City (CA), Smith River (CA), Brookings (Chetco, OR), and Port Orford (OR).

"Whites at the time hardly knew much about how the tribes communicated with one another and how interrelated they all were. News of murders and genocides would reach inland tribes and they would then be expecting the worst of the whites and sometimes respond with retribution, revenge, righteous indignation at the death of kinsmen and women. The lack of justice was all part of the formula for war. Tribal peoples in the region had a form of justice that when something like a murder happened to their people, they would expect something in return. Murder could be paid back with enough wealth. But Whites rarely even thought or considered this so the debt due to the tribes grew over years of encroachment and disrespect of tribal territories and peoples.

"While the justice system suggested by whites in their treaties and they insisted the tribes follow in their actions, that of arrest and subject to the rule of (US) federal and states laws, did not apply equally to tribal peoples. Rarely did they get to testify in court due to the fact they could not speak English and Justices insisted on English use in court. And so most capital crimes went unpunished when whites did the deeds. But when natives were guilty of some infraction, whites insisted they be arrested and turned over for justice, which normally became forfeiture of their lives.

"Most white histories of the Rogue River Wars leave the causes nebulous, if not outright blame the tribes. Rarely have I ever seen a reason cited for why the tribes acted so violently. Of the 1855-1856 Rogue River War, The direct cause was identified by none-less than General John E. Wool, Commander of the Pacific, who came to the opinion after an investigation that the whole cause was white peoples and their constant attacks on the tribes. but the earlier “war”, really a series of battles and not really a formally declared war, but still caused an environment tense and stressful enough to cause federal officials to change their plans to quell the violence and separate the parties.

In September of 1853, General Lane and Joel Palmer teamed up to negotiate two treaties with the Rogue river tribes, the first on September 8th a Treaty of Peace, and the second on September 10th a Treaty of Purchase

The following report of Samuel Culver provided some of the reasons for the changes that happened to the Rogue River tribes. He details the tribal Seasonal rounds and exactly how the tribes lost their root crops to the settlers which caused them to become mostly hunters and fishers. The famine and starvation had to have caused much stress, especially in the winter months when they did not have stores of winter foods. Then they had to move around more often to find the game and perhaps some smaller areas for root crops. This encroachment by the whites on land in the valleys, then more encroachment by white miners in the river valleys, would have caused tribes to feel as if they were losing their country, with feelings of resentment.

Report of July 20, 1854

'The food of the Indians consists of Deer, Elk, and Bear meat with fish of several kinds, principally salmon, and a great variety of roots. They cannot supply themselves by the chase for want of ammunition, as there is a territorial statute prohibiting the sale of it to them. And were it otherwise it would not be prudent to give them much at this time. They take more of less salmon during five months in the year. Formerly they subsisted in the main upon roots, of which there was a great variety and quantity, – each kind has its locality and time of ripening or becoming fit for use. But the whites have nearly destroyed this kind of food by plowing the ground and crowding the Indians from localities where it could once be procured. They did not find these roots upon any one tract of country, but there would be an abundance in one locality one month, and of another variety at another place during the ensuing. The settlers interfered by the cultivation of the soil in the valleys with the obtaining of species of food, to such an extent, that while they can get plenty during certain seasons of the year, they will at other times by in a starving condition.

'Under these circumstances it was deemed necessary to anticipate the ratification of the treaty and put in a crop of potatoes sufficient to prevent them from suffering, and perhaps starving the ensuing winter, also, on account of the influence it would have in keeping them under control during the summer. Humanity too seemed to require it, for our people had taken from them their means of subsistence, and ought at least in return to see that they did not starve before they received an equivalent for the territory relinquished by them; for as they say promises do not stop hunger. Unless a crop was put in the past spring, of course it could not be done until the next, which would allow more than two years to elapse from the treaty of purchase until they realized an equivalent in the way of provisions, unless obtained sooner for them by purchase and the annuity is not sufficient even to keep them alive if invested in this manner.

'The chiefs urged it, and said that although they would like clothes & blankets for their comfort, yet something upon which life could be sustained ought first to be looked to,- and further they urged that it was a thing impossible to control their people with certain famine staring them in the face.

