For centuries, the territory we now call Southern Oregon was home to a collection of indigenous tribes who remained largely unaffected by America's western migration. But in 1851, their world was suddenly and violently upended when the discovery of gold and the opening of Indian territory to white settlement brought a surge of miners and settlers, igniting years of bloody conflicts that culminated in 1856 with their forced removal onto reservations at Grand Ronde and Siletz, a removal that included Oregon's own “Trail of Tears.”
The Southern Oregon landscape has seen many changes in the century and a half since the Rogue River Wars raged through the region. Despite being one of the longest and bloodiest of all the Indian wars in the West, it remains largely forgotten today. But the land endures, and much remains to take the observant traveler back in time.
With commentary by David Harrelson, Cultural Resources Department Manager for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Corvallis photographer Rich Bergeman will revisit the landscape where the conflict tore through the fabric of both indigenous and settler communities over 160 years ago. His black-and-white infrared photographs offer a hauntingly beautiful homage to a history forgotten.