Founding of the Klamath (now Yurok) Indian Reservation, 1855

August 28, 2011

Klamath Modoc Indians, 1860

Hello everyone,
To those who enjoy regular posts I must apologize.  Work and … life have gotten the better of me lately.  Hopefully I’ll get back into regular postings.
I do want to keep on the thread/topic of Lucy and plan to continue discussing her limited options and the dangers she and her children faced during the settlement period.  The focus of the next (this) post was going to be the risks inherant to those on reservations but… but, as often happens with me, I’ve gotten distracted.  Sort of.
Looking through my notes regarding reservations I found the following, which discusses the founding of the Klamath (which is now the Yurok) Indian reservation.  It may be dry reading for some, but I chose not to edit any of it.
It was very surprising …. well, Please also be sure to catch the newspaper editor’s response to the founding of the reservation which follows the letters–his perspective is very different from how reservations are viewed today.
Klamath River Reserve.

Office of Indian Affairs, November 10, 1855.

SIR: Referring to your communication of the 8th of August last to the Acting Commissioner of Indian Affairs, advising him of the approval by the President of the United States of the recommendation of the Department that it was expedient to expend the money appropriated on the 3rd of March last for removing the Indians in California to two additional military reservations, I have the honor now to make the following report:

Read the rest of this entry »

Samoa, a POW Camp in 1862

March 6, 2011


Samoa Peninsula, taken from Kneeland


The other day a friend talked about going surfing on the Samoa peninsula.  I forgot to tell him it used to be a prisoner-of-war camp. 

It was at the height of the Indian wars.  The soldiers had built a corral at Fort Humboldt to contain the Indian “prisoners”, but that hadn’t gone well.

Fort Humboldt, June 8, 1862.

MAJOR: I have the honor to report…that the limited number of troops at this post renders it impossible to detail a sufficient guard (in addition to that required over the many general prisoners in the very weak guard-house) to safely deep the large body of Indians now here and constantly accumulating. This fact, together with the frequent complains from the Indians that white men, soldiers, and others, were nightly having intercourse with the squaws (a knowledge of which prevented many Indians at large from coming in), rendered it in my judgment necessary to take measures to suppress this evil, and at the same time secure the safe custody of the Indian prisoners. Accordingly I ordered the construction of a circular corral, now completed, eighty feet in diameter and ten feet high, to be built of two-inch plank twelve feet in length, standing upright, and two feet in the ground. The cost will not probably exceed $150, and the plank will be perfectly available for others purposes in the future. I trust my action in this matter may be approved by the general commanding, as it seemed absolutely required in view of the facts above stated, and of the facility with which all these Indians, collected at so much expense by the Government, could at any hour of the night break for the dense forest 100 yards distant, and in five minutes thereafter be beyond pursuit.

I have the honor to remain, your most obedient servant,


And while the corral may have been built, in part, to protect the female “prisoners”, the Natives held there began dying in alarming numbers.

Read the rest of this entry »

Early Brizard Store, Weichpec

January 30, 2011
Brizard Store and Post Office, Weichpec

Definitely worth clicking on repeatedly to enlarge…

 This store used to exist less than a 1/4 mile west of the Weichpec Bridge towards Martin’s Ferry.  It is just an empty lot now…

On the opposite side of the road is an old cemetery where some of my husband’s ancestors are buried.

It is rather sad and beautiful place [see previous post].

Legacy of slavery in California

September 30, 2009
Native Children on the Hoopa Reservation

Native Children on the Hoopa Reservation


I started this blog just before the Hoopa Tribal Chair was arrested in an incident involving an argument, a gun, and a family member or two (see article ).

While the incident was shocking and sad for all involved, thankfully no one got hurt, physically.  Emotionally it may have been a different story, and not just for the family and the tribal members involved.    Comments from readers of the Times Standard article ranged from sympathetic  to racist and hate- filled.  

It was unbelievable and far too familiar.  These were the same ignorant , misguided, judgemental beliefs that caused such suffering here so many years ago when the whites came in and marginalized the indigenous people.      

