Tseriadun Native Salmon Bake and Honor Ceremony is an annual, living history event that honors the indigenous people of our area. The US Army fort at Port Orford played a pivotal role in the Rouge Indian War and the removal of the First People of Southwest Oregon. This is a time for everyone to come together to pay tribute to those who lived here, the spirits of the old ones, and all who traveled the trail of tears to Siletz. It is a time to share stories, music, food and memories, so our history won’t be forgotten.
Rick Cook has played an important role in getting this event established at Tseriadun State Recreation Site, which was formerly a Quatomah Village. This site has been inhabited for several thousand years. The Honor Ceremony -Salmon Bake originally started in 1993, at the Port Orford Heads, as Rick explains in the video. It was moved to Tseriadun (which in Athabaskan means “the place that sticks out” like the point) in 2005. Many more details are in the video:
Tseriadun and the Rogue Wars
Tseriadun was an inhabited Quatomah village when Captain Tichenor arrived in early summer 1851. It was inhabited for at least 7000 years until 1856, when its population was removed to the Coast Reservation at Siletz.
The Rogue Wars started October 1855 and ended when Chief John Tecumtum surrendered to Capt Edward Ord at Rinehart Creek July 2, 1856. In several different groups, captive Southwest Oregon Indians were brought to Fort Orford over the last few weeks of the war. They were garrisoned at Tseriadun, hence the name Garrison Lagoon/Lake, adjoining the encampment.
At 2 in the morning of June 20, 1856, the steamship Columbia dropped anchor in the harbor. Later that day, approximately 670 people were loaded in to the Columbia, a ship meant to only hold 100 passengers, and sailed north.
On July 8, after more native prisoners had been brought to Fort Orford, a second voyage of the Steamer Columbia took away about 700 more individuals. Tecumtum and 125 of his band were not included.
“Old John” Tecumtum, as the Whites called him, was the last warrior chief to surrender after his standoff at Big Bend on the Rogue River. While in captivity at Tseriadun, Capt. Ord took pity on John’s band. It is said Ord brought down a steer and slaughtered it to feed the starving people. As punishment for his resistance, Tecumtum and his band were force marched north to the Coast Reservation. Because of the terrain, the grueling march took nearly a month.
According to Oregon Historian, Stephen Dow Beckham, the Native population of Southwest Oregon was conservatively estimated at 9,500 in 1851. Only 1943 survivors were counted at the Coast Reservation in 1857.
Prior to the coming of Euro-Americans, Tseriadun was a place of life and peace. Each day, fires were built, food was prepared, children were raised, stories were told and songs were sung. Without forgetting the sorrow brought to the village, we should also remember and honor life before. The spirits of the old ones are still at Tseriadun. When there, if we try, we can feel their presence and share their memories.
Modoc Earl shares a story with the group before everyone enjoys the salmon that has been prepared in a Yurok way of cooking, on Redwood stakes, taught by Yurok Elder Grant Pilgrim. Earl is Modoc, Shasta, and one of the bands of Pit River.
And Uncle Speedy shares one last story before the meal is served.
More Photos of the event at Tseriadun 2019
Photos and More From Earlier Years
The following is a 2008 Newspaper article about our Tseriadun Ceremony.
Port Orford Today
May 22, 2008
Indian Honor Ceremony
By Ron Daves
Last Sunday at Tseriadun Day Use Park, people started arriving at about 8am. The crowd continued to grow until about 10, when we heard the boom, boom, boom coming our way from where the crowd was gathering. From our camp host’s motor home, we could see men digging a hole in the lawn.
Normally, this would be the harbinger of a big problem for a camp host. However, this was a gathering of several of our Indian tribes having an “Honor Ceremony and Salmon Bake”. The organizer had cleared the gathering and digging of a fire pit with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. There were people of Indian heritage from Confederated Tribe of Siletz Indians, which includes the Tututin and Takelma Tribes. Also attending were people from the Coos, Coquille and Karuk.
We sauntered into the crowd and found ourselves in a “Friendship Circle”, where everyone joined hands and rotated in a clockwise direction to the cadence demanded by the drum beats. Next, the circle broke into two lines and the lines proceeded to pass one-another with each person shaking hands with the person across from him. Nice way to interact with everyone.
Following that, an Elder, Gilbert Towner, 79 years of age, from Idaho, called everyone to an “Elder-Speak” gathering, Mr. Towner, known as “Enselsun”, and 84-year old Aggie Pilgrim spoke to the respectful group about loving one another and respecting our rivers and streams, among other uplifting subjects.
Aggie Pilgrim told of her world travels with 12 other grandmothers from various countries. This group of 13 grandmothers has spoken worldwide, even to the Pope, about respecting our rivers and streams and not turning them into garbage dumps.
Next, the Wild Salmon, which was cooked on sticks by the fire in the hole the men had dug, was served together with fry bread. We had eaten lunch shortly before the salmon was served, so we took our fish home for dinner. It was delicious. This was a great day for myself and my wife, Sandra, to enjoy these gentle people and to experience their history and customs.