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The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


The Takelma
    The writer about four years ago was curious to learn the name given to the [Rogue] river by the native Indian inhabitants, and after some inquiries made the discovery that it was lost, and the further discovery that men who fought in the Rogue River Indian War did not know the name of the tribe they were fighting against. A notice published in the Observer asking for information on the subject from old settlers and war veterans brought no results.
"Oregon's People Love Beauties of the Rogue River," Christian Science Monitor, Boston, January 2, 1909, page 6


ATHAPASCANS NORTH OF ROGUE RIVER.
    While generic names have been found for three groups of Athapascan gentes in Oregon, i.e., The Miciqwut-me-tunne or Upper Coquille, the Chasta Costa and the Chetco, I was unable to learn of any generic name for those gentes dwelling on the Pacific coast north and south of Rogue River, or for those inhabiting the Rogue River country. While, in answer to one of my questions, I was told that "Tu-qwe-ta-tunne" meant "All the people," it seemed plain that it was merely a collective term, destitute of any sociologic meaning. The same informant stated that villages included under this term had from time to time warred on other villages of the same group, there being scarcely any feeling of national pride or unity.
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    Chasta Costa villages.--The Chasta Costa, or, as they call themselves, C-sta kqwu-sta, belong to the Athapascan stock. The meaning of the name is unknown, but Rogue River is called Ci-sta-qwut ni-li by the Naltunnetunne, and the Cow Creek Indians are called by the same people Ci-sta-qwut-nili-tcat-tunne, People far from Rogue River. I obtained the names of the villages from four Chasta Costa men, most of them being furnished by two old men, Cucl-tas-se and Ta-te-la-tun, and a few by "Government George" and "Chasta Costa John."
    According to E-ne-a-ti, a Tutu, the Chasta Costa territory began at the junction of a stream called E-ne-ti with Rogue River. What stream is called Eneti is uncertain. The Illinois River is too far west, and Applegate Creek can hardly be intended, unless, as I suspect, Ta-tci-qwut-tunne should be on the north side of Rogue River with the other Chasta Costa people, for Hudedut, a Takelma village, was located at the mouth of Applegate Creek, on the south side of Rogue River. With but one or two exceptions, all the villages south of Rogue River, from Illinois River to "Deep Rock," were Takelma villages, as will be explained later.
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VILLAGES ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF ROGUE RIVER.
    The "Upper Rogue River Indians" call themselves Ta-kel-ma, the meaning of which has not been learned. As they were first known to us as Takilma, the stock name is Takilman. The villages of this people extended along the south side of Rogue River from "Deep Rock" (fide Hugh) to the Valley of Illinois Creek, in what we now call Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties. "Deep Rock" has not been found so far on any map, but Rock Point, above Evans Creek, corresponds to its location. Rock Point is east of Woodville, in Jackson County. The chief authority for the Takilman names was "Mr. Hugh." Evans Bill (the chief) and John Punzie gave some information.
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    The environment of the Takelma, taken in connection with their language and the names of their villages, deserves careful study, as it seems to point to a remarkable condition of affairs. It is probable that the Takelma were once the occupants of a territory larger than that just 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 the Takelma villages, though they never succeeded in forcing the Takelma to abandon their own language.
J. Owen Dorsey, The Gentile System of the Siletz Tribes, Journal of American Folklore, July-September 1890, pages 232-235  Phonetic notation has been greatly simplified; refer to the link for accurate notation.
TAKILMAN FAMILY.
Takilma, Gatschet in Mag. Am. Hist., 1882 (Lower Rogue River).
    This name was proposed by Mr. Gatschet for a distinct language spoken on the coast of Oregon about the lower Rogue River. Mr. Dorsey obtained a vocabulary in 1884 which he has compared with Athapascan, Kusan, Yakonan and other languages spoken in the region without finding any marked resemblances. The family is hence admitted provisionally. The language appears to be spoken by but a single tribe, although there is a manuscript vocabulary in the Bureau of Ethnology exhibiting certain differences which may be dialectic.
GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION.
    The Takilma formerly dwelt in villages along upper Rogue River, Oregon, all the latter, with one exception, being on the south side, from Illinois River on the southwest to Deep Rock, which was nearer the head of the stream. They are now included among the "Rogue River Indians," and they reside to the number of twenty-seven on the Siletz Reservation, Tillamook County, Oregon, where Dorsey found them in 1884.
Seventh Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology 1885-86, Washington 1891, page 121


"TAKILMA."
Waldo, Ore., June 9, 1902.
Editor Courier, Grants Pass, Ore.
    Dear Sir: We have given the name "Takilma" to our little new town on the west bank of the East Illinois River, having a desire for appropriate names and believing in the perpetration of those names belonging to the Indian tribes. We have not yet much of a town, but we believe it will eventually become a place of some little importance. I have asked many people what was the name of the Indian tribe that formerly lived in the neighborhood of the Illinois and Rogue rivers, but no one that I ever asked was able to answer the question. The best that could be done was to call them the "Rogue River Indians"; consequently I have been in correspondence with the Bureau of Ethnology of the Smithsonian Institution, in Washington. Having been asked what the name "Takilma" meant and why it was selected and believing that it will be better to let the people know through the public press, I append herewith the last letter received from the Bureau of American Ethnology, which may be considered an authentic and correct answer to the questions as to why we have named our prospective town thusly. The contents of the letter will also, I think, prove interesting to the people of Josephine County, and will set at rest the misnomer "Rogue River Indians."
