Epidemics, particularly of smallpox and malaria, decimated lower Columbia River Indians after their first calls with Europeans. The first smallpox epidemic hit about 1775, apparently brought by fur investors in ships. In 1782, another smallpox epidemic, believed to have begun in the Great Plains, spread out west and got to contemporary eastern Washington, where it is blamed for minimizing the Spokane Indian population from around 1,400 to 700. Smallpox again wrecked Columbia River people in 1801. Chroniclers think that by the time the travelers got here, smallpox had decreased the initial Indian population of the mid and lower Columbia River by one-half. Disease again attacked Columbia River people in 1824-25 and in 1853. A break out at Fort Vancouver in the summer of 1830 lasted 4 years, surging in the summertime and decreasing in the winter season. This single epidemic minimized the lower Columbia Indian population by an estimated 90 percent, in just four years. The disease was understood to occur along the Mexican coastline, and the epidemic on the Columbia only needed an infected individual to get here by ship and get bitten by an insect. The mosquito's region did not prolong much past Celilo Falls, and so interior Columbia Basin tribes were not affected. One sign of the massacre and resulting empty countryside is the reality that Oregon communities were called after others in the eastern United States or were by-products of family names, Portland, Astoria, Eugene, while many Washington cities, where Indians were more countless, were provided Indian names, Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Yakima.
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