Coquille Indian Tribe

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Coquille Indian Tribe
Regions with significant populations
Coos County, Oregon
Miluk, Upper Coquille (Nuu-wee-ya)[citation needed]
Related ethnic groups
Lower Rogue River Athabascan

The Coquille Indian Tribe (/ˈkkwɛl/ KOH-kwel) is the federally recognized Native American tribe of the Coquille people who have traditionally lived on the southern Oregon Coast.


Pre-contact through the mid-19th century[edit]

Beginning in 1847, following the Cayuse Indian slaughter of the white, Presbyterian missionaries at the "Whitman Mission", a serious of retaliatory attacks ensued against the indigenous peoples all throughout the Oregon Territory, perpetrated by both miners and settlers. By 1854, several dozen miners who were angry over an altercation with a native man, went into the Coquille Indian village in what is now Bandon, Oregon, and killed all the members of that tribe that they could find there, burning their houses and slaughtering all women and children.[1]

Treaty with the United States[edit]

Sign of The Confederated Tribes

In 1855, Joel Palmer, Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs, negotiated a treaty with the Coquille and surrounding tribes that set aside 125 miles (201 km) of coastline extending from the Siltcoos River to Cape Lookout to form the Coastal (or Siletz) Indian Reservation near present-day Florence.[2] The Coquille people were forcibly marched to the reservation in 1856; however, the treaty was never ratified by Congress.[3] Disease and overcrowding were problems on the reservation, which was eventually reduced to a fraction of its former size.[4] The remnants of the original Coastal Indian Reservation are contained in the Siletz Reservation and associated tribally owned lands. Over the years many Coquilles returned to their traditional homeland and fought for acknowledgement of the Treaty of 1855.

Termination and restoration[edit]

The U.S. federal government terminated its recognition of the Coquille as part of the Western Oregon Indian Termination Act.[5] In 1989 the tribe regained its federal recognition.[6] With restoration came tribal sovereignty, which gives the tribe authority to form its own government and have jurisdiction over tribal lands, businesses, and community members.

Name origin[edit]

According to the Tribe's website, the name comes from a native word for lamprey, a staple food for the tribe. European settlers approximated the word as KOH-kwel but it came to be spelled Coquille (the French word for shell). Eventually the pronunciation of the town and river shifted to koh-KEEL, but the tribe's name retained the older pronunciation.[7]

Coquille Indian Reservation[edit]

Location of Coquille Indian Reservation

The Confederated Tribes of Siletz, based in Siletz, Oregon, recognize the Coquille people as one of the tribes that make up their confederation.[8] The Confederated Tribes of Siletz continue to live on the Siletz Indian Reservation. In addition, by an Act of Congress in 1996, the Coquille Tribe now has reservation area totaling 6,512 acres (26 km2).[6] The 2000 census listed the reservation's official resident population as 258 people. The reservation's lands are located in numerous non-contiguous parcels of land in southern Coos County, mostly in and to the southeast of the Coos Bay-North Bend urban area. Parts of the communities of Bandon, Barview, Coos Bay, and North Bend extend onto reservation lands.

Forest management[edit]

The "Oregon Resources Conservation Act of 1996" (part of Public Law 104-208[permanent dead link]) restored to the Coquille Tribe approximately 5,400 acres (2,200 ha) of forest in Coos County, Oregon. The act's author, Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield, said of the Coquille Forest: "I hope this proposal, with its relatively modest acreage and the required adherence to the most environmentally friendly forest management plan ever implemented in the Pacific Northwest—President Clinton's forest plan—is successful and can become a model for how our Nation deals with other claims by native American tribes."[9] The Forest was formally taken into trust for the Tribe by the U.S. government on September 30, 1998. The Coquille Forest comprises fourteen separate parcels of former BLM timberlands in eastern Coos County.

