The history of the Shasta Tribe
by Betty Hall, Pioneer Press December 16, 2009
As a Tribal Historian, I have been reading all the information
being printed in the Siskiyou Daily News and the Pioneer Press
about the removal of the Dams on the Klamath river, one glaring
exclusion has come to my attention. They have left out the Shasta
The Klamath river lies within the Shasta Nation's homeland from
the headwaters to Clear Creek where it joins with the Karuk at
their upriver boundary.
I feel it is imperative that the history of the Klamath River be
On January , 1827: Peter Skene Ogden a Hudson Bay Fur Trapper and
party were the first white people to contact the Klamath Tribe in
southern Oregon. Ogden's party consisted of about 44 people, and
100 horses. Ogden roamed around the Klamath Basin, going to the
Tule Lake area, and back to what he called the Klamath River at
He describes the river there as being _ mile wide and enters into
a lake just down stream. (Ogden/ Davies,ed. Introduction xixiii.
1961. Here after referred to as Davies,ed.1961.) Jeff LaLande,
author of First Over The Siskiyous, 1987, retraced the route of
Ogden and concluded that Ogden had indeed arrived at the Link
River, which entered a lake just below his camp. Ogden's
description matched this area. (LaLande,p.28.1987.)Ogden had not
reached the Klamath River at Beswick. Ogden observed that the
Klamath Indians did not bury their dead. Also the fish they ate
was the most miserable food.
On January 17, 1827, Ogden crossed the Link river and camped for a
few days. He asked the Klamath chief to get him a guide to take
him down the Klamath River. The Chief told him "that there was
only one Indian in the tribe that knew the river".
Davies,ed.p.54. 1961.) The guide was found, and they proceeded
down the Klamath River, crossing two points of land, and coming to
a natural rock barrier in the river near Keno, Oregon. The Klamath
guide told Ogden salmon could not get over the barrier.
Also at this place there was a destroyed Shasta village, Ogden's
Klamath guide explained that the Klamath Tribe was at war with the
Shasta Indians, and they had recently attacked and destroyed their
village. (Davies, ed. P 57, 1961.)
On January 24, 1827, Ogden continued on down the river, and coming
to a place where he could see for some distance, up and down the
river, there was one continued rapid fall and cascade, his guide
informed him beyond this salmon do not ascend.
February 1, 1827, Ogden travels on down the Klamath river and
makes camp. But the day before this he visited an Indian hut with
his Klamath chief, and guide. He found three Indian women and a
boy, the women became very alarmed and began to cry, and were very
distressed. Upon leaving the hut the chief told Ogden that he had
killed their husbands last summer in a War excursion. (Davies, ed.
p 63. 1961.)
After this Ogden acquired Shasta Indian guides and continued on
down the Klamath River. According to Jeff LaLande he came to
Cottonwood Creek, and then turned to go over the Siskiyou mountain
JOURNAL OF THE EXPEDITION OF COLONEL REDICK M'KEE, UNITED STATES
INDIAN AGENT, by George Gibbs. 1853.
On August 11, 1851 Redick McKee and party escorted by Major
Wessells, a detachment of thirty five riflemen and about one
hundred head of cattle for sustenance, left Sonoma, going to Santa
Rosa. The planned route was up the Russian River, down the Eel
River to Humboldt bay, and then over to the Klamath River.
On September 29, 1851 Colonel McKee arrived at the junction of the
Klamath River and Trinity River. Mr. Durkee kept a ferry here to
cross the Klamath. Mr. Gibbs speaks of the Trinity River's waters
are of transcendent purity; contrasting with the Klamath that
never lose the taint of their origin. (Gibbs.p30.1853.)
There are three distinct tribes, speaking different languages up
to the mouth of the Shasta. Gibbs.p31.1853.
Mr. Gibbs does not elaborate on the Treaty at the confluence of
the Trinity River so I will refer to : INDIAN AFFAIRS: LAWS AND
TREATIES. Compiled and Edited by Charles J. Kappler, Washington:
Government Printing Office. 1929. Part IV. http;//digital.library.okstate.edu/kappler/Vol14/HTML_files/v4p117.html
TREATY WITH THE POHLIK OR LOWER KLAMATH, ETC., 1851
October 6, 1851. / Unratified.