Last night  Patricia Whitelily commented that even now being Native American is  looked at as a deficit by some people,  and though I’d really like to argue with her,  some of the evidence falls in her favor.

Read the rest of this entry »

Native Resistance

September 28, 2009
Lucy Young

Lucy Young


Not all of the natives went peacefully to the reservations .  Last night I was contacted by a descendent of Chief Lassic (Lassac, Lasac, Lassik), who was noted for his resistance of white incursions.

One website, , quoting  Genocide and Vendetta, says:

  • Further north in Humboldt County there was widespread resistance. One of the most active was Chief Lassik’s band, which succeeded in driving the settlers out of their territory in southeastern and southwestern Humboldt County. Chief Lassik and his band were captured in 1862, but were able to escape from the Smith River Reservation. After escaping, he headed south along the Klamath River and “stirred up discontent and revengeful feelings.” Although Chief Lassik was finally caught and killed in 1863, for over one year he was able to carry on a campaign of resistance against the settlers.


And it appears he did draw blood…

 Corp Larrabee is seriously wounded with an arrow (it appears this happened while attacking Lassic’s band where four Indians were killed). [June 22, 1861, Humboldt Times]

Note that Larrabee was a known Indian killer, and thought to be a main perpetrator of the Indian Island Massacre  and other murders of Natives.

 Lassic was captured and held for a time on the makeshift Indian prison created out of the Samoa Peninsula in Humboldt Bay in 1862.  A local newspaper editor toured the “indian quarters”,  noting that “to a person who has never seen a band of 700 to 800 wild Indians of all ages together, the sight is truly novel”.

Read the rest of this entry »

Censoring history doesn’t change it, so I’ll resist

September 18, 2009
From Kapel; shows extreme isolation of the area

From Kapel; shows extreme isolation of the area

So  I’m sitting here this morning trying to think of something to post instead of the following, but… but I do think it is important to tell the whole story and not edit the ugly parts, as much as I want to on this bright and sunny day.  So… here it is.

The more I think about it (and read the available info), the more I have to admit that the whites were right about one thing.  The natives did need protection.  The isolation of Humboldt County offered a convenient haven for “unscrupulous whites”, who felt free to act with impunity.  As late as 1857 the county supervisors were still trying to get a jail built and the folks in Orleans were using a tree to hold their prisoners.

Humboldt Times, October 25, 1856-Orleans Jail–Quote from the Sluice Box, describing the Orleans Jail:   “Erected in 1232, built of live oak—a large oak tree with a staple and chain attached…. “


The North Coast was a good place to be if you were a bad guy. The Natives weren’t always the only ones targeted by these thugs, but those on the reservations were easy to find and vulnerable. Nobody cared much if did whatever you wanted (or at least they didn’t stop you)  and if the Natives resisted, you could simply kill them.   And unfortunately, as the following shows, the reservation didn’t necessarily offer the protection promised to the Natives by the government…   I’ve used excerpts of this article before, but the whole thing gives you a better picture of the white men involved.

[As an aside, some of my husband’s ancestors are from Kapel….  This could be his great-grandmother who was stabbed.   Also note that in the second article, the rape of the two little girls isn’t even mentioned. ] Read the rest of this entry »

A quiet (and ineffectual) voice of reason

September 17, 2009

Ah… done with the little detour about the Royce’s journey to Weaverville and the Relief Parties formed to help the emigrants get to California alive,

 so now I’ll continue the thread on the reservations.

I used to wonder if I had a right to tell these stories.  I’m about as pale as you get and don’t have a single Cherokee Princess anywhere on the family tree.   How, I wondered, could I relate?

Then I realized that these aren’t “Native American” stories.  These are stories about PEOPLE, who happened to be indigenous to this area.  And stories about people, we can all relate to.   I don’t know how many people have been evicted from there homes, but even those likely had more than half a day’s notice.  The survivors of the Indian Island Massacre were told to be packed by sundown and could only take with them what they could carry.  They were then forced to walk to the Klamath Reservation, over sixty miles away. 

Look at your spouse, your children.  Could they walk to Garberville (if you live in NorHum), Eureka (if you live in SoHum), or any other sixty miles carrying everything they could ever need?   (Yeah, that’s what I thought when I looked at my kids).

