Captain John C. Fremont Clashes With Klamath Indians
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
By Amy Couture
Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson
Fremont-Winema National Forest, between Klamath Falls and Lakeview, is named for John C. Fremont, a U.S. army captain and explorer. Fremont led two expeditions into Southern Oregon in the 1840s, seeking a legendary “Buenaventura River” that supposedly connected the Great Basin to San Francisco Bay.
In 1843, Fremont’s party moved south from Fort Vancouver to the marshes north of Klamath Lake. Spotting smoke rising from a Klamath Indian village one quiet December afternoon, Fremont announced his presence by firing a howitzer. The smoke was extinguished immediately. Later that week, two Klamath guides led Fremont’s party through the snow toward today’s Lakeview.
Three years later, Fremont returned with Kit Carson as guide. After a group of unidentified Indians attacked their camp in the middle of the night, Carson and Fremont retaliated by raiding the Klamath’s largest village. The men under Fremont’s command killed at least 21 people that day, including women and children, and burned the community’s 50 dwellings and its fish racks. The village, called Dokdokwas, at the mouth of the Williamson River where it enters Klamath Lake, was never rebuilt.
Today’s Fremont-Winema National Forest encompasses most of the original Klamath Indian land.
Today’s episode of As It Was was written by Amy Couture, the program producer is Raymond Scully. I’m Shirley Patton. As It Was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. To share stories or learn more about the series, visit asitwas – dot.org.
: Fremont, John Charles. Narratives of Exploration and Adventure. Allan Nevins, ed. New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1956; Fremont Winema National Forest Website. Internet: www.fs.fed.us/r6/frewin
. Accessed 12/5/2010; Sides, Hampton. Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West. New York: Doubleday, 2006.