Memorial Nearly Complete

By Jayati Ramakrishnan, The Curry Coastal Pilot

Published Oct 25, 2016 at 07:35PM

The Chetco Indian Memorial, tucked away at the end of the Port of Brookings Harbor boardwalk, will be a lot more visible now — the structures are up, and the memorial is one step closer to being complete.

“We just finished construction this week,” said Lynda Timeus, president of the Chetco Indian Historical Memorial Committee. “It represents a Chetco village — three plank houses and a sweat lodge.”

The memorial is not quite finished, however — with funding, the committee hopes to add panels with historical information about the structures and about the Chetco Indians.

“The goal is to tell the story of the Chetco through words and pictures,” said Adrienne Crookes of the historical committee.

The council hopes to add interpretive panels, a statue of Chetco Indian Lucy Dick — the last known full-blooded Chetco Indian to live in the area — and some native plants.

“Just getting these structures on the ground was a big goal,” said Megan England of the historical committee. “We hope we’ll get the panels up fairly quickly.”

The four kiosks cost about $32,500. So far, the historical committee has received funding from various sources, including the Oregon Cultural Trust, Curry County Cultural Coalition and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians.

The visit to the site on Friday was notable in more ways than one — along with the new structures, several members of the Siletz Tribal Council were present to look at the memorial.

The tribal council, made up of nine members of the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians, holds monthly meetings and, once a year, comes to Brookings. They visit with tribal members and listen to any concerns they have, and update their tribal identification.

The memorial is special for more than just Chetco Indians. According to members of the historical committee, it’s the only commemorative site for an Oregon Coast tribe that is on the actual site of a tribe’s ancestral village.

“It’s an important part of our history,” said Robert Kentta, the cultural resource director for the Siletz Tribal Council. “We really need more projects like this in Western Oregon — telling that Indian people have not disappeared from the landscape. It’s important for all people to have some sense of that history. It gives them a sense of place to know whose homeland it is, and how it’s home to lots of different people now.”

Crookes said she is happy to be able to preserve the site, as it’s an important, but often unknown part of Brookings history.

“I try to imagine what it looked like when there were Indian villages on both sides of the river — it must have been pretty awesome,” she said. “Most people don’t even know there was a village site here.”

The Chetco people lived in the area for thousands of years and, according to Timeus, lived a fairly uneventful life. In 1852, the first white settlers came to the area. A series of conflicts with the Chetco ensued, including a massacre of the native people by the white settlers in 1853 and the forcible removal of the tribe in 1856. Most left for the Siletz reservation near Newport.


The memorial was designed by a North Bend architecture firm, WOW Arts and Exhibits, which has designed several Native American memorial sites around the state.

Group begins plans for Chetco Indian memorial

Media Source: 
Curry Costal Pilot - Sept. 5th 2009

A memorial to honor the Chetco Tribe, the original residents of the Brookings-Harbor area, will be built at the Port of Brookings Harbor.

Brookings artist Patrick Chew was selected to design the memorial is planned to be constructed at the end of the planned boardwalk ex-tension near BC Fisheries and Transport and the port cold storage facility.

The memorial’s location is near the site of a village inhabited seasonally by the Chetco Tribe until their forcible removal 150 years ago.

The design stage of the memorial was funded by a grant from Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians.

The Chetco (Cheti, in their their own language) people lived along the Chetco River.

Port property picked for planned Chetco Indian memorial

Media Source: 
Curry Costal Pilot - Nov. 28th 2009

The Chetco Historical Indian Memorial is one step closer to reality after the Brookings Harbor Port Commission voted to dedicate a piece of land where a Chetco Indian village once stood to the memorial in perpetuity.

The memorial, planned by descendants of Lucy Dick, the last full-blooded Chetco Indian to live in the Brookings area, includes a bronze statue of Dick, a salmon pond and waterfall, native plants with a guide to their uses, and an interpretive trail.

"It's going to be a beautiful project," Chetco Indian descendent and project organizer Lynda Timeus said.

The memorial property sits atop the remains of a Chetco village, which contained about 40 houses near the mouth of the Chetco River.

The location of the memorial directly on top of the south bank village site was serendipitous, memorial designer Patrick Chew said.

Support For An Elegant Tribute

Media Source: 
Curry Costal Pilot, Letter to the Editor - Dec. 16, 2009

I want to express thanks to all the people who have been involved with siting, design, and financial support of the Chetco Historical Indian Memorial (see Arwyn Rice’s Nov. 28 article).

I'm also grateful to the Curry Coastal Pilot for its coverage of the development of the project.

It's not easy to coordinate an endeavor like this one. It takes cooperation from state, city, county, and port officials and I want all of them to know their efforts are greatly appreciated.

My great-grandmother, Minnie Louie, was a contemporary of Lucy Dick. This memorial to Lucy Dick and the Chetco people will be an elegant tribute, not only to our native past, but also to the foresight and generosity of those who brought history to life at Brookings Harbor.

Creating planks

Creating planks
Written by Bill Schlichting, Pilot staff writer   
February 26, 2014 11:07 am

Members of the Yurok Tribe demonstrated the Native American method of splitting redwood logs to make planks used for building shelters. Saturday’s event was near the site of the Chetco Indian memorial at the Port of Brookings Harbor. The general public was invited to try its hand at the skill. This plank splitting workshop was made possible thanks to the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, Curry County Cultural Coalition, Coquille Tribal Community Fund and Three Rivers Foundation.

