Southern Oregon Coastal Tribes

The Southern Oregon Coastal tribes had access to marine and inland resources for their subsistence. They had territories along the coasts of Oregon and California and to about the peak of the Coast Range for most tribes. They are from several language groups, with the most dominant being the Athapaskan speaking peoples. Their territories extended from just north of Port Orford to the Klamath River estuary of California. They included the Tututni, Euchre Creek, Flores Creek, Sixes River, lower Rogue River, Chetco, Pistol River and others in Oregon. In California the tribes were Tolowa bands down to the Klamath River. The Tolowas have an origin story of the arrival of the athapaskans on the coast from the frozen north, their landing place being at Yontocket, Burnt Ranch, south of Smith River. They suggest this is the origin of all of the tribes of the athabaskan coast, and inland up the Rogue River, and south into northern California.

North of the Athapaskan coast there are the Coquille at the Coquille River and south slough, Coos in Coos Bay, the lower Umpqua, Alseans, and Siuslawans. The Upper Coquille were part of the athapaskan group. The lower Coquille and Coos have related languages, Miluk and Hanis, and the tribes to the north are largely considered isolates, unrelated directly with other neighboring languages. North of these tribes are those of the North Oregon Coast, a whole series of Salish speaking tribes, the Tillamookans, Siletz (assumed), Nachesne (Salmon river), Nestucca, Nehalem (Tillamook proper). North of these tribes are the Clatsop nation, peoples that speak Chinookan. One additional isolate tribe to mention are the Yachats peoples, of which not too much is known before they perished completely due to diseases.

The region of the southern Oregon Coast was being settled by Americans in the 1840’s in small settlements. The first major settlement was at Port Orford where Captain William Tichenor landed nine men at Battle Rock to create a toehold to develop the bay into a port to serve the gold rush. The 14 day battle in 1851 was one of the most violent of the coast at this time, sowing much distrust. Additional attacks at Coquille and Chetco were from Americans who sought the extermination of the tribes, as they were an impediment to the free unrestrained development and settlement of the coast by white Americans. Additional attacks and massacres on the northern California communities by state backed Volunteer militia (rangers) worked in the same fashion to try to exterminate all tribes.

Removals began once the Indian Agents in Oregon and California became fully supported by the government to form reservations in about 1855 and 1856. By 1857 the majority of (surviving) Indians are on reservations under federal protection. The following essays seek to document and explain this period of removal, of colonization and actions of the tribes and American settlers in as great of detail as possible. Most of the histories of the tribes for this era are lacking any great details or analysis on the colonization of Indian lands, especially once they get to the reservations. Rarely, as well, is there an analysis or input, from the perspective of the tribal peoples, which I attempt to do as well as can be expected.

This is a developing history, as all histories are.

Preparing for Purchase, First Indian Agent in Coos Bay, 1853

Trade Between the Interior and the Coast; Kalapuyans, Klikitats, Coosans

Places that Floated, When the World Burned, & Dry-Land-Stranded Whales

The 1851 Treaty Commission: Coquille, Euchre, and Tototan at Port Orford

Conditions of the Alsea Indians and the Salmon River Encampment 1876-1878

The Significance of Salmon River Encampment in 1875

Estuaries Saved the Coastal Tribes: Section 2- Removal and Exposure

Indian Catchers of Coastal Oregon 1850s

Canoeing the Yaquina, Coast Reservation, November 1856

The Gateway on the Central Oregon Coast, Fort Umpqua and the Umpqua Sub Indian Agency

Andrew S. Charles, Siuslaw Informant 1931

Coquille Massacre Narratives

We are Treated like Slaves and are Starving: Siletz Chiefs send their Remarks to the President 1862

Did the non-ratification of the Coast Treaty cause Grand Ronde to become permanent?

Massacre at the Chetko Villages, 1953

Meacham’s Final Appeal to Fairly Pay the Tribes Removed to the Coast Reservation.

Estuaries Saved the Coastal Tribes: Section 1- Joel Palmer’s Plan in 1855

Estuaries Saved the Coastal Tribes: Section 2- Removal and Exposure

The Quartux Journal