Healing the Coquille River

Our salmon don’t have to disappear

Jii-la! (Greetings, friends!)

I’m Brenda Meade, chairman of the Coquille Indian Tribe. Coquille River salmon have nourished my people for countless generations. Our ancestors have  relished and revered these amazing fish since time began.

But a tragedy has struck in the past few years. Fall Chinook salmon have nearly disappeared from the Coquille River. 

Barely a decade ago, in 2010, more than 30,000 fall run Chinook returned to spawn in the river. In recent years, that number has shrunk to just a few hundred. These wonderful fish are on the edge of extinction.


What’s killing our salmon?

Several issues have come together to cause this tragedy:

  • Invasive bass species devour juvenile salmon on their way to the ocean.
  • Year after year, ODFW’s brood stock collection falls short of its goals, while seals feast on adult salmon returning to spawn in the river.
  • Pollution, sediment and warmer water impede the salmon life cycle.
  • Old, deteriorated fish hatcheries produce too few smolts.
  • Rigid state policies prevent effective management.
  • The Coquille River is a low priority in the state budget.

We’re stepping up

Despite these challenges, we believe the Coquille River’s fall Chinook salmon still can be saved. In the summer of 2021, the Coquille Tribe proposed to partner with the State of Oregon on this issue.

We are developing a new kind of cooperative relationship with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife – to address the salmon crisis, and ultimately to co-manage the Coquille watershed. We will collaborate with state and local officials, landowners and sportsmen to clean up the river, thwart the predators, revitalize the hatcheries and restore habitat.

Please join us in this urgent mission.


How it’s going

A seining event in late September produced a hopeful start on gathering brood stock for the Bandon Hatchery. At right, tribal biologist Helena Linnell carries a newly captured salmon to a holding tank.

Learn more


Ways you can help

  • Write Gov. Kate BrownAsk her to make the Coquille River’s salmon a priority. 
  • Volunteer to help –  We’ll need help with the hatchery, habitat projects and more. Or just let us list you as a Community Partner.
  • Catch some bass Stripers and smallmouth bass are bad for salmon, but they’re good for dinner, and the Coquille River has no limit on them.  Until Oct. 31, you can even spear smallmouth. 
  • Share your story –  Tell us your memories of salmon fishing on the Coquille River. 

Community partners

City of Bandon

“We join the Coquille Indian Tribe in sounding the alarm about the salmon’s plight.”  Full text

___________________________

Port of Bandon

“We urge your support to rescue this ancient and cherished resource from extinction.” Full text

________________________________

Bandon Chamber

“When the shocking news came this spring from ODF&W that the Coquille River would be completely closed to all salmon fishing in 2021, it spelled more disaster for our community.”  Full text

__________________________________

Coos County Commissioners

“Cooperative management offers our best possible hope for success in saving the fall-run Chinook salmon and improving the health the watershed.” Full text

___________________________________

City of Powers

“We urge you to accept the tribe’s help and build an effective coalition to heal our watershed.” Full text

___________________________________

Bay Area Chamber of Commerce

“We join other local voices to endorse the Coquille Tribe’s co-management proposal.” Full text

__________________________________

Coquille Watershed Association

“In the face of climate change, land use and water quality issues, it is critical to act now to reverse alarming trends in the watershed.” Full text


2022 Grants

Coquille Indian Tribe Offers Grants

Aug. 24, 2021

NORTH BEND – After focusing on pandemic-related projects in 2021, the Coquille Tribal Community Fund will return to supporting a broad range of community programs in 2022.

“We felt the need to assist the local COVID-19 response last time,” said tribal Chairman Brenda Meade. “In our new grant cycle, we’ll still consider COVID-related projects, but we also want to serve a variety of community needs.”

The tribe shared $266,107 with more than 60 community organizations and projects in southwestern Oregon in 2021. All the 2021 grants targeted pandemic-related expenses of local and regional organizations. 

