Miluck Indians Live Off Bounty of South Slough Estuary

Jun 25, 2014

 About 1,500 years before the South Slough near Charleston, Ore., became the country’s first national estuarine sanctuary in 1974, Miluk Indians began living in seasonal villages alongside the slough. 

The Oregon Encyclopedia states that they gathered in seasonal camps and small villages of about 100 people, where they “subsisted on deer, elk, seafood, berries, seaweed, and edible plants and roots.”  Their shell-refuse heaps, known as middens, and their fish traps are still present along shorelines. They lived off the natural bounty of the slough during the summer and returned to inland camps in winter. In the 1850s Euro-American settlers arrived and began clearing the forest around the slough.  They established the fishing village of Charleston at the junction of the Coos and South Slough estuaries. Thirty years later the slough mouth was widened and stabilized to allow it to support year-round trade. Dredging, draining, and deforestation continued at the slough until the 1970s when a federal grant made it possible for the State of Oregon to buy land and conserve the slough. The reserve is open to the public and has an interpretive center and small natural museum.

Source: Lund, David. "South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve." Oregon Encyclopedia. Web. 22 May 2014.