Toni Ann Tanner Brend
Based In: Coos Bay, OR
About the Art
For the Coquille Indian Tribe, the South Slough holds special meaning. When settlers came here, they cleared lands among the Indian villages and built around them. The South Slough Reserve and the lands bordering it were once home to several Indian allotments owned by some ancestors of today’s Coquille Tribe. The Dawes Act of 1887 authorized the government to give allotments consisting of 160, 80, and 40 acres. Those who accepted allotments were granted U.S. citizenship.
The Burke Act of 1906, also known as the Forced Patenting Act, gave the Department of the Interior power to issue allottees a patent in “fee simple” to people deemed “competent and stable.” This took their land out of trust status and subjected them to taxation. Some of these Indian families lost their allotted lands for inability to pay accumulated property taxes to the county. Local timber companies paid the taxes and acquired valuable timber land. My grandmother’s tax on her allotment in 1935 was $7.00 per year.
Today, the Coquille Tribe conducts many projects and activities at South Slough, including contributing to the Interpretive Center’s exhibits, and sponsoring educational field trips. Participants have learned how ancestors utilized and managed the Reserve’s natural resources; harvested spruce root, sedge, and cedar; and used these for traditional items such as baskets. Participants also hike the Wasson Creek Tail with Coquille elders to learn about the Coquille families who lived here on homestead and allotment lands. The Coquille Indian Tribe will continue that support of this great place we call the South Slough Estuary Reserve.