The grant recipients included food pantries, homeless programs, museums, community centers, veterans groups, services for children and even a couple of music programs.

“It’s a huge privilege to be able to help so many outstanding organizations and projects,” Meade said.

Master Gardener Marrie Caldiero of Coos Bay washes her hands while volunteering at the Coos Bay Farmers Market. The Coquille Tribal Community Fund provided $3,640 for the market to rent six mobile hand-washing stations – a requirement for staying open during the pandemic. ‘Basically we couldn’t have the market without the hand-washing stations,’ said Market Manager Melissa Hasart. The market was one of 60-plus community organizations that shared more than a quarter-million dollars in grants this year.

 

The biggest share of the money, about $97,000, went to Coos County organizations. Lane County groups received about $52,000, Jackson County $44,000, Douglas County $33,000, and Curry County $33,000.

The five counties make up the Coquille Tribe’s congressionally designated service area, based on significant populations of tribal members living in each county. The grants are funded by a share of annual revenue from The Mill Casino-Hotel & RV Park in North Bend.

The tribal fund is one of southwestern Oregon’s leading sources of community grants, distributing more than $7 million over the past two decades.

The fund will accept letters of inquiry for its upcoming grant cycle during September and October from organizations in all five counties. As in years past, the 2022 grants will focus on seven categories: education, public safety, arts and culture, environment, historic preservation, health and gaming addiction.

“We give big grants and little ones,” said Jackie Chambers, the fund’s administrator. “We encourage all kinds of projects and programs to apply.”

Letters of inquiry for the 2022 grants are due Oct. 31. Organizations whose letters are accepted will be invited to submit formal applications by Nov. 30. Grants will be announced in late February or early March.

For more information, visit the tribal fund website at www.coquilletribalfund.org, or contact Chambers at jackiechambers@coquilletribe.org or (541) 756-0904, ext. 1201.

Click here to see a list of all 2021 grants.

Community Fund Grants, 2021

2021 Award List

Coquille Tribal Community Fund

The Coquille Indian Tribe distributed more than a quarter-million dollars in community grants in 2021, specifically targeting organizations affected by COVID-19. Here’s how the money was used:

Coos County

  1. All Tribes Mental Health Services Inc. received $5,000 to provide free mental health services to low-income clients.
  2. Alternative Youth Activities received $5,000 for a quarantine room at the old Charleston School.
  3. Bandon Historical Society Museum received $2,610 for a secure offsite storage unit.
  4. Bay Area Chamber of Commerce received $750 for a laptop computer to enable Zoom meetings.
  5. Bay Area Hospital Cancer Center received $1,500 for gift cards to help patients attend appointments.
  6. Bob Belloni Ranch Inc. received $3,000 to buy thermometers and telehealth counseling equipment.
  7. Charleston Fishing Families received $7,000 to support operating costs.
  8. Community Coalition of Empire (CCE) received $1,560 to support the flower basket program.
  9. Coos Bay Downtown Association received $3,640 for hand-washing stations during the farmers market.
  10. Coos History Museum received $5,000 to upgrade internet service.
  11. The Coos Health & Wellness South Coast Older Adult Behavioral Health Initiative received $2,700 to advertise about mental illness, isolation and loneliness.
  12. The Coquille Indian Tribe’s Culture, Education, and Learning Services (CELS) Department received $1,574 to buy picnic tables for Effie Acres, a riverfront property designated for use by tribal youth.
  13. The Coquille Indian Tribe’s Ko-Kwel Wellness Center received $5,000 for fitness equipment.
  14. The Egyptian Theatre Preservation Association received $4,630 to buy plexiglass, sanitizing sprayers, signage and other pandemic-related items.
  15. Friends of the Lakeside Public Library received $1,500 to support a summer reading program.
  16. Knights of Columbus Council 1261 of North Bend received $3,000 for a food basket program.
  17. The Mingus Park Pool Board received $3,347 for a vacuum to clean the pool.
  18. Pacific Pregnancy Clinic received $3,150 for prenatal vitamins.
  19. Powers Food Pantry received $7,200 for operating costs and food purchases.
  20. Sea Breeze Harmony Chorus received $1,765 to buy masks for singers.
  21. SMART Reading received $5,000 to provide books for children.
  22. The Bandon Community Child Care Center received $5,000 for a used modular facility.
  23. Southwestern Oregon Veterans Outreach Inc. received $2,500 for emergency food, shelter, clothing and transportation.
  24. The Nancy Devereux Center received $7,500 to support meal services.
  25. The SAFE Project received $4,099 for technology and safety at an emergency shelter program.
  26. Harmony United Methodist Church received $3,500 for the Blossom Gulch snack pack program.