TREATY MADE AND CONCLUDED AT CAMP KLAMATH, AT THE JUNCTION OF
KLAMATH AND TRINITY RIVERS, STATE OF CALIFORNIA, OCTOBER 6, 1851,
BETWEEN REDICK MCKEE, INDIAN AGENT ON THE PART OF THE UNITED
STATES, AND THE CHIEFS, CAPTAINS AND HEAD MEN OF THE POHLIK OR
LOWER KLAMATH, &c., TRIBES OF INDIANS.
A treaty of peace and friendship made and concluded at Camp
Klamath, at the Junction of the Klamath and Trinity rivers,
between Redick McKee, one of the Indian agents specially appointed
to make treaties with the various Indian tribes in California, on
the part of the United States, and the chief, captains, and head
men of the tribes or bands of Indians now in council at this camp,
representing the Poh-lik or lower Klamath, the Peh-tsick or upper
Klamath, and the Hoo-pah or Trinity river Indians; containing also
stipulations preliminary to future measures to be recommended for
adoption, on the part of the United States. (Peh-tsick or upper
Klamath-AKA. Karuk). Kappler.p1117.1929.
October 9, 1851. Business of the Treaty concluded, Colonel McKee
broke camp and crossed to the west side of the Klamath River,
continuing upstream a couple of miles there was a large fish dam;
a work exhibiting an extraordinary degree both of enterprise 4 and
skill. Similar dams exist on the Klamath, a few miles below the
forks, and about fifteen above this one; and another on the
Trinity thirteen or so miles from its mouth. Water ways were
opened at times for the passage of fish for tribes upstream.
October 10, 1851. They crossed Mr. Durkee's toll bridge across
Bluff creek, reputed to be the Aboriginal Territorial Boundary
between the Yurok and Karuk tribes. They arrive at Orleans Bar,
crossing another branch the Ocketch, at the mouth of which there
was another fish dam similar to the one below.
October 11, 1851. McKee goes over another mountain, coming down to
a small flat about a mile above the entrance of the Salmon River.
October 12, 1851. McKee remained in camp here for the purpose of
treating with the rest of the bands belonging to this division
they refer to themselves as "Kahruk" meaning up, and "Yourruk"
meaning down. The language extends on the Klamath from Bluff Creek
to a considerable distance above here, according to some reports
to the Eenah-met, or Clear Creek. Gibbs also mentions that the
Kahruk extends to the forks on the Salmon River. Gibbs.p.42.1851.
(Due to the extensive genealogy I have done regarding the Indians
on the Salmon River, I believe that the Karuk Indians only went up
as far as Wolley Creek).
October 12, 1851. "It was proposed to bring the whole of these
into the reserve on the Trinity; leaving the Shasta, upper Klamath
and upper Trinity Indians to fall within that intended to be
A TREATY SUPPLEMENTARY TO THE FOREGOING TREATY 5
The undersigned chiefs, captains and head men of the Si-wah, op-pe-o,
, He-ko-neck and In-neck tribes or bands of Indians, residing at
and near to the mouth of the Cor-a-tem or Salmon river, having had
the terms and stipulations of the foregoing treaty, concluded at
Durkee's ferry on the 6th instant, fully explained to them by
Redick McKee, Indian agent of the United States, having expressed
an earnest desire to become parties to the said treaty in all its
articles and stipulations, it s therefore agreed by and between
the said agent and the said chiefs, &c., that the said bands be
and hereby are admitted as parties to the same, and to the
advantages thereof, and become bound by the stipulations therein
contained as fully in all respects as if they had been parties
In testimony whereof the parties have hereunto signed their names
and affixed their seals at Camp Cor-a-tem, near mouth of Salmon
river, this twelfth day of October, anno Domini, 1851.
October 15,1851. McKee camped at the confluence of Clear Creek,
the furthest upstream village of the Karuk Tribe. Clear Creek is
reputed to be the aboriginal territorial boundary between the
Karuk and Shasta Indians.
