CORVALLIS - A book called the only complete record of American Indians in southwestern Oregon - and which describes how they fell victim in the 1850s to disease, prejudice, technology and vices - has been reissued by the Oregon State University Press.
"Requiem for a People: The Rogue Indians and the Frontiersmen" was first published 25 years ago by the Oklahoma Press. Written by Stephen Dow Beckham, it is the latest addition to OSU's Northwest Reprints series.
Beckham, a professor of history at Lewis and Clark College, sought to relate the Indians' view of regional history, from the Rogue peoples' first contacts with whites to the removal of their remaining tribal members in 1856 to the Siletz Reservation.
Within a half dozen years after contact with Euro-Americans, the Rogue peoples' numbers had dwindled from an estimated 9,500 to about 2,000.
Wrote Beckham in his preface: "As I stood there, listening, absorbing, and looking up at the timbered hills above the Big Bend of the Rogue, I determined to find some day the full history of that land and its long-vanished people. The story was found and it had to be written."
Beckham also points out the impact on the environment that white settlers had, especially when mining began. The changing activities upset the ecological balance of the area, driving Indians from their homes and to the brink of starvation.
The historical record provided by Beckham is useful as a framework for understanding events in the region today, said Jo Alexander, managing editor of the OSU Press.
"By helping readers to better understand the early history of Indian-white relations in the region, Beckham's book sheds light on contemporary events in the West, such as Sen. (Mark) Hatfield's recent proposal to transfer Bureau of Land Management timber land to southern Oregon's Coquille tribe."
The reissued "Requiem for a People" is available from book stores and libraries, or can be ordered directly from the OSU Press for $15.95 plus shipping and handling. For more information, call the press at 541-737-3166.
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Tom Booth, 503-282-9801