Turning a Housing Development into a Community
In January 2002, the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpquah,
and Siuslaw Indians completed their first tribal housing development.
The Qaxas Heights development in North Bend, Oregon, provides
15 units of rental housing to tribal members. This is just the start.
Using their new housing development as a central point, the Confederated
Tribes are busy building a community
In 1984 when the Confederated Tribes were re-recognized by the
Federal Government, they had almost no land-base, and no reservation/Trust
land. Instead, the Bureau of Indian Affairs gave them a "service
area"--they can provide services, including housing, to tribal
members anywhere throughout a five county area in southwest Oregon.
The Confederated Tribes, whose members number nearly a thousand,
are working diligently to improve social and educational status
of their people.
Culture of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Tribes
The Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians
are among the aboriginal inhabitants of the central and south-central
coast of Oregon. Their homelands included the estuaries of the Coos
Bay, and the Umpqua and Siuslaw Rivers. The lush forests, abundant
fresh water rivers and streams, and the Pacific Ocean and its bays
were sources of abundant fish, game, and vegetation that sustained
numerous tribes along the Oregon coast.
The daily life of these tribes was a direct reflection of the natural
environment around them. Bones of the great blue herons were fashioned
into needles for sewing reed mats and clothing; weirs of alder and
vine maple were made to trap salmon; they used the whale's flesh
and blubber for food and oil; the large vertebrae from the whale's
skeleton served as comfortable camp stools; the drift logs that
were washed down by winter floods were used to make dugout canoes
and planks for their winter homes.
The Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw were originally four separate
tribes (Coos had two independent branches) that were linked by shared
geography and distantly related languages.
A Tea Party Combines Fun & Learning
The fun starts here! Qaxas Heights played host to the community's
First Annual Tea Party. The girls, each sporting a hand-made tea
party hat, enjoyed a special reading of "Miss Spider's Tea
Party" as told by a guest speaker from the S.M.A.R.T. Reading
Program. They also learned about the children's summer computer
classes at Tribal Hall, while everyone enjoyed cookies and lemonade.
The Qaxas Heights children are planting their own community garden.
The purpose of the garden is two-fold: to teach children respectful
stewardship of our earth; and, the Housing staff hopes it will help
the kids respect the expensive landscaping in community spaces and
stay off the young trees! The kids were each given a "wedge"
of land and planted corn, squash, pumpkins, carrots and sunflowers.
Resident Council: Fun & Business
The community has its own Resident Council that meets monthly.
A recent Resident Council meeting was followed by a community barbeque
at the Qaxas Firepit. It's a great way to foster community: hamburgers,
hotdogs, chips and brownies.
Note the housing units in the background---through the barbeque
The Tribal Hall Facility Building, built in the early 1940's, is
the site for the new Tribal Childcare Center. During a recent Blessing
Ceremony, Chief James Lott asked that the project be completed on
behalf of the Tribes' most cherished assets; their children.
In May 2002, construction began to double the space of the Facility
Building, enlarging the usable space to 3500 square feet, to accommodate
a full service childcare facility. The construction includes a large
event room that can be separated by folding walls to make 3 classrooms
to care for children of different ages. On weekends the facility
will be used for large Tribal gatherings and events such as the
Funding for the daycare project includes a $335,000 Indian Community
Development Block Grant from HUD/ONAP, and the construction is being
managed by the Tribal Housing Department.
Tribal members can now pursue employment and continuing education,
while being confident the best care and security will be offered
to their children at the Tribal Daycare Center.