Kalapooian Indians

Kalapooian Family. A group of tribes formerly occupying the valley of Willamette River, north west Oregon, and speaking a distinct stock language (see Powell in 7th Rep. B. A. E., 81, 1891). Little is known of their history, but they seem to have confined themselves to the territory mentioned, except in the case of one tribe, the Yonkalla, which pushed southward to the valley of the Umpqua. The earliest accounts describe a numerous population in Willamette valley, which is one of the most fertile in the north west; but the Kalapooian tribes appear to have suffered severe losses by epidemic disease about 1824, and since that time they have been numerically weak. They are also described as being indolent and sluggish in character, yet they seem to have been able to hold their territory against the attempts of surrounding tribes to dispossess them. They were at constant war with the coast peoples and also suffered much at the hands of the white pioneers. Game, in which the country abounded, and roots of various kinds constituted their chief food supply. Unlike most of the Indians of that region they did not depend on salmon, which are unable to ascend the Willamette above the falls, and at which point the Kalapooian territory ended. Of the general customs of the group there is little information. Slavery existed in a modified form, marriage was by purchase and was accompanied by certain curious ceremonials 1 and flattening of the head by fronto-occipital pressure was practiced. The language is sonorous, the verb excessively complex, few prefixes being used, and the words are distinguished by consonantal endings.

By treaty of Calapooia creek, Oregon, Nov. 29, 1854, the Umpqua and Kalapooian tribes of Umpqua valley ceded their lands to the United States, the tract, however, to constitute a reserve for these and other tribes, unless the President should decide to locate them elsewhere. This removal was effected, and the entire tract was regarded as ceded. By treaty at Dayton, Oregon, Jan. 22, 1855, the Calapooya and confederated bands of Willamette valley ceded the entire drainage area of Willamette river, the Grande Ronde Reservation being set aside for them and other bands by Executive order of June 30, 1857. By agreement June 27, 1901, confirmed Apr. 21, 1904, the Indians of Grande Ronde Reservation ceded all the unallotted lands of said reservation. The Kalapooian bands at Grande Ronde numbered 351 in 1880, 164 in 1890, 130 in 1905. There are also a few representatives of the stock under the Siletz agency.

It is probable that in early times the tribes and divisions of this family were more numerous, but the following are the chief ones of which there is definite information: Ahantchuyuk or Pudding River, Atfalati or Tualati, Calapooya, Chelamela, Chepenafa, Lakmiut, Santiam, Yamel, and Yonkalla.

The following are presumed to be Kalapooian tribes or bands,, but have not been fully identified: Cemapho, Chemeketas, Chillychandize, Laptambif, Leeshtelosh, Peeyon, Shehees, Shookany, and Winnefelly.

Ahantchuyuk. A division of the Kalapooian family on and about Pudding river and east tributary of the Willamette, emptying into it and about 10 miles south of Oregon City, OregonCitations:

  1. Gatschet in Journal of American Folklore, xii, 212, 1899,[]

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

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