Curry County

  1. Brookings Harbor Community Helpers received $5,000 to buy items such as personal protective equipment, diapers and feminine hygiene products.
  2. Christian Help of Gold Beach Inc. received $2,500 to support operating costs.
  3. The community garden at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church received $5,975 for fencing, irrigation and raised garden beds.
  4. Curry Historical Society received $4,000 for safety improvements and building upgrades.
  5. Gold Beach Community Center received $5,000 for a senior nutrition program.
  6. Harmony & Me Music Outreach received $10,000 for music programming.
  7. The Common Good received $1,000 to distribute food boxes.

Douglas County

  1. Camp Millennium received $3,000 for “Camp Boxes” for the 2021 virtual camp, including toys, books, games and cooking items.
  2. Cobb Children’s Learning Center received $10,000 to support operating costs.
  3. Family Faith And Relationship Advocates (FARA) received $9,500 for batterers intervention and parenting classes.
  4. Lower Umpqua Community Center Inc. received $5,000 to operate a senior meal program.
  5. The Friendly Kitchen/Meals on Wheels of Roseburg received $3,000.
  6. Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 805 received $2,500 for color guard gear.

Jackson County

  1. CASA of Jackson County received $2,500 for printed materials regarding the Indian Child Welfare Act.
  2. Consumer Credit Counseling of Southern Oregon received $5,000 for credit counseling for low-income families.
  3. Hearts with a Mission received $3,000 to address youth depression, isolation and abandonment.
  4. Jackson County Fuel Committee received $5,000 to rebuild a burned office.
  5. Jacksonville Community Center received $6,900 for operating expenses.
  6. Medford Gospel Mission received $10,627 to buy food and kitchen equipment.
  7. Rogue Valley Children’s Discovery Museum received $3,000 to distribute 4,000 Kid Time From Home kits.
  8. Rogue Valley Mentoring received $3,000 for supplies and mentor support for youth.
  9. Roots and Wings Child Development received $3,000 for general operating support.
  10. SO Derby received $2,000 to help reopen a rented facility for skaters.

Lane County

  1. Beacon of Hope Alano Club received $2,000 for operating costs.
  2. Bridgeway House received $5,000 to buy laptops and tablets for hybrid learning.
  3. Eugene Science Center received $5,000 to help reopen the center and resume STEM education.
  4. Every Child Lane County received $5,000 to supply beds, bedding, car seats and cribs to vulnerable families.
  5. Florence Food Share received $1,080 to replace canopies.
  6. Junction City Local Aid received $4,000 for food items and staffing.
  7. Kids FIRST received $5,000 to support a mental health program.
  8. Oregon Coast Military Museum received $3,000 to upgrade lighting.
  9. ShelterCare received $5,000 to help install ductless heating and cooling.
  10. Springfield Young Readers received $2,500 to buy and ship books.
  11. SquareOne Villages received $9,000 to add electrical wiring and wall heaters at Opportunity Village Eugene.
  12. Lane Senior Support Coalition Corp. received $5,000 to help low-income seniors.