A Karuk World-Renewal Ceremony At Panaminik, by Philip Drucker.
APPENDIX: THE INAM CEREMONY. These are notes obtained by Kroeber
from Old Ned in 1923 on the Inam, or Clear creek ceremony, the
farthest upstream of the Karuk. Drucker.p.28.1936. Old Ned a
respected Karuk elder lived at Clear Creek.
October 17, 1851. This morning they had to search for a mule,
Major Wessells with the command moved on, and Mr. Kelsey and
Colonel Sarshel Woods, were sent forward to Scott Valley to call
the Indians in. Messrs. T.J. Roach and W.J. Stevens came down
today from "Murder's Bar, (Happy Camp) a short distance above.
These men explained the terrain of the area to McKee. They told
him that the Indians of Illinois Valley are said to speak the
language of this part of the Klamath, (the Shasta).
October 18, 1851. They arrived at Murder's Bar, and found that the
majority of the Shasta (Shasta Nation) people had disappeared due
to their ranches having been burned by the whites, and it was
supposed they moved to either the valleys above, or to the
Illinois River area. The Shasta population between Clear Creek and
the mouth of the Shasta River appeared to be 300 to 400 Shasta
People. George Gibbs wrote that they had very little information
of the Shasta people living up the Klamath River from the mouth of
the Shasta River to the foot of the Cascade Range.
October 19, 1851. They crossed a large brook or creek, (Thompson
Creek) which was afterwards fixed upon as part of the Boundary of
the "Reservation" and as such is referred to in the Treaty made in
Scott's Valley, on November 4, 1851 with the Shasta and Upper
Klamath people, (both groups The Shasta Nation).
October 21, 1851. They arrived at the confluence of the Scott's
River with the Klamath River, journeying up the Scott's River
canyon to a rendezvous at Major Wesselll's camp at the confluence
of Scott River and Shackleford Creek along the western area of
October 26, 1851. They rode to Shasta Butte City, (Yreka) a place
of some 300 houses built on two streets in the form of an L and
numbering about 1,000 souls, including the immediate vicinity.
October 28, 1851. That evening the Chiefs of the Shasta and
Scott's River Tribes with some of their headmen arrived at camp.
We learned from every quarter, that apprehensions existed among
the Indians that the object of assembling them was to kill the
whole together, and this fear had prevented the Chief of the
Klamaths from coming.
October 29, 1851. In regard to the location and limits of a
reserve to place the Native American People on the White,
(European descendants) Citizens Committee members decided that no
conclusion could be arrived at, so Messrs. Charles McDermit and
Alva Boles were chosen by the Citizens Committee to accompany
George Gibbs, Mr. Kelsey and Colonel Woods as detailed by Colonel
McKee to further investigate a suitable locate for the proposed
Native American Indian Reservation, knowing that time of the
essence was critical due to the winter season coming on.
October 30,1951. After a hard rain fell during the night the
appointed Reservation locate Committee departed about 11 a.m. in
their quest to find a suitable Reservation.
November 3, 1851. The day was spent in arranging the details of
the Treaty. Our exploring party united in a report to the Agent,
stating the result of the journey, and our belief that Scott's
Valley would afford the only resource for the agricultural part of
the reserve. Colonel McKee, upon consideration, accordingly
decided to set apart the lower, or northern end of the valley, for
that purpose. In determining the other limits, it was held
important to embrace, in as compact a space as possible, a tract
which would afford sufficient hunting and fishing grounds for the
expected populations, and which should leave the most valuable
mineral lands to the whites. Into this reservation it was proposed
to collect all the tribes on the Klamath, Scott's and Shasta
Rivers, speaking the Shaste (Shasta) tongue, and also those of the
upper Trinity River.
November 4,1851. In the Morning at Camp, in Scott's Valley, Shasta
County, (now Siskiyou County) State of California, the Treaty was
explained carefully as drawn up, and the bounds of the Reservation
pointed out on a plat. In the afternoon it was signed in the
presence of a large concourse of Whites and Indians, with great
Concluded between Reddick McKee, one of the Commissioners on the
part of the United States, and the Chiefs, Captains and Head Men
of the Shasta, Scott's River and Upper Klamath Indian Tribes.
