History
 

Origins of Name Yachats cont.

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Uncovered by Kentta was a reference found in the 1862 Alsea Sub-Agency Report, written by Agent Linus Brock. He wrote, “This farm” [referring to the Coos-Umpqua reservation area north of the Yachats River] is situated on the south end of a narrow prairie, the Indians name of this was Ya-ha-u tah, [this appears to be a phonetic spelling] which derives its name from the small river which empties into the ocean at this point.’39 Verification is found in Hays’ book The Land That Kept Its Promise:
A History of South Lincoln County. She described a childhood memory of her husband, Chester. Chester Hays related this memory, in more detail in 1995. Chester and his father were fishing at the mouth of the Yachats River with Indians who had come down from the Siletz Reservation to fish for smelt, Chester Hays’ father knew Chinook jargon, the trade language used among the American Indians of this region. One of the Alsea Indians asked why the river was called Yachats. The Alsea stated it was not the correct pronunciation. Rather, the name was Yahutë,4° That story is important because Chester’s memory of this Alsea name for the river is much closer to the agent’s pronunciation. Yet, Don Whereat doubts that name is Alsea, as it does not resemble their dialect.41

What does become clear is that the various spellings and pronunciations of Yachats are from names given to this area by the Alsea and Coos, and mispronounced by the agents.

As to the meaning of Yachats, Hays gives a concise summary of several interpretations:

“Dark water at the foot of the mountain,”
“Dark water between timbered hill,”

The Chinook meaning of Yahutes is, “little River with big mouth.”42

During our review of Harrington’s Field Notes, two more definitions emerged. Clara
Pearson, a Tillamook Indian, reported to Harrington that in the Tiallamook dialect
Yachats means sexual intercourse.43

Ludson, Albert, Evenhoff, and Scott all stated Yachats was in Alsea Territory. Scott interpreted Yahike to mean, “as far as you can go along the beach.”44 This last definition makes sense as it described where the rocks begin at the north end of the Yachats’ 804 Trail. All these interpretations may be accurate since American Indians often named their respective areas or other territories by geographical descriptions.45

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