Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians

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Confederated Tribes of
Siletz Indians
Total population
5,600 (2020[1])
Regions with significant populations
 United States ( Oregon)
Related ethnic groups
Athabaskan peoples,
southern Interior Salish peoples

The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians in the United States is a federally recognized confederation of more than 27 Native American tribes and bands who once inhabited an extensive homeland of more than 20 million acres from northern California to southwest Washington and between the summit of the Cascades and the Pacific Ocean. After the Rogue River Wars, these tribes were removed to the Coast Indian Reservation, now known as the Siletz Reservation. The tribes spoke at least 11 distinct languages, including Tillamook, Shasta, the Clatsop, lower, middle and upper dialects of Chinook, Kalapuya, Takelma, Alsea-Yaquina, Siuslaw, Coos, the Plateau Penutian languages Molala and Klickitat, and several related Athabaskan dialects (Upper Umpqua, Upper Coquille, Sixes/Euchre Creek, Tututni, Chetco, Chasta Costa, Galice/Applegate, Tolowa Oregon Athabaskan languages.[2]


The confederation takes its name from the Siletz River, which surrounds the original headquarters of the reservation (Siletz Agency). The word siletz translates to a description of something that is coiled like a rope or a snake – describing the route of the river winding through the mountains circuitously to the ocean. The confederation includes remnants of the Siletz, a Coast Salish people who also became incorporated into the larger confederation.


The confederation is made up of the following tribes and bands.[3]


The Confederated Tribes emerged from the remnants of around 28 different tribes of coastal and other Western Oregon Tribes of Indians.[4]


After the war of 1855–1856[edit]

After the Rogue River Wars of 1855–56, most of the peoples were forced onto the Coast Indian Reservation, which is also known as the Siletz Reservation, where they were to form a single unified tribe. The Coast/Siletz Reservation originally comprised 1.1 million acres, which was established by the executive order of President Franklin Pierce on November 9, 1855, only weeks after the start of the last phase of the Rogue River Wars. The Siletz Reservation was reduced in violation of treaties in 1865 and 1875 by a total of around 3/4 its mass (approximately 900.000 acres). In 1892 (confirmed 1894), 551 individuals received federal allotments from the remaining reservation and was forced to cede much of the remainder for 74 cents an acre. By 1912, restrictions on inheriting lands within families led to more than 1/2 of the Siletz allotments being owned by non-Indians.

Termination act of 1954[edit]

The Western Oregon Indian Termination Act of 1954, Public Law 588, was passed into law on August 13, 1954. This new law severed Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) supervision of trust lands and BIA regulation of services to the Indian peoples.

All of the remaining Siletz lands were sold except for the 39 acres called Government Hill.[5] The proceeds of the sale of the timberland property were distributed to enrolled tribal members in two installments: $250 per person in December 1954, and a final payment of $542.50 per person in August 1956.[6] Other inherited allotments were held in trusts but were also sold off at the request of the owners.

Restoration bills[edit]

During the 1960s, several members of the Siletz tribe began to organize and restore common bonds. Their initiatives included the restoration of the tribal cemetery on Government Hill and aggressive lobbying of Congress and the office of the President to again recognize Siletz as a federally recognized Native American tribe.[5]

In June 1974, Rep. Wendell Wyatt introduced a first restoration bill, but it did not pass.

On December 17, 1975, Senator Mark Hatfield introduced restoration bill S. 2801. At the time Senator Hatfield presented his restoration bill he was quoted as saying that the Siletz People were "ill-prepared to cope with the realities of American society" when the Termination act went to effect and that they had been "tossed abruptly from a state of almost total dependency to a state of total independence ...[forcing them] to leave the only way of life they had known." The bill included wording to grant or restore hunting and fishing rights. This bill also did not pass.

Senator Hatfield and Senator Bob Packwood introduced a new bill, S. 1560, in the month of May 1977. Unlike its 1975 predecessor, it did not include that the hunting or fishing rights be restored (although a companion bill was sent by Rep. Les AuCoin to the United States House of Representatives, H.R. 7259, which the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission fought and helped to stall). On August 5, 1977, the United States Senate passed the restoration bill and on November 1, 1977, so did the House. The bill was then sent to President Jimmy Carter on November 3 and then signed into law on November 18, 1977.

Today about 5,600 of their descendants are enrolled members of this tribe, which is based on the Siletz Reservation along the Siletz River in the Central Oregon Coast Range, about 15 miles northeast of Newport, Oregon.

