“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Harbor in Curry County, Oregon — The American West (Northwest)

History of the Chetco People

History of the Chetco People Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, June 30, 2021
1. History of the Chetco People Marker
"From the numerous miners and settlers that are pressing into their country they are suffering many grievous wrongs that call for the immediate interference of the Government. Within the last six months four of their villages have been burned by the whites … Many of them have been killed merely on suspicion that they would arise and avenge their own wrongs, or in petty threats that have been made against lawless white men for debauching their women; and I believe in no single instance have the Indians been the first aggressors." — J.L. Parrish, Indian Agent. Letter to Joel Palmer: 10 July 1854
"When I visited Chetko I found things in a bad state; the Indians were scattered and living in great fear, and drove from their fisheries." — Ben Wright, Special Sub Indian Agent. Letter to Joel Palmer, 17 September, 1854

Captions (left to right)
• The Chetco people have lived on the Oregon coast for thousands of years. As early as the 1500s, Spanish explorers visited the Pacific Northwest. Europeans had increasing contact with Oregon's
History of the Chetco People Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, June 30, 2021
2. History of the Chetco People Marker
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coastal tribes into the 1800s, bringing trade, disease, and new settlements of people.
• In 1854, A.F. Miller led an attack and burned both villages at the mouth of the Chetco River to expand his ferry business. The people were shot as they came out of their houses and two were burned alive. In all twenty-three men and several women were massacred.
• In 1856, the U.S. Army forcibly removed the Chetco people to the Siletz Reservation. The Chetco had to travel two hundred miles north over rough terrain and swim the rivers with their children and elderly in tow. Some were abused by soldiers, and many died on the long, grueling march. Families were not allowed to stop to bury their loved ones and were forced to keep moving. The journey brought heartbreak and trauma to those who survived.

