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The history of the Shasta Tribe

by Betty Hall, Pioneer Press  December 16, 2009   pioneerp@sisqtel.net 

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 Nation.

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 told.

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 Beswick.

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 range.


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


October 6, 1851. / Unratified.


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. Gibbs.p.38.1853.

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. Gibbs, p.41.1851.

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 established above;"


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 thereto originally.

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. 1936.

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). (Gibbs.p.45.1851.)

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 Quartz Valley.

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 formality.

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 Treaties.

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, 1908.

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 Be Constructed.

"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. Boyle, p.8,1986.

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 River.

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 Impracticable. .

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 Creek.

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 adjacent districts".

"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 Specialist. 1995.

On page five under the heading: What are Natural Resources and Who Manages Them?

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, p.5. 1995.)

"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 published works.

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.


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, Oregon.

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 California. 1983.

Bettles, Gordon, "ABOUT THE KLAMATH TRIBES". Culture and Heritage Specialist. September, 1995.

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