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Chehalis Indians

Chehalis Indians. Meaning “sand,” the name derived originally, according to Gibbs (1877), from a village at the entrance of Grays Harbor. Also called:

Connections. The Chehalis belonged to the coastal division of the Salishan linguistic family, being most intimately related to the Humptulips, Wynoochee, and Quinault.

Location. On the lower course of Chehalis River, especially on the south side, and on the south side of Grays Bay. In later times the Chehalis occupied territory to and about Willapa Bay that had formerly been held by the Chinook.


The following villages were originally occupied by Chinook but seem to have shifted in population or language or both so as to become Chehalis: Hwa’hots, Nutskwethlso’k, Quela’ptonlilt, Quer’quelin, Tske’lsos.

Population. Mooney (1928) estimated a population of 1,000 in the year 1780 for the Lower and Upper Chehalis, the Cowlitz, the Humptulips, and related tribes, but the number had sunk to 170 by 1907. However, the census of 1910 gives 282 for the same group exclusive of the Cowlitz. In 1923 the United States Indian Office returned 89, and in 1937, 131.

Connections in which they have become noted. A river, county, and city in Washington preserve the name of the Chehalis. There is a Chehalis in Minnesota but its name probably has no connection with that of the Washington tribe.