Return to Oregon’s Past with Tracie Peterson

We Fillies are thrilled to have author Tracie Peterson with us today to talk about another of her wonderful books and a fascinating slice of Oregon history. Welcome, Tracie!

The last book in my Heart of the Frontier series, Cherished Mercy, debuts this month, and I found myself revisiting research that I did for this series and in particular for this final installment. Cherished Mercy takes place in the Oregon Territory, as did the other books in the series.

However, most of the area where Cherished Mercy takes place is in the Rogue River and coastal area of Southern Oregon. To research the area, I took a trip to the Rogue River, enjoyed a wonderful river tour and took lots of notes and pictures. I read various books about the Rogue River Indians and the conflicts that took place there during the 1850s. After starting the series with the Cayuse attack on the Whitman Mission near present day Walla Walla, Washington, I thought it interesting to contrast the end of the series with the attacks of the whites on many of the various Native American tribes in the Rogue River area.

The Rogue River is a fertile, lush area that provided not only fishing for the native peoples, but also revealed a bit of gold which caused the white settlers to pursue the area in hopes of finding riches. As is often the case, this didn’t prove as bountiful as the miners had hoped. However, it turned up the heat on the already tense relationship between the native tribes and the whites.

There were multiple tribes who called the Rogue River home, but people tended to lump them together as the “Rogue River Indians.” I chose to deal with the Takelma who lived on the Rogue River near Agness.

You can see from this map, however, that there were many tribes that lived along the Rogue River.

The Takelma were an interesting people, not so unlike many of their neighboring tribes. They lived in houses that were dug about halfway into the ground and made of split sugar-pine wood.  Here’s an illustration showing how the natives in this area lived. Often, we think of Native Americans and teepees come to mind, but there were so many different varieties of housing.

Acorns were of immense importance to the Takelma. They used these as a staple in their eating and made flour from them. Camass root and fish were also staples of their diet, but manzanita berries were an all-time favorite.  I did my best to weave in elements of their life and culture in Cherished Mercy.

Sadly, the Rogue River Indian Wars saw our government make big pushes toward the forced reservation system for the American Indian tribes. The Rogue River tribes were moved from a lush forested area along the river where they had fertile soil and plenty of game and fish to live on to an arid, open area of Oregon that was nothing like what they had known. It was called “The Second Trail of Tears.” Thousands would later die of disease, exposure and malnutrition.  It’s a sad time in our history.

I hope my readers will enjoy the conclusion of the series. I’ve loved this little corner of history and I’ll share a secret. I’m already thinking about a second related series dealing with the next generation from these families. I think it’s important that we learn from our history, but also that we cherish and honor it. Every element is important to who we are today and through stories like this, I hope to keep that history alive.

Tracie is offering a great prize to one of today’s commenters. The gift basket contains not only all three books in her Heart of the Frontier series but also some awesome Montana goodies.

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67 thoughts on “Return to Oregon’s Past with Tracie Peterson”

  1. I’ve been to the Rogue River!! I live on the Oregon coast but up North almost as far as you go. I love reading historical books set in my State and learning new things about it through fiction. I’ve had my eye on these new ones Tracie, they look and sound really good. Thanks for the awesome prize package giveaway!

    Your post is a little history lesson in itself 🙂

  2. What great research. You are right, we instantly think teepees when we think of Indian abodes. Cool to see a picture of this different lodging! I’ll have to visit Rogue River some day.

  3. Knowing the truth of history is one of the reasons I love teaching American history to my 3rd and 4th graders. It amazes them every year when we discuss the different homes of the Native American peoples and the places with Native names in America. Thanks for all your research and work.

  4. I enjoyed your post today. I have never been to that part of the country, but have seen so many pretty pictures from the area and heard so many wonderful stories. Your post really makes me want to visit there even more. Thank you for the history lesson as well and the book recommendations!

  5. Thank you for the history of The Rogue Indian tribes. I always thought teepees and enjoyed seeing how their housing looked. Your series sounds wonderful. Look forward to reading your books.
    Carol Luciano

  6. Thank you for all your research and for such an interesting blog. I’d want to do what you did in going to the area you were writing about for the feel of the place to make it a character in your story. I’m always excited to read about westward pioneers and also generally heartbroken over what happened to native peoples. Thanks for the chance to win your books.

  7. Very interesting post love this type of history. I never new that acorns was used for such things. I always thought they were just good squirrel food. Love your books and can’t wait to read this series.

    • Thanks, Elaine. Accuracy in books always enhances them for me. I love it when authors take their time to really dig into the reality of what happened.

  8. This sounds like a great series. I have read some of Tracie’s books and loved them. Thank you for the chance to win this wonderful basket of goodies.

    • The history was fascinating and there were many first person accounts in the form of diaries and interviews. Makes the story come alive when I can get that kind of research.

  9. Great article! Love learning about the different Native American tribes. Thank you for sharing your research. Please enter me in the drawing. 🙂

  10. I wasn’t familiar with the Rogue River so I found your post to be very interesting. I especially liked your comment that “it’s important that we learn from our history, but also that we cherish and honor it”. Officials in Lexington, KY have decided to move two statues of people involved in the Civil War because of their ties to the Confederacy. Hopefully, we all have learned that everyone is equal but, whether or not they keep those statues, slavery and the abolition of slavery will always be a part of our history! And so will the The Trail of Tears!!
    Thanks for your giveaway.

    • Yes, Connie, so true. Our ancestors made some incredibly brilliant decisions, as well as incredibly stupid ones. But hindsight is always 20/20. However, burying our past or rewriting it won’t change the fact that it happened. I think we need to remember it all and learn from it.

  11. Welcome, Tracie. Your books were very popular when I worked at the library. The history you present and the stories you weave give a good insight into the early settlement of the West. I always made sure you new book was pre-ordered and we kept a request list for them. This series highlights a beautiful part of our country and a sad part of its history.
    We hope to visit the area in the next few years. The river tour sounds like a must for us. This series, and the next generation series when it is written, will accompany me. I always bring books set in the places we visit. It brings the books to life and makes what we see mean a bit more.

    • Patricia, I hope you do travel to the area and take the boat tour. The folks there are all awesome and knew so much about the area. Prices were reasonable too. I love our libraries and do a lot of speaking engagements at them. Thanks for having served there. Librarians are some of my favorite people.

  12. I spent a short time in Montana and loved it. It is truly beautiful country.

    I never heard about the “Second Trail of Tears”, thank you for sharing.

    I would love to be entered in your giveaway. The basket alone is beautiful then all the goodies makes it so precious. Thank you for the chance to win it.

    Cindy W.

    • Montana is an amazing place. So much variety in scenery and people. Thankfully, we’re now getting rain (snow in the higher elevations), and our forest fires are being put out.

  13. I just loved this blog. Again, I’m learning more from a blog and a writer than I ever learned in a classroom about history. I’ve yet to read one of your books and I would love to add you to my list of go to authors. I’m on my 79th book since late October. I hadn’t read in decades until then, between children working and then developing a huge concentration problem aftee the onset of MS. I was blessed to have a friend send me a book to read and review and was amazed to find I was at a point I could concentrate again. Now I’m devouring books as fast as I can!

    • Stephanie, I too have MS and I understand about concentration issues. Reading is a great way to keep the mind engaged, so keep it up. Hope you get a chance to read the series. I’d love to add you to my readers.

    • The beauty of their coast can’t be beat and the people there are awesome. I recommend going in late July when all the berries are ripe and the roadside stands are everywhere. Such wonderful berries!

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