Springfield Honors 2 Oregon Tribes With Flag Ceremony On Indigenous Peoples Day

Oct 14, 2019

Since 2017, the City of Springfield has proclaimed October 14 as Indigenous Peoples Day. This year, the city raised the flags of two of Oregon's nine federally recognized tribes. The flags, from the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, were gifted to the city.

Brenda Tuomi stands in front of the flag of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde.
Credit Melorie Begay

The flag raising ceremony began with an acknowledgment of Kalapuya people and recognized Springfield as Kalaypuya land.

Gloria Ingle, a member of the Siletz Tribal Council, said the event was unexpected.

“We don’t celebrate genocide,” Ingle said, as she alluded to the national celebration of Columbus Day during her speech. “But we certainly can support and celebrate [Indigenous Peoples Day]," Ingle said.

For Brenda Tuomi, a member of the Grand Ronde, the day was both validating and exciting. She’s lived in Springfield for about 25 years.

“We’ve always been here, even through termination, through restoration, we’ve always been here and we’ve always been strong,” Tuomi said.  “I hope that people continue to ask the questions and learn more about us, and really understand this and realize how we’ve been here forever.”

The need for sustained support and recognition of Indigenous peoples was a theme for the event that was largely driven by the Chifin Native Youth Center and Springfield’s City Wide MEChA. The Community Alliance of Lane County also helped with the initiative.

Photos of members of the Chifin Native Youth Center on display at Springfield City Hall.
Credit Melorie Begay

“They courageously stood at city council and shared why this day mattered so much to them…I think it shows that native youth make our community a better place,” said Leilani Sabzalian, a University of Oregon Assistant Professor of  Indigenous Studies in Education. 

City of Springfield Diversity and Inclusion Committee member, Melissa Cariño, said the city aims to be more intentional in celebrating the holiday that’s gaining traction across the country.

“We really wanted to do this the right way where we really reach out to the local native leaders and plan this together, not in isolation, not as a silo, or ‘hey last minute what do you think about what we’re planning?’ It was really important to build those relationships,” she said.

Cariño added that the city is in talks about the possibility of adding more flags from Oregon’s nine tribes and potentially keeping them on display permanently. For now, the two flags will remain outside city hall until Friday.

As part of the celebration, the Springfield Library has a selection of Native American art and books on display for the rest of October.