Virginia Card's cultural and linguistic study of the Rogue Valley's original inhabitants.
Linguistic notation used in the text is not easily reproducible; please
click on highlighted links to view the original manuscript.
The manuscript is preserved
in the archives of the Southern Oregon Historical Society, MS133.
of a private study over a number of years to determine who lived here,
how they lived, their ways of life, etc. Begun 1950, completed 1966.
Early in the 19th Century, James Smithson, a British mineralogist,
completed his will, leaving the bulk of his estate to America for the
purpose of gathering and dissemination of knowledge. At odds with his
own country, for reasons of birth, Smithson expressed great interest in
the United States, a country he was never able to visit, and upon his
death, $515,169.00 he had left was passed to America. On Aug. 10, 1846,
an Act of Congress created the Smithsonian Institution, using the
relatively large sum (at that time) and since aided by many other such
Within a very short time and under direction of J. W. Powell,
the first of many exploring parties was sent out to the southwestern
states, to study and to record native races in that area. Administration
of such studies is under a Bureau of American Ethnology, the word
"ethnology" taken from the two Greek words, ethnos, meaning "nation" and
logos, meaning "word-wisdom." Many such Indian [page B.
subjects described these historians simply as "mind-diggers who make
Indian languages are unwritten: if a speaker should
cough, the entire story line of an ancient legend might easily have been
altered. The letters d and t are spoken so nearly alike, but words
beginning with such letters often have entirely different meanings.
Among the Navajo, in naming the months, much confusion has arisen
because of the difficulty experienced by early historians in
differentiating between datso, meaning "tall corn," and t'atso, meaning
"large feathers of eagles."
In order to avoid such errors, it was
requested that tales be told over and over, and by different informants,
until a definite understanding was reached. Bot how to write and
therefore to record such subtle pronunciations to assure authenticity in
such records proved difficult, and the Bureau men in the field arose to
the problem with a burst of seemingly wild solutions. [page C.
Russell, an early historian, introduced an upside-down L which is used
when that sound is softer than the harsher English L. J. P. Harrington
first wrote smaller letters a little above the line of print to clarify
certain pronunciations. Combinations of the tk and ts are quite common
among many Indian languages, yet not all all common in English. Being
difficult to handle in the American mouth, such combinations were
helpful with the addition of many vowels. We find TKlma and Dglma
written, in English, as Takelma (the name of the Indians who inhabited
southwestern Oregon). Ideally, the T of Takelma is pronounced halfway
between T and D. Similar to this, the Navajo nt'oc, meaning
"water-source" is pronounced simply toc by Americans who seem unable to
form the word as do the Navajo, even to this time.
So it is that as
time has passed and more and different pre-historic races are studied
and permanently recorded by the B.A.E., more and different symbols are
PROLOGUE 4 LINK
and used, the Indian languages given more vowel accents than French, and more interruptions than Greek, with letters reversed and here and there, and with letters borrowed from foreign alphabets, and still others invented at the time.
Such conditions serve to part the interested and studious researcher from the interested and trained ethnologist, but to serve more groups, one must be careful to not misuse a mark or a symbol, and as few common typewriters provide these inventions, it is only with the hand and the pen that these things are easily written.
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The confused, contradictory, and chaotic information of the ethnic geography of southern Oregon stems from several factors. Not the least of these is the disregard for native races held by early white men who came for utilitarian purposes and found the natives impeding their progress. In a series of conflicts now called the "Rogue River Wars," rapid destruction of the natives was accomplished and the few surviving members, removed to Siletz reservation, were soon forgotten.
A great factor in creating errors by later researches was too great dependence on the journals of Peter Skene Ogden, who tramped the Pit River with Mt. Shasta in sight and believed he was on Rogue River. From this error, Mt. McLaughlin was named, by him, Mt. Pit, and it is so called by many people to this time. Until this
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basic error is taken into account, the otherwise fine work of such men as Dorsey, Swanton, and Mooney, appears valueless.
Into those conditions, in 1906, stepped Edward Sapir, linguist and anthropologist, inspired and gifted. Aided by his father, a Jewish Cantor, Sapir recorded on cylindrical discs, the songs, chants and legends of many North American Tribes. [Footnote 1: Sapir mentioned making such recordings of the Takelma, but a thorough search has failed, thus far, to locate them.]
