"WEST COAST ATHABASKANS We do not know for certain when the Athabaskan tribes arrived in the area, but it was probably along the coast, perhaps 1,000 years ago. They seem to have left three small tribes in their wake: the Nicola  amongst the Thompson River Indians of Britisth Columbia; the Kwalhioqua  in the Willapa Hills of southwestern Washington; and the Clatskanie,  probably Kwalhioqua who crossed into Oregon before 1775 and occupied an area about 70 miles inland from the mouth of the Columbia River. These tribes are extinct. However, the large territory held by the major communities of the Pacific coast Athabaskans extended not quite continuously from the Umpqua River in Oregon to the head of the Eel River in California. The California tribes numbered about 7,000 and the Oregon groups about the same in aboriginal times.

"COQUILLE  Sometimes known as Upper Coquille, or Mishikhwutmetumme; an Athabascan tribe on the east fork of the Coquille River, Oregon, west of Myrtle Creek. They lived in lean-to houses of cedar planks and subsisted on acorns, deer, and fish including salmon. Some were forced onto the Siletz Reservation, where 15 'Upper Coquille' were reported in 1910. A mixed blod faction known as the 'Coquille tribe' are a few dozen people of Coos-Coquille extraction living in their old location who are today seeking settlement of their land claims. The 'Confederated Tribes of Siletz' numbered about 900 shortly before termination of reservation status in 1956; the Coquille were one of many ancestries who form the group.

"UMPQUA  Often known as the 'Upper Umpqua', they lived mostly on the south fork of the Umpqua River, Oregon, near present Roseburg, where they were met by Astorian fur traders in the early 19th century. They numbered som 400 in the mid-19th century; forced north to the Grand Ronde Reservation, they reported 84 in 1902. One band, the Cow Creek Indians, survived in their old homes, and a few descendants still live around Riddle south of Myrtle Creek, Oregon, numbering 221 in 1985. These were part of a reported 700 people in southwestern Oregon in 1956, descendants of Athabascans, Coos, Siuslaw and others living in some 37 different locations but chiefly around the Roseburg and Coos Bay areas. The same general group were reported as numbering 730 in the 1970 census.

"TUTUTNI  An Athabascan tribe of the Illinois and lower Rogue Rivers in southwestern Oregon who also occupied the coast south to the Chetco River; they are commonly called 'Coast Rogues'. They were contacted by the British explorer George Vancouver in 1792. Although subsequent contact with other vessels and inland fur traders brought epidemics they still numbered around 1,300 in 1850. They suffered the same fate as many other southwestern Oregon groups, being shipped to the Siletz-Grand Ronde complex in 1857. By 1910 only 383 survived; in 1930 just 41 were reported under this name; a few others under the names 'Maguenodon' and 'Joshua', numbering 39 and 45 respectively in 1945, seem to be of Tututni origin. They are now part of the 'Confederated Siletz'. A group known as the Naltunnhtunne  may have been very closely related to, or a subgroup of, the Tututni.

"CHASTACOSTA  A small Athabaskan tribe on the lower course of the Illinois River near its junction with the Rogue River. They joined the general Indian resistance to white settlement in their lands but were moved north to the Siletz Agency where a few remain. They were given as 153 in 1858, 30 in 1937, and 20 in 1945.

"TALTUSHTUNTUDE  A small Athabascan tribe from the upper middle course of the Rogue River, Oregon, on Galice Creek, who were subsequently moved to the Siletz Reservation. A group called "Galice Creek" numbered 42 in 1937, and ten in 1945.

"DAKUBETEDE  Small Athabaskan tribe from Applegate Creek, a tributary of the upper Rogue River, Oregon; probably now extinct.

"CHETCO  An Athabaskan people of the mouth of the Chetco River near present Brookings, Oregon. They lived in wooden plank houses and were closely allied to the Tolowa to the south. They aided other 'Coast Rogue' Indians in the general resistance of 1853-1856, and were moved north to the Siletz Reservation, where they numbered only nine in 1910.

"TOLOWA or SMITH RIVER  An Athabascan tribe who occupied the Smith River drainage and some of the nearby coast in the extreme northeastern corner of California. Linguistically they were closer to the Rogue River tribes to the north than to their relatives to the south. They resided in permanent villages along the coast in winter, and in late summer they moved inland for salmon and acorns. Their house types were low peaked redwood plank dwellings with gable end entrances. Tolowa society was dominated by acquisition of wealth, usually dentalium shells, obsidian blades and woodpecker scalps. Ceremonialism associated with the taking of the first salmon and sea lion suggests that they belonged with the northern Californian 'World Renewal' complex of the Karok, Yurok and Hupa type. The overland explorations of Jebediah Smith were their first contacts with whites, and intensive white settlement of this region came after 1850. They probably numbered more than 1,000 in pre-contact times; but the census of 1910 gave only 121 Tolowa, a result of diseases and numerous attacks by whites on their settlements. Two small reserves (called 'rancherias' in California), at Crescent City and Smith River, Del Norte County, California have been home for some Tolowa descendants, reported as numbering 37 and 113 respectively in 1945."

(Johnson, p. 178-179)

This page was last updated on Saturday, February 8, 1997 1:19:04 AM