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Coos Bay Tribes Recover Sacred Sites

Coos Bay ChiefThe history of the Tribes' land loss was a story that had to be communicated, and that message was heard clearly by the tribal and state communities.

–Francis Somday, Tribal Administrator

In late 2008, the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians recovered 24 acres of their homelands on the Oregon coast, including Gregory Point and Chief's Island, which contain the site of a historic village and a tribal cemetery.

While 24 acres may not seem significant to some, the Tribes had lost their entire land base in 1956 when their federal recognition was terminated. It was not until 1984 that the Tribes regained federal recognition and started to slowly piece their homelands back together. The recent recovery of these culturally significant lands represents a major victory for the Tribes.

ILTF awarded the Tribes a $171,530 grant in 2003 to document significant cultural and sacred sites within the Siuslaw National Forest and to use this research to create public awareness about the Tribes' historical and cultural ties to the land to assist in their land recovery efforts.

Now tribal members are able to pay respects to their ancestors and perform traditional ceremonies on the recovered homelands. Bob Garcia, the Tribes' chairman has assured all of the lands' stakeholders, including local environmental groups, that the Tribes will steward the land with care: "We will care for this land with honor, respect and regard for its beauty, natural resources and cultural values.”

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