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

The Salmon Ceremony at Ti'lomikh Falls

 
 
The Salmon Ceremony at Ti'lomikh Falls Marker image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, January 27, 2016
1. The Salmon Ceremony at Ti'lomikh Falls Marker
Inscription. The Takelma, which means "People of the River," had a village here. According to legend, Ti'lomikh (Te lo meekh) is where Daldal, the Great Dragonfly, brought the Salmon Ceremony. Although the date of the first ceremony is unknown, the People of the River have celebrated salmon here for thousands of years.

During the Salmon Ceremony, an elder of the Takelma sat in a stone seat called the "Story Chair" to net the first salmon of the spring run. To allow salmon to pass upstream to spawn, that first salmon was carefully prepared and divided, as a sacrament, among the people. To ensure that the salmon would always return, divers returned the bones and skin of the first fish to the pool below the falls. Only then did the fishing season begin.

Salmon ceremonies managed the fishery until 1851, when gold was discovered. A brutal war broke out, and in 1853, a treaty was signed ceding the Rogue Valley to the U.S. with the promise of a permanent reservation. A temporary reservation was established near the Table Rocks, but war continued. In 1856, the surviving Takelma and other tribes were marched north to the Siletz Reservation and the Grand Ronde Reservation.

Mining, overfishing, logging, farming, dams, and urbanization decimated the salmon runs. Hatcheries were built to compensate for the loss of wild fish and
The Salmon Ceremony at Ti'lomikh Falls Marker - Wide View image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, January 27, 2016
2. The Salmon Ceremony at Ti'lomikh Falls Marker - Wide View
habitat; nevertheless, current salmon runs average only about ten percent of the pre-settlement period.

The Ceremony and the Story Chair might have been forgotten, but in 1933, Takelma elder Gwisgwashan (Frances Johnson) and family including George Baker traveled here from Siletz with John P. Harrington, who recorded the story for the Smithsonian Institution.

In 2007, Grandma Agnes Baker Pilgrim, the oldest living Takelma, came to Ti'lomikh with a photograph of her father, George Baker, taken by John Harrington. The Story Chair was rediscovered, and the Salmon Ceremony was restored to the ancient site. Since then, three dams have been removed on the Rogue River, and the salmon runs have improved.

In 2012, "Grandma Aggie" took her seat on the Story Chair and blessed the water. "We are all water babies," she said. "We are all people of the river."

[Captions for photos on left side of marker - click on marker photo to enlarge:]
George Baker sits on the Story Chair in 1933.

For the Takelma, salmon are the "gold" in the Rogue River.

Salmon cooking on redwood skewers at the 2012 Salmon Ceremony.
 
Location. 42° 26.657′ N, 123° 2.639′ W. Marker is in Gold Hill, Oregon, in Jackson County. Marker can be reached from Oregon Route 234 one
Inset Photo of on Marker image. Click for full size.
By Rory Finney, July 1, 2012
3. Inset Photo of on Marker
Grandma Agnes Baker Pilgrim, 89, was brought by raft to the Story Chair by an international team of Olympic athletes, July 1, 2012.
mile north of 4th Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Gold Hill OR 97525, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 10 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A different marker also named The Salmon Ceremony at Ti'lomikh Falls (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); City of Gold Hill (approx. 0.9 miles away); Rock Point Hotel (approx. 2.6 miles away); Rock Point, Oregon (approx. 2.6 miles away); Rogue River Valley Railroad Depot (approx. 9.7 miles away); City Hall (approx. 9.8 miles away); Methodist Episcopal Church (approx. 9.8 miles away); Catholic Rectory (approx. 9.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Gold Hill.
 
More about this marker. There is a sign on 234 indicating parking for Ti'lomikh Falls, thus making the finding of the marker relatively easy, as the marker is but steps from the parking lot. Note there is an identically-worded marker across the Rogue River from this marker site, with the difference being that the other side has a better view of the falls, but this side has better river access.
 
Also see . . .
1. First Salmon Ceremony (Oregon Public Broadcasting, Feb. 12, 2014, 6 mins.). (Submitted on November 2, 2016.)
2. Restoring Ti'lomikh: The "Sword" in the Storytelling Stone (Gold Hill Whitewater Center)
Ti'lomikh Falls - Looking Upstream from Marker Site image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, January 27, 2016
4. Ti'lomikh Falls - Looking Upstream from Marker Site
. 26-slide presentation on the Ti'lomikh Falls Salmon. (Submitted on November 2, 2016.) 
 
Categories. AnimalsChurches, Etc.Native Americans
 
Ti'lomikh Falls - Looking Downstream from Marker Site image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, January 27, 2016
5. Ti'lomikh Falls - Looking Downstream from Marker Site
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 2, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 2, 2016, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. This page has been viewed 127 times since then and 41 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on November 2, 2016, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California.
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