Coosan Language Family

Ethnic population: 250 (1977 SIL)The Coosan (also Coos or Kusan) language family consists of two languages spoken along the southern Oregon coast. Both languages are now extinct.

These languages have now been moved to the Penutian language family.

1. Hanis
2. Miluk (also known as Lower Coquille)

Melville Jacobs (1939) says that the Hanis and Miluk languages are as close as Dutch is to German.

Hanis was spoken north of the Miluk around the Coos River and Coos Bay. The name Hanis is derived from há·nis which is the Hanis name for themselves. The last known speaker of Hanis was Martha Johnson who died in 1972.

Miluk was spoken around the lower Coquille River and the South Slough of Coos Bay. Miluk is derived from míluk the Miluk name for themselves, which is related to a village name.

The last known speaker of Miluk was Annie Miner Peterson (who knew both Miluk and Hanis and recorded songs and myths on phonographs). She died in 1939.

The origin of the name Coos is uncertain: one idea is that it is derived from a Hanis stem gus- meaning ‘south’ as in gusimídži·č ‘southward’; another idea is that it is derived from a southwestern Oregon Athabaskan word ku·s meaning ‘bay’.

Genetic relations


In 1916 Edward Sapir suggested that the Coosan languages are part of a larger Oregon Penutian genetic grouping. This is the currently accepted hypothosis today.

Related Tribes:Coos Tribe