Opponents Blast Coquille Casino Proposal At Federal Hearing in Medford
The Coquille Indian tribe operates a casino and resort in North Bend, on the Oregon coast. Tuesday night, opponents wearing fluorescent yellow T-shirts saying “No Medford Casino” packed a hearing on the tribe’s proposal to build a second gaming facility in south Medford.
About 300 people crowded into the auditorium at North Medford High School to voice their views to officials from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The Coquille tribe is asking the government to place a 2.4-acre parcel off Highway 99 into federal trust status, reserving it for the tribe.
Coquille tribal chair Brenda Meade said approval of the request would be the fulfillment of commitments made when Congress restored the tribe’s legal status in 1989, several decades after stripping it of federal recognition.
Brenda Meade: “Today, we ask the federal government to uphold its promise to the Coquille people and to consider our trust land application on its merits.”
Meade said the casino would provide jobs and economic benefits to the surrounding community as well as the tribe. And she promised the tribe would be a good and generous neighbor.
Still, all but a few of the nearly three dozen speakers who gave testimony opposed the application.
Prominent among them were members of the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribes. The band operates the Seven Feathers casino and resort about an hour’s drive north of Medford. Vera Jones, a Cow Creek elder, said competition from a Coquille casino in Medford would be devastating.
Vera Jones: “The loss of revenue would directly and severely impact services my tribe provides to its members, to our children and to our elders.”
Other speakers warned of increased crime, gambling addiction and public costs if the casino were built. Elected officials from Jackson County and the city of Medford raised objections, as well.
The comment period for this stage of the proposal ends on February 17th.
INSTRUCTIONS For Comment:
DATES: Written comments on the scope of the EIS must arrive by February 17, 2015. The date of a public scoping meeting will be announced at least 15 days in advance through a notice to be published in the local newspaper, the Mail Tribune, and posted at www.coquilleeis.com. ADDRESSES: You may mail or hand-deliver written comments to Mr. Stanley Speaks, Northwest Regional Director, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Northwest Region, 911 Northeast 11th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97232- 4165. Please include your name, return address, and ``DEIS Scoping Comments, Coquille Indian Tribe Fee-to-Trust and Casino Project'' on the first page of your written comments. The location of a public scoping meeting will be announced at least 15 days in advance through a notice to be published in the local newspaper, the Mail Tribune, and posted at www.coquilleeis.com. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. BJ Howerton, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Northwest Regional Office, 911 Northeast 11th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97232; fax (503) 231-2275; phone (503) 231-6749.