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Celebrating Native American Heritage Month on Oregon’s Adventure Coast

Celebrating Native American Heritage Month on Oregon’s Adventure Coast

Thu, Nov 3, 2022

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November is Native American Heritage Month and a golden opportunity to learn more about the history, culture and contributions made by Native Americans on both a local and national level. Our region is the homeland of many Native American Tribes, including the Coquille Indian Tribe , Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians, and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians . For thousands of years, members of these tribes have lived, fished, hunted and gathered along the southern Oregon Coast and its estuaries, rivers, and in meadows and forests - long before the first European settlers would ever arrive.

Travel Oregon recently published a Guide to Tribal Nations (copies are available at the Coos Bay Visitor Center or click here to download the guide ). The guide highlights each of the nine federally recognized tribes of Oregon, including those on Oregon’s Adventure Coast: Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston:

Coquille Indian Tribe Ancestors of the Coquille Indian Tribe flourished in Southwestern Oregon for thousands of years, roaming a homeland that stretched across more than 1 million acres. Today, the Coquille (pronounced ko-kwel) Indian Tribe numbers nearly 1,200 people. It is the second-largest employer on Oregon’s Adventure Coast, and proudly practices the ancient tradition of potlatch, employing its resources to enrich the whole community. The tribe’s unofficial motto is, “Take what you need and leave some for the others.”

Confederated Tribes of 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. Their original territory consisted of close to 2 million acres of shorelines, rivers, lakes, estuaries and mixed forests. This land fosters a complex and thriving human culture with games, ceremonies and celebrations that live on in the lives of Tribal citizens.

Here are some local destinations where visitors can learn about the tribal heritage on Oregon’s Adventure Coast: Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston

Coos Bay Boardwalk In celebration of Native American Heritage Month , the Coos Bay City Council held a Tribal Flag Ceremony on October 28, 2022 at the Coos Bay Boardwalk, where the three tribal flags of the Coquille Indian Tribe, Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians, and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indian will be flown henceforth. The ceremony included a presentation to each of the three tribal governments.

Coos History Museum The Coos History Museum opened a new exhibit this month, Reclaiming Our Words: Tribal Language on the South Coast, a collaboration with the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians, the Coquille Indian Tribe, and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians. The new exhibit, located in the Main Gallery through October 2023, features the Tribal languages of the Southern Oregon Coast and the efforts to preserve and share them. Visitors will gain a deeper understanding of the importance of language to Native American culture, and the history of how the languages were and are passed down. Explore and learn Native words through interactive visual and audio displays and see explanations of how local place names originated. All are welcome to view the exhibit during museum opening hours, Tuesday – Saturday from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, included with museum admission.

Coquille Tribal Forest The Coquille Tribal Forest is generally open to the public for recreational use. Some roads, however, may be closed to motorized traffic for the protection of cultural resources.

The Sek-wet-se Tribal Forest and the Empire Reservation are not open to the public.

For details on accessing specific places, the public is encouraged to contact the Coquille Indian Tribe Natural Resources Department at (541) 756-0904.

Gaming Adventures Oregon’s Adventure Coast: Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston is also home to two Vegas-style and casino-gaming attractions : The Mill Casino • Hotel & RV Park (owned and operated by the Coquille Indian Tribe) and Three Rivers Casino – Coos Bay (owned and operated by the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians).

Mill-Luck Salmon Celebration The Mill-Luck Salmon Celebration is an annual event celebrating the heritage, culture and traditions of the Coquille Indian Tribe and other Pacific Northwest Tribes. This free outdoor festival happens the second weekend of September each year at Mill Casino * Hotel & RV Park in North Bend. Visitors can enjoy 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 is available for purchase.

Here are additional details about both the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians and the Coquille Indian Tribe. Originally posted in this September 2022 Blog Post


  • 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 injects 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 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.


  • 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 fillets. Coos Tribes believed eels must be filleted 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 helps revitalize culture and restore our connections to each other and the lands and waters of their ancestral land.


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(541) 269-0215
50 Central Ave, Coos Bay, OR 97420

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