OSU Libraries | OSU Home

Requiem for a People

The Rogue Indians and the Frontiersmen

Stephen Dow Beckham

Northwest Reprints

5-1/2 × 8-3/4 inches. Illustrated. Bibliography. Index. 232 pages.

1996. ISBN 978-0-87071-521-1. Paperback, $17.95.

Stephen Dow Beckham's classic history of southwestern Oregon's Rogue River Indian wars is the only complete record of the region's Native Americans and the destruction of their ages-old lifeways in the 1850s. It tells of the penetration of their land by fur seekers, explorers, overland emigrants, and miners. The book identifies the ecological consequences of these incursions and documents the efforts of the Indians to hold on to their old villages and food resources.

Requiem for a People opens with sketches of the Rogue country--a rugged landscape of mountains and river canyons--and describes the traditional lifeways of its first people. Throughout his study, Beckham strives to relate the Indian view of the tragic history which unfolded with the boom of gold rush and the scramble for donation land claims. Ninety-five hundred strong when Euro-Americans first began to settle on their land, the Indians fell victim to the forces of these newcomers-their diseases, vices, tools, technology, and prejudice. Within six years, only two thousand survived.

In addition to chronicling this painful story, Beckham identifies the consequences of white settlement and mining. What had been a land of abundance -- fields rich with seeds and lilies, wild game, timber, and streams filled with life-sustaining fish -- endured significant upset, driving the Indians from their homes and to the brink of starvation. The book also confirms the failure of federal Indian policy in Oregon, a dismal record of wars, ineffective treaties, and extension of "trust responsibility" to the natives.

Requiem for a People was first published by the University of Oklahoma Press in 1971 and is still the only scholarly treatment of this subject. Twenty-five years later, the Oregon State University Press is proud to add this popular and acclaimed volume to its Northwest Reprints series.

Member of AAUP