Skip Lowry taps wedges with a sledge hammer to create a pair of planks from a redwood log. The skill requires driving the wedges to cause the wood to evenly split the length of the log.





Keeping Tcetxo traditions alive

Written by Jane Stebbins, Pilot staff writer   
February 19, 2014 10:27 am


The remaining members of the Chetco Indian tribe hope people are interested in rediscovering the Tcetxo, a village, interpretive center and memorial being built at the southern end of the boardwalk at the Port of Brookings Harbor to honor the Chetco Indians that lived there.

Members of the Yurok tribe will demonstrate the art of plank-splitting in preparation for the construction of an area to show how the Chetco Indians lived at the mouth of the river named after them, their culture and interactions with the surrounding forests, sea and animals. Demonstrations begin at 1 p.m. Saturday — and people are invited to participate.

The endeavor was developed by the Chetco Indian Memorial Committee and designed by Peggy O’Neal and Larry Watson of Ko-Kwow Arts and Exhibits of North Bend, a firm that designs and builds historic and interpretive centers.

“We’re really, really excited,” said Lynda Timeus, of Brookings, who is almost one-quarter Chetco native and among the local connections for the project.

The idea to recreate a village has been a long time in coming, said Timeus, who taught for 30 years in the area.

“I realized the children had no idea Indian and tribal groups had lived here,” she said. “There’s nothing here that would lead them to believe that. Something needed to be created.”

A Tcetxo village

Tcetxo was one of the main settlements of the Chetco Indians identified in 1935, but leveled by bulldozing in 1960. Test pits excavated in 2011 found shell midden deposits — refuse sites that indicate the former presence of a continuous human settlement — that were later determined to be between 700 and 2,000 years old, about 1,000 years older than originally thought.

In the late 2000s, Timeus and others encouraged port officials to donate a parcel of land where historic Chetco artifacts had been found, proving the villages had existed on the river’s banks. Last spring, a circular concrete bed was poured with a “S” running through it to depict the river.

Since then, the group has been writing grants to continue the work.

The plank-splitting is the next step and involved the felling of a redwood tree on Yurok lands, sawing it to smaller sections and hauling it to the site in Brookings. Saturday, the wood will be manually milled, or split, into 6-foot-tall slabs to make three false-fronted buildings around the circular pad.

Splitting planks

To split a redwood log into planks is no small feat, but many Indian tribes in the Northern California and Southwestern Oregon area used the craft often, as can be seen at various interpretive centers.

A tree is felled, and an axe is used to create a crack near a side. Wedges are hammered into the crack in the tree as it is pried from the tree.

Heavy timbers are used as the support posts in the lodge, with 6-foot-tall planks used as siding for the walls and tied with cedar rope to the posts.

The roof usually is comprised of 20-foot-long planks, with one side of the slanted roof offset from the other and supported by large beams. Roofs were pitched to shed rain, so in this area, they were typically leaning south.

It will take an estimated 1,400 board feet to build the interpretive center here.

A circular hole close to the ground serves as the entrance to the structure.

After they are cut Saturday, the planks will be transported to North Bend to be finished to fit, then brought back to Harbor and erected.

Timeus hopes that happens late this year, but it depends on grant funding the group might be able to obtain. Currently, work that needs to be done is estimated to cost about $150,000.

“It’s one step at a time,” Timeus said.

Interpretive panels will eventually line the walls, and one berm will be left alone to show the artifacts embedded in the wall and exposed when port officials were evaluating damage after the March 2011 tsunami.

Among them were flaked stone tools, cobble tools, shell beads, a clay pipe, a shark-tooth pendant, bone fish hooks, notched sinkers and other artifacts. The middle proved that mussels and rockfish were the primary items on the menu. The natives had used nets to catch fish, smoked tobacco and prepared acorn bread, among other domestic activities.

A statue of Lucy Dick, the last known full-blooded Chetco native from the area, will also be featured. Dick, whose Indian name is lost to history, was among the people rounded up and taken to a reservation near Siletz in 1856. There, she married Chetco Dick, who died during a return visit to Harbor.

Lucy died, in 1940, at the estimated age of 95.

Jedediah debuts

The earliest known contact between the Chetco people and “Euroamericans” occurred on June 14, 1828, when Jedediah Smith camped on the Chetco River.

Pioneer settler Thomas Van Pelt described them in his Indian Wars of Southern Curry County, saying the men “wore no clothing except a robe of deer skins, the women wore a mat of grass or bark split into threads and fastened around their hips and hanging to their knees.

“The natives seemed to be very intelligent, and made no complaints at the encroachments of the white men. Their only weapons were the bow and arrow and large knives ... taken from the drift of wrecked vessels.

“Their cooking was done by roasting in a fire; and fish, acorns, elk and deer meat were the principal source of subsistence. The Indian town consisted of about 40 houses. They were expert canoe men on both river and ocean. Their chief’s name was To-has-ka. They believe in a god and a destructive devil. Old men were prophets and doctors.”

Relations between the two peoples, however, didn’t remain amicable, with massacres occurring in 1853 and the Chetco’s relocation to northern reservations in the Siletz region, near Newport in the ensuing years. The last left in the summer of 1856; the Chetco and Tututni are now part of the Confederated Tribe of the Siletz.