Very truly yours,
    T. Waln-Morgan Draper.
----
Washington, D.C., May 29, 1902.
    Dear Sir: Replying to your letter of the 22nd, I will say that the word "Takilma" is the name of the single tribe composing the Indian linguistic family of that name. The majority of the linguistic families are composed of more than one tribe, but this case is an exception.
    Takilma Indians formerly lived in that section of country lying between the Illinois and Rogue rivers. In 1884, only twenty-seven of the tribe were known to exist; this remnant lived at that time on the Siletz Reservation, Tillamook County, Oregon, where they were found by one of the ethnologists of this Bureau.
    Thinking that you may be interested in the subject I take pleasure in sending you a copy of a reprint from the 7th annual report of this Bureau, giving a list of the linguistic families of America.
Very respectfully,
    F. M. Barnett.
Rogue River Courier, Grants Pass, June 19, 1902, page 1


NOTES ON THE TAKELMA INDIANS OF
SOUTHWESTERN OREGON*
By EDWARD SAPIR

     Few regions in this country are so slightly known, both ethnologically and linguistically, as the section of Washington and Oregon lying east of the strip of coast land, and in this large area the position occupied by the Takelma Indians, generally rather loosely referred to as Rogue or Upper Rogue River Indians, has hitherto remained quite undefined. The scattered and, I fear, all too scanty notes that were obtained in the summer of 1906, incidentally to working out the language of these practically extinct Indians under the direction of the Bureau of American Ethnology, are offered as a contribution toward defining this position. It may be stated at the outset that many things point to the Takelma as having really formed an integral part of the distinct Californian area, in late years made better known by the work of Drs.. Dixon, Goddard and Kroeber.
    HABITAT--LINGUISTIC POSITION--The determination of the exact location of the Takelma is a matter of some difficulty. In all probability the revised linguistic map recently issued in Bulletin 30 of the Bureau of American Ethnology is incorrect in that it gives the stock too little space to the north and east. To the north the Takelma certainly occupied the northern bank of Rogue River eastward of some point between Illinois River and Galice Creek, while they also inhabited part of the country on the upper course of Cow Creek, a tributary of the Umpqua. The middle valley, then, of Rogue River, the country on the southern bank perhaps as far west as Illinois River, its main tributary, the upper course of Cow Creek, and the interior of Oregon southward nearly to the Californian boundary, was the home of the Takelma proper, or, as they called themselves, Dagelman, "those living alongside the river," i.e., Rogue River.
    There was, moreover, still another tribe of the same linguistic stock that dwelt farther to the east, occupying the poorer land of the Upper Rogue, east, say, of Table Rock toward the Cascades and in the neighborhood of the present town of Jacksonville. These were known as Latgawa, "those living in the uplands," but were also loosely referred to as Widx, i.e., "enemies," a name specifically applied to the Shasta, with whom the Takelma were often in hostile relations. These eastern Takelma seem to have been on the whole less advanced than their downriver kinsmen. They are said to have been shorter in stature than these, to have used log rafts instead of canoes, and, because of greater economic distress, to have used for food crows, ants' eggs, and other such delicacies, much to the disgust of the Takelma proper, who however do not seem to have been particularly averse to the eating of lice and grasshoppers themselves. The Upland Takelma were much more warlike than their western neighbors, and were accustomed to make raids on the latter in order to procure supplies of food and other valuables. The slaves they captured they often sold to the Klamath of the Lakes, directly to the east. The few words obtained of their language show it to have been very nearly the same as that of the Takelma proper, but with distinct phonetic and lexicographic dialectic differences.

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    NEIGHBORING TRIBES--PLACE NAMES.--The neighbors of the Takelman stock were largely Athabascan. Below them on the banks of Rogue River were the Chasta Costa, Galice Creek and Applegate Creek (or "Beaver River," as it was termed by the Takelma); southern tributaries of Rogue River were occupied by isolated Athabascan tribes speaking dialects distinct from those of other Oregonian Athabascans; north of the Takelma, on lower Cow Creek, were the Akwa or Umpqua, another Athabascan tribe, called Yagala by the Takelma. To the south and east dwelt Shasta and Klamath tribes. So circumscribed were their boundaries and so sedentary their general habits that the Takelma proper hardly ever heard of coast tribes such as the Coos or of the Kalapuya of the Willamette Valley.
    J. O. Dorsey [below] gives a list of seventeen Takelma place names, the majority of which, as he himself points out, are Athabascan, strange to say, and not Takelma. I very much doubt, however, whether this fact has at all the significance that Dorsey ascribes to it; i.e., "that there was an invasion by the Athapascans, who established villages on all sides of them, and imposed Athapascan names on the Takelma villages." In view of the fact that the place names procured by myself are without exception pure Takelma words, I strongly suspect that the present ascendancy of the Chasta Costa language in Siletz Reservation made it natural for Dorsey's informant to clothe the names in Athabascan form rather than to give the genuine native names. Of the few native Takelma names that he gives, I am able to translate only one: Salwaxa, which probably means "at the foot of the creek," and which must have been applied to a village at the mouth of Illinois River or one of its tributaries; it could hardly have been a "gentile " term, as implied by Dorsey. But one of the names--Dalsalsan--that I obtained showed on examination to be clearly identical with one given by Dorsey. This name, given as the Takelma designation of Illinois River, is identical with Dorsey's Tul-sul-sun, a "village, which cannot be located."
