The U.S. House passed legislation this week that would provide a land base for two Western Oregon tribes.
The Oregon Tribal Fairness Action (H.R. 1306) would provide 17,500 acres of federal land to the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians. Another 15,000 acres would be held in trust for the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians. Neither tribe currently has a land base.
This is not the first time Rep. Peter DeFazio’s Western Oregon Tribal Fairness Act has passed the House.
Michael Rondeau, CEO of Cow Creek, says the speed at which it passed this year has him feeling hopeful for passage in the Senate, where it stalled previously.
“To get to this point in the past two Congresses, it was very late. So we’ve got more time to push and work and try to see that it can get passed through,” he said.
The legislation also gives the Coquille Indian Tribe authority to determine how to manage forestland transferred to the tribe in 1996. Right now, the Coquille is the only tribe in the U.S. that’s required to adhere to the same timber harvest rules as those imposed on adjacent federal forests.
“We are happy to have Congress recognize the disparity that burdened our tribe for so long,” Tribal Chairwoman Brenda Meade said in a statement.
All three tribes would be required to follow federal rules prohibiting the export of unprocessed logs overseas.
A Senate version of the bill, introduced by Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, has passed out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee.