1856 Umpqua Encampments at Grand Ronde

During my Molalla presentation in class this week, I looked closely at the original Grand Ronde map. I noticed for the first time that there are three Umpqua tribes in the first reservation census, Umpqua, Molalla (southern Molalla) and Calapooia (Yoncalla) likely those who came onto the reservation together from the Umpqua Reservations. We can call this the Umpqua Trail of Tears. I also noticed that there are five letters on the first map (K,L,M,N,O) noting five campsites for the Umpqua people, according to the legend on the map. This may suggest that there were five titular leaders from these three named tribes from the Umpqua valley. Later, I noted that the Cow Creek band of Umpquas are also listed, but as part of the Rogue River section, possibly suggesting that they were more related to the Rogue Rivers.

Section with Umpqua encampments

The map has been spoken about in scholar circles as a planning document from later 1855 or early 1856, intended to plan where to place the tribes once removed there. For now we will assume that the plan was followed as we do not have an indication in any other document where the tribes were actually settled.  So what we are seeing is how the tribes were grouped according to their original temporary reservation in census counts and in initial settlements on the reservation. I now wonder why there were five campsites. Elsewhere tribal scholars has suggested that the red tent notation may suggest for each a specific population count. This is difficult to determine without a reference to this effect on the map legend.

1856 Grand Ronde Reservation, the “Hazen map,” likely the settlement plan, tribal names added for easy reading.

The population count for Umpquas in the first census, 294, and the legend of the map, 289, are almost identical, suggesting that these are the same people in both documents and that perhaps a few babies were born as the map is most likely the earlier document. In the breakout of the census of the “Umpqua tribes” in the November report the Umpqua number 228, the Calapooia 30, and the Molalla 36. It is extremely likely that the Umpqua were broken into three encampments due to their high numbers. The legend at the right of the census section names “Louis” as the principal chief.

Umpqua Census of the three tribes from November 25th 1856

This is Louis Neppissing (Neppissank, Napesa, Le Pe Cinque) a  treaty signer on the Umpqua and Calapooia Treaty. Not only was he the chief of an encampment but accepted by all the Umpqua tribes as their principal chief, once removed to the reservation.

signature section for the Umpqua and Calapooia Treaty of 1854

Note that on the above treaty signature section, Tom is listed at the bottom, and he is likely the Tom who was the Calapooia leader on the 1856 census.

1855 agreement, an addition to the Molalla treaty, where the Umpquas and Calapooias agreed to allow the Molallas to join them at the Umpqua Reservation. Note the different spelling of Nepasa name as “La Pe Cinque”

There were in fact three treaties where the tribes in the Umpqua valley went to the Umpqua Reservation. The Umpqua and Calapooia treaty of 1854, the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Treaty of 1853 and the Molalla Treaty of 1855. The Cow Creek Treaty have these treaty signers, one of whom was the chief of one the encampments at Grand Ronde, the most likely candidate being Quin-ti-oo-san or Big Head who is the named Principal chief at the time of the treaty. Some of the chiefs did not survive long in the 1850s so their chief may have changed once on the reservation to one of the secondary chiefs listed. The third Umpqua encampment must have been under the leadership of one of the leaders in these two treaties.

Section of the treaty signers of the 1853 Cow Creek Umpqua Treaty

In the census of 1856, the Cow Creek band of Umpquas are listed separately and as such are likely the population at one of the Umpqua camps, and they had 80 people (see below). The chief’s name is tough to read on the census, but it appears to be in Chinuk wawa language. “Hias La-tete” in the language means “Big Head” (“hyas” means high or large, and “la tete” originally French for head and adopted into the language as head). Therefore, Big Head does survive to lead his people at Grand Ronde for a time. I would venture a guess that the designation “O” at the reservation is likely to be that of the Cow Creek Band of Umpquas. It is located away from the other Umpqua encampments and close to the Rogue River encampment, and there were well known intermarriages between the Rogue River tribes and the Cow Creek Band tribe. In fact, Grand Ronde has the story of Susan who was visiting her relatives among the Cow Creek Umpquas when it came time to remove, and hid in a beaver dam. She was Takelma, and the story suggests she walked by herself to the reservation later.

Finally the last treaty, The Molalla Treaty of 1855 was signed late in the year, in December, and so the Molallas would not have lived long on the reservation before removal, in fact only about 2 months. Their signatories are as follows,

signature section of the Molalla Treaty of 1855

In the 1856 census, Solon is listed as their leader, but this name is not obvious among their treaty signers. This may have been Steencoggy, who was very prominent in the area and was the principal chief of this southern Molalla tribe. Names sometimes changed once the people moved to the reservation.

