- Cayuse, Yakima, and Rogue River Wars papers
- 1847-1858 (inclusive)18471858
- 0.5 linear feet, (1 container)
- Collection Number
- Bx 047
- The Cayuse War (1847-1855), the Rogue River War (ca. 1855-1857) and the Yakima War (1856-1858) all resulted in losses for the Oregon and Washington Indians. Many tribal members succumbed to either military attack or disease, and most of the remaining population were sent to live on reservations. Additionally, a great deal of tribal land was taken by the U.S. government in the aftermath of these wars. The Cayuse, Yakima and Rogue River Wars Papers include letters, official reports, general orders, petitions, and miscellaneous papers relating to Indian wars in Oregon and Washington. Among the correspondents are: George Abernethy, Jesse Applegate, William Craig, Alanson Hinman, Berryman Jennings, H. J. G. Maxon, Robert Newell, Joel Palmer, John Mix Stanley, Elkanah Walker, and Ralph Wilcox.
- University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives.
1299 University of Oregon
- Access Restrictions
Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.
- Additional Reference Guides
- Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Historical NoteReturn to Top
The Cayuse War:
After years of simmering tensions between white settlers and Indians, a small band of Cayuse warriors killed 14 whites and held 53 others captive in the Whitman Massacre of November 29, 1847 (so called because the targets were the Whitmans, a missionary couple living among the Cayuse). A large band of self-organized white settlers marched through Cayuse territory and demanded the surrender of the warriors responsible for the massacre. Some Cayuse continued to raid settlements, and US troops and militiamen from the Oregon territory were called in to suppress them. Skirmishes continued through 1855, when the Cayuse were defeated. They had lost much of their population to both the war and to diseases brought by the white settlers. Most of their tribal lands were taken, and the surviving Cayuse were sent to live on the Umatilla reservation.
The Rogue River War:
Throughout the 1850s Governor Stevens of the Washington Territory clashed with the US Army over Indian policy: Stevens wanted to displace Indians and take their land, but the army opposed land grabs. White settlers in the Rogue River area began to attack Indian villages, and Captain Smith, commandant of Fort Lane, often interposed his men between the Indians and the settlers. In October 1855, he took Indian women and children into the fort for their own safety; but a mob of settlers raided their village, killing 27 Indians. The Indians killed 27 settlers expecting to settle the score, but the settlers continued to attack Indian camps through the winter. On May 27, 1856 Captain Smith arranged the surrender of the Indians to the US Army, but the Indians attacked the soldiers instead. The commander fought the Indians until reinforcements arrived the next day; the Indians retreated. A month later they surrendered and were sent to reservations.
The Yakima War:
Although the Yakima had signed a treaty with the United States ceding their lands and agreeing to be placed on a single, large reservation, some tribes people joined forces under Yakima chief Kamaikan and fought with U.S. troops with some success from 1856 through 1858. Skirmishes continued until the Battle of Four Lakes (near Spokane, Washington) in September 1858, at which the Indians were defeated. Kamaiakan fled to Canada, but 24 other chiefs were captured and executed. Remaining Yakima tribe members were placed on a reservation.
Content DescriptionReturn to Top
The Cayuse, Yakima and Rogue River Wars Papers include letters, official reports, general orders, petitions, and miscellaneous papers relating to Indian wars in Oregon and Washington. The documents are arranged chronologically. Among the correspondents are: George Abernethy, Jesse Applegate, William Craig, Alanson Hinman, Berryman Jennings, H. J. G. Maxon, Robert Newell, Joel Palmer, John Mix Stanley, Elkanah Walker, and Ralph Wilcox.
Administrative InformationReturn to Top
Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top
Names and SubjectsReturn to Top
- Cayuse Indians--Wars
- Indians of North America--Northwest, Pacific--Government relations, 1789-1869
- Pacific Coast Indians, Wars with, 1847-1865
- Rogue River Indian War, 1855-1856
- Yakama Indians--Wars, 1855-1859
- Abernethy, George, 1807-1877
- Palmer, Joel, 1810-1881
- Walker, Elkanah, 1805-1877