Taa-laa-wa Dee-ni’ population is 1,400+ citizens.
Smith River Rancheria of Tolowa Dee-ni’ Indians
140 Rowdy Creek Rd. Smith River, Ca 95567
The citizens of the Smith River Rancheria are a nation of Dee-ni’ known today as the Tolowa Dee-ni’. They are governed under the Smith River Rancheria as a Federally Recognized Nation. Their Administration Office named the K’vsh-chu Administration Building is located in Smith River, California in the Pacific Northwest.
With the imposition of a line at the 42nd Parallel dividing the State of California and the Oregon Territory the Taa-laa-waa-dvn was broken in two parts. The Taa-laa-waa-dvn was further colonized later with its division into four (4) county governments as follows; Coos County in 1853, Curry County in 1855, Josephine County in 1856 and Del Norte County in 1857. The Oregon Territory would not join statehood until 1859.
2011-03 "The Tolowa (Taa-laa-wa Dee-ni’)" by Loren Me’-lash-ne Bommelyn
The Dee-ni’ Holocaust began in California in 1851. On September 20, 1848, The first Governor Peter Burnett and followed by Governor John McDougal of California sponsored the California Holocaust with Burnett’s campaign, “That a war of extermination will continue to be waged between the two races until the Indian race becomes extinct…” and with the appropriation of one-million-four-hundred-thousand (1,400,000) dollars to pay vigilantes to destroy them. The California Holocaust spread to the Rouge River in the Oregon Territory from Yreka California. In 1853, The Yreka Herald reported; “We hope that the Government will render such aid as will enable the citizens of the north to carry on a war of extermination until the last redskin of these tribes had been killed. Extermination is no longer a question of time – the time has arrived, the work has commenced and let the first man who says treaty or peace be regarded as a traitor.”
The expansion was organized by mercenaries at Jacksonville Oregon, with their slogan, “The only good Indian is a dead one”, that rang across the land. The mercenaries raked life in the Rogue Valley and moved on to all of the rivers flowing into the Pacific and then to include the entire seaboard back to California. The Mii~-xvsh-xay suffered huge casualties defending the Dee-ni’. The population plummeted from thousands of individuals to a mere few hundreds. The Dee-ni’ Holocaust ended at the mouth of the Smith’s River in 1856 with the execution of Xvsh-xay-yu’ leading the resistance. And thus began, the Ethnic Cleansing of the Dee-ni’.
The surviving Dee-ni’ populous was divided at the State line of California and the Oregon Territory and was driven onto separate concentration camps. Dee-ni’ were detained on military concentration camps at the Klamath River Reservation and Wilson Creek in California. These Dee-ni’ were re-named the Smith River, Lagoon and Tolowa, to include a few. Dee-ni’ married to Pioneers managed to remain on the in the Oregon Territory at locations like Agness, Gold Beach, Harbor and Port Orford. One-thousand-eight-hundred-thirty-four (1,834) Dee-ni’ were driven far north of the Taa-laa-waa-dvn and imprisoned in a foreign land. The Dee-ni’ were imprisoned on the Coast Reservation in the Siletz Valley to live with multiple Non-Dee-ni’ Tribes in Penutian speaking country. The Federal Government re-named these Dee-ni’ in general, the Chetco and Tututni among other names.
Several Ratified and Un-ratified Treaties were negotiated during the Dee-ni’ Holocaust. The Xaa-wan’-k’wvt (How-on-quet) Treaty negotiated by Xvsh-xay-yu’ K’ay-lish in 1855 on the Smith’s River allowed an enduring number of Dee-ni’ to remain in the Taa-laa-waa-dvn in California, while facing Ethnic Cleansing. For the next fifty (50) years the predators of the Dee-ni’ were never charged or brought to justice for their murder, bludgeoning, poisoning, kidnapping and rape of the Dee-ni’. The scalping of the Dee-ni’ continued.
Towns across the state offered rewards from five (5) dollars for a severed head to twenty-five (25) cents for a scalp. Dee-ni’ scalps were taken and sold to the state through 1895. In this face of adversity the Dee-ni’ endured.
They rebuilt their lives from the ashes of the burned ruins that included Cushing Creek, Elk Creek, Gasquet, Lake Earl, Nii~-lii~-chvn-dvn, Pebble Beach, Srdvn-das-’a~ (The-Island), Yan’-daa-k’vt and Wagon Wheel. They returned to hold ceremonies upon the plank floors in charred remains of their once great named Dance Houses.
The seventeen thousand (17,000) acre Smith’s River Reservation was established in 1862 honoring the promises made under the Xaa-wan’-k’wvt Treaty and the flooding of Fort Terwer. In 1868, the valuable lands of the Smith’s River Reservation were abandoned by the U.S. Government following the death of K’ay-lish in 1866 and for the benefit of the insatiable settlers of the Smith’s River Valley. The Dee-ni’ again became landless in their own land and many were driven to the Camp Gaston concentration camp on the Hoopa Valley Reservation. Yet again, some Dee-ni’ managed to hide out in the Taa-laa-waa-dvn while others escaped Camp Gaston and illegally returned home.
