COOS BAY — New archaeological work at three locations in southern Oregon — including the newly-found sites of “Camp Castaway” and the Battle of Hungry Hill — will be presented at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, at the Coos Bay Public Library, 525 Anderson. Dr. Mark Tveskov and Chelsea Rose of the Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology will describe new evidence from 1852-1856 documenting interactions between new settlers, U.S. government troops and established tribal communities. The free event is jointly sponsored by the Coos County Historical Society and the Coquille Indian Tribe.
“Camp Castaway” was the first non-Indian settlement on Coos Bay. Dragoons shipwrecked on North Spit in 1852 survived in makeshift shelter with food and assistance from local tribes. This event triggered awareness of the bay and inspired extensive new settlement. The camp’s exact location was unknown until this year, when Dr. Tveskov and tribal representatives pinpointed the site and conducted excavations there documenting this historic interaction.
Last month, in the forested wilds southwest of Roseburg, Tveskov and his students found the previously unknown site of the Battle of Hungry Hill. This 1855 battle was the first of what became the Rogue River Wars. Official records are hazy and the location had been something of a mystery, perhaps because the failed surprise attack on an Indian village had lasted 36 hours and ended with government troops in retreat. The Battle of Hungry Hill was the first of many bloody encounters that led ultimately to the removal of most tribal members to the Grand Ronde and Siletz reservations.
Tveskov will also discuss recent work at Fort Lane, a U.S. Army post from 1853-1856. During the Rogue River Wars, tribal people being forcibly removed to reservations were temporarily held in the fort to prevent their escape, and to protect them from attack by new settlers. Excavations in the enlisted men’s barracks help us understand those men facing complex social and political issues on the western frontier.
The Southern Oregon Laboratory of Anthropology works in collaboration with federal and local agencies and Indian tribes to conducts archaeological research throughout southwest Oregon and give students practical experience in applied anthropology and cultural resource management.