There were no representatives from the upper Trinity River.
IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, the parties have hereunto signed their names
and affixed their seals, this fourth day of November, anno Domini
eighteen hundred and fifty-one, REDICK McKee ,United States Indian
Agent, [Seal]. For and in behalf of the I-KA-RUCK Tribe or band in
Shasta Valley, Chief TSO-HOR-GIT-SKO, his X mark, [Seal],
CHE-LE-NA-TUK, his X mark, [Seal]. For and behalf of the KO-SE-TAK
Tribe or band in Shasta Valley, Chief ADA-WAR-HOW-IK, his X mark,
[Seal], QUAP-SOW-A-Ha, his X mark, [Seal]. For and in behalf of
the IDA-KAR- I-WAKA- HA Tribe or band in Shasta Valley, Chief IDA-KAR-I-WAK-A-HA,
his mark, [Seal], A-LAK-SE-WAK-A-NA, his X mark, [Seal]. For and
in behalf of the WAT-SA-He-WA Tribe or band in Scott's Valley,
Chief AR-RATS-A-CHO-I-CA, his mark, [Seal]. For and in behalf of
the E-EH Tribe or band in Scott's Valley, Chief AN-NA-NIK-A-HOK,
his X mark, [Seal].
SUN-RISE, his X mark, [Seal]. For and in behalf of the O-DE-I-LAH
Tribe or band from The upper Klamath River, Chief I-SHACK, his X
mark, [Seal], E-EH-NE-QUA, his X Mark [Seal], PI-O-KUKE, his X
mark, [Seal], SA-NAK-A-HA, his X mark, [Seal]. Signed and
delivered, after being fully explained, in presence of: John
McKee, Secretary, George Gibbs, Interpreter, Lindley Abel,
Interpreter, W.T. Smith, F.H. Mckinney, C. McDermit, Samuel
Fleming, Walter McDonald, C. Fulton, Wm. H. Burgess, Edward Hicks,
William Dain, Liry Swan, and Geo. W. Tait. The usual presents were
then distributed and they separated to go their own way.
November 6, 1851. Their mission completed, about noon Colonel
Redick McKee, George Gibbs, Walter McDonald with three men started
their return trip, arriving in San Francisco, California , on
December 28, 1851. Gibbs.p.63.1851.
July 8, 1852. The United States Senate in executive session
refused to ratify Eighteen Treaties made with the California
Tribes, and ordered the said eighteen Treaties to be filed under
injunction of secrecy which was not removed until January 18,
1905. The Shasta Nation, which included the Scott's Valley, and
the Upper Klamath River Indians was one of the unratified eighteen
January 19, 1905. The texts of the eighteen unratified Treaties
were made public at the order of the United States Senate, which
met in executive session on that day in the Thirty-second
Congress, First Session. The Treaties were published subsequently
several times in connection with hearings held by the Subcommittee
of the Committee on Indian Affairs. EVENING HERALD, September 24,
MILLIONS OF SALMON Cannot Reach Lake on Account of Rocks in the
River at Keno.
River Below Keno Rapids Is One Mass of Fish Trying to Reach
Spawning Grounds --An Opening Needed or Else a Fish Ladder Should
"Parties coming in from Keno state that the run of salmon in the
Klamath River this year is the heaviest it has ever known". The
article also states that there is a natural rock barrier below
Keno, which it is almost impossible for the fish to get over,
should some succeed they are spotted, bruised, and are worthless.
Evidently salmon getting to Link River was not a common
occurrence, as to the statement made above.
May 1910, COPCO NO. 1 and NO. 2.
At this time surveys were started for two power plants, this was a
location of beautiful farms engaged in cattle raising, and
gardening. A dam site was planned for the head of Ward canyon.
The land owners here did not want to sell, but realized it was
progress. Boyle,p,8,86. This site was where a Shasta Indian Jake
Smith, AKA, Moffett Creek Jake, was known to spear fish for hours.
