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Cow Creek Umpquas Prosper Despite Broken Treaties

The territory of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians once extended from Crater Lake to the Willamette Valley, and south to the Rogue River watershed.  But in an 1853 treaty, the Cow Creek Band ceded 800 square miles of land for less than three cents an acre in return for protection, housing, and education.

The U.S. government mostly ignored the treaty provisions after 1855, but many members of the Cow Creek band and their descendants remained in Southern Oregon, electing tribal leaders, holding councils, and creating an endowment with funds secured in a land claims suit in 1980.  As a result, the Cow Creek Tribal Nation has survived and today has some 1,600 members.

The tribe owns the Seven Feathers Casino as well as the K-Bar Ranches, which include thousands of acres.  In 2013, the tribe purchased 1,700 acres near Table Rocks in Central Point and is expanding grass-fed beef production there.  Land conservation and wetland restoration is also a priority of the Cow Creek Band, and the tribe hopes to protect land in Southern Oregon for generations to come.

The tribe distributes millions of dollars in grants in Southern Oregon.

Sources: "Cow Creek Story." Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians. Web. 10 Dec. 2014. http://www.cowcreek.com/tribal-government-70/tribal-story;  Stiles, Greg. "K-Bar Ignites Agriculture Boom Beneath Table Rocks." Mail Tribune 8 Dec. 2014 [Medford, OR]. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.

Amy Couture has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Oregon, a master’s in teacher education from Eastern Oregon University, and a master’s in history from Minnesota State University, Mankato.  A former teacher and cross-country coach, she is the author of 14 historical vignettes in the book, Astorians: Eccentric and Extraordinary.