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Mysterious Wanderer Gives Yoncalla Indians Biblical Names

A son of Oregon trailblazer Lindsey Applegate named Jesse Applegate Applegate (yes, that’s right: his middle and last names were the same) was an author, teacher and amateur ethnographer.  As a youth in the 1850s, he made close friends with the Indians near his family home in the Yoncalla Valley, which the Indians called Splashta Alla, the Valley of the Birds.

  
 
One of his Indian pals, the son of the headman, was named Paul and his brothers were Jacob and John.  How, Applegate wondered, did they get those biblical names before the coming of the white settlers?  Applegate said their oral historical narrative told of a mysterious, white-faced, black-robed medicine man, or shaman, who had come to live with the tribe nearly 50 years before the first settlers arrived.  The Indians called him Squiyowhiynoof.
 
Applegate said the headman’s son took him on a hidden trail to Squiyowhiynoof’s mountain meadow grave.  Noting that the Indians did not bury their dead, Applegate concluded that the crudely marked grave “was most assuredly that of a white man,” who the Indians respected enough to bury according to his own customs.
 
The wandering priest’s origin remains a mystery.
 

 
 
Source: Applegate, Shannon. Skookum: An Oregon Pioneer Family's History and Lore. New York: William Morrow and Co. 1st Quill Edition, 1990. 297-305.
 

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.