Presented by Rich Bergeman and David Harrelson

Recorded October 26, 2020

For centuries, the territory we now call southern Oregon was home to Indigenous Tribes who remained largely unaffected by America’s western migration. But in 1851, their world was suddenly and violently upended when the discovery of gold and the opening of Indian territory to white settlement brought a surge of miners and settlers, igniting years of bloody conflicts that culminated in 1856 with their forced removal onto reservations at Grand Ronde and Siletz, a removal that included Oregon’s own “Trail of Tears.”

The southern Oregon landscape has seen many changes in the century and a half since the Rogue River Wars raged through the region. Despite being one of the longest and bloodiest of all the Indian wars in the West, it remains largely forgotten today. But the land endures, and much remains to take the observant traveler back in time.

With commentary by David Harrelson, Cultural Resources Department Manager for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Corvallis photographer Rich Bergeman revisits the landscape where the conflict tore through the fabric of both Indigenous and settler communities over 160 years ago. His black-and-white infrared photographs offer a hauntingly beautiful homage to a history forgotten.

David Harrelson is the Cultural Resources Department Manager for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. He is a Grand Ronde tribal member from the Bean-Menard-Sengretta family. He was raised by a mountaineer and grandparents who worked in education and healthcare. Among his lineal Oregon ancestors of recent memory, he counts the owner of a logging company, a mobile butcher, chief of police, and Kalapuya headman. A graduate of Lewis & Clark College with a bachelor of arts in history, his research interests include ethnobotany, contact era Pacific Northwest history, and traditional land management through the use of fire. He has worked in the field of cultural resources for ten years and before that worked as a wildland firefighter.

Rich Bergeman is a Corvallis photographer who has exhibited his work throughout the Northwest for nearly forty years, a pursuit started while teaching journalism and photography at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany. Now retired, he focuses on retelling forgotten episodes of Northwest history through photographs of what’s been left behind. He has published and exhibited projects on the lost homesteads of the Fort Rock Basin, early immigrant settlements in the Oregon Coast Range, Willapa Bay ethnographer James Swan, and vanishing traces of frontier life in eastern Oregon and Washington. His most recent work is The Land Remembers: Photographs Inspired by the Rogue River Wars of Southern Oregon, 1851–56.