During the 1880s several Dee-ni’ received scattered Public Domain Trust Allotments across the Taa-laa-waa-dvn. The Dawes Act of 1887 was designed to break up the Indian lands on the reservations. The Act allowed Natlh-mii~-t’i to homestead Indian lands for free. The purpose of the Act was to force assimilation and acculturation upon the Indians to “civilize” them. Once the reservation lands were busted up, the Dee-ni’ were allowed to legally leave their concentration camps in California and Oregon in 1902. More Dee-ni’ moved out and returned to the Taa-laa-waa-dvn. The Natlh-mii~-t’i complained that the Dee-ni’ were returning to their ‘former haunts” and needed to be dealt with. This dilemma further divided the Homesteaders and the need for the indigenous Dee-ni’ to eek out an existence. The Rancheria reservation system was created in California following after the Spanish Large-Land-Grant Rancho system where Small-Land-Grants or Rancherias were set aside on their Ranchos for their Indians slaves to live on.
Under the Landless California Indians Act of 1906 the one-hundred-sixty (160) acre Smith River Rancheria was finalized for the use of the Dee-ni’ in 1908. The small size of the land provided only some Dee-ni’ parcels of Assignment Land leaving the rest to fend for themselves. As the Final Solution, the Federal Government forced Termination upon the Dee-ni’ in 1960. Termination split up their land base and dissolved the Dee-ni’ Government for the next twenty-three (23) years. This action left only one Dee-ni’ Land Allotment of 1881 in Trust at Nii~-lii~-chvn-dvn on the Smith River. In 1983, the Tillie Hardwick Case reversed Federal Termination and restored the Tolowa Dee-ni’ and Federal Government relationship under the Tribal Government of the Smith River Rancheria.
Tolowa is the southernmost language within what is usually called Oregon Athabaskan. Tolowa is very closely related to Chetco, its neighbor immediately to the north in Oregon; the two together are regarded as a single (Tolowa-Chetco) language. This is in turn related, if not as closely, to the Rogue River Athabaskan varieties spoken north of Chetco, and more distantly to Upper Umpqua, the northernmost of the Oregon Athabaskan languages. The traditional area of Tolowa speech is in Del Norte County from Wilson Creek (south of Crescent City) north into Oregon. In pre-contact times, within what is now California there may have been as many as 2400 speakers of Tolowa itself (Gould, Richard A. 1978. Tolowa. In Robert F. Heizer, ed., Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 8: California, 128-136. Washington: Smithsonian Institution). Today, there are only a few first-language speakers of Tolowa, but there is an active movement to revitalize the language (Golla, Victor. 2011. California Indian languages. Berkeley: University of California Press).
Map of Tolowa speaking areas (Drucker, Philip. 1937. The Tolowa and their southwest Oregon kin. University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnography 36:221-300)
The broader Athabaskan language family is spoken across North America with concentrations in western Canada (Dëne Suliné, Sarsi, Slave), Alaska (Ahtna, Gwich'in, Koyukon), the southwest United States (Apache, Navajo), and coastal Oregon and northern California. The other Athabaskan languages of California are Eel River Athabaskan, Hupa, Kato, and Mattole.
2009-08 "Tolowa Dancers Photo" [http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/2009/08/another-tolowa-dancer-photo.html]
"WEST COAST ATHABASKANS" [http://logos.uoregon.edu/explore/oregon/athabascan.html]
This page was last updated on Friday, February 7, 1997 6:07:08 PM
(Johnson, p. 178-179)
We do not know for certain when the Athabaskan tribes arrived in the area, but it was probably along the coast, perhaps 1,000 years ago. They seem to have left three small tribes in their wake: the Nicola amongst the Thompson River Indians of Britisth Columbia; the Kwalhioqua in the Willapa Hills of southwestern Washington; and the Clatskanie, probably Kwalhioqua who crossed into Oregon before 1775 and occupied an area about 70 miles inland from the mouth of the Columbia River. These tribes are extinct. However, the large territory held by the major communities of the Pacific coast Athabaskans extended not quite continuously from the Umpqua River in Oregon to the head of the Eel River in California. The California tribes numbered about 7,000 and the Oregon groups about the same in aboriginal times.
"COQUILLE Sometimes known as Upper Coquille, or Mishikhwutmetumme; an Athabascan tribe on the east fork of the Coquille River, Oregon, west of Myrtle Creek. They lived in lean-to houses of cedar planks and subsisted on acorns, deer, and fish including salmon. Some were forced onto the Siletz Reservation, where 15 'Upper Coquille' were reported in 1910. A mixed blod faction known as the 'Coquille tribe' are a few dozen people of Coos-Coquille extraction living in their old location who are today seeking settlement of their land claims. The 'Confederated Tribes of Siletz' numbered about 900 shortly before termination of reservation status in 1956; the Coquille were one of many ancestries who form the group.
