Carla Keene, Chairman, Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians

Carla Keene, Chairman
Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians

Seven Feathers Casino Resort in Canyonville, OR

RISKS/REWARDS: Our tribe faces the ongoing challenge of both tribal and non-tribal gaming interests attempting to inappropriately reshape the gaming landscape in Oregon. These attacks on our economic sovereignty diminish tribal self-sufficiency and threaten the long term viability of gaming as a means of economic development and governmental revenue. Poor management of the gaming regulatory landscape by non-tribal governments has pitted tribe against tribe in the State of Oregon and ushered in new non-tribal adventurers seeking the very same scarce resources tribes rely upon. Unfortunately, these attacks on tribal economic sovereignty harm our kids and elders the most. Every effort to diminish our sovereignty has real practical effects in the form of lost housing, education, healthcare, public safety, natural resources, and employment opportunities. We must remain on guard against misguided efforts by tribes, states, and private actors to toss out the norms, rules, and regulations that have helped tribal gaming drive improved outcomes for our people.

Tribal sovereignty across the nation is also at risk. We see more and more of our rights being stripped away, as issues like the Indian Child Welfare Act hang in limbo in the Supreme Court. Taking our children from their heritage, culture and traditions is modern day extermination. We have continually had to fight for our treaty rights and the rights of our people, rights that were promised to us decades ago by the United States government. We will continue in that fight for our youth to have what is rightfully theirs.

PROMOTING LEADERSHIP: The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians continues to move forward in growing future leaders through education, revitalizing our culture – which was lost when we were forced to assimilate into the white world to survive – and bringing back our traditions. We see our tribal citizens coming to work in our businesses and working their way up to management positions. It is such a rewarding experience, not only for them, but for the Elders and the leaders of this tribe. It has taken us years of hard work, vision and perseverance to be where we are today, and we will continue grow despite obstacles that are put in our path.

FUTURE PROJECTS/INITIATIVES: Important initiatives are food sovereignty and making sure that our first foods are always available; clean water, which is what sustains life; and our natural resources, which are ingrained in our traditions and culture. These issues are always first and foremost on our minds. We as a people are part of the land and we know the importance of taking care of the forest, water, and the plants. We are teaching those ways to our young people. Businesses are important to help provide for us, but without the gifts from the Creator, we cannot have life.