Thomas Doty – Storyteller

Ti'lomikh – Native Village


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Drawing.  The Ti'lomikh Project

Since I was a child I have been visiting the ancient Takelma village site of Ti'lomikh. And since 1981, when I began work as a native storyteller, I have been researching the lore and history of Ti'lomikh. This has been an adventure as well as a long and often challenging journey. Much of what is known is buried in reams of linguistic texts, unpublished field notes, back rooms of museums and in the memories of elders. And my own memories of conversations with relations who are no longer with us.

The purpose of this project is to bring all of this information together in one place and eventually make it available in various forms to the public, both online and on-site. Many original sources -- Harrington's field notes, Sapir's works, etc. -- can be read as PDFs on this website.

The Ti'lomikh Project was commissioned by the Gold Hill Whitewater Center at Ti'lomikh Falls to better understand the natural history of the Rogue River and its peoples. Funding for the project was provided by the Robert M. Stafrin Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation.


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Drawing.  Introduction

The Village

The Takelma Language

Harrington's Field Notes

Rogue River Directions

Drawing.  Salmon Nation Radio

Agnes Baker-Pilgrim, Stephen Kiesling and Thomas Doty were interviewed at Ti'lomikh by Alex Chadwick and Katie Davis, veterans of public radio. They tell the story of finding the Story Chair, a crucial part of the Sacred Salmon Ceremony.

Listen Here

Drawing.  An Original Native Story

All Night Salmon Leap the Falls: Doty and Coyote meet the spirit of the poet called Lampman in an old house in the woods. The three of them walk back through time to participate in the Sacred Salmon Ceremony at Ti'lomikh, an ancient village along the Rogue River.

There is more of Thomas Doty's writing in the Library.


The winter lodges at Ti'lomikh would have looked much like this one. Inside, the floor is about two feet below ground level, with a firepit in the center, and sitting and sleeping lodges around the edges. This replica was built by Gray Eagle in 2001 in honor of Takelma elder Agnes Baker-Pilgrim, and is located at the Kerbyville Museum in Kerby, Oregon.


On March 22, 2016, here's Stephen Kiesling holding a proclamation signed by Jan Fish, the mayor of Gold Hill, Oregon, apologizing for the treatment of Takelma Indians, and declaring the second Monday in October to be First Nations Day, purposefully what is also Columbus Day. Gold Hill is in the heart of traditional Takelma homeland. And this is just the beginning! This proclamation will be circulated around southern Oregon to get official endorsements from other communities before being delivered to Governor Kate Brown in Salem for her consideration to make First Nations Day a state holiday. And then it's on to the White House! The photo on the proclamation shows Agnes Baker-Pilgrim, the oldest living Takelma, sitting in the stone Story Chair, an integral part of the Sacred Salmon Ceremony

First Nations Day Proclamation (Text)


Takelma elder Agnes Baker-Pilgrim at Ti'lomikh in 2014.

The Ti'lomikh Project has placed three interpretive signs at the village site, including the one pictured above. View or download them as PDFs....

Drawing.  People, Characters, Places

Baker, George & Eveline

Baker-Pilgrim, Agnes

Cow Creek Indians


Cressman, Luther S.


Drucker, Philip

Eagan, Mary

Evans, Ned

Gold Hill

Grand Ronde Indian Reservation


Harrington, John Peabody


Johnson, Frances

Mugger's Alley

Ogden, Peter Skene

Orton, Molly

Riddle, George

Rocky Point / Rock Point

Rogue River

Sapir, Edward

Shasta Indians

Siletz Indian Reservation

Table Rocks

Takelma Indians


Ti'lomikh Falls




Salmon baking at the Sacred Salmon Ceremony at Ti'lomikh, 2007.

Drawing.  Texts

The Rogue River: Lifeblood of the World

Old Time Salmon Stories

Sacred Salmon Ceremony

First Encounters

Molly Orton & Old Man Walker

Houses & Cemeteries

Dams, Dredges & Ditches

Drawing.  Maps

Map 1

Map 2


This artist's conception is a monument to Ti'lomikh and native people, to be built at the village site. Each step represents a thousand years at the village. There are interpretive signs about the history and mythological importance of the village. Climb to the top to get a view of Ti'lomikh Falls and the Story Chair. The flags represent the nine federally recognized tribes of Oregon, plus a tenth flag for Native Americans without a recognized tribe. The steps of the monument will also serve as amphitheater-style seating for interpretive programs at Ti'lomikh (including storytellings!)


Drawing of Grandma Aggie's vision of a Dragonfly Bridge at Ti'lomikh. The bridge would connect the bike and pedestrian path along the Rogue River. In a Takelma myth, Elder Dragonfly (Daldal) made Ti'lomikh the place of the Salmon People, and home of the Sacred Salmon Ceremony. The bridge has two dragonflies, one looking upriver, one downriver, each representing one of the Dragonfly brothers. The drawing was made by Jim Waddell, retired civil engineer from the US Army Corps of Engineers. He traveled from Port Angeles, WA to sketch Aggie's vision on April 14, 2014.

Drawing.  Sources

Atwood, Kay

Baker-Pilgrim, Agnes

Beckham, Stephen Dow

Beeson, John

Buan, Carolyn M. and Richard Lewis (Editors)

Cressman, L. S.

Daugherty, Maude

Dorsey, J. Owen

Doty, Thomas

Douthit, Nathan

Drucker, Philip

Gray, Dennis

Harrington, John Peabody

Jackson, Chuck

LaLande, Jeff

LaPlante, Margaret

Miller, Bill

Riddle, George

St. Clair, Henry H.

Sapir, Edward

Schwartz, E. A.

Spier, Leslie

Walsh, Jane MacLaren

Zucker, Jeff, Kay Hummel and Bob Hogfoss


Stephen Kiesling, Agnes Baker-Pilgrim and Thomas Doty at Ti'lomikh, 2016.


Thomas Doty telling native stories at the Sacred Salmon Ceremony at Ti'lomikh, 2007.

Photo. Photo.

Thomas Doty at the First Nations Day Celebration at Ti'lomikh, 2016.