New CEO at The Mill

Margaret Simpson, right, will succeed Terri Porcaro as chief executive officer of the Coquille Economic Development Corp., parent company of The Mill Casino-Hotel & RV Park. (Photo by Alison Felton, Life’s Milestones LLC)

Tribal member Simpson will lead casino

NORTH BEND, Ore. – The Coquille Indian Tribe has appointed Margaret Simpson as the first female tribal member to become chief executive officer of The Mill Casino-Hotel & RV Park. 

Simpson began her career at The Mill in 2000 and has worked through roles in food and beverage, players club, marketing and hotel operations. She has served as the assistant general manager and currently holds the general manager position.

She proudly oversaw creation of a tribal member development program, and she was integral in the property’s response to one of its most challenging years, when it closed for three months and restructured due to the coronavirus pandemic.

She accomplished all of this while graduating from college and earning a master’s degree in hospitality from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, America’s top-ranked hospitality and gaming program.

“It is something to celebrate in Indian Country when you see tribal members work their way up,” said tribal Chairman Brenda Meade.

Simpson’s role as CEO puts her in an elite group of young Native Americans who are challenging the dominance of non-Indians in the gaming industry.

“Strong Native people becoming gaming experts is an essential way to advance tribal gaming within the industry,” Simpson said.

Simpson earned enthusiastic backing from the Coquille Tribal Council as well as the board of The Mill’s parent company, the Coquille Economic Development Corp. Board member Eric Smileuske, a longtime gaming industry executive in New York, Washington, Oregon and Arizona and currently an industry consultant, described Simpson as a rare asset for a tribe.

“The opportunities are few and far between to hire a member of their own tribe to be their CEO,” he said.

Smileuske said the board told Simpson, “We didn’t give you this job – you earned it.” He said Simpson offers all the qualifications the tribe could have found in a nationwide talent search.

“I don’t think we compromised by promoting Margaret,” he said. “She is very qualified, she is unassuming, she is capable of leading, she has great gut instincts.”

Simpson will replace her mentor, Terri Porcaro, as CEO. Porcaro, who plans to retire Dec. 31, said she has never met anyone as focused and dedicated as Simpson.

 “She just amazes me every day,” she said. “She cares a lot about her tribe. She wants to see the tribe grow, and she wants to be part of it.”

Simpson said she was “humbled and inspired” by the support she received from the Tribal Council and the CEDCO board. She praised Porcaro, The Mill’s executive team, and CEDCO’s “exceptionally talented” board.

 “Operating the business that provides vital economic resources for my tribe is a huge responsibility that I take very seriously,” she said. “My motivation and desire to honor my ancestors and contribute to a brighter future for the next generations will continue to be the cornerstone of my work.”

Community vaccine events

Tribe Offers Vaccines for Seniors and Teens

 Wednesday, March 17, 2021

 The Coquille Indian Tribe will offer COVID-19 vaccinations for local senior citizens and teens in two special events this week at The Mill Casino-Hotel.

Coos County residents age 65 and older are eligible for vaccinations on Friday, March 19, or Sunday, March 21. Coos County youth age 16-17 are eligible for the Sunday event.

“We’ve been working hard to vaccinate our tribal families, and we’re delighted that we can reach out to the broader community,” said Coquille Tribal Chairman Brenda Meade.

The Sunday event will use the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Unlike the Moderna vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine can be given to anyone age 16 or older. So this event will target two groups: senior citizens age 65 and up, and teens age 16 and 17.

Meade said the Coquille Tribe is grateful for the opportunity to help protect vulnerable senior citizens as well as teens.

 “With kids going back to school and sports, getting them vaccinated will help protect their teachers and coaches and the whole community,” she said.

She noted that sharing this resource with the tribe’s neighbors reflects the traditional culture of Pacific Coast tribes.

“Our potlatch tradition is all about assisting those around us whenever we have the chance,” she said. “We’re so happy that we are in a position to do this.”

Teens and senior citizens can sign up by going to the tribe’s website, Once there, click on the large white box labeled, “COVID-19 Vaccines.”

Both vaccines require a second dose. The tribe will automatically schedule the Pfizer boosters three weeks after the first appointment and the Moderna boosters four weeks after the first appointment.

The Pfizer vaccine is a one-time supply, made possible by a partnership of the Coquille Tribe, the Oregon Health Authority, the Indian Health Service and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians. The OHA and IHS collaborated to provide the vaccine supply, which the two tribes are splitting.

The Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians will help staff Sunday’s event.

Please note: The opportunity to sign up for appointments will end at 4 p.m. the day before each event. The supply of vaccine is limited, and shots at both events are available by appointment only.

For more information, please visit the vaccination page on


Eugene-area Indigenous people soon will have a Coquille Indian Tribe medical clinic

The Eugene Register Guard

An estimated 6,000 Native American and Alaskan Natives in Lane County don’t have a culturally specific medical clinic. The Coquille Indian Tribe is set on changing that.