Earliest History
For thousands of years the Chetco and other Athabaskan peoples have lived on the northern Oregon coast. • 50 BCE to 240 CE: Approximate dates of Chit-xu village founding
First Contact
1540s-1570s: Spanish exploration of the Pacific Northwest. Spanish ships en route from the Philippines to California occasionally wreck off the Oregon coast.
Trade and Disease
1700 — Cascadia earthquake. • 1700s — Further Spanish and English exploration of the Oregon coast. • 1787
The Chetco Indian Memorial image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, June 30, 2021
3. The Chetco Indian Memorial
— U.S. Congress passes the Northwest Ordinance, which protects the property and rights of American Indian tribes. • 1700-1800s — European diseases ravage Oregon. In less than a century the Pacific Northwest tribes lose roughly 92% of their people to smallpox, measles, malaria and other diseases.
Expeditions & Oregon Territory
1828 — Jedediah Smith expedition enters Oregon and briefly sets up camp on the south side of the Chetco River. • 1840 — Lucy Dick is born; year approximate • 1848 — The United States and Britain settle Northwest territory disputes and Oregon Territory is created (what is now Oregon, Washington and Idaho)
Conflict for Land & Resources
• 1850 — Congress passes the Donation Land Act to promote settlement in Oregon but does not address the existing Indian land rights. This leads to heated disputes over land ownership between settlers and Oregon tribes.
• 1850 — Oregon Indian Treaty Act authorizes commissioners to negotiate land treaties. These treaties will extinguish tribal land claims in western Oregon and, if possible, remove the tribes from the area.
• 1850 — Oregon mining boom. U.S. acquisition of California from Mexico (1848) and California Gold Rush (1849) bring a flood of miners into southern Oregon hoping for a "big strike."
• 1851-1856 — The Rogue River Wars bring major hostilities
Statue of Lucy Dick image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, June 30, 2021
4. Statue of Lucy Dick
She was believed to be the last full-blooded Chetco Indian living in the tribe's original homeland when she died in 1940.
between incoming settlers and local tribes on the Upper Rogue. The war expands to the south coast. The Indians realize that their lands and traditional ways of life are under attack.
• 1854 — Miners clash with the Chetco people over access to resources. A.F. Miller attempts to take over the vessels of an Indian ferry now profitable due to the mining, but the Chetco ferry operators refuse. Miller leads a raid and burns both villages at the mouth of the Chetco River. Twenty-three Chetco men and several women are killed.
• 1855 — Chetco representatives sign the Coast Treaty with Superintendent of Indian Affairs Joel Palmer and are promised a permanent homeland and compensation in exchange for giving up their land claims. Congress never ratifies the treaty.
• 1855 — The Coast Reservation is established. It would later be divided into the Siletz and Alsea Reservations.
• 1856 — The Rogue River Wars come to an end.
Removal & Broken Promises
• 1856 — Forced removal: Indian people from all over western Oregon are forced from their homelands, bringing heartbreak and confusion. The Chetco are transported to the reservation in tightly packed ships or are marched along the rugged Oregon coast. Healthy or not, most Chetco are forced to walk 200 miles or more to the Coast (Siletz) Reservation. After being removed to Siletz, the Chetco people
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and twenty-six other western Oregon tribes become known as a single, unified people — the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians.
• 1859 — Oregon enters the nation as a state.
• 1865 — President Johnson removes the valuable Yaquina Bay region from the reservation and opens it to non-Indian settlement.
• 1875 — Contrary to what was promised in the Coast Treaty, Oregon Legislature approves the removal of 700,000 acres from the Siletz Reservation for non-Indian settlement.
• 1876 — Lucy Dick receives permission from the Indian Agency at Siletz to return to her Chetco homestead.
• 1887 — The Dawes Act (General Allotment Act) furthers divides the Siletz Reservation into individual lots for tribal members, paving the way for the sale of "surplus" land and further reduction of the reservation.
• 1892 — More than 191,000 acres of prime "surplus" reservation land are opened to incoming settlers and sold for 74 cents an acre.
New Order
• 1913 — Brookings is founded by lumber business magnate Robert S. Brookings.
• 1940 — Lucy Dick dies in Harbor, Oregon. She is buried at the Oceanview Cemetery and her Chetco name is forgotten.
• 1954 — President Eisenhower signs the Western Oregon Transportation Act into law, which ends federal recognition of many Oregon tribes. This act severs the existing treaty relationships and also
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removes the final remaining parcels of reservation land from tribal members.
• 1957-59 — The Port District of Brookings-Harbor is created.
• 1960 — The remaining area containing the shell deposits at Chit-xu village is bulldozed during construction.
• 1977 — The Brookings-Harbor School District launches its Indian Education program to supplement the educational and cultural needs of Native American students.
• 1977 — President Carter signs the Siletz Restoration Act into law on November 18th. The Siletz people regain federal recognition of their tribal status and treaty rights after years of effort.
• 1980 — A small scattered land base is returned to the Siletz people as an initial reestablished reservation.
Honoring the Past
• 2003 — The Siletz Language and Traditional Arts Program is established to promote the use of the Siletz Athabascan language and traditional arts. Classes are offered in tribal communities.
• 2009 — The Port of Brookings-Harbor donates this site to the Chetco Indian Memorial.
• 2011 — A tsunami hits the Port of Brookings-Harbor. The tsunami uncovers Chit-xu villages.
• 2018 — The Chetco people and other western Oregon bands who form the Confederated Tribes of Siletz are a self-governing people who have survived devastating losses and are proud of who they are. Today there are thousands of people with Chetco ancestry in Oregon and around the world.
The Brookings-Harbor School District continues to support Native American students in its Indian Education program
Erected 2019 by Chetco Indian Memorial Project.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: DisastersNative AmericansSettlements & Settlers.
Location. 42° 2.974′ N, 124° 16.062′ W. Marker is in Harbor, Oregon, in Curry County. Marker can be reached from Harbor Drive west of Lower Harbor Road, on the right when traveling west. Marker is in the Chetco Indian Memorial at the Port of Brookings-Harbor. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 16282 Lower Harbor Road, Brookings OR 97415, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 4 other markers are within 11 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Chetco Memorial — Chit-xu Village Site (here, next to this marker); March 11, 2011 Tsunami (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Japanese Attack on Oregon (approx. half a mile away); Memorial (approx. 11 miles away).
Credits. This page was last revised on July 10, 2021. It was originally submitted on July 10, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 300 times since then and 45 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on July 10, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

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Feb. 2, 2023