The Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians (CTCLUSI) of Oregon are a federally recognized Native American tribe of Hanis Coos, Miluk Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw people in Oregon. They are indigenous peoples of the Plateau.
The Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians are the original inhabitants of the central and south-central coast of Oregon. Their homeland includes the estuaries of the Coos Bay, and the Umpqua and Siuslaw Rivers. The Tribes have been operating under a confederated government since the signing of the Treaty of August, 1855.
The tribes did not have contact with Europeans until 1792. In 1791 American Captain James Baker entered the Umpqua Indians’ lands and traded with the Lower Umpqua for about twelve days. In February 8th 1806 was the first time the Coos were mentioned by Euro-Americans. William Clark, wintering at Fort Clatsop near the Columbia with Meriwether Lewis and the Corp of Discovery, reported the existence of the “Cook-koo-oose nation”. Most of the tribal population died in the epidemics which followed European contact. In 1824 Smallpoks had entirely wiped out the Hanis Coos Indian village at Tenmile Lakes.
In 1836 A measles outbreak struck indian villages on the Coos Bay reducing the population from 2,000 to 800. Such European diseases as smallpox arrived with the white man’s penetration into the area and sickened the tribes. The Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians maintained peaceful relations with settlers as they began to stream in from the East.
In 1860 the remnants of these and other tribes were forced onto the Siletz Reservation. The reservation was split into three parts, with one section being opened to non-native settlement and another becoming the Alsea Reservation, which was opened to non-native settlement in 1875. The Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw formally organized in 1916. They adopted their first constitution in 1938 and ratified their current constitution in 1987.
The Confederated Tribes have continuously maintained an elected governing body from 1916 to present. Since federal recognition was restored in October 1984, the Tribes have established a broad range of services to members and non-member Indians. Provisions for the establishment of a primary reservation are currently being addressed by Congress. In 1916, the Tribes established a formal, elected tribal government that they have maintained ever since. Then, in 1941, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) took a small privately donated parcel (6.12 acres) into trust for the Confederated Tribes in the city of Coos Bay. On this small “reservation”, the BIA also erected a Tribal Hall that included an assembly hall, kitchen, offices and medical clinic. It is still in use today and is on the Register of Historic Places.
In the late 1940’s, the U.S. government started action to withdraw recognition of some Indian tribes. The Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians voted to strongly oppose termination. However, without their knowledge or consent, they were included in the Western Oregon Termination Act of 1954.
Even though the U.S. government officially terminated them, the Confederated Tribes never sold their small reservation and Tribal Hall, and, instead, maintained it. During the Termination Years (1954 to 1984), the Confederated Tribes attempted to provide services to its members with the few resources that they had. They also continued to fight for restoration, and recognition as a sovereign nation.
Then, on October 17, 1984, as a result of a long moral, legal and legislative battle, President Ronald Reagan restored the Tribes to federal recognition by signing Public Law 98-481. The Tribes’ sovereignty was once again recognized and funding was restored for education, housing and health programs. In 1987, the Tribe approved a constitution and began to lay the groundwork for a self-sufficiency plan.
In spite of these obstacles, the Tribes have been continually building on the basic framework established by Restoration Act.