Read more



Coquille Tribe Opening New Medical Clinic In Eugene

By Brian Bull


The Coquille Indian Tribe is opening an outpatient medical clinic…in Eugene. 

The tribe’s already developing a wellness center in Coos Bay, but citing the “Potlatch Tradition” of sharing resources, Coquille officials say they’re starting a new one in Eugene – more than 100 miles away – where an estimated 6,000 Indigenous people live.  (Read more)





Compass Hotel, Medford

November 19, 2020

Margaritaville Enterprises and The Coquille Indian Tribe
Announce Upcoming Compass Hotel in Medford, Oregon

Following completion in Q1 of 2022, Compass Hotel Medford will
become the first Margaritaville lodging concept in Oregon.

 MEDFORD, OREGON – Today, Cedars Development announced their partnership with Margaritaville Enterprises to bring a new 111-room Compass by Margaritaville Hotel to Medford, Oregon, expected to open in early 2022.

Owned by the Coquille Indian Tribe, Cedars Development is managing the Cedars at Bear Creek, the Tribe’s multi-property economic development project along Pacific Highway in South Medford.

Bringing the fun and flavor of their full-scale resorts to a more boutique concept, Compass Hotel will be the first Margaritaville venue in Oregon. Development kicked off this November on the Tribe’s property at 2399 South Pacific Highway and comes at the same time the community has begun rebuilding from the devastation of Oregon’s Almeda Fire.

“This hotel represents a very important step for the Coquille Tribe’s economic development vision for its Medford properties and for the economic recovery of the South Medford and Phoenix area,” said Coquille Tribal Chair Brenda Meade. “We are fortunate to have a partner like Margaritaville join us in this exciting endeavor.”

Compass Hotels launched in 2020, capturing the Margaritaville state of mind, while delivering fresh, up-scale, and vibrant designs. Compass Hotel in Medford will feature plush and comfortable, island-inspired accommodations and amenities signature to the branded concept in an attentive but laid-back ambiance. Relaxed and casual dining and drinking spaces will offer flavors and entertainment that transport guests to paradise.

“Our team is thrilled to work with Cedars Development on expanding our West Coast portfolio,” shared Tamara Baldanza-Dekker, Chief Marketing Officer at Margaritaville. “We knew this partnership was the perfect fit when Cedars shared their commitment to making visitors feel at home, through the spirit of potlatch, the ancient practice of greeting, feeding and bestowing gifts on guests in daily life, a practice we share in our passion for hospitality.”

Financing for the project comes from Columbia Bank and is guaranteed by the Division of Capital Investment of the federal Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development. Architects for the project are ORW Architecture and Jansen Construction Company of Oregon. Jansen also will manage construction of the hotel.

“It took a truly collaborative effort by all partners to bring the project forward during a pandemic,” said Judy Duffy, CEO of Tribal One and manager of Cedars Development LLC. “We are thrilled to be working with a brand that complements our vision for development in our community and we have appreciated working with staff and agencies at the city of Medford for required permitting and entitlement. We also are particularly grateful for Norton Smith, and the Smith Family who are the former owners of the development site. This project would not have been possible without their support.”

To learn more, please visit and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


 About Compass by Margaritaville 

Margaritaville, a state of mind since 1977, is a global lifestyle brand inspired by Jimmy Buffett, whose songs evoke a passion for tropical escape and relaxation. Margaritaville features over 20 lodging locations and over 20 additional projects in the pipeline, with nearly half under construction, two gaming properties and over 60 food and beverage venues including signature concepts such as Margaritaville Restaurant, award-winning JWB Prime Steak and Seafood, 5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill and LandShark Bar & Grill. More than 20 million travelers every year change their latitude and attitude with a visit to a Margaritaville resort, residential real estate destination, vacation club, vacation home rental or restaurant.

Compass by Margaritaville is the newest addition to global lifestyle brand’s growing collection of concepts, where casual luxury, comfort and convenience all meet. Compass offers a fresh way for guests to relax, rejuvenate and escape the everyday, with an ideal design concept for new builds, adaptive reuse and conversion projects in smaller leisure markets, vibrant downtown hubs and college towns.

Compass by Margaritaville’s first property, Compass Hotel Anna Maria Sound, launched in Florida in Q2 of 2020. Future Compass properties are under development in Medford, Oregon, Beaufort, North Carolina and Louisville, Kentucky.

Margaritaville Media Contact:
Caitlin Galeotti,, 646-202-9782

Tribal One Media Contact:

Ray Doering,, 541-982-3047


A home for healing

Tribe builds holistic wellness center 

From The World newspaper, Coos Bay, Ore

CHARLESTON — Just up the hill from Cape Arago Highway, atop a former cranberry bog, heirs of an ancient culture are creating a new approach to health care.

