History of the Coquille Indian Tribe

Although their world was relatively isolated, outsiders would sometimes appear in Coos Bay. Alsea and Chinook traders paddled down from the north coast, bargaining with dentalium shell, the money of the Northwest Coast. Occasionally, more sinister fleets of slavers would raid the Coquille villages from as far away as Vancouver Island. Other strange vessels appeared - lost Spanish galleons from the Manila run, and drifting junks from East Asia.

But none of the intruders had the devastating impact of the final arrivals. First, deadly epidemics ravaged the coast as American and British ships arrived. Between 1851 and 1855, miners looking for gold repeatedly attacked the Coquille village at Bandon, massacring the inhabitants. By the mid-1850s, the American Indian population in Coos and Curry counties had plummeted from 8,000 to a few hundred. In 1856, troops rounded up the survivors and deported them to concentration camps at Yachats and Siletz, where they were virtually abandoned and left to starve, along with most of the other native peoples of Western Oregon. Not only were the people physically exterminated, but a unique culture was lost. The land of the Coquille was destroyed. Old village sites were plowed under, and canoes and house timbers were converted to horse troughs and fences.

One of the most tragic things in Coquille History is the Massacre of January 28th, 1854. The Coquille Tribe was attacked by a group of forty miners who were digging gold nearby. They believe that the two main instigators were Packwood and Soapy. The Tribe was shot down as they were trying to escape from there houses. It is recorded that 15 men and one woman were killed, while two women were severely wounded. Out of the forty miners none of them were injured.

More historical information on the Coquille Indian Tribe can be found at the Knight Library at the University of Oregon. You can also find Archives in Western Oregon and Northwestern California.