Annual Tseriadun Native Salmon Bake And Honor Ceremony

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.

“Chief John” Tecumtum
Tecumtum means “Elk Killer”

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

Willie and the canoe he handcrafted from cedar. Photo by Karen Cooley Jennings.

The incredible salmon meal prepared in the Yurok tradition. Doug Barrett and the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians donated the fish for the occasion. this year.
Also thanks to Nick Hensley and his crew for donating the Alder for the fire.

Photos and More From Earlier Years

Grant and Aggie Pilgrim co- founders of the Port Orford Salmon Bake and Honor Ceremony in 1993. This photo was taken on Fort Point. Grant and Aggie led prayer in remembrance of the Natives who died at battle Rock. Grant was Lower Klamath and Yurok. Grant Pilgrim passed in 1996. We still cook the salmon the way he taught us.

The Port Orford Curse
As the story goes, a young local native came to town to visit his mother, who was living near the fort, (probably the village at Tseriadun). When a group of white miners saw him. They believed he was a “trouble maker” responsible for raids on their camps. The miners made prisoner of the young man and took him to Battle Rock where he was lynched. His mother attempted to come to his aid, begging the mob to let her son go. As they hung the boy from a tree on the Rock, his mother stood on Fort Point and chanted a curse on the town.

Shiela Jim Rich this was one of the coolest trips we went on!

Posted by Becky Gaines on Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Preparing and blessing the cedar log that will become the Cow Creek Canoe at Tseriadun, May, 2014. Video by Becky Gaines. Jim Rich on the chainsaw. Earl and David Huitt drumming.

Naming ceremony of Cow Creek’s new canoe, “Nahankuatana”, at Tseriadun Honor Ceremony, Nahankuatana is a prehistoric tribal entity of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians.

There hadn’t been an Indian Canoe on Garrison Lake since Port Orford Jakie plied his, back at the turn of the 20th century. Willie Towner, descendent of Mackanotin (Mikono-tunne) Rogue River people, along with Coos, Coquille, Warmsprings and Cow Creek Canoe Families reintroduced Native canoes to the lake in 2013.
Port Orford Jakie
Chemetunne ( North Mouth of Rogue River)
Jakie lived in Port Orford in the early 1900’s. Old time Locals recalled him paddling his dugout canoe on Garrision Lake.

Warm Springs Canoe, Coquille Canoe in background, Garrison Lake, 2013

Fire and Feather Dance at Port Orford Dock Beach night before Tseriadun Honor Ceremony/Salmon Bake

Klamath Bear Dance

Aggie Pilgrim and Gilbert Towner
At Tseriadun 2008

Speedy Fry teaches Samantha Fox about cooking salmon. Tseriadun 2008

Drumming 2008
Katrina Fox, Eric Chouinard, John Mienin and Mike Vaughn

Bill Van Pelt and Kyle Towner Preparing Fish 2011

Returning Salmon Bones to the Ocean at Agate Beach, Tseriadun State Park
Crystal Shade (Tutuni/Tolowa) Returns Salmon bones

Shiela and Jim Rich ( Cow Creek) at Agate Beach, Tseridaun State Park

Kyle Towner and Catherine Dupaquier
making a cedar bark mat to put the fish bones on

” Putt’er Over Thar”
Moving tables at Tseriadun, Rick Cook, Gary Wickham and Bill Van Pelt

Aggie Pilgrim and Speedy Fry checking the fish, Bev Fry, Gilbert Towner and Bill Van Pelt
In the background, 2003 Heads Wayside State Park.

Grandma Aggie, 2003 Heads Wayside State Pork
Sitting next to Aggie is Bev Fry and then Gilbert Towner
Foncy Prescott standing

Going Sunwise, Barry Joyce and grandson Malakai, Tim Lobato, Dallas Socia, Katrina Fox and Rodney Fisher,  2003, Heads Wayside State Park.

 2003, Heads Wayside State Park.

Donny and Victor Fry Standing, unidentified person talking with Gilbert Towner
A little colder day at the Heads Wayside State Park
Everyone is sittin closer to the fire.

Jerry Hall drum with Dallas Socia, Rick Cook, Susan Parker and Nalen Hall
Port Orford Heads State Park 2001
Drawn by visiting artist Willow Zheng

Grandma Agnes Baker Pilgrim
She is the oldest member of her tribe, the Takelma . She is also the Granddaughter of Jack Harney, the first elected Chief of the Confederated Tribe of Siletz. For over 15 years Grandma Aggie led the Ceremony, first on the Port Orford Heads and later at Tseriadun.

Our beloved Agnes Baker Pilgrim has gone on to join the creator and her ancestors. She crossed over Wednesday November 27, 2019. Please bless her journey with prayers from the heart. May our love make her journey smooth. Love to her children, grandchildren, and many relatives.

Our Honored Elder Enselsun Gilbert Towner
Enselsun Gilbert Towner was born Dec. 12, 1929, to Leslie and Louise Towner at Siletz, Ore.,
Gilbert’s great-grandfather, Enselsun, was War Leader of the Tututni in the Rogue Wars. “Family members have served in WWI and WWII. We uphold the tradition of my great-grandfather, we are Americans.” Sergeant Towner was a Korean War Marine, surviving the Chinese Spring Offensive at the Chosin Reservoir.
Gilbert attended and oversaw the Tseriadun Honor Ceremony and Salmon Bake for 14 years.
He was fluent in his Tututni/Mackanotin Language, giving classes to Lower Rogue and
Coquille tribal Members.
He sadly crossed over in 2009. We certainly miss him.

Our friend Bill
We miss you!

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.

Photo by Rebecca Malamud

“Honoring Those Who Came Before Us”

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  1. Noch.nos.sia a.k.a. Willie Towner

    Thluke’ hemutz ne’ itsla….( we should never give up on our spiritual journey! ) Thank you for your time n efforts in creating this footage. We have soooooooo much more to offer and share. Especially about #REALHISTORY !! #wearestillhere

  2. Looking forward!

    • Cathy Boden

      Thank you Rick for capturing this continuing story. It has been such an honor to be welcomed to participate.

  3. You are Welcome Cathy. We appreciate You and John’s support of this event. For me, it has also been an honor and privilege to be part of this.

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