Infrared Landscapes Related to the Rogue River Wars of 1851-56
Between 1851 and 1856 Southern Oregon witnessed one of the bloodiest and longest conflicts between Native Americans and the combined forces of the U.S. Army and local militia west of the Mississippi. Fighting festered and flared up multiple times over those five years, a period marked by the sudden influx of miners when gold was discovered on Josephine and Jackson creeks in the early 1850s, as well as pioneer settlers from the Midwest and East answering the call of the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850. The various native groups who had lived here for hundreds of years resented this sudden usurpation of their lands and resisted with sporadic violence against isolated miners and settlers, who formed "volunteer militias" in defense, some openly bent on "exterminating" the local tribes. The U.S. Army tried to stay out of the conflict in the early years, but after a while enough whites were being killed the Army had no choice but to step in more forcefully in 1855, and despite a few embarrassing defeats, they forced the Rogues onto a newly formed reservation on the Central Coast.
Too few Oregonians are aware of this tragic period in their state's history--the Rogue River Wars have been overshadowed in the history books by less bloody but more notorious conflicts with some of the northern and eastern tribes (i.e., the Nez Perce, the Cayuse and Piautes, the Bannocks, and the Modocs). In adopting this photographic project, I hoped to not only learn more about this singular episode in Oregon's past, but also to help viewers of my photographs learn and imagine it for themselves.
Keywords:indian, infrared, rogue
© Rich Bergeman Photography