Aware that many such tribes were rapidly going the way of the passenger pigeon, Sapir seemed dedicated to capturing all possible ethnological information while there was yet time. With this motivating purpose, and on a Lieb Harrison Research Fellowship, Sapir went to Siletz Reservation in 1906, and spent many months there, interviewing remaining members of the Takelma Indian tribe, and recording this information which was published in a number
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of technical journals of the time.
Thus it is that a thorough study of the work of Sapir restores, in large, the value of that work done by others, who sought to make a record of the now extinct Takelma Indians of southern Oregon.
In 1950, this writer was made aware of a remarkable condition in the Rogue River Valley, for along the streams and upon the fields lay an abundance of quite obviously fine artifacts, but questioned as to the maker, residents could only be sure they were made by "The Rogue Rivers." Who these natives were, and where, was a mystery, yet none were that mystified that a search was undertaken, previously, nor then, to answer the questions. Nor was any geographic location named to perpetuate the history of native people, such as is customary in an area so recently inhabited by pre-historic races. While one area is represented on maps,
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(south of Cave Junction) as "Takilma," few were aware that this name had, indeed, originated with the Indians who lived here.
So it was that the search began, in 1950, to find the many answers to many questions, and the result of that search and study follows herein. While there remain a number of unanswered questions, it appears that every source has been exhausted, and any further authentic information will necessarily come from discovery by a child along a stream, or by controlled excavations which will be made by qualified persons whose interest may be sufficiently aroused by this work.
SECTION 1: HABITAT
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When J. O. Dorsey presented his map, [Footnote 1: Journal of American Folklore, Jul-Sept. 1890, Vol III, No. X.] in 1890, locating the Takelma Indians, he uttered an apology for what he believed then were errors:
"It is probable that the Takelma were once the occupants of a territory larger than that described, and that later on there was an invasion by the Athapascans who established villages on all sides of them, and imposed Athapascan names on their villages, although they never succeeded in forcing the Takelma to abandon their own language."
Many early writers hinted at their considered belief that the Takelma were once a great tribe, possibly of the earliest on the continent, and once occupying a large section of North America, and that when
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the eastern seaboard was settled, the Takelma race was already nearing extinction.
Artifacts found on the slopes of Crater Lake, indicating occupancy of that area previous to eruption of Mt. Mazama, are quite similar to those found at known Takelma village sites. Other recent discoveries pointing to occupancy of the area far back in time are the discovery of sleatite (SP)pipes at fifty foot level below the surface in an area where they cannot be accounted for by wash and fill of any but most ancient streams.
What significance may be attached to recent finds is not yet decided, but not much excitement has resulted from examination of clay dishes and figurines found in the Snider Creek area and at a few places along the upper Rogue River. Many individuals among whom were Dr. W. Davis (SP) of the Museum of Natural History of Oregon, are impressed that
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the figurines greatly resemble prehistoric animals thought to have lived before the advent of man upon the earth.
The use of clay in art and for utility items was previously considered unknown to northwestern tribes, but the discovery of a very small site along the Columbia River has revealed other clay items such as those found here. These may be the work of a wandering band from southern Oregon, or it may be the early indications of eventual proof that the Takelma did, at one time, occupy an extensive area in the northwest.
In the period of time concerned here, the Takelma certain occupied most of the land roughly described by the California Border on the south, by the Cascade summit-line on the east, by the Umpqua tribes on the north, and by the Tututunni on the west, (Or roughly, the coastal range area).
As to the origin of the Takelma there are the usual conjectures which are common to any study of
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native races, but the theory growing in popularity in our century and among qualified person is that the Indian are autochthonous (SP) to this continent, and that any similarity to other races from other lands is due to inter-mixing by those few travelers who found themselves landed here, accidentally, and necessarily remained here. The records and map by the Norsemen who came to this continent are well known, and more recent discoveries of early German artifacts, and the quite recent discovery indicating that the Japanese were here 4,500 years before Columbus, all add weight to the theory outlined above.
In the mid-1800, there was a branch of the same linguistic stock living on the poorer land of the upper Rogue River, conjoining with the rest of the Takelman family in the area of the Table Rocks, and extending toward the Cascades and in vicinity of the present town of Jacksonville.