Important events in tribal history[edit]

A sign in front of Logan Road, owned by the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians
  • On November 18, 1977, the Confederated Tribes became the second tribe in the U.S. to have its federal status restored, and returned to being a sovereign government.
  • On June 2, 1979, tribal members adopted a constitution.
  • On November 1, 1979, people of the town of Siletz, voted 148 to 134 to give back to the tribe approximately 36 acres (150,000 m2) of former tribal land, which was originally the site of the old Siletz Agency, "Government Hill". The tribe had given this land to the city at the time of termination.
  • In 1980 the Siletz Reservation Act was signed into law, returning about 3,660 acres to the Siletz Tribe as its initial restored Siletz REservation.
  • In 1994, the Tribe voted to lower the blood quantum, to 1/16, which allowed new members to join.
  • In 1995, the first "Run to the Rogue" took place, in which tribal members took turns carrying an eagle flag staff from Government Hill in Siletz to Agness, Oregon (located on the Rogue River) in what is Oregon's longest relay on foot.
  • In 1995, the Siletz Tribe opened up a 157,000-square-foot (14,600 m2) casino/convention center, called Chinook Winds Casino, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean from Lincoln City, Oregon.
  • In 2005, a 227-room hotel adjacent to Chinook Winds Casino was purchased and added to the casino.
  • December 6, 2016 S.817 Bill Passed in U.S. House of Representatives. Real Property located within the original Siletz Reservation boundaries lines is now deemed "on reservation."

Organization and location[edit]

The Confederated Tribes have 5,600 enrolled members,[1] 70% of whom live in Oregon and only 8% of whom live near on the 3,900-acre (16 km2) reservation. An additional 6% live in the town of Siletz and 22.6% live in Lincoln County. There are 445 households in the city of Siletz and 143 households on the Siletz Reservation.

The tribe owns and manages about 16,000 acres total, about 4,000-acre (16 km2) of which is deemed reservation located along the Siletz River in the Central Oregon Coast Range of central Lincoln County, Oregon, approximately 15 mi (24 km) northeast of Newport.[7] In total, they own a checkerboard of approximately 15,000 acres (61 km2) in and around the original 1.1 million acre Coast Indian Reservation, established Nov 9, 1855 – which was quickly whittled down, and the tribe terminated by act of Congress in 1956. The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians became the second tribe terminated by an act of Congress to regain federal recognition by passage of the Siletz Restoration Act Nov 18, 1977.

The tribe owns and operates the Chinook Winds Casino and Convention Center, the Chinook Winds Golf Resort[8] in Lincoln City (including the Chinook Winds Resort hotel purchased from Shilo Inn hotels in 2004), the oceanfront Lot 57 north of Chinook Winds Casino, Hee Hee Illahee RV park in Salem, the Logan Road RV Park,[9] the Salem Flex Building where the Salem Area Offices currently exist, the Portland Stark Building which was purchased in August 2007, which is the site of the tribe's Portland Area Office, the Eugene Elks building which houses the Eugene Area Office, the Siletz Gas & Mini Mart, the old Toledo Mill site, and a commercial building in Depoe Bay.

The tribe also owns and runs the Siletz Community Health Clinic.

The Siletz Tribal Police department was discontinued, but the tribe now contracts with the nearby Lincoln County Sheriff's Office to provide law enforcement services to the Siletz area.

The tribe is gradually accumulating additional property into the reservation, as part of its Comprehensive Plan. This includes 3,851 acres (15.58 km2)[10] entrusted to the tribe in 2007 by the state and federal governments as part of the New Carissa oil spill settlement, on the condition that the Confederated Tribes will manage it as marbled murrelet habitat.

The tribal government is attempting to get its 1850's treaties with the United States recognized by referencing them[11] in the tribe's constitution, and also by mentioning the treaties in a work by Charles Wilkinson, was hired by the Tribal Council to write a history of the Siletz. There have also been attempts to retrieve the remains of tribal ancestors from the Smithsonian Institution, and to retrieve various other tribal artifacts distributed throughout the United States of America.

[12] Tribal Council Chairman Delores Pigsley

The current Tribal Council includes Chairman Delores Pigsley; Vice Chairman Bud Lane; Secretary Sharon Edenfield; Treasurer Robert Kentta; Reggie Butler Sr., Lillie Butler, Loraine Butler, Angela Ramirez and Selene Rilatos [2020].

