After marveling at how different each town along Highway 99 is from the others, I’ve discovered a common link I hadn’t expected.  Indian Mary.

In the Grants Pass area, Indian Mary was known as the wife of Umpqua Joe who had been a scout for the army.  He built a cabin on a bluff in a beautiful area.  When he passed, Indian Mary applied to the government for the spot and the cabin.  She got it as the smallest reservation in the country.  Now  it’s Indian Mary Park in Josephine County. 

A long way up the road, Cottage Grove had an Indian Mary also.  She was from the Calapooya group of natives and often worked for several of the settler’s wives.  The Mc Farland family and others.  The Mc Farland family thought of her as part of the family and buried her in their family cemetary when she passed.

I am bothered as I read about these women and write about their history.  So often I hear my contemporaries complain that many of our emigrants don’t learn our language right away like they did when they emigrated from Europe.  I don’t believe for one minute that both these women were named Indian Mary at their birth and by their own families.  How degrading that we, emigrants in their land couldn’t even be bothered to learn their names.   I wonder just how far we’ve really come and if I’ll find still more women of the Oregon past who are called Indian Mary.    



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