Yakonan Indians

Yakonan Family, Yakonan Stock, Yakonan Tribes. A linguistic family formerly occupying a territory in west Oregon, on and adjacent to the coast from Yaquina River south to Umpqua River. The family was probably never strong in numbers and of late years (1905) has decreased rapidly. The few survivors are on the Siletz Reservation, in Oregon. The family is of considerable ethnologic interest, since it apparently represents the southern limit of a type of culture exhibited particularly by the Chinookan, Salishan, and other tribes of the coast of Washington and Vancouver island. The Athapascan tribes of south Oregon and north California seem to have been more deeply affected by contact with Californian stocks.

The Yakonan conformed physically to the general type of the north west coast and are notable as marking the southern limit in that region of the practice of artificial deformation of the head. Their social organization is not fully understood, but there was no totemic clan system, though a tendency to local segregation of groups related by blood was evident in their villages. There was also a preference for marriage outside the tribe, though this did not have the force of an exogamous rule, so far as can be learned. The social orders of nobility and common people, peculiar to the north west coast, obtained, and slavery was an institution in full force until the tribes came under the control of the United States. The Yakonan mythology and traditions are distinctly of the type of the coast tribes of Washington, but they show traces of modification by contact with the Californian stocks on the south The family was composed of 4 tribes occupying adjacent districts, which, from north to south, were: Yaquina, Alsea, Siuslaw, and Kuitsh. These tribes have played an unimportant role in history and little is known of them. On the formation of the Siletz Reservation in 1855 they were removed thither, and since that time they have declined so rapidly in numbers, principally through the ravages of tuberculosis, that they are now on the verge of extinction.


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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