Coquille people

The Coquille (or Coquelle - Ko-Kwell) are a Native American people who historically lived in the Coquille River watershed and nearby coast to Charleston/South Slough area on Coos Bay. They along with other tribes, signed the 1855 Coast Treaty - and removed to the Siletz/Coast Reservation in 1856. Most Coquelle people remain there, as members of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians - but some of the off-reservation population is now recognized separately as the Coquille Indian Tribe, and is now centered in southwest Oregon in the United States, where the Coos River flows into Coos Bay.


The name of the Coquille resembles the French word for "shell". This has led to speculation that the name was attached to the Indian people by French Canadian voyageur trappers working for the North West Company, because of the people's diet of shellfish and use of shells as personal ornament. However, a report written for the modern Coquille Indian Tribe suggests that the name comes from a mispronunciation of some native word, possibly for a river, geographic place, or person. Coquille, per an elder of the tribe who spoke with my father in the early 1970s meant "where the land meets the sea and there you provide a living." It was another word for an estuary, where they did their fishing weirs and provided their living every year .[1]


The Coquille are one of the Lower Rogue River Athabascan tribes, which included the Coquille (Upper Coquille, Mishikwutinetunne) tribe,[2] Shastacosta tribe and Tututni tribe (including Euchre Creek (Yukichetunne) band). Bands of Tututni tribe include the Kwatami, Tututunne, Mikonotunne, Chemetunne, Chetleshin, Kwaishtunnetunne, Yukichetunne,[3] and Naltunnetunne.[citation needed]


The Coquille people spoke two languages, Miluk and a Coquille dialect of Lower Rogue River (AKA Tututni-Chastacosta-Coquille) language, an extinct Pacific Coast Athabaskan language classified as part of the Oregon Athabascan subgroup.[4]


Human occupation of the coastal areas of the Coquelle dates back as far as 8,000 years, and 11,000 years in inland areas. Fish traps used on the lower Coquille River have been dated back at least 1,000 years. Extensive oral histories of the Coquille have been collected and preserved at the Coquille Indian Tribe Library in Coos Bay, Oregon.[4][5]

The Coquille fished in the tidewaters and estuaries along the Oregon coastline using fishing weirs and basket traps, and collected shellfish.[6] Some lived in lean-tos made of cedar planks, others constructed homes on wood-frame poles out of willow frames covered with sod or grass reeds.[7]

Modern scholars have documented an extensive network of trails, footpaths, and canoe routes that the Coquille people had developed by the time of contact by the North West Company's Alexander McLeod in 1826.[8]

Mid-19th century to the presentEdit

After the treaty of 1855, the Coquille people were forced to move to the Coastal Indian Reservation (now the Siletz Reservation). Today Coquille people may be part of one of two tribal entities: the Coquille Indian Tribe or the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz.[4][9]

The Rogue River Athabascan tribes (including Coquille), Takelma, Latgawa and Shasta peoples were in 19th century collectively known as Rogue River Indians.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Ivy, Donald B (October 1999). "Report: This report was produced and published for public consumption by the Coquille Indian Tribe" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-04-06.
  2. ^ Gaston, Joseph. "The Indians of Old Oregon: Centennial History of Oregon". Retrieved 2014-04-06.
  3. ^ Wayne Suttles Volume editor "Handbook of North American Indians: Northwest Coast" Volume 7, Jay Miller and William R. Seaburg "Athapaskans of Southwestern Oregon", Government Printing Office, Smithsonian Institution Washington, 1990, p. 580-586 [1]
  4. ^ a b c "Tututni-Chasta Costa-Coquille". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2014-04-05.
  5. ^ "Coquille Indian Tribe Library". Coquille Indian Tribe. Retrieved 2014-04-06.
  6. ^ Byram, R. Scott (January 2002). "Brush Fences and Basket Traps: The Archaeology and Ethnohistory of Tidewater Weir Fishing on the Oregon Coast". Retrieved 2014-04-06.
  7. ^ Ruby, Robert H.; Brown, John A.; Collins, Cary C. (2013-02-27). A Guide to the Indian Tribes of the Pacific Northwest. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 978-0-8061-8950-5.
  8. ^ Zybach, Bob; Don Ivy (2013-01-04). "Coquelle Trails: Early Historical Roads and Trails of the Ancestral Coquille Indian Lands (Vols. I & II)". Retrieved 2014-04-06.
  9. ^ Wasson, George B. "Growing up Indian : an Emic perspective". Retrieved 2014-04-06.

Further readingEdit

  • Hall, Roberta L. The Coquille Indians : yesterday, today and tomorrow. Lake Oswego, Or. : Smith, Smith and Smith Publishing, 1984.
  • Hall, Roberta L. Oral traditions of the Coquille Indians. 1978.
  • Hall, Roberta L. People of the Coquille Estuary : native use of resources on the Oregon coast : an investigation of cultural and environmental change in the Bandon area employing archaeology, ethnology, human biology, and geology. Corvallis, Or. : Words and Pictures Unlimited, 1995.

External linksEdit