Regional

  1. Oregon Energy Fund received $5,000 for emergency energy bill aid in Coos and Curry counties.
  2. The ALS Association Oregon and SW Washington Chapter received $2,500 for support services to approximately 75 families.

Coos County

  1. All Tribes Mental Health Services Inc. received $5,000 to provide free mental health services to low-income clients.
  2. Alternative Youth Activities received $5,000 for a quarantine room at the old Charleston School.
  3. Bandon Historical Society Museum received $2,610 for a secure offsite storage unit.
  4. Bay Area Chamber of Commerce received $750 for a laptop computer to enable Zoom meetings.
  5. Bay Area Hospital Cancer Center received $1,500 for gift cards to help patients attend appointments.
  6. Bob Belloni Ranch Inc. received $3,000 to buy thermometers and telehealth counseling equipment.
  7. Charleston Fishing Families received $7,000 to support operating costs.
  8. Community Coalition of Empire (CCE) received $1,560 to support the flower basket program.
  9. Coos Bay Downtown Association received $3,640 for hand-washing stations during the farmers market.
  10. Coos History Museum received $5,000 to upgrade internet service.
  11. The Coos Health & Wellness South Coast Older Adult Behavioral Health Initiative received $2,700 to advertise about mental illness, isolation and loneliness.
  12. The Coquille Indian Tribe’s Culture, Education, and Learning Services (CELS) Department received $1,574 to buy picnic tables for Effie Acres, a riverfront property designated for use by tribal youth.
  13. The Coquille Indian Tribe’s Ko-Kwel Wellness Center received $5,000 for fitness equipment.
  14. The Egyptian Theatre Preservation Association received $4,630 to buy plexiglass, sanitizing sprayers, signage and other pandemic-related items.
  15. Friends of the Lakeside Public Library received $1,500 to support a summer reading program.
  16. Knights of Columbus Council 1261 of North Bend received $3,000 for a food basket program.
  17. The Mingus Park Pool Board received $3,347 for a vacuum to clean the pool.
  18. Pacific Pregnancy Clinic received $3,150 for prenatal vitamins.
  19. Powers Food Pantry received $7,200 for operating costs and food purchases.
  20. Sea Breeze Harmony Chorus received $1,765 to buy masks for singers.
  21. SMART Reading received $5,000 to provide books for children.
  22. The Bandon Community Child Care Center received $5,000 for a used modular facility.
  23. Southwestern Oregon Veterans Outreach Inc. received $2,500 for emergency food, shelter, clothing and transportation.
  24. The Nancy Devereux Center received $7,500 to support meal services.
  25. The SAFE Project received $4,099 for technology and safety at an emergency shelter program.
  26. Harmony United Methodist Church received $3,500 for the Blossom Gulch snack pack program.

Curry County

  1. Brookings Harbor Community Helpers received $5,000 to buy items such as personal protective equipment, diapers and feminine hygiene products.
  2. Christian Help of Gold Beach Inc. received $2,500 to support operating costs.
  3. The community garden at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church received $5,975 for fencing, irrigation and raised garden beds.
  4. Curry Historical Society received $4,000 for safety improvements and building upgrades.
  5. Gold Beach Community Center received $5,000 for a senior nutrition program.
  6. Harmony & Me Music Outreach received $10,000 for music programming.
  7. The Common Good received $1,000 to distribute food boxes.

Douglas County

  1. Camp Millennium received $3,000 for “Camp Boxes” for the 2021 virtual camp, including toys, books, games and cooking items.
  2. Cobb Children’s Learning Center received $10,000 to support operating costs.
  3. Family Faith And Relationship Advocates (FARA) received $9,500 for batterers intervention and parenting classes.
  4. Lower Umpqua Community Center Inc. received $5,000 to operate a senior meal program.
  5. The Friendly Kitchen/Meals on Wheels of Roseburg received $3,000.
  6. Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 805 received $2,500 for color guard gear.