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These were known as Lat'ga w'a, (SP) "those living in the uplands." To Sapir, they were acknowledged to be related, but they were loosely referred to as Wulx, (SP) or "enemies," a name which was often applied as well to the Shasta with whom the Takelma were often in hostile relations. These eastern Takelma, or Upland Takelma, were considered on the whole to have been less advanced than their down=river kinsmen. they were said to have been shorter in stature, to have used log rafts instead of canoes, and because of greater economic distress, to have used crows and ant's (SP) eggs for food, much to the distress of the greater Takelma.
The Upland Takelma were much more warlike than their western relatives, and they often made raids upon them to take food and other valuables. The taking of slaves was common, and these were sold or traded to the Klamath Indians and to other neighboring tribes. It was in this way that Sconchin was traded,
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as a child, to the old chief of the Modocs who reared him as his own, and named him as a Chief of that tribe when he found himself without sons in his old age. This same Sconchin, a shaman in his youth, and an often disputed Chief because of his heredity, later became closest friend to Captain Jack and was hanged with him for his participation in the events ending in the Modoc War.
Relation information would indicate that at some time after the Shasta group of Athapascans began to intrude upon Takelma lands, there were some inter-marriages with the Shasta resulting in the new Takelma branch. As these were later invaded by even more Shastas, they became more warlike but eventually took up many Athapascan ways, for capturing slaves was not practiced by the Takelma proper.
The few words Sapir was able to obtain of their language
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show it to have been very nearly the same as that of the Takelma proper, but with distinct phonetic and lexicographic dialectic difference, which have since proven related to Shastan words: [view card001.jpg for the orthograpical signs used in the following words, and an explanation of them]
Upper dialect: English: Takelma
t!eweks: flea: t!ewex
yegwetci: they bite me: yegwexi
tgantgan: fly: bus
wiyip't'enea: as I was traveling about: wit'eda
K'wna"s t': his relatives: K'winaxda
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Leslie Spier, in an article for the Oregon Historical Society Quarterly ["Tribal Distribution in Southwestern Oregon," Vol. 28.], tells of his own studies of the Takelma Indians. He reports the Klamath Indians told him that they called the Takelma "Walumshni (SP) in historic times. In his interviews, they placed the Shasta on Klamath River as far upstream as Shovel Creek near the California-Oregon border, and they held only Jenny Creek north of that border. The Klamaths assured him that the Shasta were not located north of the Siskiyous in the Bear Creek Valley, but that this land was occupied by the Walumshni for its entire length.
Mr. Spier is among those who reported the presence of Molalas along the upper Rogue, and he quotes Joel Palmer, Indian Agent, who wrote (in 1853):
"While on late expeditions I came to the knowledge of the existence of a tribe of Indians
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inhabiting the country on the upper waters of the northern and southern forks of the Umpquas, and along the headwaters of the Rogue, called the Mo-lal-la-las."
Jamie Teit, in an article for Anthropology Magazine ["The Middle Columbia Salish;" Univ. of Washington, pub. in Anthropology 2, No. 4.], further explains the presence of the Molalas in southern Oregon by relating attacks by the Snake Indians, in about 1750, which resulted in the displacement of three tribes: the Shahaptians (SP) of upper Deschutes removed to the Washington side of the Columbia; the Cayuse proceeded eastward, and the Molalas were driven from the lower Deschutes and westward, into the mountains, and beyond Willamette Valley.
These Molalas drifted southward and made late settlements along the high ridge creeks and down to the canyon as far as Prospect and Trail Creek, with a few
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settlements reported on the headwaters of Klamath Lake.
French packers passing through southwestern Oregon, and having difficulties with the Indians, called them Les Rogue, naming the river and the natives at once. So it is that the Indians were called by many names, for many reasons: early settlers have left information that these were Shastas by whatever variation came to them, depending on source; "Chista," "Chesty," "Chista-Scoton" (From "Shasta" and "Scott Valley"), early travelers referred to them sometimes as "Pits" or "Pitts" or "Pitt Rivers," clearly from Ogden's errors, and almost everyone called, and calls them "Rogue Rivers" while Dorsey, Mooney and Swanton gave half their territory to Athapascan Tututunni yet acknowledging that this is very likely in error.
With this knowledgeability, much of what has been written falls into proper focus when studied in this light.
