Oregon tribe buying ranch near site of 1850s treaty
MEDFORD — A Native American tribe in Southern Oregon is buying a cattle ranch outside Medford near sites significant in the Rogue Indian Wars of the 1850s.
Wayne Shammel, attorney for the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, said Wednesday that the pending purchase is part of a continuing effort to diversify economic development, so the tribe is not so dependent on its casino in Canyonville.
He added it has no intention of building a casino on the ranch to compete with another tribal casino proposal in Medford.
The Rogue River Ranch covers 1,700 acres on the north side of the Rogue River between Upper and Lower Table Rocks. Shammel said it is near, but does not include, the site where a treaty was signed in 1953 creating a reservation for local tribes, and where an encampment of local Indians was attacked by a group of settlers, rekindling the wars.
“Historically, the location is absolutely unparalleled in terms of Southern Oregon native and pioneer history,” Shammel said.
While the Rogue Valley was south of the Cow Creek Band's traditional territory, there was intermarriage, the two groups shared a common language, and ancestors of modern Cow Creek tribal members lived on the Table Rocks reservation, Shammel said.
Indians from the Table Rocks reservation were marched north to reservations on the coast, where many died of diseases.
The pending purchase was first reported by the Mail Tribune newspaper.
If the purchase goes through, it would double the agricultural holdings of the tribe, said tribal spokeswoman Susan M. Ferris.
“Everyone knows Indian casino gaming will not last forever,” she told the Mail Tribune. “Tribes working to diversify their economy know that.”
The Cow Creeks own the Seven Feathers Casino on Interstate 5 in Canyonville and have opposed a proposal by the Coquille Tribe to build a second casino in Medford. The Coquille Tribe owns The Mill casino in North Bend on U.S. Highway 101.
There are about 150 Cow Creek tribal members in the Rogue Valley, and the tribe is opening a medical office in Medford, Shammel said. The tribe hopes to use the ranch, which includes a small feedlot, to grow hay and alfalfa and raise cattle.