Settlers, local tribes clash, reservation formed

February 21, 2007 11:00 pm

By Cornelia de Bruin

Triplicate staff writer

Sadly, it didn't take more than two years before the native inhabitants of Northern California and the white settlers coming into their lands clashed. Blood was drawn a mere year after one of the first travelers, Josiah Gregg, had come through the area.

Gregg was able to prevail on the Indians for help, however, and he and others traded with them.

When the Native Americans observed whites squatting on their village sites, however, war was in sight.

The first incident recorded by white historians occurred in 1850, when two men were killed about 18 miles from Union. A second followed shortly after on the forks of the Salmon River when whites took revenge by burning three villages and killing a number of Indians.

The situation worsened the next year., prompting the hiring of Col. Redick McKee, a U.S. Indian Agent who was summoned to this area of California to negotiate treaties with the tribes.

In some cases the arrangement worked out. Other tribes did not acquiesce as easily. Those included the Chilula and Redwood Creek Indians.

Although most of the Indians accepted the arrangements in good faith, with some minor disagreements, white American settlers pushed for the removal of indigenous peoples from North-ern California.

Pressure from both sides re-sulted in Brig. Gen. Ethan Allen Hitchcock, commander of the Department of the Pacific, to establish a military post on the Humboldt Coast. That resulted in the establishment in January 1853 of Fort Humboldt.

Arrangements for an Indian reservation on the Klamath River were finalized in April 1855 by S.G. Whipple, Indian Agent for Klamath County. Its first inhabitants numbered 1,500.