Published on December 20, 2012 by Amy
The Coquille Indian Tribe is the federally recognized Native American tribe of Coquille people, who have traditionally lived on the southern Oregon Coast.
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Pre-contact through the mid-19th century
Treaty with the United States
In 1855, Joel Palmer, Oregon Superintendent of Indian Affairs, negotiated a treaty with the Coquille and surrounding tribes that set aside 125 miles (201 km) of coastline that extended from the Siltcoos River to Cape Lookout to form the Coastal (or Siletz) Indian Reservation near present-day Florence. The Coquille people were forcibly marched to the reservation in 1856; however, the treaty was never ratified by Congress. Disease and overcrowding were problems on the reservation, which was eventually reduced to a fraction of its former size. The remnants of the original Coastal Indian Reservation are contained in the Siletz Reservation and associated tribally owned lands. Over the years many Coquilles returned to their traditional homeland and fought for the acknowledgement of the Treaty of 1855.
Termination and restoration
The U.S. federal government terminated its recognition of the Coquille as part of the Termination Act of 1954.
In 1989 the tribe regained its federal recognition. With restoration came tribal sovereignty, which gives the Tribe authority to form its own government and have jurisdiction over Tribal lands, businesses and community members.
Coquille Indian Reservation
The Confederated Tribes of Siletz, based in Siletz, Oregon, recognize that the Coquille people are one of the tribes that make up their confederation. The Confederated Tribes of Siletz continue to live on the Siletz Indian Reservation. In addition, by an Act of Congress in 1996, the Coquille Tribe now has reservation area totalling 6,512 acres (26 km2). The United States Census Bureau reported the Coquille Indian Reservation’s land area as 26.947 km² (10.404 sq mi) and the 2000 census official resident population as 258 persons. The reservation’s lands are located in numerous non-contiguous parcels of land in southern Coos County, mostly in and to the southeast of the Coos Bay-North Bend urban area. Parts of the communities of Bandon, Barview, Coos Bay, and North Bend extend onto reservation lands.
The “Oregon Resources Conservation Act of 1996″ (part of Public Law 104-208) restored to the Coquille Tribe approximately 5,400 acres of forest in Coos County, Oregon. The Act’s author, Oregon’s senior Senator Mark Hatfield, said of the Coquille Forest: “I hope this proposal, with its relatively modest acreage and the required adherence to the most environmentally friendly forest management plan ever implemented in the Pacific Northwest–President Clinton’s forest plan–is successful and can become a model for how our Nation deals with other claims by native American tribes.” The Forest was formally taken into trust for the Tribe by the U.S. government on September 30, 1998. The Coquille Forest represents a reclaimed heritage. For future generations, the Forest begins a legacy of dedication to renewal of cultural traditions and self-determination. The Coquille Forest comprises fourteen separate parcels of former BLM timberlands in eastern Coos County.
Unlike other forests held in trust for and managed by federally recognized tribes, under the National Indian Forest Resources Management Act, the Coquille Forest has the additional requirement of meeting the “standards and guidelines” of adjacent federal forests, such as the Northwest Forest Plan. While most federal forests have not met their timber production expectations under the Northwest Forest Plan, the Coquille Forest is widely considered the only entity to meet both the ecological and economic outputs of the Northwest Forest Plan.
In 2011, the U.S. Secretary of Interior endorsed the first component of the landscape management proposal in which the Coquille Indian Tribe and the BLM will work together to develop a demonstration timber sale pilot in coordination with professors Norm Johnson and Jerry Franklin. This pilot will demonstrate the professors’ ecological principles of variable retention regeneration harvest in the Oregon coast range. The timber sale will be designed under the Northwest Forest Plan and comply with all BLM requirements.
Management of the Coquille Forest has earned recognition of being environmentally sound and sustainable. The Forest Stewardship Council certified the Coquille Forest in September 2011.
The tribal government is based in North Bend.
In 2008 the tribe legalized same-sex marriage. Although the Oregon voters approved an amendment to the Oregon Constitution in 2004 to prohibit such marriages, the Coquille are not bound by the Oregon Constitution, because they are a federally recognized sovereign nation.
The Coquille Tribe owns several businesses, including The Mill Casino • Hotel in Coos Bay, an organic cranberry growing and packing operation in North Bend, Heritage Place assisted living center, and ORCA Communications, a telecommunications provider. Coquille Cranberries is the leading commercial grower of organic cranberries on the West Coast.
In September 2012, the tribe announced plans for a casino in Medford, to be built in a bowling alley that was acquired for $1.6 million. The tribe is also leasing an adjacent golf course.