    The geographical names procured are subjoined below; it is unfortunate that the distance of the Rogue River country from the present home of its former occupants and the ignorance of the informant of all the corresponding current English place names made it impossible to identify the location of most of the villages. In regard to the character of the majority of the Takelma place names it is to be noted that they are significant, consisting generally of a phrase descriptive of some natural feature of the place. The first syllable is generally a local element. . . . The second element of the word is often some noun or noun with following adjective indicative of a geographical feature, plant, animal, or the like. Many of the names also are characterized by a final -k, a suffix that cannot be identified with any other formative element in the language, but seems restricted in its use to the formation of place names. Nouns indicating "person or people from so and so" are formed from place names by a suffixed -a or -an, the characteristic -k being always dropped. Thus . . . Dagelman means "one who comes from Dagelam," or Rogue River, i.e., "Takelma Indian."
    East of the Takelma tribes were the following: (1) Daktsamala, or Daktsawana, the latter of which may be translated "those above lakes (or deep bodies of water)" (tsaa, "lake," "deep water"), the reference being clearly to the Klamath lakes in the highland above the easternmost Takelma; the people meant are the Klamath Indians. The easternmost village of the Takelma beyond Table Rock was (2) Latgau, or Latgauk, "upper country," inhabited by the Latgawa, already spoken of as possessed of a distinct dialect of the Takelma. Another name for the village of Latgauk was Lawaya, "knife in belly," referring doubtless to the warlike character of the inhabitants. This warlike disposition of the uplanders is explained by the fact that at Latgauk was waged the first war, that carried on at the instigation of Coyote by the former mythical people against unoffending Jackrabbit. On Rogue River and still east of Table Rock was (3) Hatil. From the manuscript Takelma notes of Mr. H. H. St. Clair, 2nd, is taken (4) Ditani, "Table Rock." This is probably to be read Didani and may be translated "rock above" (dan,
 "rock"). Dorsey gives "Deep Rock" as the easternmost point of the Takelma and adds that it "has not been found so far on any map." But "Deep Rock" may very well be an Indian pronunciation of the English "Table Rock" (teb would, in the mouth of a Takelma, easily enough be transformed into dip, the latter pronunciation being much more in accordance with native phonetics). Below Table Rock was (5) Gelyalk, "abreast of pines" (yal, "pine"). (6) Dilomi was situated near falls of the river and was said to be an unusually large village. (7) Gwenpunk. (8) Hayalbalsda, "in its long (i.e., tall) pines" (yal, "pine," bals, "long"). (9) Daktgamek, "above which are elk" (tgam, "elk"). (10) Didalam, "over the rocks," on the site of the present town of Grants Pass, the county seat of Josephine County. (11) Sbink, "beaver place" (sbin, "beaver"), the present Applegate Creek. (12) Dipoltsilda, "on its red banks," was the name of the present Jump Off Joe Creek, an eastern tributary of Rogue River. A Takelma village in the neighborhood of this creek, and thus on the north side of Rogue River, was (13) Daktsasin, the native village of my informant, Mrs. Frances Johnson. Persons from this locality were termed Daldaniya, implying as another name for the village Daldani, "rock (is) away from stream." The reference here is, in all probability, to a well-known dan mologol or "Rock Old Woman," a potent supernatural being associated with a round flat-topped rock in the mountains near the village and possessed of great "medicine." (14) Gwendat, "eastwards" (?), not inhabited by Takelma Indians. (15) Hagwal, the present Cow Creek. (16) Yukyakwa was on Leaf Creek, and was known to the Rogue River tribes as the site of a salt lick or marsh. It was an especially favored spot for the hunting of deer. (17) Somoluk (evidently containing the word som, "mountain"). (18) Hatonk. (19) Dalsalsan, Illinois River. (20) Dagelam, "along the river" (gelam, "river"), i.e., Rogue River. (21 ) Lamhik, now Klamath River. (22) Hatgwaxi, a place name in the country of the Umpquas.
    The hostile attitude which the Takelman tribes adopted on the settlement of the country by the whites was probably the chief cause of their rapid decrease in numbers, and by 1884, at which time they had already been transferred to the Siletz Reservation in northwestern Oregon, they counted no more than twenty-seven. At the time of writing they have entirely disappeared as a unity and are represented by a very few survivors whose chief means of communication is either the Chinook jargon, broken English, or some Athabascan dialect. The Takelma language itself is spoken with freedom by only three or four of the older women now living in Siletz. From the most intelligent of these all of my information was obtained. Besides these there are two other women residing at the Grand Ronde Reservation who are reported to speak the upland dialect already referred to. 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 of the urgent need of ethnologic and linguistic study of these remnants before they are irrevocably lost.
