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As It Was: Bandon Pageant Unwinds Indian Memory Ball

The South Coast town of Bandon, Ore., held an unusual Indian pageant at the town park one August Saturday night in 1924.
The Klakahma Pageant focused on the stories of “Old Mary,” a Native American whose father was a Coquille chief when the Spaniards explored the Pacific Coast in the late 1700s.  Klakahma was the indigenous name for Bandon.  “Old Mary,” who lived to be 100, was known to many of the area’s early settlers. 

She kept a life’s diary by winding thin rawhide and sinew strips into a ball where she fastened various mementos a short distance apart to the string, ranging from tufts of hair, an elk’s tooth, a chip of bone from a skull, or a wampum bead. “Old Mary” cherished the history ball and kept it hidden under her cape, not letting anyone handle it.

At the pageant, a fictional musical drama depicted “Old Mary” unraveling the ball, the actors responding in ballet and song as each memento shared a life event.

Several hundred persons attended the pageant with donation fees going to the Bandon Band.

Source: "Indian Pageant at Bandon Tells Historic Story." Curry County Reporter -, Aug. 1924, p. 1.

Laurel earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Humboldt State. Her research efforts as a volunteer for the Curry Historical Society produced numerous newsletter articles and exhibits and earned her a reputation as a seasoned local history buff. Laurel is the author of "Renderings from the Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery", a 50-page booklet containing a walking tour and snippets about the lives and times of folks buried there. She is also a contributing writer to Oregon Coast Magazine.