The Umpqua tribes are grouped south of the South Yamhill River, along the river in five encampments, the little red tent shapes on the map are thought to represent the location of “sibley tents” issued by the US army to house the tribes until they built a cabin or plankhouse. These canvas tents had to be extremely cold in the Oregon winter. The Umpqua tribes arrived on the new Grand Ronde Reservation on February 2nd, 1856, more than a month before the Rogue River tribes are to arrive from the Table Rock Reservation. Robert Metcalfe is the special Indian agent responsible for the Umpqua removal to the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation. After a short rest of a few days, Metcalfe then travels down to Table Rock to shepherd the Rogue Rivers to Grand Ronde.

Saturday 2nd Feb

Decamped & moved five (5) miles to the Grand Ronde Encampment discharged most of the hired hands and took charge of that Sub Agency by your order and there remained until 28th Feb/56 when I received an order from you to proceed to the Rogue River Agency to carry funds and aid in the removal of the Rogue River Indians to the Coast Reservation leaving Sub Agent Raymond in charge of Grand Round until my return; I met Agent George H Ambrose at the Cannon [Canyon?]with the Indians and returned with him rendering such assistance as was in my power to facilitate the march; and arrived at the Grand Round Sub Agency on 25th March A.D. 1856. (Metcalfe report to Palmer)

Interestingly, it appears that the Umpqua and Rogue River are both settled in this same area of the reservation. Perhaps meaning that the military personnel and Indian agents wanted to segregate these populations from the northern Tribes. The southern tribes, especially the Rogue River tribes (Athapaskans, Takelmans and Shastans, as well as a few Umpquas) had numerous conflicts with the Americans, called the Rogue River wars, and many of their people remained in southern Oregon with Chief John fighting for their rights and working to drive the Americans out of their homelands, until mid-summer 1856. The Northern Tribes, especially the Kalapuyans, did not have a history of battling the Americans.

Kalapuyan tribes grouped in the center prairie are somewhat separate from the other tribes, they were one of the most populous and may have received a larger area because of this. In addition, there were plans to remove many of the Rogue Rivers to Siletz later, so they would not have needed land for settlement. The Rogue Rivers and Shastas, many, were moved in 1857 to the Siletz Agency.

The Northern Molalla tribes, likely included the Santiam Molallans, who were camped on a small plain just at the foot of the military fort and blockhouse. The removal of these northern Molallan tribes was somewhat contentious and so perhaps the US army wanted to watch them, closely. Then also there are questions which still surface today about why a number of Klamath Tribal people were settled for a time on the reservation. The western region is not thought of as Klamath territory, and they rightly belonged in the Klamath Basin of southeastern Oregon. Research about some of the conflicts between the tribes and the Americans in the Willamette Valley has revealed that the Klamaths visited the valley quite frequently and were good friends to the Molalla tribes. There are in fact several Klamath trails into the valley from the Cascades, one which travels down the North Santiam into the Chemeketa Plains (Salem) and a trail which travels down the McKenzie into the Chafan area (Eugene). The Klamaths liked the valley and hunted it extensively. They would travel in groups of 80 strong, with warriors, women and children all together. They had two major conflicts in the valley, the Abiqua battle, and the Battle Creek conflict. In fact, a chief at the Molallas’ village at Dickie Prairie suggested in some accounts that the Klamaths had more rights to be in the valley than the Americans. Yet the Americans sought to drive the Klamath from the valley in these two conflicts, believing they did not belong there and were disruptive to the orderly farms and properties of the Americans. It may be that the Klamaths were visiting the Molallas when it came time to move to the reservation and were forced to come with them. This is a distinct possibly, and on the map census there are 141 people listed as Klamath. In November, the number of Klamaths was reduced to 54. It is likely that some of the Klamaths escaped to return to the Klamath Basin, which was quite common and easy to do in this time period.

Note location of Molalla camp next to Klamath camp, adjacent to the Blockhouse.

The census numbers for the two Molallas encampments are shown below. The legend of the map may very well be the first unofficial census on the reservation, inscribed later in red pencil, after the first tribes were resettled.


The census of November of 1856 is the first official census of the reservation yet found. The various sections are below.


Note Molallas at 103 people, these are the folks near the Blockhouse


Census of the three tribes, all from the Umpqua reservation, 36 Molallas are noted for the Southern Tribe
Rogue River tribes and recapitulation note that Klamath are listed with the Rogue River Tribes as 54 people.


This is a case of discovery and comparison. As I investigate further I may encounter the names and be able to state for a fact that particular people were in charge of particular encampments. A look at the allotment map may reveal that many of the initial encampments guided the allotment process as folks did not tend to move about much once settled.


Treaty documents of the three Umpqua Valley treaties

Indian Affairs microfilm which include censuses and other letters.

All ideas are my own.



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