    LANGUAGE.--I shall not here attempt to discuss the language itself, as that will elsewhere be made the subject of a special study. Suffice it to say that its characteristics are such as to mark it off most decidedly from those of the neighboring stocks. Perhaps its most striking features are syllabic pitch-accent and nominal as well as pronominal incorporation of the object and instrument, though it must be admitted that the noun object is not at first sight as evidently incorporated as in the Iroquois. In its general phonetic makeup it offers a great contrast to the harsh system of the neighboring Athabascan and Coos tribes, and reminds one much more strongly of the comparatively harmonious phonetics of northern California. One in itself perhaps not very important linguistic item is of considerable interest as shedding light on the general affiliations of the Takelma. In their noteworthy study on the Native Languages of California Drs. Dixon and Kroeber have called attention to the recurrence of a similar word for "dog" in about ten Californian linguistic stocks, otherwise quite unrelated.
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    FOOD--FISHING--HUNTING.--The staple food of the Takelma is probably to be considered the acorn, of which there were recognized several varieties, the "black acorn" being considered the chief. The first acorns appeared in the early spring, at which time they were gathered and prepared by the women, who, however, were not permitted to partake of them until the men had performed a formulaic ceremony and themselves eaten; only then, and after the vessels had been washed anew, could the women also take part in the first eating. The method of preparation was essentially the same as that employed by the Hupa and the Maidu. A hole about an inch in depth was cut into the ground so as to hold firmly the flat rock on which the acorns were pounded. After these were shelled they were mashed fine by means of a stone implement, used for the purpose, of two to three feet in length, or else by the shorter telma, of about a foot and a half in length. The acorns were prevented from spilling off the flat rock by a funnel-shaped basket, or hopper, wider at the top and entirely open at the bottom, known as a bon. In the degas, a shallow circular basket-pan, the meal was sifted and was then placed on carefully washed sand, seething water being applied to extract the elements which impart the bitter taste to the acorn. The acorn dough thus obtained was boiled in a basket-bucket constructed of hazel shoots and split roots, the usual Pacific coast method of applying hot stones into the basket being employed. The final result was a sort of mush that here, as farther south in California, formed the most typical article of food.
    A second important vegetable food was the camas root (dip). The root was dug by means of the tgapxiut, or "horned xiu-stick," it being the sharp-pointed, peeled-off stick of a hardwood bush known as xiu and neatly fitting at the upper end into a deer's horn to serve as the handle. The roots were prepared for use as follows: A pit was dug into the earth and filled with alder bushes which, when fired, served to heat the stones above. On top of these hot stones were placed the roots themselves, a layer of alder bark intervening between the two. The whole was covered with earth and left to roast. The succeeding day, if the roots were not yet well cooked, a fire was again built, and so on until the roots were thoroughly roasted, in which condition they were called hix. They were often mashed into a dough, and, made into the form of a big pan, kept for winter use. Strings of camas roots were often made by the children and used as playthings.
    A favorite food was the manzanita berry. These were pounded into a flour, mixed with sugar pine nuts, and put away for future use; they were consumed with water. A peculiar implement used for the eating of manzanita was the bushy tail of a squirrel tied with sinew for the space of about a finger's length to a stick about six inches long. A number of varieties of seeds were in considerable use as food. Among these was the lamx, the seed apparently of a species of sunflower. When the plants were dry the seeds were beaten out by a stick used for the purpose into a funnel-shaped deerskin pouch with the mouth wider than the bottom. When the lamx was young and tender, the stalk also was eaten. In a similar way were collected the seeds of the yellow-flowered "tarweed," the stalks of which plant were first burnt down to remove the pitchy substance they contained. These seeds were parched and ground before consumption. Neither with these nor with lamx seed was water used. Other roots and seeds and vegetable foods, such as the madrona and pine nuts, were also used.
    The only plant cultivated before the coming of the whites was tobacco, which was planted by the men on land from which the brush had been burnt away. Smoking was indulged in to a considerable extent and had a semi-religious character, the whiff of smoke being in a way symbolic of good fortune and long life. The pipes were made of either wood or stone and were always straight throughout, some reaching a length of nearly a foot. The custom prevailed, of course, of passing one pipe around to all the members of an assembled group.
    Of animal foods the most important, naturally, were the various species of river fish, such as trout, salmon trout, steelhead salmon, silverside salmon, Chinook salmon and others; also crawfish and freshwater mussels were used as food. Fishing was done partly with lines made of a kind of grass, the fibers being rolled together by hand, while the hook was obtained by tying two pieces of bone with sinew--in which case mudcat and crawfish served as bait; partly, also, fish were caught in long nets and clubbed when hauled in the canoe; finally fish were obtained by spearing with the mal, a salmon spear consisting of a pole provided at the end with a sharp-pointed piece of bone fitted into two other pieces of the same material. After the skin of the salmon was removed, the head and tail were cut off, the guts taken out, and the body split through at the backbone. The several pieces, together with the liver, were then roasted on spits consisting merely of split hazel branches stuck into the ground. Baskets of roasted salmon were packed for winter use.
    Deer were often hunted by groups of men with the help of dogs. A deer fence was constructed with a small gate opening, above which was strung a bunch of shoulder blades. To these bones was attached a rope, at the other end of which, away from the wind, a few men watched for the coming of the deer. These had been driven ever since before daybreak in the direction of the deer fence by the dogs, and by men shouting "Wa wa wa!" After a certain number of deer had been thus forced into the enclosure, the shoulder blades were violently rattled by the men in wait, which so frightened the animals that they ran into the finely spun semicircular traps of keda grass set for them. Entangled in these, they were easily clubbed to death. Such deer fences were usually built in the neighborhood of creeks or salt licks, and sometimes as many as one hundred and fifty of these rope traps were set. Not infrequently mountain forests were set afire to facilitate the driving of the deer. A choice portion of the deer meat was considered the fat, which was often eaten raw and played with by the children. Similarly to the method adopted for storing away cooked camas, hard dough-like cakes of fat were put away for use in the winter.