Unlike other forests held in trust for and managed by federally recognized tribes, under the National Indian Forest Resources Management Act, the Coquille Forest has the additional requirement of meeting the "standards and guidelines" of adjacent federal forests, such as the Northwest Forest Plan. While most federal forests have not met their timber production expectations under the Northwest Forest Plan, the Coquille Forest is widely considered the only entity to meet both the ecological and economic outputs of the Northwest Forest Plan.[citation needed]

In 2011, the U.S. Secretary of Interior endorsed the first component of the landscape management proposal in which the Coquille Indian Tribe and the BLM would work together to develop a demonstration timber sale pilot in coordination with professors Norm Johnson and Jerry Franklin. This pilot will demonstrate the professors' ecological principles of variable retention regeneration harvest in the Oregon Coast Range. The timber sale will be designed under the Northwest Forest Plan and comply with all BLM requirements.

Management of the Coquille Forest has earned recognition for being environmentally sound and sustainable. The Forest Stewardship Council certified the Coquille Forest in September 2011.[10]


The tribal government is based in North Bend.

In 2008 the tribe legalized same-sex marriage, becoming the first tribal nation to do so in the United States.[11] Although the Oregon voters approved an amendment to the Oregon Constitution in 2004 to prohibit such marriages, the Coquille are not bound by the Oregon Constitution, because they are a federally recognized sovereign nation.[12]

The Coquille Indian Tribe Library contains an extensive amount of information on the Coquille Indian Tribe and other Tribes of southwest Oregon including the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians.[13][14]


The Coquille Tribe owns several businesses, including The Mill Casino • Hotel [15] in Coos Bay, and ORCA Communications, a telecommunications provider.[16][17]

In September 2012, the tribe announced plans for a casino in Medford, to be built in a bowling alley that was acquired for $1.6 million. The tribe is also leasing an adjacent golf course.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Oregon Public Broadcasting, in affiliation with the Oregon Historical Society, Broken Treaties: full documentary on YouTube, Nov 2020, minutes 15:19–16:41.
  2. ^ "Oregon Coast Tribes Treaty of 2000". Center for World Indigenous Studies. Archived from the original on 2006-09-26. Retrieved 2006-11-20.
  3. ^ "The Coquille Tribe". Coquille Economic Development Commission. Archived from the original on 2006-10-07. Retrieved 2006-11-04.
  4. ^ "Original Siletz Reservation Showing Reductions" (PDF). The Confederated Tribes of the Siletz peace. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-10-05. Retrieved 2006-11-20.
  5. ^ "The Isaac I. Stevens and Joel Pagjfjlmer Treaties, 1855–2005". Oregon Historical Quarterly. Fall 2005. Archived from the original on 2007-06-26. Retrieved 2006-11-20.
  6. ^ a b "Indian Tribes in Oregon". Oregon Blue Book. Oregon Secretary of State. Retrieved 2006-10-09.
  7. ^ "How Do You Pronounce That?". Coquille Indian Tribe. Retrieved 12 April 2022.
  8. ^ Kentta, Robert. "Siletz History Part I" (PDF). Confederated Tribes of Siletz. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-03-02. Retrieved 2006-10-08.
  9. ^ Congressional Record: August 2, 1996 (Senate)] [Page S9649-S9660]
  10. ^ Newsletter of the Coquille Indian Tribe Archived April 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, August 2011.
  11. ^ "Coquille tribe approves same-sex marriages". KOIN. August 21, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-21.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ Graves, Bill (August 20, 2008). "Gay marriage in Oregon? Tribe says yes". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2008-09-07.
  13. ^ "Coquille Indian Tribe Library". Coquille Indian Tribe. Retrieved 2014-04-05.
  14. ^ Macnaughtan, Don (1995). "Remembering the Rhinoceros: The Coquille Indian Tribe Establish a New Tribal Library on the Central Oregon Coast". Vol. OLA Quarterly 1, no. 2. Retrieved 2018-05-31.
  15. ^ Templeton, Amelia (April 24, 2013). "Coquille Tribe Wants Second Casino In Medford". OPB.
  16. ^ "ORCA Communications, High Speed Internet Access - OREGON". Retrieved 2019-06-28.
  17. ^ "Tribe Revives Culture and Fortunes by Raising Cranberries Archived 2007-12-06 at the Wayback Machine," American News Service, November 18, 1999
  18. ^ Stiles, Greg (September 8, 2012). "Indian tribe buys, leases properties for casino". Ashland Daily Tidings. Retrieved 2012-09-09.


External links[edit]