Some of the owners were: William Lennox, Henry Keaton, Maurweza
Aquada, Kitty Ward, Mary Ward, William Raymundo, Stone and
Edwards, Henry and Herman Spannas, George Chase, D.D. Hahn,
Erskine Parks, and Manuel Corvelle. Boyle,8,86.
I mention these people because Henry Keaton, Kitty Ward, and Mary
Ward, were 10 Shasta Indian people living on the Upper Klamath
The family members of these Shasta people that were buried in
local historical Cemeteries were removed to the Henely cemetery.
Other Shasta Indian families living in the Klamath canyon were
that of the Griffith, Raymond, Frain, and Hoover. Tom and Isabell
(John) Smith lived on an Indian allotment on Shovel Creek. Some
Shasta Indians are buried in the Way Cemetery. One was Missouri
Ann Owens, the Grand daughter of Chief Ida-kar-i-wak-a-ha, who
signed the Shasta Treaty at Fort Jones on November 4, 1851. (50
Years On The Klamath. By John C. Boyle. 1982.)
When in the process of constructing Copco l, and Copco 2, and 1-A,
a fish ladder was considered by the Klamath Sportsman's
Association, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Fish and
Game Commission. The Klamath Indians investigated often, along
with other agencies. (Boyle,21,86.)
March 7, 1918. Evening Herald, Klamath Falls, Oregon.
Hatchery For Streams of Klamath Over Copco Dam Found to be
New Hatchery in California will Supply Stock for Streams Here.
"Thousands of fish at different varieties will be planted in the
streams adjacent to the Klamath Lakes, which will make this
section an anglers paradise.
California-Oregon Power company has agreed to the erection of a
hatchery on its property on Fall Creek, which on account of clear
and even temperature of water, a perfect condition is found for
hatching and caring for little fish, and the California Fish
Commission agree to take spawn and hatch varieties of fish native
to the coast streams, and to deliver to the Oregon fish Commission
and the game wardens of Klamath County all the little fish
necessary to stock abundantly the numerous lakes, rivers and
creeks in the vicinity.
The Oregon Fish and Game Commission is particularly pleased, as a
much felt want is being supplied without cost, other than
transportation to the people of Oregon and this locality. The
Commission was represented by the project Engineer H.W. Hicks of
the Modoc Point project in this matter. (Boyle,22,82.)
It is apparent that the Interior Department representing the
Klamath Indians, and the Oregon Fish Commission were well pleased
with the Fish Hatchery at Fall Creek. In all of my research the
Coho Salmon are not mentioned prior to constructing the dams on
the Klamath River. The Coho Salmon were planted in the Klamath
River just prior to 1900, they do not do well here because they
like colder water and are not native to the Klamath.
So why the big fuss by the Klamath, Karuk, Hoopa, and Yurok
Indians to remove the Dams? I suppose the Fish and Game have
forgotten how delighted they were to have a fish hatchery at Fall
Now a huge concern for the Shasta Nation and myself are the
ancient villages, sacred sites, and burial grounds under these
reservoirs. I have read that the sediment is expected to flush out
quickly when the dams are removed. I fear that the human remains
of my ancestors will be washed down the river. These sites need to
be protected according to the guidelines of NEPA. Have
appropriations been made for this, should it happen? I don't
believe the Karuk, Hoopa, and Yurok Indians will quickly stretch
their nets across the Klamath River to catch the bones of Shasta
Indians. The dams are there, leave them in place, please.
Aboriginal Use of Fishery Resources in Northwestern North America,
by Gordon Winant Hewes. 1938.
Klamath Lake: "Salmon were not present in the Klamath Lakes and
"Fish was the major animal food of all these groups, but salmon
were available only in the Klamath River and its tributaries below
Copco Marsh to which a few ascended". (Hewes.p.96.1938.)
Suckers were abundant in the Klamath Lakes region. The Lost River
Sucker fish were the most important to the Klamath Indians. Some
were 3 feet long. They were cured for winter, and oil was also
extracted from them.