'They express a willingness to try to imitate the whites and raise something to sustain themselves whenever the means if so doing is furnished them, and to do all in their power to induce their people to do the same. And I have strong hopes that nearly all can be persuaded to do so.' —Samuel Culver, Indian Agent

[Even a sympathetic account like this presumes that cultural destruction and assimilation is the goal. But the material strategy went far beyond that, to the main goal of land seizure:]

Another group, most Shasta, of outsiders not native to the Rogue River valley "moved eventually to the Table Rock Reservation, to try to live in peace as they promised in their signed treaties. There they resided for 2 years, but by 1855 they had had enough as they were continually attacked by the whites. [So much for treaties!] The final straw was the attack on the Deer Creek Village, which wiped out most of a whole band. From 1855 to 1856 the second Rogue River War commenced with Tecumtum, Chief John, taking charge and leading his people and other bands into the Siskiyous to try to retake their lands, likely feeling that the whites had lied again, and reneged on their treaties."

The site I just quoted from avove is an excellent Native-authored reosurce:

"The 19 Western Oregon Treaties of 1851 were the first treaties of purchase of lands from tribes in the west. The process of negotiating these treaties was fraught with political issues. The treaties were late, an after-thought of the Oregon Donation Land Act of 1850, which caused thousands of Americans to seek free land in Oregon. But land titles with tribes were not settled yet, and so the process was on a clock, with the issue of war looming in the future of purchase could not be made soon. And wars came, along the Columbia River were the Cayuse and Yakima wars, and in southwestern Oregon, there were the Rogue River wars of 1853 to 1854 and 1855 to 1856. The leading cause of the wars were too many Americans taking all the land and resources of the tribes without there being any fair settlement or payment for the lands."

"The Rogue River War (RRW) between Indigenous peoples and settlers is historically overlooked and storied through settler-colonial lenses. This essay narrates participation in a digital restorying and archaeological investigation into the war in light of digital advancements in archaeology and communication.


"Settler-colonial stories are the building blocks of a lie that colonization is a thing of the past, a “post” colonial settled matter, obscuring complexities of even more recent threats to Indigenous sovereignty. Contemporary contestations include Standing Rock, Bears Ears, a multibillion-dollar pipeline project through Wet’suwet’en land, and Trump’s signature campaign promise of a border wall to be built splitting land of the Tohono O’odham Nation. Although a few cases are broadcast in popular press, across the hundreds of Indigenous nations “in” North America, there are many cases that are far less visible and threaten sites of archaeological and spiritual significance throughout history. Thus, in addition to addressing contemporary problems, it is important to re-examine controversies and wars of the past.


"As a citizen of the Coquille Nation, this was an opportunity to be of service to the Nation and learn about the history and material culture of the Rogue River War (RRW) of 1853–1856 between Indigenous peoples and settlers. This understudied and misunderstood war changed the course of history for Indigenous peoples of Oregon. It ended with mass removal to reservations, intergenerational cultural genocide, and now a dedication to regain what we have lost. Leveraging newer data of the digital age enables restorying racist narratives and thus, prompts more honest historically mediated memories, and makes space for Indigenous epistemologies and projections of future stories and lands (that can finally return to being Indigenous).


"Colonization continues via the control of Indigenous lands, bodies, economies, and symbols by those that have refused to leave. In other words, colonizers also control resources, internally police Indigenous nations, appropriate their cultures, and make what they believe will be a permanent home on Indigenous lands (Tuck & Yang, 2012). These dynamics make the settler colonial and Indigenous relationship one of power through discursive and non-discursive forms of domination concerning territory and capitalist accumulation (Coulthard, 2014). Settler colonialism requires strategies such as the pervasive settler deployment of false narratives to comfort themselves in the practices of usurping lands and genocide (Tuck & Yang, 2012). These are projects of White possession (Moreton-Robinson, 2015). Such narratives and projects, however, can be challenged through decoloniality. Decoloniality centers Indigenous experiences and voices through acts of activism (Kelly & Black, 2018), rhetorical sovereignty (Lyons, 2000), and other material and symbolic actions.
""Wolfe (2006) notably states that settler-colonial invasion is not an event but a structure; an ongoing genocidal project that “endures Indigeneity” (Kauanui, 2016, para. 1). That being said, this can be misread to minimize the importance of significant events and the interconnectedness among ongoing violence in Indigenous historical consciousness. In foregrounding historical events such as the RRW, as I will do, the structures of violence expose themselves and become far more amendable by responsible retrospective sensemaking."

If you scroll down this page, it has a chronology of European overrun.

Later, much further north, and born in 1855:
"Kalliah Tumulth, also called Indian Mary, was a Cascade (Watlala) Chinook born in October 1854 to a signer of one of the main Oregon treaties. Kalliah was a strong, independent woman who, when a little girl, suffered the hanging of her father Chief Tumulth and eight other Cascade leaders by the U.S. Army. She endured considerable racism and hardships and resisted the movement of the tribes to reservations so that she could remain in her traditional homeland by the Cascade Rapids in the western Columbia River Gorge. These rapids near the present-day town of Cascade Locks were buried beneath the backwaters of Bonneville Dam in the 1930s, destroying her tribe's primary fishery. But her refusal to be removed to distant reservations anchored the family for generations in the Gorge with land, fishing rights, and traditional culture.