SECTION II: NEIGHBORING TRIBES
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Neighbors to the Takelma were the Shastean (Shastan) to the south, and a variety of sub-tribes of Athapascans. West of them, along the lower Rogue, lived the Tututunni, whose lands extended to the coastline. Along Applegate Creek, or Beaver River as it was termed by the Takelma, and along Galice Creek and the southern tributaries of the Rogue River, isolated groups of Athapascans lived. These seem to have moved into the area only a few hundred years before the coming of white men. They spoke a dialect distinct from that of other Oregon Athapascans.
The Umpqua, another sub-tribe of Athapascans, lived north of the Takelma, on lower Cow Creek. These were called Yagala (SP) by the Takelma [Sapir obtained explicit information, however of Takelman villages on Jump Off Joe Creek and Cow Creek.]
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J. O. Dorsey gave a list of seventeen place names, the majority of which he pointed out to be Athapascan words and not Takelman, but as his informer at Siletz, at the time of his study, was a Shasta Indian, it is natural that the informer would give Shasta influence to the words as spoken. Sapir later compiled almost the same list of villages, at the same locations, but his informant was Takelman, these names, while quite similar, lost their Athapascan or Shastan influence, and were truly Takelma words.
The village Sal-wa-ga (SP) (later called Salwaxa), which means "at the foot of the creek," was named by both Dorsey and Sapir, and it was located as being at the mouth of the Illinois River. This village, name and residents, has been disputed by lesser historians, some claiming it was Shastan, and some claiming it was Takelman. The Shasta were, however, much too far to the east to have occupied this position at all.
Another village disputed by historians was Dalsasan (SP), first
PAGE 17PAGE 18 LINK
Tal'-ma-mi-tie, and in Tul-sul-sun, the dal sounding very much the same as Tal-or Tul); da- "alongside;" sal- "at foot" or "below;" (d.g. Dorsey's Sal-wa-ga). (SP)
The second element of the word is often some noun or noun with following adjective indicative of a geographical feature, plan, animal, or the like. Many of the words or names end in a final K, a suffix that was never identified with any other formative element in their language. It does, however, seem restricted in its use to the formation of place names.
Nouns indicating "person or persons from so and so place," are formed from place names by a suffixed a'e, or a'e n, the characteristic K' always being dropped. Thus, Bwenp'una is "one who comes from Genpunk'" and Daagelman means "one that comes from Dagela'm," or Rogue River (i.e., a Takelma Indian).
In their language to their east were the following:
(1.) Dak'ts!a mala, or
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Dak'ts!awana, the latter of which was translated to be "those above lakes or deep bodies of water"-- (ts!av meaning "lake" or "deep water"), the reference clearly being to the Klamath Lakes in the higher land above the easternmost Takelma, and the people meant were the Klamath Indians;
(2.) Lat'ga u, or Lat Gau K', "upper country" was the easternmost village of the Takelma, inhabited by the Latgawa who spoke a distinct dialect of the Takelma, and was influenced to a degree by the Shasta language. Another name for this village was sometimes used, La waya, and this was explained, humorously, to mean "knife in the belly," probably a reference to the more warlike character of the Upland Takelma which came as a handy pun due to the similarity of words.
Sapir said his informant told him that the warlike disposition of those people came about because it was at this most easternmost village, Lat'g a u K', that the first war was waged, brought about
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by Coyote and his friend "mythical people" against unoffending Jackrabbit.
(3) Hatil was the village east of Table Rock along the river and was probably the closest village to Table Rock.
(4) Di'tani, was the Takelma name for Table Rock proper. It was probably meant to be read Didani which is translated to mean "rock above," (dan, "rock"). Dorsey gives "Deep Rock" as the easternmost point of the Takelma proper, but Sapir has shown that this is probably a poor pronunciation by the Indians of the English word "Table Rock," since Teb would, in the mouth of a Takelma, easily be transformed into Dip, or "Dip Rock," "Deep Rock."
