Fence Building




  Kamiakin   OT map   Nez perce

Native American Treaties, Northeastern Oregon

After American immigrants arrived in the Oregon Territory in the 1840s, representatives of the United States established policies for indigenous peoples in northeastern Oregon. By that time, the government had honed its policies and protocols in dealing with Native people, which included treaties, war, removal, and concentration on reservations.  


Wilamette Valley Treaties

From 1848 to 1855, the United States made several treaties with the tribes of western Oregon. Those treaties cleared the way for increased settlement by Americans and other immigrants into the Willamette Valley, as Native people were removed to reservations to eliminate conflicts and competition. This policy of removal helped create one of the most productive agricultural regions in the West.



Walla Walla Treaty Council, 1855

The treaty council held at Waiilatpu (Place of the Rye Grass) in the Walla Walla Valley in May and June of 1855 forever changed the lives of Native Americans living in north-central and eastern Oregon. The fate of the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla Indians who lived in that part of Oregon became closely tied to that of the Nez Perce, Palouse, and Yakama, who also participated in the treaty council. None of the tribes requested the council or wanted to surrender their lands, but representatives of the United States government championed the grand council and representatives of the tribes attended to protect their people and tribal interests.



  fort lane   fort klamath   fort yamhill

Fort Lane

Fort Lane was a United States military fort constructed following the signing of the Table Rock Treaty on September 10, 1853. The treaty established the short-lived Table Rock Reservation in the interior Rogue River Valley.

White settlement had accelerated in southern Oregon following the discovery of gold in the region in 1850, and clashes between Takelma, Latgawa, Shasta, and Athabaskan people and gold miners and white settlers were frequent. Violence accelerated in the late summer of 1853, prompting former Oregon Territorial Governor Joseph Lane and Joel Palmer, Oregon superintendent of Indian affairs, to negotiate what became known as the Table Rock Treaty.


Fort Klamath

During the Civil War era, tens of thousands of people immigrated to the Pacific Northwest. While they avoided the war, they faced conflict with Native people whose homelands were being threatened. On the Applegate Trail, the new settlers met particular resistance from the Modocs, and the Oregon legislature called on the U.S. Army to build a fort in south-central Oregon. Brigadier General Benjamin Alvord, who was in command of the army's Department of Oregon (1862-1865), approved the creation of the post. In 1863, Captain William Kelly led C Troop, First Oregon Cavalry, into the Wood River Valley to build and occupy Fort Klamath.


Fort Yamhill Blockhouse

The Fort Yamhill Blockhouse is one of the few architectural remnants from the era of wars and treaties with Native people in western Oregon, from 1849 to 1860. The U.S. Army constructed the building at Fort Yamhill, near present-day Valley Junction, in March-April 1856. In 1911, preservationists moved the structure thirty miles northwest to a park in Dayton to save it from demolition and as a commemorative of Joel Palmer’s tenure as Oregon superintendent of Indian Affairs (1853-1857).


Moving Day

  thurston   GLO doc   willamette stone

Oregon Donation Land Act

Arguably the most generous federal land sale to the public in American history, the law legitimized the 640-acre claims provided in 1843 under the Provisional Government, with the proviso that white male citizens were entitled to 320 acres and their wives were eligible for 320 acres. For citizens arriving after 1850, the acreage limitation was halved, so a married couple could receive a total of 320 acres. To gain legal title to property, claimants had to reside and make improvements on the land for four years.


U.S. General Land Office in Oregon

With the acquisition of the Oregon Country in 1846, the United States was faced with an enormous challenge to administer what had become a significant part of the nation’s federally owned public domain. American Indian title, preemption settlement, existing land claims, and the great westward migration were urgent matters to be addressed. The responsibility rested with Congress, but a key federal agency, the United States General Land Office (GLO), would be summoned to administer, survey, and initiate disposition of the public domain lands. 


Willamette Stone and Willamette Meridian

Land surveys accomplished under the U.S. Government's Rectangular Survey System are the basis for the establishment of land titles and boundaries within Oregon. The initial point for the land surveys in Oregon is referred to as the Willamette Stone; and the principle survey meridian, running north and south, is named the Willamette Meridian.

In 1850, two years after Oregon had attained territorial status and become part of the nation’s public domain, Congress passed the Donation Land Act to resolve the problems caused by escalating immigration, preemption settlement, and land claims.