Co-keel vs. Coke-well: Which is correct for Coquille? Both!

Co-keel vs. Coke-well: Which is correct for Coquille? Both! »Play Video
Look, the Coquille (Co-Keel) River Lighthouse! Or is it Coke-well? Does anybody really know?

COQUILLE, Ore. -- You say tomato (toe-may-toe), I say tomato (Toe-ma-toe).

Seems to be the same dilemma with the pronunciation of the Coos County town and the Indian tribe with the same name... or are they?

Over the last couple of weeks, emails have started to roll in about the pronunciation of Coquille (Co-Keel), and how we aren't saying it right.

Are the emails correct?  So what it it? Co-Keel or Coke-well?

Simple answer: It's both!

Much like the controversy that pretty much remains unresolved in the pronunciation of the coastal town of Alsea, people are definitely set in their ways about the correct way to say Coquille.

This is what KCBY found out: If you are talking about the town, it's Co-Keel. If you are talking about the tribe, it's Coke-well.

Ready to be even more confused? Ken Tanner, the Coquille Tribe's Chief, says that for a time, they used the Co-Keel pronunciation. "Coquille used to be called 'coke-well' until the people changed its name back in the early 20s by vote from 'coke-well' to Co-Keel," said Tanner. "But we have over the years preserved it, by my father and grandfather, by calling it 'coke-well'."

The name Coquille (Coke-well) comes from an eel that was present in local rivers when it was just the tribe living on the south coast.

General rule of thumb: If you are talking about the city, it's Co-Keel. If you are talking about the tribe, it's Coke-well.

Any questions?