The original Coquille Indians were called Mishikhwutmetunne, which is to say, "people living on the stream called Mishi." They were an Athabascan band, dating to 6,000 years ago, who lived in southwest Oregon on the east fork of the Coquille River. They also lived along bays and estuaries of the same area. Their languages were Clatskanie, Umpqua and Coquille-Tolowa.
The Coquille people resided in lean-to dwellings made of cedar planks. They subsisted on deer, fish (especially salmon) and acorns.
In the early 19th century the tribe, which numbered about 8,000 members, contracted such diseases as smallpox and malaria from incoming white trappers. With no immunity to those exotic scourges, their population plummeted to several hundred.
The trappers were followed shortly by land-hungry settlers and gold-hungry miners backed by U.S. soldiers who marginalized the Coquille and neighboring tribes with bloody aggression. The Coquille signed two peace treaties with the government, but the Congress failed to ratify them. Ultimately, the Coquille were forcibly removed from their lands and marched north to the Siletz Reservation in 1857.
The Coquille commenced a long effort to seek redress from the government for the loss of their lands and by the 1940s managed to gain a measure of recompense in the U.S. Court of Claims in Washington, D.C. However, in 1954, House Concurrent Resolution 108 terminated the tribe's legal status with the federal government and they had to start all over. In 1989, the government finally reversed course and restored its recognition of the Coquille.
See also Indian Wars .
Native American Cultural Regions Map