Into the clearly Takelman area were the following villages:
(1)Gelyalk', "abreast of the pines (yal, "pine), was located shortly downstream from Table Rock;
(2) Dilomi was near the falls of the river (at lower end of Gold Ray dam as it now stands) and it was reported
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(NOTE: There is no
PAGE 21 in the manuscript)
to have been an unusually large village;
(3) Genp'unK', unlocated, was below Dilomi;
(4) Haylba'lsda, "in its long or tall pines," (ya l, "pine" Bals, "long") was below 3;
(5) Dak't'game K', "above which are elk," (t'gam, "elk) was below 4;
(6) Didala'm, "over the rocks," was on the site of the present town of Grants pass, along the river;
(7) Sbink', "beaver place," (sbin, "beaver"), which was at the mouth of Applegate River, Sbin being their name for beaver and the Takelma name of that river;
(8) Dip!olts!ilda, "on its red banks" was the name of present Jump Off Joe Creek, an eastern tributary to the Rogue River, the village situated at the mouth of the creek;
(9) Dak'ts!asin, was also near Jump Off Joe Creek and described as being on the north side of the Rogue River this being the native village of Mrs. Frances Johnson, Takelma informant to Sapir, who told him that people from this
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locality were termed Daldania, implying as another name for the village "Daldani," or "rock is away from stream; [The reference here is probably to a well-known dan mologol or "Rock Old Woman," a supernatural being associated with a round, flat-topped rock in the mountains near this village and believed to be possessed of great "medicine," as is shown in a legend related herein.]
(10) Gwendat', "eastwards," a village which Mrs. Johnson believed was not inhabited by Takelma Indians;
(11) Hagwal, Takelma name for present Cow Creek and for a village located on this stream;
(12 YuKya'K' was on Leaf Creek and was known to the Takelma as the site of a salt lick or march, a favored spot for hunting and snaring of deer;
(13) SomoluK', unlocated, but containing the word "mountain" (som) had some association with a larger mountain formation;
(14) Hat!onK', unlocated;
(15)Dalsalsan, their name for the
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Illinois River and for a village located near or at its mouth
The hostile attitude of the Takelma upon invasion of their lands by other tribes, and then by white men, did much to rapidly decrease their already diminishing numbers, left near to extinction by what is believed to have been natural disasters, volcanic destruction, floods, perhaps diseases, and the mysterious yet relentless other means Nature takes of bringing an end to any specie. By 1884, their numbers had decreased to 27 persons according to Powell. ["Indian Linguistic Families," Powell, Seventh Annual Report, B.A.E., p 121.]
By the time Sapir completed transcribing his notes made at Siletz, only a very few Takelma survived, and those had largely given up their language to communicate by more effective Chinook jargon, broken English, and a little Athapascan dialect. The Takelma language proper, was spoken freely by only four of the older women in 1907. From the
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most intelligent of those, Sapir was able to gather most of his material, aided by the other women who were able to substantiate and clarify.
Of this state of affairs, Sapir wrote: "We have in the history of the Takelma, speaking dialects of a distinct linguistic stock, an excellent example of the appalling rapidity with which many still very imperfectly known tribes of North America are disappearing, and linguistic study of these remnants before they are irrevocably lost." [From American Anthropologist, Vol 9, no. 2, 1907, an article by Edward Sapir.]
Francis Fuller Victor, influenced by the Ogden error, nevertheless placed the following["Early Indian Wars in Oregon" compiled by F. F. Victor, Government Printing Office 1894]:Sub-chiefs were Tolo, who lead the band near Yreka; his brother sub-chief Jim, Scarface and Bill who lived in Shasta Valley; [Card note: no doubt this is in error and these were Shasta Indians] Sam and Jo living in the Rogue River Valley near Table Rocks; John, chief in Scott
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Valley [Obviously in error and these were "Scotons."]; John's father, once cheif over all; and Tipso, or "hairy bearded one" with Sullix or "bad tempered" who lived at the foot of the Siskiyous;
Chief Sam's camp was at Big Bor near the confluence of the Rogue and Bear (Stuart) rivers, [Probably at the village Hatil] and a subchief Taylor lived in the Grave Creek country.
On his map [From Journal of American Folklore, vol 3, no. 10, July-Sept. 1890, an article by J. O. Dorsey]Dorsey has placed the names of 269 villages, and labeled these as
Yaquinan, 56 villages
California Athapascan, 13 villages
Oregon Athapascan, 106 villages
Takelman, 17 villages
Alsea, 20 villages
Suislaw, 34 villages
Lower Umpqua (Ku-itc), 21 villages
As has been stated, an indefinite number of the "Oregon Athapascan"
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villages claimed here were in truth, Takelman villages, and of these he has located the following:
(1) Hudedut, on the south side of Rogue River at the mouth of Applegate River (across from another village);
(2) A village at the mouth of Evans Creek which name was not obtained;
(3) Talotunne, directly across from where Evans Creek empties into Rogue River, and across it from the above village 2;
(4) K'ac-ta-ta, just above Galice Creek;
(4) CKac'-tun, at confluence of Leaf Creek;
(6) Tco-wa-tce, above "Deep Rock" [The village along Little Butte Creek where it empties into the Rogue River, scene of the Lupton attack.]
