“For the purposes of this Act:

(a) “Tribe” means any of the tribes, bands, groups, or communities of Indians located west of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon, including the following: Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community, Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, Alsea, Applegate Creek, Calapooya, Chaftan, Chempho, Chetco, Chetlessington, Chinook, Clackamas, Clatskanie, Clatsop, Clowwewalla, Coos, Cow Creek, Euchees, Galic Creek, Grave, Joshua, Karok, Kathlamet, Kusotony, Kwatami or Sixes, Lakmiut, Long Tom Creek, Lower Coquille, Lower Umpqua, Maddy, Mackanotin, Mary’s River, Multnomah, Munsel Creek, Naltunnetunne, Nehalem, Nestucca, Northern Molalla, Port Orford, Pudding River, Rogue River, Salmon River, Santiam, Scoton, Shasta, Shasta Costa, Siletz, Siuslaw, Skiloot, Southern Molalla, Takelma, Tillamook, Tolowa, Tualatin, Tututui, Upper Coquille, Upper Umpqua, Willamette Tumwater, Yamhill, Yaquina, and Yoncalla…”

Western Oregon Termination Act of August 13, 1954, Section 2

The government acknowledged the Chinook in October 1953 when the BIA summoned the Chinook Indian Tribe to Termination hearings held in Bay Center, Washington. As historian Stephen Dow Beckham notes, forty-seven tribal members attended the first hearing and sixteen attended the second. Oregon tribes were officially terminated by an act of Congress in 1954. Three groups of Chinook were specifically named in the Western Oregon Termination Act: “Chinook,” “Clatsop,” and “Kathlamet.” The “Chinook” named in the legislation lived on the north shore of the Columbia River in Washington State. But because Chinookan socio-political organization differs from designations imposed by the U.S. federal government, the Columbia as a boundary is historically meaningless for them. Rather, the Chinook identify themselves with certain places along the north shore of the river, including innumerable village sites and contemporary places like Dahlia, Pillar Rock, Brookfield, and at Willapa Bay.

Meanwhile, as Termination proceeded on the south side of the Columbia, Washington’s Taholah BIA Agency on the Quinault Reservation assumed official termination would proceed in kind. Consequently, the BIA office began “administrative termination,” to gradually end its relationship with the Chinook. Federal policies were inconsistent and caused long-term problems for contemporary Chinook people. The Bureau sometimes reported great numbers of Chinook living both on and off the Quinault Reservation, and approved Chinook applications for Blue Cards for Indian fishing and hunting without a license. At other times, the BIA denied knowledge of a Chinook tribe or any relationship with them.

Two groups of Chinook established claims during this period, a split that occurred in part due to BIA deadlines. One group of families from the Bay Center and South Bend, Washington area called themselves the Chinook Indian Tribes, Inc. They filed Articles of Incorporation on June 15, 1953, and filed a Constitution and By-laws with the State of Washington on December 16, 1953. The Chinook Indian Tribe included among its members and leaders: Roland Charley, Lewis Hawkes, Myrtle (Johnson) Woodcock, Jack Petit, Catherine (Herrold) Troeh, Claude Wain, Charles E. Larsen, and Paul Petit. The Elliott Family, historically based in the Pillar Rock area and including John Grant Elliott, Kent Elliott, and Frank Quigley, led the other group and called themselves the Chinook Indian Nation. They filed their Constitution and Bylaws in 1954, and their Articles of Incorporation in 1972. Both groups descended from the 1851 Lower Band of Chinook, family members of those enrolled in 1906 and 1913 by Charles E. McChesney or Roblin in 1919.

The groups overlapped in that many people belonged to both and all sought confirmation of fishing rights and recognition. In 1984 a joint council merged the two groups as the Chinook Indian Tribe.