    Outside of such larger game as elk and deer the Indians were fond of grasshoppers, generally picked from a burnt-down field and cooked for food, and of the white larvae of the yellowjacket, the yellowjackets themselves being smoked out of their holes. Salt, obtained from a salt marsh at Leaf Creek, was used in the boiling of meat and cooking of salmon, but dried salmon was never salted.
    IMPLEMENTS AND UTENSILS--GAMES.--Several of the implements and utensils employed have already been referred to and been seen to consist largely of baskets. Still other basket forms were a large open-work burden-basket constructed of hazel or willow, a small basket-plate to eat out of, a round open bucket-like basket, a large storage basket; the kanakas, used for drinking purposes and of the size of a cup, a big basket made of rushes; and the basket-cradle. The ordinary twined basket was built up on a bottom of four short hazel twigs perpendicular to four crosspieces, and the twining was done with some root or grass on a warp generally of hazel or willow. The only dyes used in the designs were black and red, the former obtained by keeping the woof strands in black clay, and the latter by dyeing in alder bark. Designs in white were brought out by means of twining with a straw-like grass known as get. Spoons were made of both wood and elk horn; the sumxi, or small paddle as it were, was a wooden stirrer used to prevent the overcooking of the food.
    For the purpose of flaking flints into arrowheads was used the witsamak, a stick of about a foot in length and tipped with bone. The same instrument was employed also as the twirler in the fire-drill. The bottom board or hearth of the drill apparatus was about two feet long and had drilled into it a hole which was filled with finely shredded cedar bast for tinder. Both the hearth and the twirler were carried about, together with tinder and arrows, in a quiver of sewed fawn or wildcat skins. Arrowshafts were polished with a rough-surfaced plant that served as file, in all probability identifiable with the "scouring rush." Needles were made of hardwood or bone sharpened to a point and provided with an eye, through which twisted sinew was passed as thread.
    Under the head of implements may also be mentioned the shinny-stick and shinny-ball. The women's substitute for the game of shinny was played, generally three on a side, with an object consisting of two little pieces of wood of about four inches in length, tied together at a distance of six inches apart with a strip of buckskin. This xilkwi, as it was called, corresponded to the ball in the men's shinny game and was tossed about by a long pole. The goals were merely branches stuck into the ground on each side. Serious quarrels seem to have sometimes ensued from both parties claiming the victory; Mrs. Johnson told of a case within her remembrance in which one of the players, a medicine woman, claimed the victory for her side despite the protests of one of her opponents, and, angered at the obstinacy of the latter, "shot" her with her supernatural power, whereupon the death of the poor woman actually followed some time thereafter.
    HABITATIONS.--The typical Takelma house of split sugar pine boards was not square, but longer than wide, the floor, which was nothing more than the earth stamped smooth, being from a foot and a half to two feet below the surface of the ground. At the four corners of the rectangular depression were set upright posts, to which, on top, were lashed with hazel fiber four connecting crossbeams. The house wall was a neatly fitting series of boards, placed vertically, reaching from the top crossbeams to the floor. Above the top framework was raised a ridgepole supported (though this point remains somewhat obscure) on two uprights forked at the upper extremity. The "house boards" were then filled in from the top beam to the sides of the house. The door was not round, as was often the case farther to the north, but rectangular, and composed of two or three pieces of lumber put together. As the doorway was raised about three feet from the earth's surface, it was necessary to build up against the "house wall" an approach of earth to admit of entrance. Having crawled into the doorway, into which the door fitted by some sort of slide device, one reached the floor of the house by descending the ladder, consisting of a pole provided with notches for steps and extending from the doorway to the fireplace. This was in the center of the room, and the smokehole, which was here not identical, as in certain California underground sweathouses, with the door, was provided for by an opening in the roof at a distance of from six to seven feet from the floor. The beds consisted simply of mats of cattail rushes spread out on the ground about the fireplace, though it would seem that unmarried girls slept on raised wooden boards or platforms. Such was the winter house. In summer the Indians dwelt in a brush shelter built about a central fire. The poorer people, it should also be noted, had to content themselves with a house constructed of pine bark instead of lumber.
    The sweathouse of the Takelma was also a quadrangular only partly underground structure and covered over with earth. In one side was the door, while in another was an aperture to allow of the admittance of hot stones that had been heated on a brush fire outside the sweathouse. This firehole and the door were often kept closed so as to hold in the steam produced by pouring water on the hot stones. There was generally room enough in one of these sweathouses for six men, who often spent the whole night therein and then plunged into the cold river water in the morning. Since women were not permitted to enter the sweathouse, they were wont to sweat themselves in a small temporary stick structure covered over with blankets, the hot stones being steamed inside. It was not high enough to allow one to stand in it, and afforded room for only two or three women. After it had served its purpose it was taken to pieces and the blankets carried into the house. There was generally but one sweathouse to a village, and this was owned by one of the wealthier men or so-called chiefs, who could not easily refuse admittance to any adult. The fire was built by his servants, not at all necessarily slaves, but poor people who worked for him, dug camas for him in the proper season, and so on, and who were supported by him.
