Surveys – 09 The Takelma

The Takelma:

Two tribal divisions of theTakelma are recognized: the Lowland Takelma and the Upland Takelma, or latgawa. Oregan Caves National Monument falls, within the historic southern boundary of the Lowland Takelma (see page 3), and the Cascade divide south of Crater Lake served as the boundary between the Upland Takelma and the Klamath. The two Takelma groups spoke dialects of a language that is not assignable to a known linguistic family. Both tribes were virtually annihilated by disease, murder and wars with White settlers. They are the “Rogues” of the Rogue River War. In 1884 only 27 survivors were counted at Siletz reservation (Sapir 1907:256).

The Takelma as a whole occupied the Rogue drainage from the Cascade divide west to the Illinois River (Sapir 1907; Berreman 1937). On the east their territory bordered the Klamath from roughly Crater lake south to the northeastern slopes of Mt. McLoughlin. Their southern boundary took in the headwaters of Bear Creek, Applegate Creek, and the Illinois River; their southern neighbors were the Shasta Indians. In the west they claimed the middle Rogue as far as Leaf Creek, and probably at times extended as far as the mouth of the Illinois, where their western neighbors, the Chasta-Costa had a large village. Their northern boundary followed the divide between the Rogue and Umpqua river drainages., with the exception of the upper course of Cave Creek, an Umpqua tributary held by them.

The Lattgawa occupied the Rogue from the vicinity of Table Rock and Jacksonville east to the Cascade divide. Berrenman (1937 fig 1.) postulates that their eastern boundary formerly extended as far north as Diamond Lake, prior to 1750. The Southern Molala position on the upper Rogue and Umpqua rivers was thought by him to be due to encroachment on Takelma lands in reaction to hostile Paiuate pressures . But  it is equally possible that the Molala moved in after the Takelmna and Upper Umpqua populations were severely reduced. The Latgawa were a vigorous, war-like group who seem to have fought with their neighbors, indiscrimantly. They raided the Takelma “for food and other valuables,” captured Takelma were sold to the Klamath (Srier ~927:362). Both the Klamiath and Takelma called them ‘enemies” or “enemy people. “

The Lowland Takelma occupied the middle Rogue from Table Rock west, as described above, Sapir (1907:253) remarked, “So circumscribed were their boundaries and so sedentary their general habits that the Takelma proper hardly ever heard of coast tribes such as the Coos or of the Kalapuya of the WiIlamette Valley.

Takelma culture closely resembled that of their southern neighbors, the Shasta, with whom they intermarried. Their social organization had a stratified Northwestern California wealth structure. Villages were autonomous, with a village chief. Their economy was based on hunting and gathering; tobacco was planted. Their main staples were fish and acorns. Camas, seeds and berries were important. A gruel or mush made from flour milled from manzanita berries was a favorite dietary item; the mush was eaten with a special spoon, a short stick with a squirrel tail wrapped around one end. Deer were driven into enclosures set with snares, and fish were taken, with lines, spears, or nets,  Most of their implements were made of horn, wood, or bone; basketry was highly developed. Chipped stone was used only for arrowheads, and stone pestles and hopper mortars were employed. They lived in semi-subterranean plank house with smoke-hole entance, and used planked sweat-houses.


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