Coquille Tribe release – NORTH BEND, Ore. – The Coquille Indian Tribe will exercise unprecedented autonomy over its forest lands under a newly approved management plan. The tribe received formal federal approval last week for its Indian Trust Asset Management Plan, which frees the tribe to manage its forestlands entirely under tribal authority. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to prove that we can manage a diverse, sustainable forest while generating revenue to meet our people’s needs,” said Coquille Chairman Brenda Meade. “We’re going to show people a better way to do things.” As America’s first federally recognized tribe to achieve this status, the Coquille are uniquely positioned to demonstrate the forest management wisdom learned and practiced by indigenous people from time immemorial. The Coquille Tribe has long been recognized for responsible, sustainable forestry, proudly maintaining certification by the Forest Stewardship Council. Darin Jarnaghan, the tribe’s natural resources director, said removing the need for federal review of projects gives his team greater flexibility and efficiency. “Thanks to its willingness to be a trailblazer in utilizing this project, the Coquille Indian Tribe now can take control of its trust forest land and resources, and manage them in a way that meets their needs,” said Tara Katuk Sweeney, the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for Indian affairs. This important step in tribal self-determination was made possible by 2016’s Indian Trust Asset Reform Act. The law created a new pathway to expanded self-determination for tribes willing to undertake the rigorous process of creating the management plan. Four years after the law’s passage, no other tribe has successfully risen to the challenge. “We pride ourselves, as a tribe and organization, in being bold and innovative,” said Mark Johnston, the tribe’s executive director. “Our FSC-certified forests have been a shining example of tribal forest management that show how timber management and conservation can coexist in balance. “Being the first tribe to have an approved ITAMP is an honor and challenge that we take seriously, and we are well-prepared to carry the burden of going first.” The Coquille Tribe began developing the plan in 2019 and submitted it to the government in June 2020. Jarnaghan said the Bureau of Indian Affairs provided helpful feedback to assure the groundbreaking document would hold up to legal scrutiny. The plan was formalized in a teleconference signing ceremony on Friday, with the tribe represented by Chief Don Ivy.