Read the rest of this entry »

Problems with the Klamath Reservation didn’t stop ’em

September 11, 2009
Mouth of the Klamath

Mouth of the Klamath

Continued from yesterday’s post.

There were problems with the Klamath location for an Indian reservation, which were pointed out by those outside of Humboldt County. 

New Klamath Reservation–  We had the pleasure a few days since of perusing a private letter from one of the deputies of the Indian agent of the Northern part of the State, dated at the Indian Reserve, near the mouth of the Klamath River.  He thinks the place is a bad selection, and wholly unfit for the purpose intended.  This is [not] the first time this opinion has been expressed in relation to the Klamath Reserve.  The valley, or rather valleys, are narrow, skirting along the river for several miles, separate by spurs of mountains, intersecting the river at various points.  These valley are (unknown word, likely “not” ) adapted to cultivation and game is scarce.  If the Indians have to obtain subsistence by fishing, the Government had better leave them… unmolested.–~Trinity Journal

Response from the Humboldt Times…

Read the rest of this entry »

The beginnings of the Klamath Reservation

September 10, 2009
Later photo at the Klamath Reservation

Later photo at the Klamath Reservation

Continued from yesterday’s post

As time went on, the settlers became “desperate”.   Cattle  were dying, after all.  In the settlers’ minds, that was certainly enough cause to threaten mass murder.

Humboldt Times, June 16, 1855-Re: Incompetent Indian Agent –Henley -Col. Henly—to the San Francisco Herald, we acknowledge .. indebted for the aid.. in search of said officer, the Superintendent of Indians in California.  Rumor has it that there is such an office… He has been written to, beseeched and entreated to take some steps to relieve our section of the troublesome Indians that infest it… Such a state of affairs cannot last, our citizens will be compelled to take up arms and exterminate every Indian against which suspicions are directed.  To the “memorable seven” at Orleans Bar, we are more than half inclined to tender an apology for our castigation for their course, and in doing so divest ourselves of that sympathy and pity we once entertained for the Indian [author’s note, I so wish I knew what this refers to…]


In response, most likely, to the citizens’ cries for “help”, the Federal government chose an area at the mouth of the Klamath River for a new reservation.  It was, put bluntly, the crappiest location around, and unlikely to be wanted to white settlers in the near future, if ever.  At the Klamath, the natives would be “safe” and out of the way of encroaching whites.   

  Read the rest of this entry »

Indian Reserves, Part 1

September 9, 2009


After the Indian Island Massacre,    the surviving natives living along the bay were forced to abandon their homes and walk miles over rough terrain to the Klamath Reservation,   where they would be “safe” and out of the way.

 The reservation system in Humboldt County was initially developed to separate the “troublesome” natives from the white settlers.  Actually,  it was more to remove the indigenous people from rich agricultural land so that the whites could have full reign of the resources, but I want to believe that not everyone was motivated by greed. It seems at least some were convinced that forced isolation was the only way to protect the Indians.   The problem was that few people were willing to give up any valuable real estate to save them…

 Humboldt Times, April 28, 1855-Against a Hoopa Reservation –Indian Reservation—A correspondent made an inquiry of us as to the object sought to be gained by the establishment of an Indian Reservation in Hoopa Valley.  We do not know what the special agent has done or intends to do… There are fine locations to the north of us, at or near the mouth of the Klamath, or south of us on the Mattole, both far away from the whites, while a reservation in Hoopa is in the midst of what will be, in a year of two, a dense population both of farmers and miners. Hoopa is, and will always continue to be the great thoroughfare hence to the Salmon, and consequently there will always be difficulties between the Indians and whites.  The Indians will steal and white men will punish them. Bad whites are always to be found who cannot be prevented from maltreating them.  They will be only ten miles from the scene of their murders and butcheries, which are not forgotten or forgiven.  The two races cannot live together and they should be taken away from any association with white men…. we cannot believe that the agent will commit himself to a measure calculated to be so unpopular with the people and at the same time so expensive, as it will ultimately be to the United States, in keeping soldiers to protect the Indians.


To be continued…