Klamath Indians View Crater Lake as More than a Rain-filled Caldera

Sep 13, 2013

Fendel Sutherlin took out a donation land claim in Camas Swale in Douglas County, Ore., in the early 1850s.  By 1901, Fendel’s daughter Anne Waite inherited his several thousand acres of land, and determined to establish a town in her father’s honor. 

 Frank Waite, Anne’s husband, and other investors formed the Sutherlin Land and Water Company, built a dam on the Calapooia River to provide electricity and water and tried to market farm sites.  The idea was great, but better promotion was needed. In 1906 F. S. Luce bought the company and formed the Luce Land and Development Company with his friends in St. Paul, Minnesota. Luce ran colorful ads in the Eastern press and brought excursion trains out to Camas Swale to see 10 or 20-acre irrigated orchard home sites. By 1911, Anne’s dream of the town of Sutherlin was fulfilled. It sported a large hotel, stone bank building, Luce’s Land Office and 455 people. The orchard boom never materialized.  By 1919, the hotel became the Seventh Day Adventist Academy, the bank was headed toward failure and Luce’s Land Office was closed. Sutherlin boomed again in the 1940s, but that is another story.  Sources: Hubbard, Doris W. Widow Makers and Rhododendrons:Loggers--The Unsung Heroes of World War II. Central Point: Hellgate Press, 2000. 17-27. Print; Dias, Tricia. Sutherlin. N.p.: Arcadia Press, 2011. 23. Print; Holm, Ivan. "Sutherlin Adventist Church History." Sutherlin Adventist Church. Seventh Day Adventist Church, 1998. Web. 7 Aug. 2013. <http://sutherlin.adventistnw.org/sutherlin-seventh-day-adventist-church-history>. Every year thousands of travelers visit Tum-sum-nee, the “Mountain-With-the-Top-Cut-Off.”  The rain-filled volcanic caldera, created by the eruption of Mount Mazama 7,000 years ago, is more commonly known as Crater Lake.  The Klamath Indians believed the lake should only be visited by shamans, priests and other powerful people. This view was still prevalent in 1920 when the photographer Edward Curtis posed a Klamath Indian in Plains Indian garb at the edge of the lake.  The man gave Curtis a pseudonym to conceal his identity from the tribe and to avoid offending mountain spirits. The Klamaths have a collective memory of Mount Mazama’s eruption, their oral tradition describing “red-hot rocks as large as hills” tumbling through the sky, and oceans of flame devouring forests.A writer for the Oregon Historical Society wrote, “the Klamath and other Native peoples from around the region sought visions at Crater Lake. It was a sacred landscape, a portal between the world of humans and the world of spirits.” If the deep blue lake feels almost sacred for some visitors to the national Park, it’s a view shared literally by Klamath tradition.  Source: Caine, Allen. "Crater Lake and the Klamath." The Oregon History Project. Oregon Historical Society. Web. 15 Aug. 2013. <http://www.ohs.org/education/oregonhistory/historical_records/dspDocument.cfm?doc_ID=000B36D0-D78A-1EE8-827980B05272FE9F>.