Frontiersmen Push Rogue Indians to Near Extinction

Jan 29, 2014

 When the first frontiersmen arrived in 1851, there were some 9,500 Indians living in the Rogue Valley.  At the end of the Rogue Indian Wars six years later, only 2,000 Indians were left.  Stephan Dow Beckham’s classic book titled Requiem for a People says the Indians’ near extinction resulted from the Euro-Americans’ diseases, vices, technology and racial prejudice.

   Beckham, now a Lewis & Clark history professor emeritus, wrote that valley Indians belonged to three linguistic groups, the Athapascan, Takelman and the Shastan.  In 1851 there were about 8,800 Athapascans, 500 Takelmans and 250 Shastans. The Oregon State University Press calls Beckham’s book, first published 42 years ago when he was at Linfield College, “the only complete record of the region's Native Americans and the destruction of their ages-old lifeways [sic]” in the 1850s “boom of gold rush and the scramble for donation land claims.” In republishing the book in 1996, the OSU Press said Beckham chronicles how “what had been a land of abundance – fields rich with seeds and (edible) lilies, wild game, timber, and streams filled with life-sustaining fish – endured significant upset, driving the Indians from their homes and to the brink of starvation.” 

Sources: Beckham, Stephen Dow. Requiem for a People. The Rogue Indians and the Frontiersmen. Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971. "Requiem for a People. The Rogue Indians and the Frontiersmen." Oregon State University Press. Oregon State University, 2011. Web. 8 Dec. 2013.