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For the 16th year in a row, the Coquille Tribal Community Fund awarded grants this week to a variety of social service and non-profit organizations that themselves make our community better. Almost $362,000 went to 44 organizations, like the Addictions Recovery Center, Bay Are Senior Activity Center, ORCCA Food Share and the South Coast Clambake Jazz Festival’s Music in the Schools Program.

Since it began giving grants in 2002, the fund has awarded nearly $5.9 million to 700 non-profit and charity organizations in Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson and Lane counties. The grants focused on organizations that deliver services that fall under one of seven categories: education, public safety, the environment, historic preservation, health, arts and culture and problem gaming.

As we noted last year, it’s true that in order to operate a casino, the Coquille, just as other tribes, must agree with the state to return a percentage of profits to communities. The Coquille always has more than met that requirement, as have many other tribal groups.

But that ethos of sharing and giving back was practiced long before the casino ever existed. Sharing is an integral aspect of indigenous Native cultures that becomes enmeshed into tribal business and economics.

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Nearly every tribal entity in the United States and the Native corporations in Alaska have, as an integral part of their enterprises, a strong social service component. Those social service functions aren’t an afterthought or an add-on; they are naturally interwoven into the corporate ethos.

So, in that way, you could say that these annual grants carry as much spiritual significance as they do economic importance to the recipients.

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And that spiritual aspect is what makes these annual grants from all of Oregon’s tribes special. If all business corporations operated with the same spiritual ethos, then it would be easier to accept the U.S. Supreme Court assertion that corporations have the same rights as real people.

Again, thanks to the Coquille Tribe and its Community Fund.

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