What Happened to the Native Americans?


Kate Williams-Smith-Chantille AKA Kate Chintelo AKA Molalla Kate from Pinterest/Molalla

For thousands of years Native American populations thrived in the Willamette Valley until the early to mid 19th century when their numbers were completely decimated due to the settlement of British and American settlers and emigrants. In 1820, the population of the Chinookan Clackamas tribe, which lived in the present-day Oregon City area, alone reported to number 2,200. By the 1850’s, the population of the tribe plummeted to less than one hundred. We know why their numbers collapsed but where did they end up? On January 10th, 1855, the Clackamas, the Clowwewalla, who resided around Willamette Falls, the Molalla, who resided around the Cascade Mountains, and others signed a treaty with the United States to leave the Willamette Valley and relocate to the Grand Ronde reservation in western Oregon. In exchange they received monetary compensation. Other tribes included in the treaty and moved to the Grand Ronde were the Shasta from southern Oregon, the Tillamook from the Oregon coast, and Kalapuya language speaking tribes including the Yamhill, Chepenefa, Winefelly, Mohawk, Tualatin, Yoncalla, Ahantchuyuk, and Santiam. In 1871, the Clackamas tribe population was 55, down considerably from the 2,200 count only 50 years earlier. By the 1950’s, there were over a hundred members of the Grand Ronde of Molalla descent, however, only one reportedly remained of the Molalla tribe. The Molalla tribe and their language are now extinct. The Clowwewalla also became extinct after relocating to the reservation. Although there are descendants of the Clackamas people, the tribe is now extinct as well. For more information on Native American tribes in Clackamas County and the Oregon Territory please visit the research library at the Clackamas County Historical Society on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 11am and 4pm.