Cow Creek Umpqua Tribe Signs MOU with Regional BLM Offices

The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians officially entered into a formal agreement with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Friday when a memorandum of understanding was signed by both agencies.

The memorandum of understanding between the Cow Creek Umpqua Tribe and the BLM regional districts in Roseburg and Medford was signed at the Tribal Government office by Cow Creek Umpqua Chairman Carla Keene, Roseburg District Manager Heather Whitman, and Medford District Manager Elizabeth Burghard.

“We are very excited about working with you to get closer to the way our ancestors managed the land. It’s very important to our Elders, our Tribal citizens and our future seven generations. This is an important time for us and we thank you,” Keene said at the signing.

The agreement is intended to facilitate further collaboration and partnership between the BLM and the Cow Creek Umpqua Tribe on matters regarding the management of federal lands. Many millions of acres across the country that are now BLM lands were at one time Tribal lands.

“The forthcoming signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Bureau of Land Management and Cow Creek marks a significant milestone in fostering meaningful collaboration and partnership,” said Cow Creek Land and Resources Officer Jason Robison in a statement. “This MOU stands as a testament to our shared commitment to Tribal sovereignty, memorializes a co-management relationship, effectively safeguards cultural heritage, promotes sustainable resource management, supports economic development, and greatly enhances our government-to-government relationships with the Roseburg and Medford Districts. Furthermore, this agreement will open doors to pursue project-level funding agreements, allowing us to undertake crucial work on adjacent BLM lands through various federal authorities, such as the Tribal Forest Protection Act (TFPA).”

In 2021, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Agriculture Secretary Tim Vilsack issued an order to their departments, including the BLM, that outlines a strategic plan for managing federal lands in a way that brings in Tribes as partners, and places emphasis on Tribal consultation, sovereignty and cultural knowledge related to those lands.

“In honoring these obligations, the Departments will benefit by incorporating Tribal expertise and Indigenous knowledge into Federal land and resources management,” the statement reads.

Cow Creek Umpqua leaders have also recently entered similar co-stewardship and co-management agreements with the Umpqua National Forest, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.