The Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw were the original human groups to inhabit the central and southcentral Oregon coast, which included the Coos Bay, Umpqua and Siuslaw estuaries. The Coos spoke the Hanis and Milluk languages; the Lower Umpqua, Athapascan; and Siuslaw, Kuitsch and Siuslaw.Social life consisted of extended families supervised by a headman. Nearly everything had a spirit, and spirits could exert a positive influence on people's lives. To become a shaman, one had to possess five powers.During the mid-16th century, Spanish, then British explorers touched the Oregon coast, but there was little contact with Indians. Such European diseases as smallpox arrived with the white man's penetration into the area and sickened the tribes. Along with loss of their homelands to white settlement, federal promises of just treatment were persistently broken over the ensuing 100 years.In 1856, the bloody Rogue River War broke out between whites and Indians to the south. Many declined to move.The 1855 treaty left bitter and lasting memories among descendants. In 1941, 6.1 acres of donated land were made available to the tribes for a reservation, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs constructed a tribal hall on the property. In 1984, however, the government reversed its stance and restored recognition of the tribes.A recent major project of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians has been to construct their Three Rivers Casino in Florence, Oregon.
See also Indian Wars Time Table.Native American Cultural Regions Map