    CLOTHING--PERSONAL ADORNMENT--SHELLS.--In dress the Takelma were probably almost identical with their neighbors, the Shasta. The men wore shirts, deer skins as blankets, blankets of fawn skins being used for children, and buckskin leggings or trousers and moccasins, also belts worn over the leggings and tied in front, and sometimes made of elkskin. The women, at least among the wealthier class, wore buckskin shirts reaching to the knees, fringed with tassels made of a white grass. The hats of the men were made of bear or deer hide, the ears being often left on. The hats of the women, however, were round basket-hats twined of a white grass. My informant claimed that the Takelma did not themselves make these hats but got them from the Shasta by the purchase of wives. For purposes of ornamentation redheaded woodpecker's scalps were sewed on with sinew to strips of buckskin about four inches wide. These were worn about the head across the forehead and tied in back of the head, with strips hanging down behind. Another favorite ornament was the skin of an otter cut into strips. Depending from holes in these were often attached strings of dentalium shells. The strips were attached by women to the middle of the hair and allowed to hang down loose, the hair being parted straight in the middle and made to hang in two bunches. The ordinary method pursued by women in arranging the hair was to tie the two bunches to the sides of the head, but never to braid them. Medicine men also thus folded and tied their hair in two parts, otter skins and feathers hanging down as ornaments. These latter were chiefly the tail feathers of the eagle, redheaded woodpecker, and yellowhammer, and were never used except in the medicine dance; by ordinary people (yapa gamaxdi, "raw, uncooked people") they were not used at all except in the war dance. Still another ornamental device was the working of porcupine quills into buckskin as tassels.
    As regards mutilations designed for personal adornment, strings of shells were worn through holes in the ears and nose, but lip ornaments were never used. Three paints were employed for facial decoration--black, red, and white paint. The last of these was reserved for use in war, while red was the everyday color used by men and women alike. Perhaps the most striking ornamental device used by the Takelma was tattooing with needle and charcoal. Boys did not tattoo, but for girls it was considered proper to have three downward stripes tattooed on the chin--one in the middle and one on each side--as well as to tattoo the arms; in fact, girls who were not tattooed were apt to be derided as "boys." The tattooing of the men was rarely facial, but was generally confined to a series of marks on the left arm, reaching from the elbow to the shoulder. These were used, in a manner that reminds one of the Hupa custom, to measure strings of shells from the tip of the left hand. Each string had ten shells of exactly the same length, the strings of greater value having larger shells and thus reaching up to a higher tattoo mark. A string reaching clear up to the shoulder was accounted of the value of one hundred dollars, while one that reached midway between the elbow and the shoulder had a value of half that sum. It is interesting to note, in regard to the dentalium shells themselves, that they came by trade from the north, from a land, as the Indians believed, where dwelt sharp-mouthed people that sucked out the meat, and then cooked and ate it. Other shells besides dentalia were of course used for ornamental and semi-monetary purposes, such as the gos, a large highly valued rainbow-colored shell, and the ohop, half-black shells of bean-like shape employed in the ornamentation of women's shirts. A species of "Indian money" was the tsitgwix string, generally measuring from armtip to armtip and composed of round flat bone-like disks; these were often put about the necks and arms of the dead to be buried with them.
    NUMERAL SYSTEM.--In connection with the shell money of the Indians may be given the Takelma numeral system. On the surface it seems to be, and to all intents and purposes is, a decimal system, but on analysis of the words themselves betrays a simpler basis.
*    *    *
    Four is evidently nothing but "two two"; five can be plausibly analyzed as "being in front"; six, seven, eight, and nine are respectively equivalent to "one finger in," "two fingers in," "three fingers in," and "four fingers in" (provided -g represents an alternative, possibly older term for "four"); ten is "two hands" (cf. iux-dek, "my hand," and -dil, comitative suffix, "two together"); the numbers between the tens are the phrases "ten one on top of " (= ten above one), "ten two on top of," and so on; twenty is quite transparently "one person" (yapa, "person" + -mis, stem element for "one"), i.e., "two hands and two feet"; the higher tens are "three times ten," "four times ten," and so on; the first element of tei-mis, "hundred," is obscure, unless it is to be identified with ti- "male," in which case "one male person" as equivalent to "hundred" would in all probability have reference to the highest tattoo mark worn by men on the left arm, for a string of ten dentalia reaching up to it was worth a hundred single dentalium shells contained in a string of lowest value.
*    *    *
    SOCIAL ORGANIZATION.--The social organization of the Takelma was almost the simplest conceivable. Each village (wili gwala, "houses many"), and the villages were generally very insignificant, was entirely independent or practically so. Anyone who was comparatively wealthy could be called a "chief"; there does not seem to have been a recognized head chief, though in time of war some one man probably was so considered. Not to speak of a totemic clan organization, which is conspicuously absent in this Oregonian area, we do not here find even the belief in individual protectors or guardian spirits gained by fasting and dreaming during the performance of the puberty rites, that plays so important a part among the Chinookan tribes of the Columbia; among the Takelma only the medicine man possessed the power to gain such guardians. It seems then that the local village community is the only purely sociological grouping to be recognized among these Indians, excluding the nearly self-evident ones of rich and poor, freemen and slaves (obtained by capture or barter), and the family. It was not permitted to marry within the family, this rule operating so far as to prevent marriage between cousins, and it was forbidden for a man to marry the sister of his brother's wife. If a man died, his brother was compelled to marry the widow, no matter how many wives he already had (some men had as many as five). There was no well-defined rule against marriage within the village, but as it must very often have happened that practically all the residents of a village were related, it was customary to look beyond the village for a mate, and in many cases even to marry into some neighboring tribe of alien speech, like the Shasta or the Galice Creek Athabascans.
