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This article is about the Native American people. For their extinct language, see Molala language. For other uses, see Molalla (disambiguation).

The Molala (also Molale, Molalla, Molele) were a people of the Plateau culture area in central Oregon, United States. They are one of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon, with 141 of the 882 members in the 1950s claiming Molala descent.


The Molalla language was a member of the Plateau Penutian family. It was previously considered a language isolate. Molalla is now extinct.


According to the oral history of the Sahaptin-speaking Tenino people to the East, the Molala were driven to a new home across the Cascade mountains by the Tenino.[1]

During the period of the initial Provisional Government of Oregon, the 1843 Organic Laws of Oregon provided for a militia. The first opportunity to deploy the recently formed Oregon militia came on March 4, 1844, when the territorial government’s recorder George LeBreton and another person in Oregon City were killed, supposedly by a member of the Molalla. Their deaths spurred the organization of a company of 25 men calling themselves the Oregon Rangers at the Oregon Institute. Though the company of mounted riflemen never saw action, they were briefly led by Captain Thomas D. Keizer and then by Charles H. Bennett.

In 1848 Molala war chief Crooked Finger headed 150 warriors (Molala, Klamath, Umpqua, Rogue, Atsugewi, Achomawi, Modoc) against the white men in the Willamette Valley, but they were ambushed near the Butte Creek, and their village on ther Abiqua Creek shore was attacked; Crooked Finger and his warriors took part in the Cayuse war, as allies of their kinsmen.


  1. ^ G.P. Murdoch, "The Tenino Indians," Ethnology, vol. 19 (1980), pp. 129-149; reprinted in Donald M. Hines, The Forgotten Tribes: Oral Tales of the Teninos and Adjacent Mid-Columbia River Nations (1991). Issaquah, WA: Great Eagle Publishing, 1997; pg. 24.

Further reading[edit]

  • John B. Horner, "Oregon: Her History, Her Great Men, Her Literature." Portland, OR: J.K. Gill Co., 1919.
  • Marianne Mithun,The Languages of Native North America. Cambridge England: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
  • Nicholas J. Pharris, Nicholas J., Winuunsi Tm Talapaas: A Grammar of the Molalla Language. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, 2006.

External links[edit]