Editorial: Terminated tribes deserve more land
"Twenty-five years ago, a terrible wrong was partially righted. It's past time to more fully correct it.

On Oct. 17, 1984, Congress restored federal recognition of the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians.

However, excluded from that action was the return of the tribes' aboriginal lands.

A bit of history is relevant here. Over the previous centuries, the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw had endured the same fate as many other tribes in Oregon and around the West: Broken treaties. Loss of tribal land. Eventual termination of tribal status.

For the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw, that official extinction occurred in 1954 when Congress passed the Western Oregon Termination Act, eliminating tribal status for 43 tribes and bands.

One of the main proponents of that disastrous policy was Interior Secretary Douglas McKay, a former governor of Oregon and mayor of Salem.

Today that action seems inconceivable. How could Congress strip away the heritage, rights and governing roles of American Indian tribes?

Yet today the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw tribes still own a mere few hundred acres of land, a speck compared with the estimated 1.6 million acres that comprised their aboriginal lands."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Land settlement for tribes long overdue (The Salem Statesman-Journal 10/29)