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As It Was: Cow Creek Indians Overcome Century of U.S. Neglect

The Treaty of April 12, 1854, between the U.S. Government and the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians ceded more than 800 square miles of Southern Oregon to the government for 2.3 cents an acre.  The band was left landless.
After a century of failing to provide a promised reservation or health, housing and education benefits, the federal government terminated all relations in 1954 with the Cow Creeks and other Western Oregon bands and tribes.

In 1980, the determined Cow Creek Band filed a land claim in federal court and negotiated a $1.5 million settlement, which the tribe placed in an endowment, using its interest earnings solely for economic development, education and housing.  Subsequently, on Dec. 29, 1982, the U.S. Congress formally recognized the Cow Creek Band as a tribe.

Today, the self-sufficient, 1,600-member tribe has nine federally chartered businesses, among them the popular Seven Feathers Casino Resort on Interstate 5 in Canyonville.

The tribe’s website states that the tribe “is buying back its land” and operating its businesses for development of the tribe and surrounding communities.  It has granted millions of dollars to regional non-profit charitable organizations.  


Sources: Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, Ibid, 2017, www.cowcreek.com/. Accessed 19 July 2019; "Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 26 Aug. 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cow_Creek_Band_of_Umpqua_Tribe_of_Indians.  Accessed 19 July 2019.

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.