*     *     *
    Little could be discovered regarding naming, but the few names that were obtained (such as Datanelatgwat, "Squirrel-Tongued"; Gwisgwashan, cf. gwisgwas "chipmunk"; and Dialda, "On His Forehead") suggest that they were generally descriptive terms, as among the Maidu, and not like the obscure and apparently meaningless names current among the Chinook and the Wasco. Property seems to have been distributed among all the dead person's nearer relatives in both the collateral and succeeding generations. The practice of demanding blood money and remuneration even for comparatively slight personal injuries was well developed. Instead of retaliating, when a blow was received, it was not infrequently preferred to keep cool and say: "Give me money (dentalia), for you have struck me!"--a demand that was legally justified.
    In cases of more serious feuds the injured party often had recourse to the services of a so-called "go-between" who, after much persuasion and many threats of vengeance, prevailed upon the offender to pay an indemnity, the aggrieved party, to cement the new friendship, returning a nominal present. The proceedings, in which the whole community were interested spectators, was marked by a good deal of formality, the go-between, whose person was deemed inviolate, reporting the exact words of each party in the first person to the other and being addressed accordingly, while the interested parties themselves often said hardly a word, each being represented by an "answerer." Needless to say, the "go-between" was paid for his services out of the indemnity received. He ran rather than walked between the two parties, and was generally accompanied by his wife and another. The following account of the proceedings is literally translated from the native text:
    "(Let us suppose) people who are related to each other by their children's marriage [see number 22 of table of relationships] slay one another, then they must 'pay to one another each other's bones,' dead men's bones they pay. Dentalia it is that used to be termed 'dead men's bones.' And then they make speeches to one another and a go-between is hired. Now a certain one acts as go-between. 'Give me blood money, since you have slain me [i.e., my folks]!' people said to each other. Now he whose folks had been slain, that one hires the go-between. 'Give me of that kind [pointing to strings of dentalia]; give me 100 worth!' the slayer is told. But he is not willing. 'I will not give you anything; I shall even kill some more of your folks!' says the slayer. Then the go-between returns to the other party and recounts what he has been told. '"I'll give you no blood money!" he said to you,' says he. Then the go-between (adds): '"Not in that fashion (speak)!" that is what I said to him.' (Offended party:) 'Do not tell me that, since you have slain my folks just for nothing, though I did nothing to you. For no reason you have slain one of mine. My girl is dwelling yonder' [i.e., person whose folks were killed had given his daughter in marriage to one of other side]. Thus people spoke to one another in times long past. Then he returns to the other party. 'Just you give me blood money!' he says to you. I say: 'Too far will it go! People will yet be slain,' says the go-between. Then, recounting what he has been entrusted to say, the go-between tells him thus: 'These people whose relative has been slain have become grieved at heart.' That did people of long ago say to one another when they killed each other. And then once more the go-between returns to the other party. On this side he whose relative has been slain cries: 'Keep on going across! Many things he must give me,' says the injured party. So he returns to the other party. '"Just you give me many things!" he says to you,' says the go-between. 'Give him many things!' says the go-between. He says to the slayer: 'It goes too far. Yet shall people be slain; they will get even with you. Many people will be killed. So for that reason give him something!' says the go-between. Then he [the slayer] says: 'Yes! I shall give him something. Very well!' says the slayer. 'You shall not get even with me, I shall give you something; friends we are,' says the slayer. 'Some little thing do you also give me in return!' Now the go-between returns again and whoops, his heart has become glad. Now it is known that it is intended to give him something. Many people (are gathered together). Now he [the go-between] whoops. 'I give you blood money,' he says to you. 'Do you too give me a little bit!' he says to you. Then he relates to them what he has heard. A certain one [the 'answerer'] answers him: 'That's what he says.' Then they give each other blood money. Now on either side they proceed to each other and give each other (presents). The slayer gives most of all, while he (who has been injured) gives just a little bit. Thus in times long past people (acted) when they slew one another. And also the women on both sides gave each other many things. And the go-between also is given something, is given dentalia. On this side he whose relative has been slain does that; he it is who gives him dentalia. The slayer does not give him anything."
    WAR AND WAR IMPLEMENTS.--On the whole the Takelma seem to have been a rather warlike tribe, and perhaps their rapid extinction is due in part, at least, to the hostile relations in which they stood to the white settlers. The principal weapon of offensive warfare was of course the bow and arrow; the former was made of a single piece of wood, reached a width of about an inch and a half in the center, and was polished, like the arrow, with the rough weed, probably the "scouring rush." The tapering ends of the bow were notched to allow of the putting in of sinew, which was laid horizontally in several layers on the back of the bow over a glue consisting of steelhead salmon skin rubbed over it. Over the sinews black, red and white paints were laid in various geometric designs. The bowstring also was made of deer sinew. It is peculiar that among the Oregon coast Athabascans the bow was held vertically, while among the Takelma it was always held horizontally, the warrior holding an extra arrow in his mouth in readiness for the next shot. It was considered advisable, in order to render them more effective, to steep the flint arrowheads in rattlesnake blood. For defensive purposes were used elkhide hats, painted with decorative designs, and armor. The latter was composed of sticks of wood covered with two undressed hides of elk or buck sewn together and decorated, after the removal of the hair, with painted designs. The armor was without sleeves and reached only from the neck and below the arms down to the hips.
