Oregon Senators Gordon H. Smith and Ron Wyden and Congressman Peter DeFazio joined today to announce the passage of their bipartisan, bicameral bill to transfer ownership of the Cape Arago Lighthouse and Chief's Island to the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians. The bill was passed by the House and Senate this week, and now will be sent to the President's desk for his signature.
"The transfer of Chief's Island to the Confederated Tribes will ensure this piece of our state's history is preserved for future generations," said Smith. "I am proud to have worked with Senator Wyden and Congressman DeFazio to transfer this cultural treasure to the Tribes."
"It is fitting that this cultural and historical icon be transferred to the people of the Confederated Tribes, who are such an important part of our coastal history," said Wyden. "Cape Arago Lighthouse will be in good hands."
"I applaud passage of this legislation, which will put a historic piece of land to good use while protecting and preserving its cultural significance," said DeFazio.
"For our people, this is a sacred, historic site that not only is the same ground our ancestors once occupied, but also the burial site for many of our most admired tribal leaders and members," said Chairman Bob Garcia, Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians. "We will care for this land with honor, respect and regard for its natural beauty and cultural value. We are very grateful to Senators Smith and Wyden and Congressman DeFazio for working tirelessly to see this culturally significant land returned to our tribe."
The Cape Arago Lighthouse, currently owned by the Coast Guard, was built in 1934 on Chief's Island, near Charleston. The Confederated Tribes have sought ownership of the lighthouse since 1991 to preserve and restore the historic site. The Coast Guard has allowed the tribes to use the land as a cemetery and for tribal ceremonies but it has not been open to the public. Archaeological sites are located throughout Gregory Point and Chief's Island. The Coast Guard no longer uses the site, and a transfer of ownership will save the federal government an estimated $5,000 per year in management and maintenance costs.