Washington, DC – Yesterday, U.S. Representative Val Hoyle’s (OR-04) bill to restore fairness for the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians (Siletz) passed in the U.S. Senate with Senator Jeff Merkley as the Senate lead. H.R. 2839 will now be presented to President Biden, who is expected to sign it into law. The legislation will provide a pathway for the Siletz and the State of Oregon to change a discriminatory policy that has severely limited the hunting, fishing, trapping, and gathering abilities of the Siletz.
“I am grateful that H.R. 2839, my first standalone bill to pass the House and now the Senate, will become law,” said Rep. Hoyle. “This law will restore their hunting and fishing rights on their ancestral lands. The Siletz Tribe never should have been forced to give up their sovereign rights and we have a responsibility to right this historic wrong and ensure the Siletz are treated as other Tribes are.”
“Today marks a milestone for the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, who for too long have endured the historic injustice that forced them to give up their traditional ability to hunt, fish, and gather on traditional Tribal land as the price to restore their homelands—finally this wrong is being made right,” Sen. Merkley said. “Working in strong partnership with Representative Hoyle, we ensured our legislation is becoming a law that will finally give the Siletz Tribe the legal ability to renegotiate the restrictive agreement. This is not only a huge moment for the Siletz community, but for their future generations to come.”
“The Siletz Tribe is incredibly grateful to Rep. Hoyle and Senators Merkley and Wyden for passage of this legislation and its imminent enactment into law. This is the most significant and positive action in the history of the Siletz Tribe since our restoration in 1977,” said Siletz Tribal Chair Dee Pigsley.
“Each Oregon Tribe deserves their sovereign right to hunt, fish, and gather on their ancestral land. This legislation passed by the United States Congress rightly counters a 1980 decree that forced the Siletz to lose those rights in exchange for getting their status and land restored. No Tribe should have to choose between restoration or the right to hunt and gather on their land. I am appreciative of Congresswoman Val Hoyle and Senator Jeff Merkley for their advocacy to set history straight for the Siletz, and I strongly encourage President Biden to sign this legislation into law,” said Governor Tina Kotek.
Rep. Hoyle’s bill, H.R. 2839, will allow the Siletz Tribe to return to federal court to request the termination or modification of the consent decree from 1980 that unfairly forced the Siletz to give up their traditional hunting and fishing activities as a condition for having their land restored. While the Oregon Fish & Wildlife Commission recently approved a historic new hunting and fishing agreement with the Siletz Tribe, the legislation is necessary to invalidate the consent decree.
The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians have over 5,000 enrolled members and are headquartered on Oregon’s coast. The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde are the only tribes in the country that have consent decrees that legally prevent them from negotiating for traditional hunting and fishing activities on their land. Rep. Hoyle also supports similar legislation, H.R. 2850, which would address the consent decree that restricts the Grand Ronde Tribe. Merkley also leads the Senate version of that bill.