Klamath County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 census, the population was 66,380. The county seat is Klamath Falls. The county was named for the Klamath, the tribe of Native Americans living in the area at the time the first European explorers entered the region.
The Klamath or Clamitte tribe of Indians, for which Klamath County was named, are the descendants of varying cultures of indigenous peoples, who have lived in the area for more than 10,000 years.
When European-Americans began to travel through the area in 1846 along the Applegate Trail, they competed with the Klamath for game and water, which precipitated clashes between the peoples. This was exacerbated by European-American settlers, who cleared the land to farm and encroached on hunting territory. They were successful in demanding the removal of American Indians to reservations.
The Modoc people, having been removed to Oregon to share a reservation with the Klamath, traditional rivals, wanted a reservation created on Lost River, near present-day Merrill, Oregon. Captain Jack led his band back to Lost River, but the US Army, accompanied by militia and citizens of Linkville (present-day Klamath Falls) arrived and convinced Captain Jack to return. An argument broke out, shots were fired, and the Modoc War began as the Modoc fled to Captain Jack's Stronghold in northern California.
A treaty was signed with the Klamath on October 14, 1864, which led to the establishment of the Klamath Reservation. At various times over the next 40 years, different individuals of the Modoc tribe were settled within the reservation.
Because of the extensive tracts of forest, the Klamath were very well off as a people until the termination of the reservation by the U.S. government in 1954. Much of the money received after the termination was lost due to squandering, theft or criminal deception, resulting in increased poverty and loss of tribal identity.
A few of the Klamath refused to accept the buyout money, most notably Edison Chiloquin (1924–2003). Instead of cash, he insisted on receiving the title to ancestral land along the Sprague River where he lived. On December 5, 1980, the Chiloquin Act was signed into law, giving him title to the properties he wanted.