The Ko-Kwel Wellness center will offer primary health care, dentistry, a pharmacy, behavioral health and more — all under one roof. Coquille Indian Tribe families, tribal employees and patients from the surrounding community will come together in a diversified “one-stop shop.”

“Our goal is to be able to take care of the whole person, not just the part that needs a prescription,” said Coquille Tribal Chairman Brenda Meade. “If you’re a patient here, we want this to be your home for health care.”

The wellness center will be Oregon’s first tribal health facility to welcome the non-tribal public. Upholding the ancient potlatch tradition of sharing resources, it will serve hundreds of Oregon Health Plan patients in collaboration with Advanced Health, the organization that administers OHP locally.

Ben Messner, Advanced Health’s CEO, described the center as “an innovative, patient-centered, full-service primary care model that is truly of significant benefit for Advanced Health members and our entire community.”

When it’s finished next year, the 22,000-square-foot facility will nearly triple the Coquille Tribe’s existing health-care space. The center’s medical, dental and pharmacy departments will work alongside additional services such as chiropractic, massage and acupuncture.

“We have a lot of opportunities to offer more services,” Meade said. “It’s really going to depend on the needs of our patients.”

Situated amid homes and tribal offices on the Kilkich Reservation, the wellness center will be an up-to-date structure, infused with more than 10,000 years of tribal history.

Reinforced concrete and quake-resistant steel piling will combine with indigenous cedar planks and Coquille River rock. The color scheme will evoke the South Coast environment. Indigenous plants will fill an interior courtyard, flanked by corridors tracing the shape of a fishing spear. Showcases will display the tribe’s virtuoso basketry, beadwork and even a cedar canoe.

The facility’s name is another salute to tribal heritage. “Ko-Kwel” is a phonetic spelling of the tribe’s name, based on an Indian word for the Coquille River’s once-abundant lamprey.

“We want tribal members to feel welcomed in a setting that celebrates their history,” Meade said. “And we want to share that sense of history and that feeling of potlatch with others in our community.”

Meade emphasizes that the center won’t aim to compete with existing clinics. Rather, it offers a new option in a community where health care providers can be hard to find.

Construction began in April, led by Medford-based S+B James Construction and aided by several Coos County subcontractors. The job is on schedule despite the economic hardships of a global pandemic.

An innovative financing plan is the reason. A regional nonprofit, Craft3, created a financing package that employs federal lending plus an investment tool called New Market Tax Credits. The investor, Wells Fargo, fronts construction money to the tribe in return for a future tax break.

“Craft3 invests in projects that meet community needs and bring people together – and the new wellness center checks both of those boxes,” said Adam Zimmerman, Craft3’s president and CEO.

“We look forward to seeing this vital community project benefit the local community for years to come,” said Kelly Reilly, a Wells Fargo vice president for corporate communications.

Shutdown Ends

The Mill Casino Reopens

KVAL television report (May 14, 2020)

The World newspaper report (May 14, 2020)

KGW television report (May 15, 2020)

News Release

May 14, 2020

NORTH BEND – Just in time for the 25th anniversary of its original opening, The Mill Casino-Hotel & RV Park once again will welcome the public to enjoy its hospitality and entertainment.

The Mill Casino’s limited reopening will commence Monday, May 18. Hours will be 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.

“Seeing our friends again after a two-month closure will be an exciting moment,” said Brenda Meade, chairman of the Coquille Indian Tribe. “The Mill is a hub of community life on the South Coast, and we’re delighted to resume that role.”

The Mill closed in late March, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the shutdown of public places across the country. With Oregon counties and local businesses making plans to reopen, Meade said the Coquille Tribal Council deliberated carefully about resuming operations. As a sovereign Indian nation, the Coquille Tribe self-governs all operations at its businesses.

“Closing The Mill Casino was heartbreaking for the tribe and our employees, and we’ve been eager to get back to work,” Meade said. “We want everyone to know we remain committed to the health and safety of our guests, our employees and our community.

“Things may look a little bit different for a while, but we are all doing everything we can to make The Mill as friendly, comfortable and fun and as it always has been.”

The Mill Casino originally opened on May 19, 1995, in a converted wood-products plant on the shore of Coos Bay. It has grown into the Coos Bay area’s premier entertainment, lodging and dining venue, as well as Coos County’s second-largest employer.

The Mill Casino = Hotel & RV Park’s contributions to the community’s economy include not only its payroll, but also purchases of goods and services, millions of dollars in grants to community organizations, and taxes and fees paid to local government.  

“Like everyone else who closed during the pandemic, we have to rebuild our business,” Meade said. “It won’t happen all at once, but we’re thrilled to be starting.”

See the “Safe Play Plan” summary