In his work ["The Indian Tribes of North America," pub. by Smithsonian Institution, B.A.E., Wash. 1953.], J. R. Swanton says, "... in California, and in western Oregon, and Washington as well, tribe and town might be considered convertible terms," and he continues to use a method wherein he was satisfied with a
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relatively conventional classifications, having in view "popular convenience rather than scientific uniformity," he states.
On Swanton's map, the Takelma have been placed below the Shasta, and along with them have been placed the Latgwa which were the Upland Takelma (already referred to). He notes that these people remained largely unaffected by the southern California missions and by norther fur companies, and that first attention was drawn to them among settlers in the east due to the travels and reports of Lewis and Clark.
Mooney gave another name for the Upland Takelma group, and they were reported to call themselves Dakubetede, but were often referred to as "Applegate Indians" by early settlers in Jacksonville. Mooney estimates there were 3,200 of these Upland Takelma in 1780, and he locates them in the (present) Jacksonville, Medford, Ashland area.
The Handbook of American Indians (B.A.E. Bulletin 30, 1912) merely reports the high points of studies made by ethnologists
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to the time, acknowledges the confused condition of such information, but sums up by restating that the Upland Takelma and the Takelma proper constituted one linguistic stock, very sharply distinguished from their neighbors, "their language showing little or no resemblance in even general morphologic and phonetic traits" to other Indians.
From this same "Handbook of American Indians," the later invasion upon Takelma lands by Athapascans is made more acceptable by reviewing the extent of Athapascan tribes in the continent.
These Athapascans are described as being the "most widely distributed of all Indian Linguistic Families of North America," ranging from the Arctic coast down into Northern Mexico, from the Pacific Ocean to Hudson Bay, and from the Rio Colorado to the mouth of the Rio Grande, and languages spoken by the various sub-tribes and tribes are plainly related to each other, yet standing out from other Indian languages with 'considerable distinctness." Three geographic divisions are listed:
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(1) Southern; (2) Pacific; and (3) North, these calling themselves Tinneh or Dene. ["Dene," "Tinneh" same as "tunne," meaning "people."]
The Pacific Division consisted of a small band in Washington, and of many villages in a strip of nearly continuous territory about 400 miles long, beginning in the Umpqua Valley and extending along the coast and Coast Range mountains to the headwaters of the Eel River in California. "These villages," the Handbook reports, "were surrounded by small villages and tribes characteristic of the region." [Information points to the conclusion that the "small villages" were remnants of much earlier and a very large race, then becoming extinct, and experiencing invasion and recent overlay by growing Athapascan races.
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Tolowa in Smith River Country
Hupa, Tlelding on lower Trinity River
Sinkyone, Lassick, Kuneste in Eel River country
The Navajo, Apache, Lipan, and Kiowa Apache, of the southwest, are members of this Athapascan family.
Later displacement of Molalas into the Takelma area was studied by Swanton in 1950, George Gibbs in 1877, Mooney in 1928, Murdock and Blyth and Steward in 1938, and it has been generally agreed that at some time in the 300 years preceding white man, the Shohaptans (SP) and Klickitat families displaced themselves for several reasons, and such displacement served to pus the Molalas from their homelands, southward, and into the Takelma and Upper Klamath lands.
A rumor concerning a tribe, "Kiota" as being in southwestern Oregon, began with report by Ambrose in a letter to Congress [House of Representatives Documents #93, 34th Congress, Wash. 1856], but it was later determined
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that "Kiota" was the name of a sub-chief or other such leader, and not of a particular group or tribe of Indians.
Other minor problems have arisen in a study of the Takelma due to frequent misapplication of "Cow Creek" to outline boundaries, for two such Cow Creeks are in this area, the southern such named creek located near the California border and draining into California, and the northern Cow Creek is in Douglas County, Range 7 west.