Kalliah's father was Ta-hon-nah Tumulth, who in 1855 signed the Willamette Valley Treaty (also known as the Treaty with the Kalapuya Etc.) as the First Chief of the Wal-lal-lah Band of Tumwaters, the Upper Chinookan people now known as Cascade Indians. Even though the reservation for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde established by this ratified treaty ended up near the Oregon coast, the eastern boundary of the treaty's ceded area is the Cascade Rapids and crest of the Cascade Range.

In April 1856, Tumulth and eight other Cascade leaders were hanged by the U.S. Army, under the direction of Lt. Phil Sheridan, following what some called the Cascade Massacre—an attack on pioneer settlements by nonlocal Yakama and Klickitat people. Kalliah's mother Susan Tumulth (Tomolcha) ended up living with Chinookan relatives near Oregon City and was a member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.

Where Susan and her children, including Kalliah, were resettled following the hanging is in some doubt. Superintendent of Indian Affairs Joel Palmer wrote that the surviving local Cascade Indians were sent to the Grand Ronde Reservation, but some family oral history suggests that they first went upriver, which is consistent with the establishment of the temporary White Salmon Reservation for Gorge Natives that existed for a few years between the White Salmon and Klickitat Rivers. After White Salmon was closed in 1859, some family members were enrolled at the Yakama Reservation by agents of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but in the mid-1900s their descendants were denied enrollment for not having any Yakama lineage and so could not inherit allotments. Kalliah had earlier given up her Yakama allotment for one just downriver from the Cascade Rapids.

When Kalliah grew up, she returned to the Cascades and married a Wish-ham man Henry Will-wy-ity, the last name used on her tombstone and some legal documents. After her husband's death in the 1870s, Kalliah married Johnny Stooquin, a Cascade man, and traded horses for a 160-acre parcel of land just downriver from Che-che-op-tin (Beacon Rock). Kalliah's brother Joseph Tumulth built her a cabin where her daughters Amanda Stooquin Williams and Abbie Weiser Estabrook were born and raised.

Kalliah got a contract with the U.S. government to deliver on horseback the local mail brought up from Portland. Some settlers tried to file claims on Kalliah's land since Indians could not legally own land then. Because of her mail contract, the Vancouver Indian agent sided with Kalliah and in 1893 got President Grover Cleveland to sign a proclamation putting her land into trust status. Her allotment remained in family ownership until the 1980s, when Congress established it as the beginning of Franz Lake National Wildlife Refuge, where tundra swans and wapato have returned. The lake's year-round water supply is named Indian Mary Creek. Indian Mary Road, the road into the refuge, passes her cabin site, where her family harvested fruit from the orchard until the refuge was established. (Please note that Kalliah is not the same "Indian Mary" for whom a campground on the Rogue River is named.)

In 1891, Kalliah fought to preserve Native fishing rights. She and sixty-eight other Cascade Indians hired a Washington, D.C., attorney to try to get their traditional lands on the north shore, from Wind Mountain downriver to Beacon Rock, set aside for their fishing sites. This legal proposal asked for financial compensation "in case they are permanently deprived of said fishing rights and lands of which they are now dispossessed by the encroachment of settlers and others." Even though the 1855 Willamette Valley Treaty contained provisions for the U.S. government to purchase lands on the north shore for the Cascade Indians, this never happened.

Despite local racism, which was common against Indians in the early to mid-twentieth century, Kalliah and her daughters and grandchildren established themselves in the local community without compromising their heritage. As Indians were often pressured to do, they also took so-called Christian names, but the family was unabashedly proud of their heritage, including speaking Kiksht, the Chinookan language used by the Cascade and Clackamas peoples.

A few months before her death in December 1906, Kalliah was forced to move because the Southern Pacific & Southwestern railroad was building tracks by her cabin. She is buried with her mother, her two sons (who died in childhood), and most of her family in the Cascade Cemetery near North Bonneville. This cemetery, which includes a mass grave of Cascade people relocated from the main cemetery on Bradford Island during the construction of Bonneville Dam, was called the Cascade Pioneer Cemetery. In 1992, following the death of Kalliah's grandson Clyde Williams, the cemetery was renamed the Cascade Indian & Pioneer Cemetery."

Complete and Continue