Kusan Indians

Kusan Family, Kusan Indian Tribe. A small linguistic stock former formerly occupying villages on Coos River and Bay, and on lower Coquille River, Oregon. The name is from that of the tribe, Coos or Kusa, which is said to be taken from one of the Rogue River dialects in which it means ‘lake,’ ‘lagoon,’ or ‘inland bay.’ Within historic times there have been 4 villages in this region in which the Kusan language was spoken. It is probable that at an earlier period the family extended much farther Inland along the tributaries of Coos bay, but had been gradually forced into the contracted area on the coast by the pressure of the Athapascan tribes on the south and east and the Yakonan on the north. The stock is now practically extinct; the few survivors, for the greater part of mixed blood, are on the Siletz Reservation in Oregon, whither they went after ceding their lands by (unconfirmed) treaty of 1855. Practically nothing is known of the customs of this people, but there is no reason to suppose that they differed markedly from their neighbors on the north. The social unit was apparently the village, and there is no trace of a clan or gentile system other than the relationships naturally arising in a locally restricted group.  It is interesting to note also that the practice of deforming the head was not current among the Kusan, although prevalent among the Yakonan, their northern neighbors. The Kusan villages known to have existed are: Melukitz, north side of Coos Bay; Anasitch, south side of Coos Bay; Mulluk (speaking a different dialect), north side of Coquille River; Nasumi, south side of Coquille River.

For Further Study

The following articles and manuscripts will shed additional light on the Kusan as both an ethnological study, and as a people.

  • Powell in 7th Rep. B. A. E., 89, 1891


Siletz Reservation,

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

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