    The chief symbol of being on the warpath, outside of the characteristic white paint, was the tying of the hair tightly in back of the head; the phrase "he tied his hair tight" is synonymous in the myths with "he prepared for war." It was customary for women to participate in the war dance, and they often accompanied the men in the fight, watching the slaves and cooking for the warriors. It is remarkable that in the war dance (in which the brandishing of arrows seems to have been the chief element), as also in the menstrual and medicine dances, the drum was absolutely unknown, time being kept by stamping with the right foot. This is another of those points of detail which differentiated the Takelma from their Athabascan neighbors. The only musical instrument known to them, indeed, seems to have been a rude flute or fife made out of a dry reed of the wild parsnip. It was used for love ditties.
    PUBERTY AND MARRIAGE.--Of the dances just mentioned, perhaps the most important socially was the menstrual dance. At the time of the first courses, which ordinarily occurred at the age of thirteen, the girl's father invited his neighbors to a great feast for the space of five days, or rather nights (five was the mythical and ceremonial number of the Takelma). During this period the girl was not permitted to eat anything till midday, when an old woman came to her and directed her to run five times around two trees. After this she was allowed to eat, but forced to abstain from food again from about 4 o'clock in the afternoon to noon of the next day. As regards personal appearance, she had her bangs of hair cut off and painted herself with one red and four black stripes on each cheek. During these five days she was subject, of course, to a number of taboos. She was not permitted, for instance, to look at the sky or to gaze freely about her, and to ensure this a string of the bluejay's tail feathers tied on close together was put about the forehead of the girl and tied to the hair in back, an arrangement that effectually screened from her view everything about her. During this time also she was obliged to sleep with her head in a bon, a funnel-shaped basket such as was used in the pounding of acorns, the declared purpose being to prevent her from dreaming of the dead, a bad omen. During each of the five nights the menstrual round-dance and songs were performed. A circle was formed of alternating men and women with interlocked hands, while in the center stood the young girl (or rather young woman now), arrayed in all her finery of hair, nose, neck, ear and waist ornaments. The outer circle danced and sang around her, all following the song of the leader.
    Before marriage girls were not allowed to move about freely and were very carefully guarded by their parents. On the whole, marriages seem to have been determined upon by the parents of the parties concerned, often at a ridiculously early age, the personal likes or dislikes of these latter being apparently but little regarded. The Indians, not unlike a certain kind of white philosophers, claimed that a couple that did not love each other when first married learned, in course of time, to love each other best of all, and vice versa. A girl was always purchased for the boy with dentalia or the like by his father or other male relative, after which the bride proceeded with her folks to the bridegroom's house, the whole party dragging along a supply of exchange presents in the shape of baskets, women's hats, camas, dried salmon and other such household articles. No dances or singing formed part of the marriage ceremony. The person or persons who escorted the bride to her future husband's house were specifically referred to as tamyanwas (cf. tamayanwia, "people escort bride with presents for future husband"). The social status of the children depended very largely, of course, on the price paid for the mother, so that poor people's children were looked down upon as not much better than dogs. So young was sometimes the newly married girl, that instances are related of how she dared not, out of fear, speak to her husband, but sought every opportunity to escape from the house. It was customary for a newly married woman to rise very early and, before eating her breakfast, gather firewood for all of her husband's folks.
    The indebtedness of the husband to his father-in-law did not entirely cease with the initial purchase of the wife. Not infrequently the son-in-law, living perhaps in a far distant village, would load his canoe with presents of dried salmon or the like for his wife's parents, and visit them for a period in company with his wife. The word used to indicate this customary visit may be literally rendered "son-in-law arrives." After the birth of the first baby an additional price was paid to the girl's father in the shape of a deerskin sack filled with Indian money. This payment was considered as equivalent to the buying of the child and was metaphorically referred to as "making its pillow." For a month after childbirth the mother was forbidden the use of meat. At the expiration of this period the child was taken to the river and waved five times over the water as a sort of "baptismal" rite.
    MORTUARY CUSTOMS.--When a man died, he was decorated with dentalia and other Indian finery, wrapped in a deerskin blanket, and buried in the ground. Acorns were buried with him, and a great number of baskets were strewn over the grave which, it is almost needless to say, no one dared touch. The practice of killing slaves at the grave, a custom that obtained, at least on the death of a great chief, among the Wasco, was here unknown, nor was the custom of canoe burial in use. Widows bedaubed themselves with pitch and cut their hair close as signs of mourning, but widowers did not find it necessary to be so demonstrative. A man killed in war away from home could not be buried in the regular way; in such a case it was customary to burn off the flesh of the corpse, gather up the bones, take them home, and bury them there with the usual valuables."
Brooklyn,
    New York.
American Anthropologist, April-June 1907, pages 251-275  *This page has been extensively edited. Phonetic notation has been deleted or greatly simplified; refer to the link for Sapir's footnotes, Takelma vocabulary and accurate notation.



Last revised April 7, 2017