Umpqua people

  (Redirected from Lower Umpqua people)

The Umpqua are an umbrella group of several distinct tribal entities of Native Americans of the Umpqua Basin in present-day south central Oregon in the United States. The tribes spoke several different languages: Siuslaw (Lower Umpqua), Yoncalla (Southern Kalapuya), Upper Umpqua, Takelma, and possibly the Molalla language - all Penutian languages with the exception of "Upper Umpqua" which are part of the Oregon Athabaskan languages. The area south of Roseburg is known as the Umpqua Valley. The name "Umpqua" dates back to as recently as the early 1800s, when the Coquille tribe of Native Americans inhabited the area. ... Other theories report that "Umpqua" means "thundering water" or "dancing water" or "bring across the river."

"Umpqua Indian", drawn by Alfred Thomas Agate


Lower UmpquaEdit

The Lower Umpqua (Kuitsh) spoke the ″Lower Umpqua (Kuitsh/Quuiič) dialect″ of the now-extinct Siuslaw language and are close related to the Siuslaw proper (Shaiyuushhla), which spoke the ″Siuslaw (Šaayušła) dialect″ of the same language. Their self-designation was Kuitsh, Quuiič or Quuiich (″The Southern People″, probably derived from the words qiiuu, ″south″, and hiich, ″people″).[1] The Lower Umpqua (Kuitsh) lived on the coast from Siltcoos River south to Tenmile Creek, and up the Umpqua Estuary to just above the head of tide, and up the tributaries to the estuary including Smith River.

The Kuitsh (often called Lower Umpqua or Kalawatset) "had their winter villages around Winchester Bay, at the mouth of the Umpqua River ... Kuitsh fishing camps were common up the Umpqua River as far as the modern town of Scottsburg ... In 1828, the Kuitsh attacked and wiped out the Jedediah Smith exploring party at the mouth of the Umpqua, leaving only 3 survivors ... The Kuitsh were deported north to a desolate reservation at Yachats in the 1850s, where they hung on in desperate conditions until 1875. [2]

The Lower Umpqua (Kuitsh) people are represented by the following tribes:

Yoncalla (Southern Kalapuya)Edit

The Yoncalla or Southern Kalapuya were one of three distinct dialect groupings of Kalapuyan peoples, which spoke the now-extinct Yoncalla (Southern Kalapuya) language. The Southern Kalapuya spoke two or three (?) dialects along Elk Creek, Yoncalla Creek and Calapooya Creek and the middle Umpqua River. In the Treaty of Calapooia Creek, Oregon, (November 29, 1854), the Umpqua and Kalapuyan tribes of the Umpqua Valley ceded their lands to the United States.

The Yoncalla (Southern Kalapuya) are represented by the following tribes:

(Upper) UmpquaEdit

The Umpqua people - often known as the Upper Umpqua, lived mostly on the South Umpqua River near present Roseburg, Oregon and the Umpqua River upstream of the head of tide (present-day Scottsburg, Oregon) and numbered about 400 in the mid-19th century. Their self-designation was Etnemitane (no translation), it is also given as Tl'uu-dv-nee-yu (variants: Tɬʼʋ́ˑdɜnnǽˑyyʋˑ / Tɬʼʋˑddɜnnæᵗˑyyʋˑ - "Upper Umpqua people"; lit: "prairie people", from tl'u' - "prairie", dv-nee-yu (dɜnnǽˑyyʋ) - "people") or simple Dv-nee-yu / Dv-ne (variant: Dɜnnǽˑyyʋˑ - "people").[3] Their now-extinct Upper Umpqua language formed with three other closely related languages the ″Oregon Athabaskan cluster″ of the Pacific Coast Athabaskan languages.

By neighboring Athapascan-speaking peoples they were known as ″Umpqua River People″:

Tututni and (Upper) Coquille-Tututni: Ci-cta-́qwût-mê ́ t̟ûn-nĕ
Chasta Costa-Tututni: Ci-stá-qwŭt dv-nee-yu
Naltunne-Tututni: Cac-taⁿ-́qwût me-́t̟ûn-nĕ
Chetco-Tolowa: Ûm-́kwa-me (origin of the English word Umpqua)

When forced north to the Grand Ronde Reservation, they reported 84 in 1902. Although known to early explorers and settlers as Umpqua, the people and their language are now usually called ″Upper Umpqua″ to distinguish them from the unrelated ″Kuitsh (Lower Umpqua) people″ closer to the coast in the same area, which language were part of the Oregon Coast Penutian languages. The tribe signed a treaty with the U.S. federal government on September 19, 1853. The Upper Umpqua was the first Oregon tribe to sign a federal treaty.

The Upper Umpqua people are represented by the following tribes:

Cow Creek Band of Upper UmpquaEdit

Originally a band of the Takelma people along the South Umpqua River, Myrtle Creek, and Cow Creek, which spoke the ″Cow Creek dialect″ of the now-extinct Takelma language. They were called Cow Creek Takelma, The Cow Creek Band or Upper Umpqua. In actuality several different tribal entities were included in this umbrella group, including Upper Umpqua Targunsans, Grave Creek Umpqua/Milwaletas ("small long-time-ago people") along Grave Creek (both Athabascan-speaking bands), and possibly some Southern Molalas. No fewer than three distinct languages were spoken by the Native Americans agglomerated by the government as the "Cow Creek Band."

The Cow Creek Band of Upper Umpqua are represented by the following tribes:

The ″Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians″ now operates the Seven Feathers Hotel & Casino Resort in Canyonville.

Southern MolalaEdit

The Molala were living along the Deschutes River, and later moved to the Molalla River and Santiam River - known as "Northern Molala", and to the headwaters of the Umpqua River and Rogue River - known as "Southern Molala"; they spoke the now-extinct Molalla language which was part of the Plateau Penutian languages.

The Molala people are represented by the following tribes:


During the early 1800s, fur traders employed by the Hudson's Bay Company were the first non-natives encountered by the Umpqua and other Oregon native peoples. The Umpqua were less than tolerant of most of these intrusions. Their hostility culminated in the 1828 massacre of fifteen members of the American exploring party led by Jedediah Smith.

The Umpqua suffered mass mortality in the California smallpox epidemic of 1837-8, and from malaria and other diseases[citation needed]. They blamed traders for bringing these diseases, which only added to their aversion to them. The Hudson's Bay Company and the Russian authorities offered programs of vaccination against smallpox, but the Umpqua did not accept vaccination.[4]


  1. ^ Shichils' Blog - Meanings of tribal names
  2. ^ Macnaughtan, Don (2004). "The Siuslaw and Kuitsh Indians of the Oregon Coast: Bibliography of the Siuslaw and Kuitsh Indians, An Indigenous People of the Central Oregon Coast". Retrieved 2018-05-30.
  3. ^ ILDA - Indigenous Languages Digital Archive
  4. ^ Robert T. Boyd, The Coming of the Spirit of Pestilence: Introduced Infectious Diseases and Population Decline among Northwest Coast Indians. page 132. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 1999. accessed 20 November 2013.

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