Jackson County

  1. CASA of Jackson County received $2,500 for printed materials regarding the Indian Child Welfare Act.
  2. Consumer Credit Counseling of Southern Oregon received $5,000 for credit counseling for low-income families.
  3. Hearts with a Mission received $3,000 to address youth depression, isolation and abandonment.
  4. Jackson County Fuel Committee received $5,000 to rebuild a burned office.
  5. Jacksonville Community Center received $6,900 for operating expenses.
  6. Medford Gospel Mission received $10,627 to buy food and kitchen equipment.
  7. Rogue Valley Children’s Discovery Museum received $3,000 to distribute 4,000 Kid Time From Home kits.
  8. Rogue Valley Mentoring received $3,000 for supplies and mentor support for youth.
  9. Roots and Wings Child Development received $3,000 for general operating support.
  10. SO Derby received $2,000 to help reopen a rented facility for skaters.

Lane County

  1. Beacon of Hope Alano Club received $2,000 for operating costs.
  2. Bridgeway House received $5,000 to buy laptops and tablets for hybrid learning.
  3. Eugene Science Center received $5,000 to help reopen the center and resume STEM education.
  4. Every Child Lane County received $5,000 to supply beds, bedding, car seats and cribs to vulnerable families.
  5. Florence Food Share received $1,080 to replace canopies.
  6. Junction City Local Aid received $4,000 for food items and staffing.
  7. Kids FIRST received $5,000 to support a mental health program.
  8. Oregon Coast Military Museum received $3,000 to upgrade lighting.
  9. ShelterCare received $5,000 to help install ductless heating and cooling.
  10. Springfield Young Readers received $2,500 to buy and ship books.
  11. SquareOne Villages received $9,000 to add electrical wiring and wall heaters at Opportunity Village Eugene.
  12. Lane Senior Support Coalition Corp. received $5,000 to help low-income seniors.

Regional

  1. Oregon Energy Fund received $5,000 for emergency energy bill aid in Coos and Curry counties.
  2. The ALS Association Oregon and SW Washington Chapter received $2,500 for support services to approximately 75 families.

Chief Don Ivy passes away

Chief leaves legacy of wisdom, leadership

The Coquille Indian Tribe joins the family of Chief Don Ivy in mourning his passing on July 19.

The chief died after a courageous seven-month battle with cancer. He was 70 years old and had been chief since 2014.

 Tribal Chairman Brenda Meade offered this statement about her friend and colleague:

 “Chief Ivy was a consistent source of wisdom and kindness for the Coquille people. His voice was an invaluable asset to those of us who were privileged to serve with him in tribal leadership, and we will miss him terribly. We offer our prayers for his family, along with our enduring gratitude for his many contributions to the tribe’s wellbeing.”

Chief Ivy was well-known in Oregon as a champion of Indian people and a scholar of tribal heritage. He received many awards for his leadership and contributions to the State of Oregon and Indian Country, including the Potlatch Fund, the Antone Minthorn Economic & Community Development Award, and the Oregon Heritage Commission’s Heritage Excellence Award. Most recently, Southwestern Oregon Community College honored him in May as its 2021 Distinguished Alumnus. 

As chief of the Coquille Tribe, he served on the seven-member Tribal Council and was the tribe’s cultural and spiritual spokesman.  In honoring his wishes, the tribe will hold a special election to choose his successor. 

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued the following statement in response to the news about Chief Ivy:

“I was incredibly saddened to learn of the passing of Chief Don Ivy today. For many years, I counted him as a friend and trusted advisor, turning to him most recently to serve on Oregon’s Racial Justice Council––the mission of which aligned with his life’s work: dismantling the structures of racism that have created disparities in our society.

“A leader and a scholar, he dedicated his life to righting those wrongs, as he worked to preserve tribal traditions and to build a more just future for the Coquille people. His contributions to the work of the Oregon Tribal Cultural Items Task Force helped our state to make groundbreaking progress in the preservation of tribal items in the possession of state agencies and other public institutions.

