Winema National Forest

Presidential Proclamation 3423, signed in July 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, created the Winema National Forest from portions of the Rogue, Deschutes, and Frémont National Forests.  The U.S. Government acquired the rights to the new forestland in 1954 after the Klamath Indian Reservation had been dissolved.  Congress passed and President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Klamath Termination Act of 1954, which ended federal social and financial assistance for the Klamath Tribes and terminated their rights to 1.8 million acres of land.  In 1959, the U.S. Department of Agriculture paid the Klamath Tribes approximately $68.7 million for the reservation land.

As part of the termination settlement, each member of the Klamath Tribe who acknowledged termination and left the reservation was to receive approximately $43,500 from the sale of these lands.   Those who chose to stay in the tribe, were left with a small amount of land to share, land that was held in trust and managed by the U.S. National Bank of Portland.  Klamath Tribesman Edison Chiloquin wanted to keep 580 acres of the Winema National Forest, an area that was once his grandfather’s village.  Chiloquin refused to accept the terms of the termination settlement and took his case to Washington, D.C.  In 1980, more than two decades after the initial land sale, President Jimmy Carter granted Chiloquin the rights to his family’s land on the condition that it be used only for traditional cultural purposes.  In 1986, Congress reestablished the Klamath Reservation.  However, most of the tribal lands had been incorporated into the Winema National Forest.

Further Reading:
Haynal, Patrick “Termination and Tribal Survival: The Klamath Tribes of Oregon,” Oregon Historical Quarterly, 101, 2000: 270-301.

Written by Robert Donnelly, © Oregon Historical Society, 2003.

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This entry was last updated on March 17, 2018