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A sketch of Kalapuya man from the 1840s
The Kalapuya (also Calapooia, Calapuya, Calapooya, Kalapooia, or Kalapooya) are a Native American ethnic group and are members of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon. The Kalapuya tribes' traditional homelands are the area of present-day western Oregonmarker in the United Statesmarker, spanning from the peak of the Cascade Mountains at the east to the Oregon Coast Range at the west, and from the Columbia River at the north to the Calapooya Mountainsmarker at the Umpqua River at the south.


The Kalapuya comprised eight related groups speaking three different languages of the Oregon Penutian family: Northern Kalapuyan, Central Kalapuyan, and Yoncalla (also called Southern Kalapuya). Their territory comprised the Willamette Valley, as well as the valley of the Umpqua River in Douglas Countymarker.

The Kalapuyan groups (identified by language) are:

In his description of the Indians of the Willamette Valley in 1849, Governor Joseph Lane gave the following estimates for the tribes' populations:"Calipoa": 60; "Tualatine": 60; "Yam Hill": 90; "Lucka-mues": 15.


The Kalapuya population was between 4,000 and 20,000 individuals before contact with whites, the introduction of the diseases of the whites were catastrophic to the Kalapuya people. Pre-contact epidemics of unknown quantity and effect and the smallpox epidemic that raged through the Pacific Northwest in 1782-83 may have caused the death of half the bands' population. Malaria likewise swept the region between 1830 and 1833. Ninety percent of the Kalapuya population died of these diseases. The Kalapuya were greatly weakened by the time whites began to show up in numbers in the Willamette Valley in the middle of the nineteenth century. Explorers stated that villages were found in the Willamette Valley devoid of inhabitants, standing as testament the incredible devastation by diseases.


In Oregon there were two main treaty cycles which concerned the Kalapuya, those in 1851 and those in 1854-1855. The 1851 treaties were negotiated by Oregon Indian Superintendent Anson Dart, and those in 1855 by Dart's successor Joel Palmer. The 1851 treaties were never ratified, but those in 1854-1855 were ratified.

On April 12, 1851, at the Santiam Treaty Council in Champoeg, Oregon Territorymarker, the leaders of the Santiam Kalapuya tribe expressed strong opinions over where they were to live. The Santiam leaders Alquema and Tiacan maintained their desires to remain on their traditional territory, between the forks of the Santiam River. The following is a transcript of a portion of the negotiations.

Tiacan said, they were friendly to the whites and had always been and that they were willing to do as their Great Father (President of the USA) wished and part with all of their lands, except a small portion, that they wished to reserve to live upon, feed their horses and cattle and cultivate.

The Board asked if they would be willing to remove beyond the Cascade Mountains provided our Government would give them as good a piece of land there and pay all of their expenses in the removal.

They all answered decidedly “No.” Alquema said they had once been a great people but now they had decreased to nothing, and in a short time the whites would have all their lands, without their removing.

[after a night for consideration]

It was time to get the exact boundaries of the territory claimed by the tribe… They claim from a point on the Wallamette River called Butte [at Butteville near Champoeg] ; thence up the Wallamette River to a point about 15 miles above the mouth of the Kallapooya River, for a western boundary, thence East in a direct line to the foot of the Cascade Range to a point East of the head waters of the Moo-lal-le River, for an Eastern boundary; thence, west in a line about midway between Moo-lal-le river and Butte Creek that empties into Pudding River until within about five miles of the mouth of the Moo-lal-le River, where the line turns, and runs about southwest to the place of beginning for a northern boundary….The Tribe appeared willing to make a Treaty, selling all their lands, except that between the forks of the Santiam, which they wished to reserve.

Gov. Gaines asked if a reserve could be made there without taking the claims occupied by white Settlers.

It was said it could not be done.

Gov Gaines [stressed again removing beyond the Cascades for the good of the tribe]

Alquema objected to removing, said that they could now see that they had thrown away their country; but that they wanted to keep this piece of land as their reserve.

…Tiacan, said their hearts were upon that piece of land, and they didn’t wish to leave it.

[another night of consideration]

The Hanshoke [Ahantchuyuk] people… decided to unite with the main tribe… and acknowledge the chiefs as their chiefs…

Alquema said they had thought over it and they had determined to reserve the country between the forks of the Santiam and that all the Indians would go together into this reserve.

Alquema- “We don’t want any other piece of land as a reserve than that in the forks of the Santiam river. We do not wish to remove.”

In the Treaty of Calapooia Creek, Oregon, (November 29, 1854), the Umpqua and Kalapooian tribes of Umpqua Valley ceded their lands to the United States.

In the Treaty with the Kalapuya, etc. at Dayton, Oregonmarker, (January 22, 1855), the Calapooya and other tribes of the Willamette valley ceded the entire drainage area of the Willamette River.


Most Kalapuya Indians were removed to the Grand Ronde Agency and reservation, although some ended up at Siletz Reservation, Warm Springs Reservation or Yakama Reservation. Grand Ronde Reservation was settled in 1855 as a temporary reserve and was then called the Yamhill River Reserve or Yamhill Valley reserve. It was officially renamed and set aside as a reservation as the Grand Ronde Reservation in 1857 by Executive Order.

Life at Grand Ronde was difficult for the tribes, with at least 27 tribes removed to Grand Ronde. Some tribes had been historical enemies. The reservation was managed by the Department of War, and Fort Yamhillmarker was established to oversee the Indians. Later management was taken over by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and still later by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

There was a day school established at Grand Ronde which was managed and taught by the Catholic Church under United States approval. The day school was an on-reservation boarding school where children were at times forcibly removed to and made to stay at school throughout the school year. Many children were later sent to off-reservation Indian boarding schools, like Chemawamarker in Salemmarker. Most children were taught only service work like blacksmithing, farming, sewing, etc at the boarding schools.

The First Catholic missionary to establish a church, St. Michaels, was Rev. Adrien Croquet (Crocket), of Belgiummarker.

Sanitation (health care) at the reservation was poor, and by the 1890s, an estimated 97% of western Oregon Indians had died. At 1900 there were about 300 Indians at Grand Ronde, from the original 1,000 that had been removed to the reserve.

Termination and restoration

All of the bands and tribes of the Kalapuya descendants were terminated in 1954 along with all other western Oregon tribes, in the Western Oregon Indian Termination Act of 1954. Final termination occurred with most lands of the reservation sold, all services removed, and final rolls published in the Congressional record in 1956.

The Kalapuya descendants were restored through the restoration of the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz (1977) and Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon (1983).


The descendants of the Kalapuya tribes and bands married extensively into other tribes throughout the northwest and within the reservation, and most now have multiple native ancestries. Most Kalapuya descendants are enrolled at The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon. There are an estimated 4,000 Kalapuya descendants.

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