Roseburg Department of Human Services Honors Native Tribes

Visitors to the Roseburg offices of the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) will now find the flag of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians flying alongside others at the front of the building. The flag honors the ancestral land of the Cow Creek Umpqua upon which the ODHS offices are built. It was raised during the Native American and Alaska Native Heritage Celebration in November, hosted by We Are Here Oregon Native Employees (WAHONE), DHS, and other local organizations.

The event also celebrated the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the Indian Child Welfare Act, an integral part of the work between ODHS and Native Tribes.

Indigenous artists and vendors set up displays in the hallways, and the building echoed with the beat of drum songs. In addition to traditional storytelling by Earl Huitt and a cultural presentation of dance, the event featured a speaker series, in which three Native Americans shared their personal stories of their Tribal identity and how it has impacted their lives.

Teri Hansen

Teri Hansen

In addition to JR Lilly of the Navajo Nation and Cheryl Ann Kar, PhD, of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Teri Hansen of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians shared her own life story. She recounted struggles with substance abuse, an issue faced by thousands of Native Americans across the country. However, Hansen said the support of others led her out of that life to rediscover her cultural and spiritual identity, and said it reshaped her life in ways she never thought possible.

“I don’t regret what happened,” said Hansen. “I have beautiful children, and they’re all grown up with beautiful children of their own. I am who I am because of what I went through, and I’m okay with that. I learned the good things about being Indian: meetings, ceremony, and church. I went back to school, and got a degree and a job. I focused on staying clean and sober, on my spirituality, and being around like-minded people. I’m forever grateful for my Auntie and her unconditional love. I attribute my change to my Creator.”

To wrap up the celebration, the Cow Creek Umpqua Color Guard raised the flag of the Tribal government in front of the ODHS offices. The flag flies at the same height as that of the American flag, a recognition of Tribal sovereignty and the Tribe’s connection to the land.