Jackson County Commissioners Weigh Name Change For "Dead Indian Memorial Road"

Oct 11, 2017

A controversial road in Jackson County may be renamed.  

Members of the Klamath Tribe at a pow-wow grand entry. The tribe backs a name change for "Dead Indian Memorial Road."
Credit jmerriam7 / Flickr.com

A four-footed traveler takes a rest on the edge of "Dead Indian Memorial Road" in Jackson County, Oregon.
Credit Michael McCullough / Flickr.com

Tonight, commissioners are holding a public hearing on “Dead Indian Memorial Road” in Medford. 

Critics say the name is offensive, and has been since the 1850s when the road was built.  Settlers found two dead Native Americans on the site, and the name has stuck since.

Perry Chocktoot is the Klamath Tribes' Director for Culture and Heritage.  He says back in the 1990s when it was known as “Dead Indian Road”, tribal members talked to officials about simply renaming it “Memorial Road.”

“And they said, ‘Oh, okay, no problem.  And then it became ‘Dead Indian Memorial Road’," recalls Chocktoot. 

"And I’m going to ask again from the Klamath Tribes, to remove the words, ‘Dead Indian’.  If you look around the United States, you don’t see too many roads saying, ‘Dead White Guy Road’.” 

Chocktoot hopes this time, the county renames it “Memorial Road”.  A roads and parks official says he gets regular complaints about the road’s current name, from locals as well as tourists. 

Copyright 2017, KLCC.