The Klamath Indians did take salmon and steelhead when spawning
near the outlet to Copco Marsh. The Shasta Indians employed
A-frame nets from platforms along the Klamath river and its
tributaries. (Hewes p. 97 ,1938.)
About The Klamath Tribe, by Gordon Bettles, Cultural and Heritage
On page five under the heading: What are Natural Resources and Who
A "natural resource" is anything the Earth provides us to help us
live. Air, water and food are natural resources. For the Klamath
Tribes, some of their most important natural resources are water,
minerals, mule deer, /c'wam/ (a bottom feeding fish in the water
systems)''. (Bettles, p.5. 1995.)
"What are some of the ceremonies the Tribes practice"?
"The Klamath Tribes continue to hold the /na . as c'wam hoot 'at
gat bambli/ ceremony along the banks of the Sprague River near
Chiloquin. This ceremony is to celebrate the return of / c' wam/ a
bottom feeding fish, also known as the Lost River Sucker". Bettles,
"Many years ago, a dam was built on the Sprague River. The / c'wam/
could not go further upstream any more to spawn They could only go
as far as the foot of the dam. The Klamath Tribes began to hold
the ceremony at the new place in the 1920's. This happens every
year in March. Elders present the first /c'wam/ with prayers to
the Creator on behalf of the Tribes". (Bettles, p.5. 1995.)
The most important fish to the Klamath Tribes is the Lost River
Sucker Fish! Not once does Mr. Bettles mention the use of Salmon.
And remember he wrote his article as the Klamath Tribes Culture
and Heritage Specialist. I believe he said it best by omission.
Betty Hall has researched the History of Native Americans since
she was a child. She has worked with Dr. Dolan Ergle, Brian
Daniels, Noel T. Boaz, Ph.D.,M.D., and many college students doing
work on their research papers.
Betty co-authored "Images of America - the Shasta Nation" with her
daughter-in-law, Monica Hall. She has contributed to other authors
Betty has been listed in "Cambridge Who's Who of America" in 2008.
Historical Records Of the Klamath River Its People And Fish By
Betty Hall Shasta Tribal Historian October 4, 2009
K.G. Davies, M.A. Editor,. "PETER SKENE OGDEN'S SNAKE COUNTRY
JOURNAL" 1826-27. London, The Hudson's Bay Record Society. 1961.
LaLande, Jeffery M., "FIRST OVER THE SISKIYOUS". Copyright, The
Oregon Historical Society, 1987.
Gibbs, George, "JOURNAL OF THE EXPEDITIONOF COLONEL REDICK M'KEE,
UNITED STATES INDIAN AGENT, THROUGH NORTH-WESTERN CALIFORNIA,
PERFORMED IN THE SUMMER AND FALL OF 1851". Printed by Authority of
Congress. PART III. Lippincott, Gambo & Company. 1853.
Kappler, Charles J. "INDIAN AFFAIRS: LAWS AND TREATIES". VOL. IV.
LAWS. Compiled and edited by Charles J. Kappler. Washington:
Government Printing Office, 1929.
Drucker, Philip, A Karuk World-Renewal Ceremony At Panaminik.
"APPENDIX: THE INAM CEREMONY". 1936.
Boyle, John C. "FIFTY YEARS ON THE KLAMATH". First printing 1976.
Second Printing 1982. Printed by Klocker Printery, Medford,
EVENING HERALD, SEPTEMBER 24, 1908. Millions Of Salmon Cannot
Reach Lake On Account of Rocks in the River at Keno.
EVENING HERALD, Klamath Falls, Oregon. March 17, 1918. Hatchery
For Streams Of Klamath Over Copco Dam to be Impracticable. New
Hatchery in California Will Supply Stock for Streams Here.
Hewes, Gordon Winant, "ABORIGINAL USE OF FISHERY RESOURCES IN
NORTHWESTERN NORTH AMERICA". Submitted in partial satisfaction of
the Requirements for the degree of Doctor Of Philosophy in
Anthropology in the Graduate Division of the University of
Bettles, Gordon, "ABOUT THE KLAMATH TRIBES". Culture and Heritage
Specialist. September, 1995.
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