I am honored to live in Empire and look at beautiful Coos Bay and the Pacific Ocean each day. I am conscious that my home is located where generations of Coos Tribal families lived before white immigrants came to the area and changed their way of life and the bay forever.
The proposal by the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians (CTCLUSI) to the National Park Registry to declare areas in Coos Bay a Traditional Cultural Property on the National Registry of Historic Places is a small step to recognize the Coos people’s culture and relationship with this place and its environment. Our Oregon coastal tribes have experienced multiple assaults by colonial powers. In 1846, Great Britain transferred the Oregon Territory to the United States, and the Oregon Organic Act of 1848 developed by the settlers in the Oregon Territory guaranteed Indians right and title to lands and property. In 1855, the tribes signed a treaty drafted by representatives of the federal government to allow for the peaceful acquisition and settlement of the Confederated Tribes ancestral lands with compensation to the Tribes. However, the Treaty of 1855, was not ratified by Congress. Had that happened, as it was for some other tribes in the region, the governance and management of the lands and natural resources would include aspects of co-management, and treaty rights obligations. Instead, the CTCLUSI have been slowly building back their cultural heritage and assets since termination in 1954 and restoration in 1984. It was not until January 2018 that the Western Oregon Tribal Fairness Act was signed to provide 14,742 acres of federal lands in trust for the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians to manage.
The proposed Q’alya ta Kukwis shichdii me Traditional Cultural Property Historic District contains 158 historic "contributing" properties associated with the history, culture, and beliefs of the Coos people, including two buildings and 156 places, or "sites." Such is a small ask for people who have struggled to retain their cultural heritage in their homelands.