The US House of Representatives today approved legislation sponsored by Congressman Peter DeFazio that would strengthen the tribal authority and expand the land rights of three Southwestern Oregon federally-recognized tribes.
Rep. DeFazio’s bill, the Western Oregon Tribal Fairness Act (H.R. 2791) provides land in trust to the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians and to the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians. Currently, the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe Indians and the Confederated tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians do not hold any land in trust. The increase in tribal lands will spur job development and economic growth for both tribes.
The bill also restores the Coquille Indian Tribe’s sovereignty over the Coquille Forest. Unlike any other tribe in the United States, the Coquille Tribe must function under a legal anomaly with regard to managing its forest.
“These tribes have waited for Congress to make good on a deal made decades ago, and today they are finally gaining some of the recognition they deserve,” said Congressman Peter DeFazio. “Due to an embarrassing chapter in our nation’s history, these tribes have been unable to govern themselves as the sovereign nations that they are. While there is still much work to be done, the passage of the Western Oregon Tribal Fairness Act is a move towards progress. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass this legislation quickly.”
“We are thrilled by the passage of H.R. 2791,” said Chairman Mark Ingersoll of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians. “Representatives DeFazio and Walden have helped their colleagues take a big step toward making jobs and justice a reality for the Tribe and for western Oregon.”
“Today is a great step forward toward restoring the integrity of our Treaty with the federal government for a permanent reservation for the Cow Creek people,” said Cow Creek Chairman Dan Courtney. “We are grateful for the tremendous personal effort given by Congressman DeFazio and the whole Oregon delegation in moving our bill through the House of Representatives.”
“This legislation is critical to sustain the Coquille Tribe’s environmentally responsible forest management, which produces jobs and supplies vital logs to Oregon’s struggling mills,” said Coquille Indian Tribe Chairperson Brenda Meade. “We applaud Congressman DeFazio for his tireless work to help Oregon with this legislation.”
The bill now heads to the Senate for further consideration.