“I was honored in March to recommend he be inducted as a Southwestern Oregon Community College’s Distinguished Alumnus––a college his father helped to create. My heart is with Chief Ivy’s family and friends today, and with all the people of the Coquille Tribe.”

 A memorial service will be held in The Mill Casino-Hotel’s Salmon Room at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25.

Prayer Ceremony

Tribe Plans Prayer Ceremony in Response to Tragedy

June 22, 2021

The Coquille Indian Tribe joins the community in grieving last week’s tragic events in North Bend. The circumstances are especially painful to the tribe because some of the deaths took place on tribal lands.

The tribe plans to hold a ceremonial prayer fire at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 22, at The Mill Casino-Hotel’s fire pit, located at the south end of the property.

This ceremony will be open to all community members who have been affected by this horrific event. We plan to offer prayers in our ancestral tradition, but people of all faiths are welcome to join us in praying or meditating as your own beliefs prescribe.

“Please join us in offering prayers for family members, friends and community, and help us to begin our process of healing,” said tribal Chairman Brenda Meade.

We ask the media and the public to please respect the privacy of the victims’ families as they mourn the loss of their loved ones. Those who attend are asked to refrain from photographing or recording the ceremony.

Parking will not be available in the hotel parking lot. If you plan to attend, please park in the open area just south of The Mill RV Park. A shuttle will take you to the ceremony.

Youth Golf Program Ends

Jane and Ed Metcalf, at left, celebrate the final distribution of donations from the Southwestern Oregon Youth Golf program. With them, from left, are Scott Millhouser of Bandon Dunes; Andre Liloc of Coos Golf Club; Bridgett Wheeler, the Coquille Indian Tribe’s culture and education director; and committee members Miling Layguui, Terry Springer and Larry Simpson.

Couple aided young players for 20 years

May 14, 2021

A Coquille Tribal couple’s 20-year mission to inspire young golfers has come to an end.

Since 2001, Ed and Jane Metcalf have poured their passion into the Southwestern Oregon Youth Golf Program, with help from the Coquille Indian Tribe, a volunteer committee and generous local golfers. Over the years the Metcalfs have collected and distributed about $200,000 for college scholarships, golf camps and clinics, and high school golf teams.

“Way back when, Ed and I golfed a lot, and we wanted to see the youth of Coos County have access to golf activities,” Jane Metcalf said. “We just had a passion for golf for the youth.”

But even passion can’t hold back time. Jane Metcalf is 73, her husband 75.

“We’re getting to the age where it’s getting really hard,” Ed Metcalf said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed another obstacle. The program’s main fundraising event, a popular annual tournament for adult golfers, has had to be scrubbed the past two years.

So the Metcalfs have closed down the program and closed out the books. At a farewell ceremony on Friday, May 14, they distributed checks for the program’s remaining bank balance – $22,262. The money will go to a scholarship fund, two youth golf programs, and a fitness program for kids on the Coquille Tribe’s Charleston-area reservation.

The Metcalfs’ project has been closely associated with the Coquille Tribe since the beginning. Ed Metcalf is the tribe’s retired chairman, and his wife formerly directed the tribe’s community center. The youth golf program evolved from tournaments previously sponsored by The Mill Casino-Hotel & RV Park, and the tribe has been a consistent sponsor.

The program’s annual fundraising tournament paid for golf clinics that welcomed as many as 125 kids each year. Multiple $1,000 college scholarships were awarded each year to tribal students and other southwestern Oregon youth. The program also sent promising young players to golf camps at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, the former Coos Country Club (now Coos Golf Club), and throughout Oregon.

Though the program has ended, the Metcalfs and their team leave a community legacy, in the form of a generation of young golfers who benefited from their efforts.

