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The Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians are the aboriginal 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.
In October 2008, the historic Oregon Cape Arago Lighthouse, along with 24 acres surrounding the area, was officially transferred to the CTC by approval through President G.W.Bush and Congress by the Oregon Surplus Federal Land Act. Because of restrictions by the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000 and former ownership by the U.S. Coast Guard, tribes were unable to claim ownership of the property. The area serves as a significant sacred site for religious ceremonies, as Cape Arago was once a tribal burial ground and historic village. (Ross, 2008) In return for ownership, the lighthouse must be maintained and made available to the public for the sake of preservation. The tribes still seeks to ownership for 43,000 acres of Siuslaw National Forest and 125 acres of forestland near Reedsport. The CTC once owned 1.6 million acres in southwest Oregon but lost it all after an 1855 treaty eliminated their rights and displaced many of the tribes. (The World, 2008)
Miluk-speaking peoples lived along the lower Coos Bay while Hanis-speaking people lived along the main body of the Bay.
From pioneer days to the present, Coos Bay, Oregon's largest bay, has represented a commercial passage to the sea. The name is derived from one of the area's Native American tribes that has two meanings --"lake" and "place of pines." Several Native American tribes call the Coos Bay region their ancestral homeland. An estimated 2,000 Coosan Indians lived along the shores of Boos Bay. Prior to European settlement the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians and the Coquille Indians lived in the area for thousands of years. They were permanent residents, living in the area all year around. They were dependent upon the land and the water, the Pacific Ocean and other waterways, the forests and meadows providing sustenance.
The daily life of the Coos was a direct reflection of the natural environment around them. Bones of the great blue herons were fashioned into needles for sewing reed mats and clothing; weirs of alder and vine maple were made to trap salmon, they used the whale's flesh and blubber for food and oil; the large vertebrae from the whale's skeleton served as comfortable camp stools; the drift logs that were washed down by winter floods were used to madke dugout canoes and planks for their houses.