Bicyclists ride along Dead Indian Memorial Road in July 2016. Jackson County commissioners will hold a public hearing Wednesday about whether to change the name of the road. [Mail Tribune / file photo]

Should Dead Indian Memorial Road be renamed?

Jackson County commissioners will take public input Wednesday evening about whether to change the name of Dead Indian Memorial Road.

The public hearing begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Jackson County Courthouse Auditorium, 10 S. Oakdale Ave., Medford.

The meeting will begin with a staff report by Jackson County Roads and Parks Director John Vial about the road's name. Commissioners will listen to public input, then deliberate on the issue. 

In 1855, white settlers found two deceased Native Americans in the area where the road was later built. Historians believe the Native Americans likely were killed by another tribe. Locals began calling the road Dead Indian Road after it was constructed in 1870.

After people raised concerns that the name was insensitive, the county commissioners changed it to Dead Indian Memorial Road in 1993. However, the name remains controversial.

Vial says he fields emails and phone calls each month from people complaining about the name. The complaints come from locals as well as tourists.

In the past few months, the word "Dead" has been painted over on signs marking the road that stretches from Ashland to Highway 140 near Lake of the Woods. Jackson County road crews have used solvent to wipe off the green paint.

In September, commissioners agreed to take public input and consider whether to change the name again.

A number of replacement names have been suggested, including Indian Memorial Road, Latgawa Memorial Road in honor of a branch of the Takelma Tribe, and Agnes Pilgrim Road, in honor of local Takelma elder and author Agnes Baker Pilgrim.

— Reach staff reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or Follow her at

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