“Our community and tribe has benefitted so much from the dedication, passion and hard work of both Ed and Jane,” said Tribal Chairman Brenda Meade. “The work they have done over these many years has supported so many people throughout our community. It is my hope that they know how important their work has been in the lives of so many of us, and for that I thank them!”

The Metcalfs want to hand out some thanks of their own. They’re grateful to:

  • Sponsors including the Coquille Indian Tribe, The Mill Casino-Hotel & RV Park, Nike, Aristocrat Technologies, IGT, AGS LLC, Bain Insurance, Bay Appliance, Bandon Dunes and the Y Marina
  • Twenty years of “fabulous volunteers,” including the program’s final crop of committee members: Miling Laygui, Terry Springer, Terri Porcaro, Mark Hubbard, Lonnie Simpson, Larry Simpson, Gregory Duerfeldt and Trudy Groth   
  • Bandon Dunes, Coos Golf Club and Kentuck Golf Course for hosting events
  • Bandon Dunes golf pro Scott Millhouser, who helped plan and organize clinics and camps at the resort

See media coverage of this story here: 

Coos Bay World Newspaper

College honors Chief Ivy

Southwestern honors Donald Ivy as 2021 Distinguished Alumnus

From Southwestern Oregon Community College, May 7, 2021

COOS BAY, OR — Southwestern Oregon Community College is pleased to announce the selection of Donald Ivy of Coos Bay as the 2021 Distinguished Alumnus.

Ivy is Chief of the Coquille Indian Tribe, a position he has held since 2014. In a nomination supported by educators, tribal leaders, former lawmakers, and Oregon’s governor, advocates for the award describe Ivy as representing “the best of what any educational institution hopes to achieve.” He encourages “individuals to think deeply, make an impact, share their knowledge and go on to encourage others to do the same.”

Ivy has made it his lifetime endeavor to work in growing knowledge, understanding history and engaging youth. The state of Oregon honored him with its Heritage Excellence Award in 2013. The following year, the University of Oregon appointed Ivy as its first-ever Tribal Elder in Residence.

“This honor is a reminder of the great privilege I have to know the people I know. I am thankful for the graces and goodwill of other people more accomplished than me who have allowed me into their space,” Ivy said.

Ivy has published articles on history and archaeology. He is a senior fellow of the American Leadership Forum. While heading the Coquille Tribe’s cultural program, he oversaw creation of the Kilkich Youth Corps, which provides workplace skills, mentoring and summer employment to tribal teens.

“Don Ivy came to our college in the mid-1990s to learn about the land, history and philosophy. He has used that knowledge to become in many ways a teacher for us all. He is a genuine leader who brings people together with shared vision for self-improvement and making our state better,” said Southwestern President Patty Scott.

Ivy served for several years on the college’s Foundation, advocating for the need to support scholarships and invest in quality facilities and training for residents of the south Oregon coast region. Under his leadership, the Coquille Indian Tribe was the college’s first vocal supporter and partner in building the college’s new Health & Science Technology center. The building will open in fall 2021, providing modern labs for training new generations of scientists, engineers and health care professionals.

“When I talk to somebody who’s a SWOCC student, I talk to them about the technology building. I see the excitement in our nursing students and others, and that building how important it is to them,” Ivy said. “I’m hoping the doors swing open in the fall and we fill it with students, and know we have accomplished a great thing.”

The Southwestern Foundation typically honors Distinguished Alumni in a celebration in coordination with graduation. This year, the college is postponing a Distinguished Alumni celebration until tentatively fall 2021.

“The whole COVID thing has challenged us with asking, ‘What are those things that are the most deeply rooted, the big important things that really, really matter,” Ivy said. “Celebration of community is hugely important. It reminds us to be together.”

This is the 30th year Southwestern has honored alumni who have demonstrated significant contributions to their professions, communities, or academia. To learn more about the college, go to www.socc.edu.

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, www.coquilletribe.org. 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 www.coquilletribe.org.