The tribal government's Public Information Office publishes the monthly Siletz News.[13]

Cultural activities[edit]

Artifacts and historical documents are stored and displayed at the Siletz Tribal Cultural Center, located on Government Hill, under the care of Cultural Programs Staff.

Tolowa is taught as a common tribal language. Beginning Athabaskan language have been taught at the Siletz Valley Charter School, starting in the fall of 2006.

Many Native Americans gather around a drum, preparing for a powwow in 1900

The second weekend in August of every year the tribe is host to its annual Nesika Illahee Pow-wow.

Every summer and winter solstice for hundreds if not thousands of years, a dance has been held, called, the Feather Dance (or Nee-dash), which would be held for 10 nights.


Finding records of the ethnic and cultural history of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz is somewhat difficult. A partial attempt at the tribal population makeup before it was forced on reservation lands in the mid-19th century is as follows:

  • Upper Rogue River or Shasta Tribe:
    • John's Band 172
    • George's Band 222
    • Joseph James's Band 160
  • Coastal Tribes:
    • Joshuas's Band 179
    • Choallie's Band 215
    • Totoem's Band 202
    • Macanotin's Band 129
    • Shasta Costa 110
    • Port Orford (a Qua-to-mah band) 242
    • Upper Coquille 313


The ancestors of the Confederated Tribes spoke at least 11 different languages.

According to a report by the National Geographic Society and the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, Siletz Dee-ni is the last of many tribal languages spoken on the reservation. In 2007 only one living fluent speaker remained.[14] However, according to a later report in The Economist, the language has since been at least partially revived thanks to an on-line dictionary project; in some areas, "many now text each other in Siletz Dee-ni."[15] The tribe has a language revival program with classes in three area offices and Siletz Valley school.[16] As of 2020, a number of younger conversant speakers have learned the language.

Notable Siletz people[edit]

  • Peter "Last Walking Bear" DePoe, drummer for the band Redbone.
  • Sister Francella Mary Griggs, advocate for the restoration of federal recognition
  • Mary "Dolly" Fisher, activist to restore federal recognition of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians from 1974. She won the Nanwood Honeyman Award for significant contribution to the advancement of women in Oregon. She won The National Congress of American Indians award, honoring Indian and Native Women's leadership. Named tribal casino as "Chinook Winds."
  • Calvin Leroy Van Pelt (1924–2011), businessman and tribal elder

Delores Ann (Lane) Pigsley, one of the longest serving Tribal leaders in the United States as of 2020, still serving as Siletz Tribal Chairman.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Enrollment". Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. August 8, 2020. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
  2. ^ "Siletz Indian Tribe History, Tillamook Oregon, Multnomah County Oregon, Salishan - Part I - Introduction". Retrieved 2019-06-14.
  3. ^ "The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon: Tribal Government Operations". Native American Rights Fund. 1999. Archived from the original on April 28, 2003. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
  4. ^ U.S. House of Representatives (1895). United States Congressional Serial Set, Volume 3210. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. p. 269.
  5. ^ a b Disse, Diane; Weeber, Jodi; Harrison, Loretta (2010). Newport. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9781439640487.
  6. ^ Youst, Lionel; Seaburg, William (2002). Coquelle Thompson, Athabaskan Witness: A Cultural Biography. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. p. 258. ISBN 0806134488.
  7. ^ "Portland State Global Diversity & Inclusion: Diversity and Multicultural Student Services".
  8. ^ "Golf - Courses Holes Chinook Resort". Archived from the original on 2009-03-05. Retrieved 2009-06-06.
  9. ^ Logan Road RV Park | Lincoln City, OR
  10. ^ New Carissa Marbled Murrelet Restoration – New Carissa Oil Spill
  11. ^[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "ILA 2011 awardee Delores Pigsley". Flickr. 2 November 2011. Retrieved 2016-12-14.
  13. ^ "PIO". Archived from the original on 2006-06-18. Retrieved 2006-06-09.
  14. ^ Wilford, John Noble (September 19, 2007). "Languages Die, but Not Their Last Words". The New York Times. Retrieved September 19, 2007.
  15. ^ 'Embracing the future', The Economist, 25 Feb 2012
  16. ^ "Our Language is as old as time itself." Siletz Tribal Language Program. 2010. Retrieved 16 December 2012.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]