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As It Was: Chinese Miners Participate in Rogue River Indian Wars

A dispatch about the siege of Skull Bar in 1855 referred to rare Chinese participation in the Rogue River Indian Wars.

Indians had attacked a miners’ camp of about 30 people just below the mouth of Galice Creek, among them several Chinese miners, white men’s Indian wives, and some children.

During the attack, the Chinese dug trenches and helped fortify the area.  The Indians abruptly abandoned the battle after 24 hours.  At least two combatants died, and several were wounded in the fighting.

After the Skull Bar attack and the simultaneous burning of Galice, white miners scattered, abandoning their claims.  About a year later, the Chinese were busy taking gold from the area from abandoned mines and creek-side sluice boxes. 

Returning white miners drove them off, claiming they had no legal right to mine on the public domain.
Some Chinese moved to other areas of Southern Oregon and Northern California, while many went home to China with their gold. 

The Chinese left little trace of their stay in Josephine County, other than some sturdy rock walls, broken pottery and place names like China Gulch Rapids on the Rogue River.


Sources: "Mention of Chinese is Made First Time." Grants Pass Daily Courier, Golden Anniversary Edition, 4 Apr. 1935, Indian Wars ed., p. 11; "The Siege of Galice Creek." Southern Oregon History, edited by Ben Truwe, Talky Tina Press, Medford OR, 15 Feb. 2018, truwe.sohs.org/files/galicecreek.html. Accessed 19 Apr. 2018.

Lynda Demsher has been editor of a small-town weekly newspaper, a radio reporter, a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for the Redding Record Searchlight, Redding California. She is a former teacher and contributed to various non-profit organizations in Redding in the realm of public relations, ads, marketing, grant writing and photography.