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A Relationship with Indigenous Lands

We call the portion of the Oregon Coast where we are active in conserving land our “service area.” It extends roughly from the crest of the Coast Range west to the ocean shore and from the lower Columbia River south to the mouth of Siletz Bay.

Those service area boundaries are among many boundaries layered onto this landscape by colonists, who arrived here beginning in the early 19th century, and their descendants.

However, these lands were fully inhabited since time immemorial by the coastal indigenous peoples of the Clatsop, Nehalem, Tillamook and Siletz tribes.  Many other tribes came through this territory to trade and have ceremony and familial relations with the tribes of this homeland. It was a thriving canoe and salmon culture blessed with abundance.

Coastal tribes began to lose control of their homeland from the smallpox pandemic and other diseases brought by white people; raids by fur traders on villages in order to seize the mouth of the Columbia and other important trade routes; forcible relocation that moved members of some tribes to distant reservations; and finally, the theft of their homeland by white settlers, largely as a result of the broken treaties.

Tribes thrived on the Oregon North Coast prior to colonization, with rich culture based in family, ancestry, wisdom, song, craft, art, food and medicine. Tribes cared for the land and sea, along with native plants and animals, in a reciprocal relationship rooted in gratitude for the bounty that the Creator, the Earth, provides.

North Coast Land Conservancy relates deeply to these values, aspires to learn from tribal members, and seeks ways to help tribes reestablish connection with their tribal homelands through access to ancestral homelands, honoring treaty rights, and seeking restoration of lands to the original peoples.