Indian War Battle Trenches
Siskiyou National Forest, Oregon, 1996
by Gary (Tex) Martineck, Archaeologist
Big Bend, on the Rogue River near Agness, is the site of the final battle of the Rogue River Indian Wars of 1853–1856. At the end of the battle, the surviving Indians were removed to reservations on the northern Oregon coast, where their descendants live today.
Our research project attempted to verify and augment historical records, using the actual physical evidence of the battle. Activities included mapping, photography, documentation, and test excavations. One aspect of study was an attempt to reconstruct the historic environment, which has changed dramatically since the battle. Archaeologists from Oregon State University (OSU) and Siskiyou National Forest and members of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians were involved in project planning, assisted with archaeological excavations, and conducted the research with the aid of numerous volunteers.
Jeff Applen, retired Marine lieutenant colonel and graduate student at OSU, served as the principle investigator on the project. Forest archaeologists and cultural resource technicians were also on hand to work and learn along with the volunteers.
The volunteers found that working with professional archaeologists on this PIT project was fun and rewarding. They shared in new discoveries, learned about the science of archaeology, and met new friends. Their participation directly contributed to our understanding of the human story in the Pacific Northwest.
Site tours were provided for the public each day, and the response was outstanding! Well over 100 people visited the site during the nine-day project.
The project was highly successful in meeting all of its goals. The site was recorded, features and artifact locations were mapped, and the site was interpreted to the public. Future plans call for permanent interpretive facilities, improvement of accessibility for the public, and on-going protection of the site.