Annual outdoor festival celebrating the culture and traditions of the Coquille Indian Tribe and other Pacific Northwest Tribes, will be back on Oregon’s Adventure Coast: Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston September 10-11, 2022
Indigenous people have lived and thrived in the fertile landscape on the Southern Oregon Coast for thousands of years, long before Euro-American settlers would arrive. Oregon’s Adventure Coast: Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston is home to two of the nine federally recognized Native American Tribes in the state of Oregon. The rich and diverse cultures of the Coquille Indian Tribe
(pronounced “ko-kwel”) and Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians
are intricately woven into our history.
Travel Oregon recently took the important step of publishing a new guide to Tribal Nations (copies are available at the Coos Bay Visitor Center). And with the annual Mill-Luck Salmon Celebration
just around the corner (September 10-11, 2022), we decided this would be the perfect time to share some interesting facts and highlight some of the many contributions made by indigenous people on Oregon’s South Coast.
About the Coquille Indian Tribe
“Our ancestors flourished among the forests, rivers, meadows and beaches of southwestern Oregon. The land and water offered endless life-sustaining resources, and our people adapted ingeniously to this waterside paradise.” - Coquille Indian Tribe
- Ancestors of the Coquille Indian Tribe spoke multiple languages. Those living near Bandon and along Coos Bay’s South Slough spoke Miluk
, while those farther south and east spoke an Athabaskan dialect
- In 1989, Congress passed the Coquille Restoration Act, and the Tribe was once again recognized as a sovereign nation of Indian people. In 1996, the Coquille Tribe resumed stewardship of 5,410 acres, a fraction of their ancestral homeland.
- Today the Coquille Indian Tribe
numbers nearly 1,200 people and controls about 10,000 acres of their ancestral homeland as sustainable forest.
- The Coquille Indian Tribe is the Coos Bay area’s second-largest employer, active in hospitality, forestry, health care, construction and other ventures. The tribe’s growing network of enterprises provides $20 million a year in local salaries and benefits, and inject millions into the local economy.
- In the spirit of the tribe’s “potlatch” tradition, profits and revenue are invested back into the community and help provide education assistance, health care and elder services for both members and non-members. Since 2001, the Coquille Tribal Community Fund
has distributed millions of dollars to the area’s non-profit organizations like food pantries, homeless programs, music programs, museums, community centers, veterans groups, and services for children.
- Chief Jason Younker
is a University of Oregon faculty member and grew up on the shores of Coos Bay’s South Slough. He holds three graduate degrees, including a doctorate in cultural anthropology. He also chairs the board of Oregon’s Chemawa Indian School and is past president of the Association of Indigenous Archaeologists.
About the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians
“A sense of abundance and gratitude defines the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, a cultural identity that springs from the richness of their ancestral homeland.” - Travel Oregon
- For millennia, the miluk (Coos), hanis (Coos), shayuushtl’a (Siuslaw) and quuiich (Lower Umpqua) people thrived along the freshwater rivers and saltwater bays of what today is called the Central and South Coast of Oregon. Their historic territory extended some 2,500 square miles, from the wind-sculpted sand dunes along the Pacific to the ancient forests of the Coast Range.
- The names of the three major rivers in our region, Coos, Umpqua and Siuslaw can be traced to the heritage of the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, as can many of their lakes.
- Pacific lamprey, also known as eel, are an ancient species of fish prized for their oily filets. Coos Tribes believed that eels must be fileted using a freshwater mussel shell as a knife.
- In 1954, the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians were stripped of their federal recognition. Tribal citizen members fought for 3 decades to regain this federal status, and their sovereign status was restored on October 17, 1984. The tribes celebrate this day annually with a remembrance hike and community meal.
- The traditional connection all Tribal communities have to the water is honored through canoeing. Each year, they gather for Canoe Journey, a special event that is helping revitalize culture and restore our connections to each other and the lands and waters of their ancestral land.
- Three Rivers Casino Resort
and Blue Earth Services and Technology
are wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians. These companies provide hundreds of jobs and help to promote tourism to our community.
- You can learn more by visiting the Abundance StoryMap
provided by the modern Tribal government of Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw.
About the Mill-Luck Salmon Celebration
Much like the Salmon returns upstream, the Mill-Luck Salmon Celebration
is returning to the Mill Casino Hotel & RV Park in North Bend after a hiatus in 2020 & 2021 due to COVID. This annual event is a free outdoor festival celebrating the heritage, culture and traditions of the Coquille Indian Tribe
and other Pacific Northwest Tribes, with residents and visitors to Oregon’s Adventure Coast: Coos Bay, North Bend and Charleston. Here are some of the details:
- Festival attendees can enjoy free daily performances by Native American storytellers, drummers, flutists and dancers, a marketplace offering traditional wares and foods, a bay-front canoe exhibit and races, traditional games and activities for children, plus various cultural demonstrations and educational exhibits for the whole family.
- The traditional salmon bake meal, a ticketed event, will be served from 11 AM – 5 PM Saturday and 11 AM – 4 PM Sunday.
- Presale tickets for the Salmon Bake Meal are available in Ko-Kwel Gifts
and include a commemorative Salmon Celebration tee shirt (while supplies last). Guests may also purchase their meal at the meal tent during the event. Please visit www.themillcasino.com
for schedule and Salmon Bake Dinner ticket information.
More Interesting Facts About the History of Indigenous People on Oregon’s South Coast
- For Indigenous people all over the Pacific Northwest, salmon is an important sign of abundance and an indicator of ecosystem health.
- The connection with salmon goes beyond relying on them as a food source. Each year, members of the tribal community will bring the bones of the first-caught salmon to the ocean to celebrate their connection and recognize their sacrifice.
- In the late 1800s, industrial logging began to impact the rivers and waterways and destroyed the habitat for important first foods like salmon and lamprey.
- Today, the tribal community actively works to care for the ecosystems within their Ancestral boundaries, shorelines and beyond by working with partners to restore important habitat, and develop restoration and conservation strategies.
- Traditional homes were red cedar plank houses. Not only did plank houses provide shelter and a place to store food, they were a place for the tribal community to gather for ceremonies and celebrations. Today, Tribal member citizens gather at various locations including the plank house, Tribal hall, administrative offices, and cultural properties.
- Countless generations of Tribal people living on the coast led to the development of many different regional languages and dialects. As a result, most individuals were multilingual.
Bring the whole family for a wonderful weekend of fun on Oregon’s Adventure Coast: Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston! Visit our lodging page
to search through the great options of hotels and inns in the Coos Bay area.
Visitors to Oregon’s Adventure Coast: Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston can learn more about the Coquille Indian Tribe at the Coos History Museum
. Ko-Kwel Gifts
inside The Mill Casino
is open to the public and features an exquisite selection of art, jewelry, and other handmade goods by members of the tribe. Visitors can even view multiple exhibits and displays paying tribute to Coquille history while strolling through the Mill Casino Hotel lobby.
Learn more about indigenous people of Southwest Oregon, specifically the Coquille Indian Tribe, their mission and history:
Guide to Tribal Nations on Travel Oregon
Oregon Tribal Spotlight: Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians
Oregon Tribal Spotlight: Coquille Indian Tribe
Celebrate Oregon’s Indigenous Foods
The Case of the Missing Canoes
Tribal Heritage - The Coquilles
For more travel inspiration, visit our Adventures page
and our Trip Ideas page
to discover all there is to do on Oregon’s Adventure Coast, or request a visitor’s packet today
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