"UMPQUA Often known as the 'Upper Umpqua', they lived mostly on the south fork of the Umpqua River, Oregon, near present Roseburg, where they were met by Astorian fur traders in the early 19th century. They numbered som 400 in the mid-19th century; forced north to the Grand Ronde Reservation, they reported 84 in 1902. One band, the Cow Creek Indians, survived in their old homes, and a few descendants still live around Riddle south of Myrtle Creek, Oregon, numbering 221 in 1985. These were part of a reported 700 people in southwestern Oregon in 1956, descendants of Athabascans, Coos, Siuslaw and others living in some 37 different locations but chiefly around the Roseburg and Coos Bay areas. The same general group were reported as numbering 730 in the 1970 census.
"TUTUTNI An Athabascan tribe of the Illinois and lower Rogue Rivers in southwestern Oregon who also occupied the coast south to the Chetco River; they are commonly called 'Coast Rogues'. They were contacted by the British explorer George Vancouver in 1792. Although subsequent contact with other vessels and inland fur traders brought epidemics they still numbered around 1,300 in 1850. They suffered the same fate as many other southwestern Oregon groups, being shipped to the Siletz-Grand Ronde complex in 1857. By 1910 only 383 survived; in 1930 just 41 were reported under this name; a few others under the names 'Maguenodon' and 'Joshua', numbering 39 and 45 respectively in 1945, seem to be of Tututni origin. They are now part of the 'Confederated Siletz'. A group known as the Naltunnhtunne may have been very closely related to, or a subgroup of, the Tututni.
"CHASTACOSTA A small Athabaskan tribe on the lower course of the Illinois River near its junction with the Rogue River. They joined the general Indian resistance to white settlement in their lands but were moved north to the Siletz Agency where a few remain. They were given as 153 in 1858, 30 in 1937, and 20 in 1945.
"TALTUSHTUNTUDE A small Athabascan tribe from the upper middle course of the Rogue River, Oregon, on Galice Creek, who were subsequently moved to the Siletz Reservation. A group called "Galice Creek" numbered 42 in 1937, and ten in 1945.
"DAKUBETEDE Small Athabaskan tribe from Applegate Creek, a tributary of the upper Rogue River, Oregon; probably now extinct.
"CHETCO An Athabaskan people of the mouth of the Chetco River near present Brookings, Oregon. They lived in wooden plank houses and were closely allied to the Tolowa to the south. They aided other 'Coast Rogue' Indians in the general resistance of 1853-1856, and were moved north to the Siletz Reservation, where they numbered only nine in 1910.
"TOLOWA or SMITH RIVER An Athabascan tribe who occupied the Smith River drainage and some of the nearby coast in the extreme northeastern corner of California. Linguistically they were closer to the Rogue River tribes to the north than to their relatives to the south. They resided in permanent villages along the coast in winter, and in late summer they moved inland for salmon and acorns. Their house types were low peaked redwood plank dwellings with gable end entrances. Tolowa society was dominated by acquisition of wealth, usually dentalium shells, obsidian blades and woodpecker scalps. Ceremonialism associated with the taking of the first salmon and sea lion suggests that they belonged with the northern Californian 'World Renewal' complex of the Karok, Yurok and Hupa type. The overland explorations of Jebediah Smith were their first contacts with whites, and intensive white settlement of this region came after 1850. They probably numbered more than 1,000 in pre-contact times; but the census of 1910 gave only 121 Tolowa, a result of diseases and numerous attacks by whites on their settlements. Two small reserves (called 'rancherias' in California), at Crescent City and Smith River, Del Norte County, California have been home for some Tolowa descendants, reported as numbering 37 and 113 respectively in 1945."
This page was last updated on Friday, February 7, 1997 6:07:08 PM
CoquilleNames of Coquille groups:
Upper Coquille, Upper Umpqua, Cow Creek, Kwatami, Shasta Costa, Chetco, Tolowa, Dakubetede (Applegate)
Numbered Tututni tribes: (1)Yukichetunne, (2)Tututni, (3)Mikonotunne, (4)Chemetunne, (5)Chetleshin, (6)Kwaishtunnetunne, (7)Taltushtuntede (Galice)
Region:Southern Oregon coast
# of speakers: Probably no speakers left (1977 SIL)*
"Originally, the Coquilles were known by their native name, which was spelled in English Mishikhwutmetunne and meant "people living on the stream called Mishi, or Misha." (Ruby and Brown, p. 64)
"COQUILLE Sometimes known as Upper Coquille, or Mishikhwutmetumme; an Athabascan tribe on the east fork of the Coquille River, Oregon, west of Myrtle Creek. They lived in lean-to houses of cedar planks and subsisted on acorns, deer, and fish including salmon. Some were forced onto the Siletz Reservation, where 15 'Upper Coquille' were reported in 1910. A mixed blood faction known as the 'Coquille tribe' are a few dozen people of Coos-Coquille extraction living in their old location who are today seeking settlement of their land claims. The 'Confederated Tribes of Siletz' numbered about 900 shortly before termination of reservation status in 1956; the Coquille were one of many ancestries who form the group." (Johnson, p. 178)
* Tolowa: 5 speakers or fewer (1977 SIL)