Yachats wasn’t always called Yachats.

After European settlers moved to the area, the first post office was established in 1887 with the name of Ocean View, according to Oregon Geographic Names. Ocean View remained until 1916, when the name was changed to Yachats – pronounced YAH-hots— a word derived from area Native American languages, the Yachats Chamber of Commerce explains.

American Indians lived seasonally and fished along the coast and the Yachats River, which is supported by archeological evidence, such as piles of shells, or middens, found along the oceanside bluffs in the Yachats vicinity.

In Oregon Geographic Names, the word Yachats is said to mean “at the foot of the mountain.” Other Native American words, such as Yahaite, Yachatc, Yahach and Ya’Xaik, also might refer to this same mountain location.

More on the word Ya’Xaik (pronounced YAH-khik) can be gleaned on the Ya’Xaik Trail, across Highway 101 to the east of the Fireside Motel and Overleaf Lodge.

Interpretive signs along the trail, which you can see virtually by watching Walks with Drew: Ya’Xaik Trail, explain that the Ya’Xaik “… were a band of the Alsea Tribe and lived for many thousands of years in what is now Yachats.” These hunter-gatherers would spend their summers on the coast and their winters inland and fed on salmon, shellfish, deer and whales, among the bounty of coastal food sources.

The interpretive signs along the Ya’Xaik Trail also don’t shy from sharing the tragic and brutal effects of European settlement upon the American Indian experience in Yachats and along the Oregon Coast, which included dying from diseases, living as if imprisoned and being relocated.

In present day, place names, such as Yachats and the Ya’Xaik Trail, rightly honor the Oregon Coast’s indigenous American heritage and cultures.