Turning a Housing Development into a Community

[Logo: Confederated Tribes Logo]

[Photo 1: Child playing outside]

[Photo 2: Qaxax Heights children having a tea party]

[Photo 3: Children planting a garden]

[Photo 4: Community  barbeque]

[Photo 5: Tribal Childcare Center]

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.

Planting Seeds

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 smoke.

Childcare Facility

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 Salmon Ceremony.

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.

Content Archived: August 16, 2011